Paper Bag Valentine Card




Introduction: Paper Bag Valentine Card

About: Please contact me if you'd like to commission a piece! I enjoy making a wide range of things--whatever strikes my fancy. My most successful creations end up being in the paper crafting realms.

This instructable covers the making of a grungy paper bag Valentine Day's card. It would make a sweet gift for your significant other or friend. It has a spot to tuck a letter into the card, allowing for more customization than just the cutesy sentiments you get with commercial cards.

The design is intended to require minimal materials and produce a minimal amount of waste. For many crafters, it can be done without purchasing any new materials. It will take most people about an hour to complete this card.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

The card is constructed out of these materials:
1  brown paper "lunch" bag
1 8.5" x 11" sheet light-colored coordinating paper
1 3" x 3" coordinating cardstock
1 pony bead of a coordinating color
   --any bead which can fit over your ribbon will work fine
total 24 to 30 inches of thin, coordinating ribbon
   --2 pieces 6" to 8"
   --1 piece 12" to 14"

These tools are required:
glue of some sort -- I used a glue stick, but regular white glue would also be fine.

For the decoration, you can go one of two routes, or combine them:
a crayon of a coordinating color
colored pencil or pen of a coordinating color
ink pad of a coordinating color
a pen of a coordinating color
various stamps
   --I used one flowery type stamp for the outside, a curlique-type stamp for the bottom, and letter stamps for initials.

I created the instructable based on the red and black card, which uses the stamp and ink pad route. The other card pictured, the blue one, used only a crayon and a colored pencil.

Step 2: Decorate the Outside of the Bag

Begin by decorating the outside of the bag. This is the side that does not have the bottom fold of the bag visible. I used varying pressure and overlapped the stamps, in order to get a full, grungy look. The focus of the card will not be on this design, so it does not need to be perfect.

If you are not using stamps, just take a crayon or colored pencil to the bag and do whatever abstract design you fancy.

Step 3: Fold the Bag Over

Orient the bag so that the decorated side is down, leaving the blank side facing you. The bottom of the bag should be closest to you. Fold the top of the bag down 5 inches. This leaves about 0.75" of the undecorated interior of the card visible. Crease the fold well.

Step 4: Divide the Sheet of Paper

Divide the sheet of paper into portions so you end up with nine pieces. Use the guide attached here to print faint lines onto your paper, if desired.

Your nine pieces will consist of these sizes:
1 8.5" x 5.5"
1 4" x 4"
1 4.5" x 2.5"
1 3" x 3"
1 3.5" x 1.5"
1 2" x 1.5"
3 1.5" x 0.5"

This should use up the entire piece of your paper. The guide shows the lines stopping an inch from the edge of the paper--this is just for the ease of printing. The lines should continue all the way to the edge of the paper.

You can either cut these pieces out now so as to have them ready during the making of the card, or cut the pieces as you need them.

Step 5: Decorate the 4x4 Piece of Paper

Using your 4" x 4" piece of paper, tear the paper all along the outside edges. Stay very close to the edge, so as not to lose very much of the actual paper. Variations in how far in you tear add to the charm of the paper, so there is no need to get the tear as straight as possible. Discard the thin, torn-off border.

Crumple up the 4" x 4" piece of paper several times, to get an attractive amount of crinkling. Flatten the paper when satisfied.

If you are using an ink pad, drag and pat one side of the paper over the pad so as to color the edges and various parts of the middle. The aim here is to create a grungy, uneven look. If you are using a crayon, you can achieve the same effect by using the side of the crayon and varying the pressure in different areas.

Step 6: Attach Front Papers

Thoroughly glue the decorated, 4" x 4" piece of paper at right angles onto the front of the card. Have the top corner barely touch the top edge of the card, leaving just a little of the bottom corner sticking out over the undecorated visible interior of the card.

