How to Tie a Handle on a Paper Bag

Paper bags are great for carrying stuff (and eco-friendly) but sometimes it's hard to get a good grip if you're carrying them from the top. If you have a sturdy piece of string or yarn around, it's easy to make a handle for them. All you need to know is how to fold the top of the bag so it won't come undone or leak its contents. Definitely a skill worth learning!


  1. 1
    Get a sturdy piece of string or rope. This will become your handle, so choose something that will make a comfortable grip. Cut the rope or string two to three times as long as the width of your bag.
  2. 2
    Choose a bag that is enough taller than your load that you can fold it over several times. Place whatever you will carry into your bag.
  3. Image titled Paper_bag_handle_boy_mechanic_1.png
    Fold the sides of your bag outward, against the crease, so that there are only two layers of paper. Fold the end of your bag over the center of the rope. A crisp fold will be a little tidier and hold a little more strongly than a loose roll.
  4. 4
    Image titled Paper_bag_handle_boy_mechanic_2.png
    Continue folding the top of the bag over around the rope or string.
    Make crisp, even folds all the way down to what you are carrying.
  5. 5
    Image titled Paper_bag_handle_boy_mechanic_3.png
    Fold up the two "ears" poking out from the sides as shown.
  6. 6
    Tie the ends of the rope securely together.
  7. Image titled Paper_bag_handle_boy_mechanic_4.png
    Carry the bag by your new handle.


  • Cutting a piece of corrugated cardboard and placing it in the bottom will give additional strength to the bag.
  • Once you have a piece of rope or string tied as a handle, you can reuse it for your next paper bag that size. Just leave it tied and fold the bag through the loop.
  • If you carry items in paper bags often, consider getting or even making a sturdier bag that you can reuse.
  • You can also use a plastic bag as a handle.


  • Be careful of carrying anything too heavy or fragile this way. If you have any doubts about whether your handle will hold, lift slowly. Carry it close to the ground so if it does break through it will not have too far to fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper bag
  • Rope, string or yarn
  • Scissors
  • Items to carry

Sources and Citations

  • Images and adaptation from "Tying Paper Bag to Make a Carrying Handle", from The Boy Mechanic, in the public domain because it was copyrighted in 1913.

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