Paper Bag Gelli Print Book – construction


This is going to be HUGE.  I will try to use a combination of actual photos and diagrams to try to explain it fully and will hope that gets the steps across clearly.  Any questions, comment and I’ll reply.  I would suggest that you SUBSCRIBE to the COMMENTS so any replies I make come to you via email, or check back if you ask a question.  Emails to commenters can bounce back as undelivered and I don’t want you thinking I am ignoring you {wink}

Folding the bags

My book uses 4 standard lunch bags.  That’s not to say that you can’t use the smaller nice ones (I think they are called Celebration bags, from Michaels in the USA) but that is not what I used.  The standard bags can be ever so slightly wonky, but that is part of their charm for me.

All the bags get opened and folded the same way, it’s the snip to release the gusset that changes position from bag to bag, so start by folding them all like this:

Slip your hand inside the bag.  Tease out the side folds all the way, and re-crease them along the existing fold lines:


Fold the bottom of the bag to the side it wants to go, in the same position it was originally


Fold the two side gussets back into position, again as they were originally, like so:


Fold the bottom flap over onto the body of the bag, over the folded in side gussets.


You might like to reinforce all the folds at this point, with a bone folder or the back of a spoon or just your thumbnail, so the creases are as crisp as you can make them.

Because I am using the Gelli prints from the 6 x 6 plate, I trimmed the bags so the area from the fold to the edge of the opening is 6 inches. If you want a bigger book, don’t cut!


OK, now we will switch to diagrams, so I can explain the cutting more easily.  You will make TWO sets of TWO bags.



At this point the long flaps, top and bottom need to be stuck together from inside the bag, making those flaps a more cohesive whole. Just open the bag and stick JUST the area from the top to the snip (the area the scissor tip is “pointing to” above) and the same area on the bottom, but to the fold, as you have not snipped it, have you?

While the bag is still open and unstuck, cut yourself a little template for the side pockets.  This is where the wonkiness comes in to play – unless you really want to cut a template for each bag pocket, the one you cut is unlikely to match perfectly for all bags.  Live with it or do each one, or make the side pocket a rectangle rather than following the lines of the folds like I did!

gellibagtemplate gellibagtemplate1 gellibagtemplate2

Now, the nice thing about this way is you can use the off-cut from the print you use to cover the pocket and either slip it inside THAT pocket (boring) or swap them around so one piece covers the pocket and another fills the pocket, then reverse that for a different pocket.  Like I did:


The spine gussets that join the bags

I used three.  This is a little flexible, but since I am using A4 cardstock, I cut it in half (that’s roughly at 5 3/4 inches) then trimmed it to 8 inches.  No real reason for that, it was kinda automatic.  In any case it just needs to be smaller than 6 inches tall and the wings need to be narrower than 4 inches (the width of the bag bottom) so don’t get too hung up on exact measurements.  If you are using a US letter piece of card  5 1/2 x 8 will be fine.

Score each of the three at 3 inches, 4 inches and 5 inches along the longer side.


Crease the score lines like so, so you get two side “wings”


To join bags One and Two, add the adhesive to the underside of the wings and stick one wing to the back of the fold-over flap (the bag “bottom” in its original state)


Can you see that the wings are attached, but the little fold in the middle is free, and extends PAST the edges of the bag?



Do exactly the same for Bags Three and Four.

Now, using the last piece, join the two sets.  In this case you will be joining the BACK of the bag, rather than the bottom. When you cover these, it give you two FULL SIZE pages rather than the smaller bag-bottom pages:


Full-size pages.


Now it is up to you – a few possibilities.  I chose to stick the spine extensions together. You may not want to.  I toyed with covering the spine unit with another Gelli print, but to be honest I liked the black contrast.



I hope you can see in the shots above and more from yesterday that the spine done this way allows the book to really open up, although I’m not sure you could get loads of really thick, dimensional embellishments in there even so, but I’ve not decorated mine yet.

The rest of it is pretty much as you would expect it to be.

  • Decorate the front and back as covers
  • Stick two prints, back to back, sandwiching the flap at the top.
  • Cover the inside of the side pocket, then fold in  and use your template to cut a covering piece.  This completes the pocket.  You CAN use TWO of the template pieces, back to back, sandwiching the sides, for a more solid finish.


