Grab a spare paper grocery bag and get creative. We’re making paper bag notebooks in a variety of styles and designs.
How to upcycle brown paper grocery bags into creative DIY notebooks.
Let’s talk about paper bags!
Ok, before I get hateful comments about how bad single-use shopping bags are for the planet. I agree! Plastic bags are the worst! I do my best to avoid single-use plastic whenever I can. If I have to use a single-use item, I try to make it paper.
I also try my best to use reusable shopping bags whenever I can. But, I don’t always remember to bring them with. Plus, last year some stores in my area stopped allowing reusable bags over public health concerns. You had to take disposable bags… or else no bag at all.
Because of that, my stash of paper bags has been steadily growing. And of course, I’m not one to pass up a good upcycle opportunity.
It seems such a shame to throw away a perfectly good paper bag. So, one afternoon I took a pile of bags up into my craft studio, cranked up some music, and got to work.
Sometimes I genuinely wonder what my dog thinks of me.
DIY Grocery Bag Notebooks
After a few hours of tinkering, I had paper bag notebooks in a variety of styles and designs. That’s what’s so fun about this upcycling project – a brown paper bag is pretty much a blank canvas. You can decorate these notebooks any way you like.
- Leave the bag as-is. Let the design on the bag serve as the decoration. That's what I did with a Target bag.
- Black and white paint. Paint a coat of black chalkboard paint. Let dry. Sketch words with a pencil, and then go over them with white paint and a fine-point brush.
- Paint and palette knives. Use a palette knife (or even the back of a spoon or butter knife) to spread paint across the paper bag. Get creative with different texture and color combinations.
- Fabric and Mod Podge. Brush a coat of Mod Podge onto the paper. Smooth a piece of fabric over the Mod Podge. Place a book or other heavy object on top and let dry for 30 minutes. Trim away excess fabric.
- brown paper bag
- plain paper - like white printer paper
- paper cutter
- binder clips or paper clips
- OPTION 1:
- safety pin, needle and thread
- OPTION 2:
- hole punch and twine
- Use scissors to disassemble the bag, cutting around the folds.
- Use a paper cutter to cut the paper bag pieces down to the size you want. Cut the plain paper just a bit smaller, about 1/4-inch or so.
- Stack the paper together and temporarily secure with binder clips or paper clips.
Fold each cut piece of paper bag and white paper in half. Stack the pieces of paper, making a book.
Use a ruler and marker to mark even intervals along the inside seam of the stacked, folded paper.
Punch a hole through all layers of paper with a safety pin. Follow with a needle and thread. Stitch in and out, alternating through the punched holes, until the space between every hole is secured with thread.
Stack squares of paper.
Use a ruler to mark even intervals along one edge of the paper. You will need to work in batches of 3-4 sheets at a time, depending on the strength of your hole punch. Punch holes along one edge of the paper.
Secure with twine. You can either knot individual loops at every hole location, or weave through the holes and secure with knots at each end.
But that’s it! Now I have a pile of cute little mini notebooks to toss in my purse or keep in the kitchen counter. Perfect for notes, reminders, or even grocery lists.
Don’t forget to PIN these paper bag upcycle craft for later:
More creative DIY paper and notebook ideas:
- Make your own DIY notepad, customized with your child’s artwork. This would make a perfect gift for a grandparent or parent! Learn how to photograph your child’s artwork and use it for custom DIY projects.
- These watercolor personalized note cards are SO easy to make, and they make the perfect little handmade gift. Paint simple note cards with watercolor for a sweet custom homemade gift.
- Learn how to make a simple DIY mini memory scrapbook that your children can decorate and customize on their own. Kids will love this creative scrapbooking activity that is perfect for family photos or vacation memories.