Introduction: Handmade Halloween Treat Bags

About: I love everything about mail. I have fascinations with Cold War culture, military design, espionage, hermits, religion, and typewriters. Old books and papers are my favorite treasures, and making things by han…

My favorite houses at Halloween were the ones that give away candy inside cute little treat bags. It made it extra special even if the candy inside was only Tootsie Rolls. I hope these simple steps will inspire you to bring back the treat bag tradition. These instructions can be used to make bags of any kind, not just Halloween bags. Never buy another gift bag again!

Step 1: Materials

You will need to gather the following for making treat bags:
1. Paper for bag
2. Scrap paper
3. Ruler
4. Pencil
5. Glue stick
6. Scissors
7. Pinking shears*
8. Bone folder**

*Note: You don't need pinking shears for this project. They just give the nice zigzag edge at the end. It's a purely cosmetic consideration.
**Note: You don't need a bone folder for this project either. You can easily use an empty ball point pen, a mechanical pencil without lead, the tine of a fork, or any other object that will incise fold lines on your paper without ripping or tearing it. I use a bone folder because I happen to have one.

Step 2: Prepare Your Paper

For this step, you will need your pencil, ruler, regular scissors, and the paper you want to use in making your bag.

You can use these instructions to make any size bag you wish, but I found that using an 8.5" X 11" piece gave a bag with the type of dimensions I wanted {7" high by 3.5" wide by 1.5" deep}. Because the paper I was making my bags from was greater than 8.5" X 11", I first measured {Picture 1} and cut out a piece of that size using my regular pair of scissors {Picture 2}.

Step 3: Prefold the Bottom Edge

For this step, you will need your pencil, ruler, bone folder, and the paper you want to use in making your bag.

Measure up 1.5" from the long side of your prepared paper. You may mark this with your pencil if you wish, but you can just run your bone folder or chosen incising tool down the line. Fold the paper backwards {Picture 2} and forwards {Picture 3} to make a nice, sharp crease {Picture 4} as if you were making origami.

Step 4: Mark Your Edge Line

For this step, you will need your pencil, ruler, and the paper you want to use in making your bag.

On the front side of your paper, make a couple of small hash marks with your pencil 0.5" from the right-hand side. These will be your guidelines for aligning your glued edge.

Step 5: Glue Your Edge Line

For this step, you will need your glue stick, scrap paper, and the paper you want to use in making your bag.

Flip your bag-making paper face down on top of your scrap paper. Run glue all along the right-hand edge of the bag-making paper. Be sure to take the glue all the way to the edge and the corners. This is why you are doing this over a piece of scrap paper. This way, you won't have to worry about getting glue on the table.

Step 6: Glue the Edges Together

For this step, you will need your preglued bag-making paper.

Without creasing the edges, roll the edges of your paper towards each other. Align the glued edge with the hash marks and folded bottom edge line. Run your finger down the edges to secure the glue. You should now have a cylinder with the face of the paper on the outside {Picture 2}.

Step 7: Flatten Your Cylinder

For this step, you will need your paper cylinder.

Using your fingers or bone folder, flatten the cylinder so that the edge line is in the center. This will be at about 2.5" for a bag made from an 8.5" X 11" piece of paper.

Step 8: Mark the Sides

For this step, you will need your bone folder, ruler, and flattened paper cylinder.

Measure over 1.5" from the left-hand side of the flattened bag. You won't need to use your pencil to mark the outside of the bag. You may use your bone folder to emboss measurement hash marks. Also using the bone folder, incise a line vertically down the edge of the ruler. Flip the paper over and repeat this action on the other side. Remember to measure from the left-hand side each time.

Step 9: Fold the Sides

For this step, you will need your scored, flattened cylinder from the previous steps.

Using the incised lines as a guide, gently crease along the scored lines. When you have completed this step, you should have transformed your former cylinder into a parallelogram {aka rectangular form} as seen in Picture 3.

Step 10: Fold the Bottom Edge Closed

For this step, you will need your newly folded paper parallelogram.

The way to form the bottom of the bag is to pretend you are wrapping an invisible present. If you have great difficulty with this step, you may choose to build your bag around a small box. However, it shouldn't be too difficult and you'll improve with practice.

Position the paper so that the pre-creased line from Step 3 is at the bottom. Insert one hand inside the bag. Use this hand to steady bag and keep your corners true. Start with the small side nearest to you. Grasp the corner which is flush with the table and pull it towards the center of the bag. When the crease line on the outside paper matches the crease line on the inside paper, fold the edge down. You should have a triangular fold {Picture 2}.

Repeat this process until you have folded in all of the bottom edges. You should be able to see the bag form clearly now.

Step 11: Trim the Bottom Edge

For this step, you will need your mostly finished bag and pinking shears [or regular scissors].

You'll notice in folding that your long sides are a tiny bit too long for the bottom. You'll want to trim about 0.5" so that the edges finish beneath the bag. Be careful not to cut out too much because then you'll have a hole in the bottom of the bag. If you do accidentally cut too much, you can always patch your bag with a little scrap of paper or some scotch tape.

Step 12: Glue the Bottom Edge

For this step, you will need your glue stick, scrap paper, and your almost finished bag.

Set your bag upright over your scrap paper. Position the flaps so that they are splayed like wings against the surface of the table. On the right side long flap, run the glue stick over about 0.5" of the flap {Picture 1}. Then lay your bag on its long face with the unglued flap on the table. Also run the glue stick over about 0.5" of the flap {Picture 2}. Overlap the two glue sides so that you have glue meeting glue {Picture 3}. This will form a strong bond for the bottom of the bag. Apply pressure to the bottom of the bag by inserting your hand to secure the bottom flaps {Picture 4}. Your bag is now nearly complete!

In fact, you can stop here and have a perfectly serviceable bag. The next couple steps are for looks, not structure.

Step 13: Flatten Your Bag

For this step you will need your bag.

Starting from the opening, pinch the small sides of the bag closed. Try to make your pinch folds as symmetrical as you can. Work slowly down the sides pinching in. Lay the bag down and continue going down the sides {Picture 2}. The edge of the bottom will naturally want to flip up the closer you get to the bottom. If you press gently, it will find a straight line on its own and you can flatten the whole of the bag {Picture 3}. Now, if you reform your bag, it has the shape we associate with paper grocery bags {Picture 4}.

Step 14: Finish the Bag

For this step you will need your pinking shears and bag.

Flatten your bag and trim 0.25" from the top using the pinking shears. This will make the zigzag edge we are familiar with from paper grocery bags.

Step 15: Enjoy Your Bags

For this step you will need your completely finished bag! Hurray!!!!

You can make these bags out of any papers you have. I've used all kinds of papers including old book pages. Fill them up with sweet treats. Maybe pack them with homemade Halloween grass. Decorate with stamps or stickers.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. For other projects and creations, please visit my Journal or my Shop.

Yours in craft,

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