Glue the plain, unaltered, 3" x 3" piece of paper at right angles to the 4" x 4" piece of paper. This puts the edges of the 3" x 3" piece parallel to the sides of the card. The 3" x 3" piece should be centered on top of the 4" x 4" piece.

Step 7: Decorate the Bottom Edge of the Card

Using a stamp or a pen/pencil, decorate the bottom edge of the card. This is the 0.75" strip of interior visible when you are looking at the card closed, face on. This design is a little more central than those on the back of the card, so take your time if you are hand drawing it.

Step 8: Decorate the 4.5 X 2.5 Paper

In the same fashion as with the 4" x 4" piece of paper, tear the edges of the 4.5" x 2.5" piece of paper. Discard the thin, torn border.

If using an ink pad, drag the edges of the paper, and a small amount of the paper near the edges, along the ink pad, to color the torn edges. If using a crayon, use the side of the crayon to achieve the same effect.

Step 9: Modify Bottom Inside of Card

Glue the decorated 4.5" x 2.5" piece of paper onto the bottom flap of the bag. It should be centered between the top of the bottom flap and the decoration at the bottom 0.75" of the card.

Mark a 1.75" location starting about 0.25" from the outside edge of the bottom flap (please consult picture).

Cut approximately 0.125" down on your 1.75" line, cutting a narrow rectangle into the bottom of the bag.

The purpose of this is to create an opening into the bag which will serve as your note slot.

Step 10: Creating the Letter Slot

Apply glue to the back of the 3.5" x 1.5" piece of paper. Slide this into the hole created in the bottom flap of the bag. Make sure it goes all the way to the bottom of the bag. Pat down firmly so that it adheres to the bag inside the flap. The purpose of this is to make a smooth track for the secret letter to slide into. Otherwise, the bag has various folds and tabs that can cause the letter to catch and be difficult to insert.

Cut one of the narrow edges of the 2" x 1.5" paper so that it narrows bluntly. This does not need to be exact. Apply glue to the back of this paper, then insert it glue-side up, into the slot created by the paper strip in the paragraph above. Do not insert it all the way--leave perhaps 0.33" to 0.5" out, which you will then fold over onto the top of the flap. This is the top half of the letter 'slot', which will ensure the smooth insertion of your letter. Please view the picture carefully.

You will be covering these pieces of paper from view with your cardstock hearts.

Step 11: Create Your Heart Cut-outs

Fold your 3" x 3" coordinating cardstock in half to create a triangle. Trace a heart onto the top triangle, then cut out both layers so you end up with two hearts. If desired, the attached heart graphic should print out to the right size, allowing you to print it out, cut it, and then trace it onto your cardstock.

Step 12: Decorate and Apply Cardstock Hearts

Apply glue to the back of one of the cardstock hearts. Slide this heart barely into the letter slot on the card, so that it covers the paper visible. Pat down firmly.

Decorate the front of the other heart. If you are using an ink pad, drag its edges along the ink pad, and do a few light pats near the edges to create a grungy look. If you are using crayons and a pen/pencil, decorate as you desire.

Apply glue to the rear bottom 0.5" or so inch of the heart. Place this so that it just barely covers the pocket flap on the top.

Step 13: Decorate and Place Inside Ribbon

Take a piece of ribbon approximately 6" to 8" long. Give it a grungy effect by dragging and patting it along your ink pad, if you're using one. If you're using a crayon, you can do the same thing with the side of the crayon, or just leave it plain.

Apply glue to the back of the ribbon. Center it between the top fold of the card and the top of the bottom flap. Leave equal amounts sticking out past the sides of the card. Bend the ribbon around the sides of the card and inside the side folds of the card. The ribbon should not go onto the outside back of the card, but into the middle of the bag. Pat down firmly.

Step 14: Decorate and Place Small Papers

Take each of the three 1.5" x 0.5" pieces of paper and tear the edges, similar to the way you did with the 4" x 4" and 4.5" x 2.5" pieces. Since these pieces are so tiny, you should take care to rip very close to the edge.

