Brown Paper Bag Roses

Posted on March 12th, 2017 in Crafts, Flowers

I love artificial flowers made from paper. They are so stylized, they are more of an art piece than quote unquote fake flowers. The fact that they are obviously not real makes them glorious.

One of my favorite flowers to make are giant cabbage roses made from brown paper bags. They are so dramatic, and they’re really fun to make. And no one would believe they’re actually made from lunch bags.paper bag roses

Start with some lunch-sized brown paper bags. They’re sold in packs at the grocery store.bags

And grab some bottles of Rit Dye. You don’t have to color your roses, but the dye gives them a gorgeous quality. For these roses I chose red for the roses and green for the sepals. I’ve also used yellow and purple in the past, and both colors turned out beautifully.dye

Place the paper bags one at a time in the dye bath. I just estimated the amount of dye to water — about 1 part dye and 2 parts water. The bags at first resist taking on the color. The key is to break down the fibers of the paper. I do that by scrunching the bags over and over again. I saturate each bag in the dye, squeeze, soak it again, squeeze, soak it again and squeeze. All that squeezing breaks down the paper and relaxes it, and the dye takes. (Oh, rubber gloves are your best friend here.)dye

Lay the paper bags out on plastic covering to dry overnight. When the bags are wet with dye, the color will not look very good. Green and purple look like black when they are wet. But when they’re dry, the color looks it should. (Yeah, I know those bags look like meat from the butcher’s shop.)bags

For each rose, you’ll need 4 bags of the color of your choice, and 1 bag that’s green.bags

You’ve heard of double bagging. You will be “quintuple” bagging, with the green bag on the outside and the four red bags on the inside.bags

Twist the bags together tightly so you have what looks like a handle. It’s starting to look like a rose, or at least the torch that the Statue of Liberty holds.twist

Peel back the green bag. Tear it in a few places, and it looks like the sepals of the rose.sepals

Then peel back the red bags one at a time starting from the outside in.You can leave the layers as is or tear them to create petals. And just as the inner petals of real roses are more closed, keep the innermost red bag scrunched up. You’ll also notice as you’re unpeeling the bags that sometimes there are spots on the bags that did not get thoroughly dyed. That’s okay. The roses look kind of cool with variegated petals.paper bag rose

The rose looks finished, but wait! There’s a second rose hidden in there. Cut the green stem at the base of the rose with a good pair of scissors.rose

Seal the cut edge with hot glue. Then put a wood skewer into the base for a stem if desired.skewer

And that piece we cut off? Unroll the layers and make another rose out of that. Poke a skewer through the base for the stem.rose

Here are the two roses.bag roses

Make several roses (if you’re going through the trouble of dyeing them, might as well make a bunch), and put them in a vase for an impressive display.bag roses

Or arrange them in manzanita branches. You’ve got this project in the bag.roses


  1. pat charee says:

    Love it!!

  2. Dorothy Mozzetti Cook says:

    Beautiful Paper Cabbage Roses!
    Im trying it this weekend. I have everything but the dye.
    Think ill use spray paint & see how it goes.

  3. Gladys Ward says:

    Was thinking a bit of gold gilt on edges of the rose would be nice.

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