Hearts and Envelopes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I want to show you how to make a small gift bag that would be perfect for packaging Valentine’s treats. The best part about this bag is that it starts with a common household product. It’s called a bag-a-lope, and, while it’s not a fancy name, it’s certainly very descriptive of the end result. A bag-a-lope is simply a bag made out of an envelope. I learned how to make one at my very first stamping class, and I recently came across the printed instructions I received at that class. It’s relatively simple to make; it doesn’t require a lot of supplies; and it’s a good idea to have in your back pocket should you have an unexpected need for a small gift bag!

Let me walk you through the basic construction first, and then I will show you the bag-a-lopes I made for Valentine’s Day this year.

You can make a bag-a-lope from any envelope. Most of us have both standard and legal sized envelopes around, and I am going to show you the basic construction using a legal sized envelope. You can use a standard envelope, but it ends up being a tall, narrow bag, so it isn’t as versatile. When you use a legal sized envelope, you actually cut it in half, giving you two bags that are the perfect size for small gifts.

The first thing you want to do is seal your envelope at the top, end to end.

Now cut the envelope in half. Each half will measure basically 4″ x 4 3/4″. The next step is the most important one:

With the open end at the top, fold in or score the two long sides and the bottom at the same measurement. For most bag-a-lopes, the fold measurement is 1/2″ or 3/4″. There is no set measurement–it really depends on the size of your envelope and how large an opening you need or want for your bag. If you use a larger mailing envelope, you might end up folding each side in an inch or more. The important thing to remember is to have all three fold measurements consistent. In this example, I have scored all three sides in at 1/2″. Make sure that you press each fold line both towards the font and towards the back of the bag to really set those lines.

Once you have your fold lines made, you can decorate your bag between the side and bottom folds, which is indicated by the cardstock. If you are going to cover the entire space between the fold lines with paper, then use the side with the seam in it. If you are going to stamp, or just use a small tag or embellishment on the front, then use the side without the seam.

Once you have decorated your bag, it’s now time to start to open it up. Start at the top of one of the long sides, and gently begin to open up the envelope as you work your way down to the bottom. Once you get close to the bottom, you will begin to see a triangle form. Gently push up from the bottom of the bag while you finish opening up the side to help with the triangle formation. Do the same for the other long side of the envelope.

When both sides of the envelope are open, your bag should look like this. Stand the bag up flat, and give those triangles a good press. Then put adhesive on the underside of the point of the triangle, and adhere the triangles to the bottom of the bag. I like to use glue dots for my adhesive.

And that’s it! From one legal sized envelope, you just made two small gift bags that each measure 3 1/8″ x 4 3/4″, and are 1″ wide. These bags are the perfect size for small gifts or treats. You can finish the bag any way you like–I’ve shown you two different options in the picture above. You could add a ribbon handle by punching holes on either side of the bag, and tying knots in the ribbon on the inside of the bag. This would allow you to deliver a treat to someone’s house by hanging the bag on the front door handle. The other option is to tie up the treats in a separate bag, add a tag, and place the treat bag inside of the bag-a-lope. The sky is the limit, and the wonderful things is that these bag-a-lopes are very versatile and adaptable to a variety of needs.

Now that you have a general idea of what a bag-a-lope is and how to make one, I want to show you a set of Valentine bag-a-lopes I made this week. I love to give my kids something homemade and handmade on the holidays; especially Valentine’s Day. We are meeting both of our kids tomorrow for separate, Covid-approved visits, and I wanted to bring them a little something special that they can put at the table on Valentine’s Day.

I bought this Valentines kit from Stampin’ Up! last month that includes notecards in 2 designs; layering cards in both the landscape and portrait orientations; and gold foil lined envelopes in 2 different patterns. The more I looked at this kit, the more I decided that I wouldn’t use it as it was designed. So I decided to “de-construct” the kit and use the contents to decorate some bag-a-lopes that were more my style. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I was a little timid at first cutting all of these cards up. Once I had my first bag done, however, I just let my creative juices flow, and the ideas came faster than I could create them! I used a standard A2 card envelope for my bags, as I wanted them to be solid white inside. The envelope measures 4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″. I cut 3/4″ off one side for the opening, and scored the other three sides at 3/4″. Here’s what I came up with:

I told you that I de-constructed the kit! I used every element in the kit in some way, and, along with other Valentine stamp sets, punches, and dies that I had, I was able to come up with six different bag designs that have the personality and charm that I love. Not even the envelopes were spared. It’s a lot to take in looking at all of them together, so here are some pictures of smaller groupings for you:

I had a wonderful time making and decorating these bag-a-lopes, and I can’t wait to give them to our kids! I am hoping that they will put these on their tables, so that they have a little treat to go along with their Valentine’s Day dinner. I will do the same for my husband and I. Here’s a picture of the bags all filled, along with a picture of how one of the bags will look on our table:

That’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed today’s treat packaging idea, and that you’ll give making a bag-a-lope a try. Stay safe and healthy, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-