  • gellisidepocket1Decorate behind the bottom flap – I cut off enough to use that strip to cover the front of the pocket on another page and along the pocket.

gellibottompocket gellibottompocket2

  • Stick the sides of the pocket along the bottom edge at the side and decorate the front of the flap
  • gellibottompocket3Decorate all the pages to cover the spine wings as already shown.
  • I chose to cover the entire area of the inside of the back cover to offer better structural integrity


Good lord that is LONG.  But I hope it explains it well enough for you to have a go!

Now, this is a total experiment.  I know some people prefer a PDF.  Once I publish the post, I am going to try to convert the post to a PDF simply by using Readability (which is a bit like the Google Reader that is disappearing later this year, but Readability works in the browser I use for READING, just not for printing).  What I HOPE will happen is it will take the post, strip out all the sidebar and blog surround rubbish, and make it a PDF in about two clicks.  I’m simply not sure if it will split photos, or split the PAGES in a way that makes it unusable.  If it looks good enough, I’ll add it as a download HERE (if it’s highlighted as a hot link, you know it worked!  If not, you know it didn’t.  I have to switch to a different browser to do it so bear with me if you are seeing this in email or come to the post in the next 3 minutes….)

Added note:  Interesting.  The Google reader version turns out at 28 pages and more or less puts one photo per page.  The Readability version is 17 pages and seems more usable so that is the one I added!

It goes without saying that you can use this basic construction for a standard (non-Gelli print) book and cover with scrapbook papers instead!

I hope you like it.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done a PBB or a mini and I really enjoyed it.  Hope you did too.

10 thoughts on “Paper Bag Gelli Print Book – construction

  1. Thank you for trying to explain…II just really enjoyed seeing the pages develop and the gorgeous arty pages you made to showcase in your book.

  2. Thank you for the explanation it’s super clear, I can’t wait to try making it.

  3. Well, I am totally confuddled, but that is a normal state for me, lol! Your instructions along with the photos are wonderful, I just read thru it too fast, or better said, just skimmed over the written part, looking at the photos instead, lol! I am sure that when I take time to really pay attention to the instructions (having it in .pdf will make it even easier!), I’ll get it in no time at all!
    I must say Mary Anne, that you are quite the genius! I’ve seen your YT vids and I should have discovered your blog much, much sooner!
    Thank you so much for sharing this genius with all of us. I certainly appreciate it, and am sure everyone else does too!

  4. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  5. Wow, thanks a bunch for this great tutorial

  6. Oh Mary Anne that’s fabulous – I’ve got a paperbag to play with – but the bit I’m stuck with is when you snip at the top – what happens to the bit on the top right? Do you fold it to the front of the bottom of the bag, the back or cut it off?

    • OK. let me see if I am getting what you are confused about right 🙂
      When you snip, you are creating the free-floating flap that will get covered front and back with 6 x 6 (more or less) piece (be they gelli prints or cardstock). If you are looking at BAG ONE, the bit to the right that you have freed up folds first DOWN onto the 1/2 size page then gets covered with the template piece. The template piece joins with the two little odd shaped flaps to create the side pocket. Look at the photo just BELOW the diagram. I think you are speaking of the small piece at the top right of the bag, just above the scissors in the photo? That folds down, to basically where the scissors are in the photo.

      does that help?

      Mary Anne

  7. Thank you so much for posting this excellent explanation…I will have a go at doing it asap!

    You may possibly be interested to know what I did with my last collection of gelli prints…I cut them out and glued 6 of them with half pva and water onto a 36″ wide piece of cotton organza, then sealed them with acrylic wax. I added two stiffer gelli prints onto the back of the images at each end. Then I stamped on the back of the remaining images. The whole strip was accordion folded into a book..see my website….

    • Interesting. I’ve not played with wax, ever, but it sounds like it could be quite cool. Is it the ones you label as Friendship books? It’s hard to tell as the link is to a shop and not really a tutorial so I’m not sure if I am seeing what you mean for me to see 🙂

      Your books are lovely, tho’, so glad you linked.
      And I’ll look forward to seeing your version of my book, so do come back and let me know!


      Mary Anne

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