Do you have some old paper bags or gift wrap lying around waiting to be recycled? Well, check out this great upcycling tip from Magdalena from Unleash Cre8tive. Who knew you could be this creative with some old paper! Save a buck on your next gift and reduce paper going to landfill with this great DIY.


Potted plants

Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

Since moving into our new place, we have acquired three glorious balconies which all needed some life brought into them. I love looking at, owning and admiring plants, but I seem to do better at keeping them alive if their presentation is appealing to the eye. No plastic pot is going to cut it around here.

However – pots can be expensive! The really great-looking ones anyway. Not to mention, they can be annoyingly heavy if you like to reposition your plants to maximise their sun exposure from time to time.

I have come up with a fun way to dress up those cheap plastic pots that your plants come in when they are purchased from the store. It’s time to whip out that wrapping paper that you couldn’t bring yourself to throw away because it was just too pretty and get ready to do some up-cycling decorating. Before you know it, you will be churning these pretty babies out to gift to your closest loved ones.

The best part about this DIY – it’s quick and simple to make! It doesn’t require many materials and most items you can already find lying around your home.

What you’ll need:

  • Pre-loved gift bags/wrapping (alternatively: paper takeaway food bags or graphic advertising posters)
  • Contact book covering
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Decorative Washi Tape (optional)


There are no measurements for these as they are based on how big your potted plants are. The best way to create different dimensions is to measure the height of the pot and add about 5-10cm extra. I use a tape measure to work out the distance around the outside of the pot. You want a little wiggle room between the pot plant and the paper basket, so add a few centimetres to your measurements.

  1. Take your used wrapping (gift bag, takeaway food bag) and start deconstructing it. Remove any handles, staples, glued sections and cut away as much usable surface area as is possible so that you’re left with a nice, neat rectangular or square sheet to work with.

    Mixed Paper/gift bags

    Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

  2. Take your roll of contact covering and work out how much you’re going to need to cover the surface of your paper. Now double this as you are going to need to cover the front and back of the paper in order to stop it from coming into contact with any excess water from your pot plant.

    Deconstructed bag on laminate paper

    Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

  3. Remove the backing paper from your sheet of contact and starting from one edge, lay your paper down onto the contact using a ruler to smooth out any bubbles. Now fold over the contact and repeat on the reverse side. You are now left with what will look like a laminated piece of patterned paper.

    Laminated pieces of gift bag

    Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

  4. Lay your two pieces of laminated paper on top of each other with the pattern sandwiched inside and stitch around the outside starting on one side, turning to stitch along the bottom edge, then continuing to the other side. Leave the top opening un-stitched. If you only have one piece of laminated paper, fold it in half lengths-ways and repeat the instructions above – only this time you need to stitch one side and bottom as the other side is already connected by a fold.

    Puffed out bag with open tips

    Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

  5. Open up your stitched bag and puff it out gently. Hold the corners at the bottom of the bag and pinch them to create triangles jutting out from the base. Stitch straight across the triangle shaped corners (this will allow your bag to hold its form and stand up).

    Final stages of pot construction

    Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

  6. Once stitched, snip the excess triangle pieces off and then turn the bag inside out to hide all stitches on the inside.

    Completed Paper Pot

    Photo Credit: Magdalena Franco

With the top raw edge you can either leave it as is or:

  • Fold it over slightly and leave open exposing the inside of the bag
  • Fold it over and add a strip of contrasting or complimentary washi/decorative tape around the entire edge
  • Leave the edge up and add a strip of tape half way into the width of the tape and fold it over the inside of the edge, effectively sealing the edge with tape

Now all that is left to do is insert your potted plants, arrange on your windowsill, balcony or on top of a plant stand and admire your work.