Drag and pat the edges of each torn piece along the ink pad. If you are using a crayon, do the same with the side of the crayon. The idea here is to again create a grungy look.

Apply glue to the back of each piece of paper. Place them in a haphazard fashion along the left half of  the inside of the card.

Step 15: Place Outside Ribbons and Bead

Use another 6" to 8" piece of ribbon and apply glue to the back. Slip the pony bead over the ribbon. Place the ribbon on the front of the card approximately 1.5" down from the top fold of the card, or about 0.33" from the top edge of the 3" x 3" piece. The ends of the ribbon should stick out past each side of the card. The bead should be located near the top right corner of the 3" x 3" piece of paper on the front of the card. Pat down the ribbon, and fold the ends of the ribbon under the front of the card, and into the side folds of the card. It should not go into the interior of the card, but in the folds between the front of the card and the interior of the card, on each side.

Use your remaining piece of ribbon, 12" to 14" long, and apply glue to the back. Slide the ribbon through the bead on the other ribbon. Place the ribbon approximately 1.25" from the right edge of the card. One end of the ribbon should just meet the bottom of the back of the card. All of the remaining ribbon should stick out down the front of the card. Wrap this end into the inside of the bag. It will not go to the interior of the bag, but inside the bag unseen. Pat the ribbon down firmly.

Step 16: Add the Words to the Inside of the Card

Add words as you wish to the inside of the card at this point. You may wish to practice on similar sized pieces of scrap paper, to make sure you have the spacing and word sizing down to your satisfaction.

On the 4" x 2.5" blank area, again feel free to write whatever message best suites your relationship. Here are the two examples used in the cards pictured:

    And yet, it is a thing of beauty. Thank you for sharing it with me. Happy Valentine's Day.

    And yet, it is a thing of beauty and joy. Thank you for sharing it. Happy Valentine's Day.

Left hand upper:
On the three small pieces on the left hand side of the card, I have two examples. But you can get creative here and put in any charming message you can think of.

For a spouse:
     What God 
     has joined 

For a friend:
    You are

You can also decorate the heart with initials or a short word or phrase.

Step 17: Write and Insert Note

On the large piece of paper, which should be the only piece left, write the note to your recipient. It looks equally charming writing on one side or both sides.

Once you have written your note, fold the paper from one end at approximately 1.5". Keep folding until the whole paper is folded.

Slide the note into the pocket created between the two cardstock hearts.

Step 18: Add the Words to the Outside of the Card

As a final step, add your words to the outside of the card. This is what I have for the two examples:

   Our love is plain, functional, and very everyday. It does not come in a fancy wrapper.

   Our friendship is plain, functional, and very everyday. It does not come in a fancy wrapper.

If you desire, as a finishing touch you can apply a bit of glue on the middle folds of the bag, to make the card lay flatter.

Congratulations, your card is now complete!

1 Person Made This Project!


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6 years ago

It was kind of hard for me to do (but then again my paper bag was really small), but it was very fun for me to do for Valentine's! I'm sure my boyfriend will love this! :D


8 years ago

This is so beautifully done and will go very nicely with my paper bag save the dates I made. I bet it could be turned into an invitation.


Reply 8 years ago

Thanks! I'd love to see whatever you dream up!


10 years ago on Introduction

Wow this is really great and nicely explained. I'll try to make it for my girlfriend she's gonna love it.
Thanx for this 'ible


10 years ago on Introduction

This is absolutely adorable. I always have a stack of paper bags around. (Paper bag puppets never go out of style for kids.) I'm definitely making some Valentine's Day cards this way. It shouldn't be too hard to make an envelope out of the brown bags I get from the store. Thanks for this.


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

An envelope would be very easy, and would make a nice touch. Let me know how it goes!


10 years ago on Introduction

Quite excellent! I love the chaotic simplicity of this creative gift.