Practical Origami: Instant Handles for Paper Bags





Introduction: Practical Origami: Instant Handles for Paper Bags

About: I'm an inventor, poet, permaculture / sustainability nerd, and activist. I work in the renewable energy industry with biomass gasification. I love to show people neat tricks to optimize things, and I want th...

Here's a bit of practical origami for folding a little handle for a take-out bag. I reverse-engineered this from a neat trick done by a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

Step 1: Fold #1: Right Triangle

This first fold is easy. Fold the upper portion so that you have a 45 degree fold. The image shows the fold for making a left-handed handle. (Mirror-image it for a right handed handle.)

Step 2: Fold #2: Handle Slope

Take the point of the right triangle, and fold it down. What you want is to have the length of the edge above the horizontal crease to be approximately equal to the length of the edge below the horizontal crease. The reason for this is that the part hanging under the horizontal crease will be tucked up under the handle, and the tip of the over-hang will rest exactly under the point of the handle when you're done, for a secure fold that's easy to hold.

Step 3: Fold #3: Tucking the Over-hang

Tuck the overhanging part under the handle, and give the fold a good crease. Voila! You now have a handle.

If folded properly, the handle should be fairly secure, and will permit you to hang the bag on hooks, on your fingers, etc. Now, you don't have to clutch your take-out bag like a burlap sack.



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    Wow! I've never seen this before. Thanks for posting with such clear instructions!

    This is nice as a little instructable, but I think it can really be something more than that.

    It is a very tangible skill for a customer service person, like the person who taught it to you.

    The small part is knowing how to do the fold. The big part is having an awareness of the customer's experience ... actually thinking about how they are going to handle the bag. And it's going to be entertaining for the customer. Perhaps it will be an event or performance that creates a point of social interaction.

    In a very real way, a young adult who learns how to do this is more prepared for employment. And it is a skill that they can demonstrate, like while waiting around for to ask for an interview or an application in a store.

    I know we live in a world of plastic bags, but this is something that can be taught as part of a lesson plan in a vocational classroom or in a high school career planning class.

    There are a number of lessons that can be learned from folding a bag like this.


    3 replies

    One cool thing that this fold enables is stacking before holding. You can stack the handle portion of multiple bags folded this way and carry them all in one grip. (3-4 is the usual practical limit.) Definitely useful for delivering multiple orders of bagged sandwiches to large waiting parties!

    Agreed. I work in food service and will start using this right away. Amazing idea.

    what a cool idea asudonim likewise the poster.

    I noticed that cool fold at a Chinese Restaurant when I was a kid, and you are so right! It is secure! And, like smilinbob noted, it also works on chip bags. Thank you for sharing this very useful and handy instructable.

    Tried it at the grocery store. Asked if they would let me prefold a bag then load groceries. Works if not filled more than 2/3rds full. Great help. Thanks.

    this is great, i'll def do this next time i have a paper bag i need to carry


    My elementary school lunches came this way some 40 years ago, and yes, my dad owned a Chinese restaurant

    I use this same fold to keep my chip bags closed if i don't have a clip handy.

    Love it! Thanks for sharing.

    Hmmm, I wonder if it work as well on the big snack bags as no one seems to bother using the clips we have. gonna try it. :)

    1 reply

    My experience has been that snack bags and chip bags don't work well with this because

    1) the bags are not long enough for their width; the first 45 degree fold ends up using half the bag, and
    2) the. Bag material is too springy, and won't stay put like paper when creased.

    Give it a try; perhaps a variation of this fold may work.

    Neat!! Much better than just folding the top over 3 or 4 times and as you said, Handy too ! Thanks for sharing this! I will be using it. :) :) :)

    1 reply

    It is also handy as a way to seal the paper bag without a bag clip, but only if the bag is not too full.

    you are kidding about left and right hand versions!?!? lol

    1 reply

    I'm actually serious. You can hold the left-handed handle in your right hand, but it won't be as comfortable. Try it; fold two handles on two bags and feel how they hang differently in your hands.