How To: Milk Carton Coin Purses

Here's a tutorial for my old recycled favorite: The Milk Carton Coin Purse. I've had such success with this design in the past two years - it was one of the top 10 projects of 2008 on cut out and keep, and every time I use mine at a store the cashier will comment on how neat it is. They're great to have on hand to give as birthday presents and little gifts. It requires almost no materials, and it's 100% recycled - not even any tape or glue! Make your own, or let me make one (or many!) for you!

Milk Carton Coin Purse Tutorial:

You will need:
A half gallon milk or juice carton
Cutting knife
Cutting mat

1. Start with a half-gallon sized milk or juice carton. Pull open the top of the carton, clean out the inside and make sure the inside is dry. Be sure to keep the cap!

2. Use scissors or an x-acto knife to cut off the bottom of the container. Pay close attention to the "front" of the carton (the front is the side that has the cap on it) - you want to make sure that this edge looks really neat, and that you cut it as close to the bottom of the carton as possible.

3. Use a ruler to measure and mark one of the sides of the container about 3" from the bottom and 5" from the bottom. The space in between these markings is going to be the body of the purse.

4. Use scissors or an x-acto knife to cut away the sides and back of the carton below the 3" mark and above the 5" mark. Make sure you don't cut away the front of the carton!! We need that part. If you want, put a post-it note on the front of the carton to remind you not to cut that side.

5. Push the back of the carton towards the front of the carton to fold the sides in half.

6. Make two more folds on each side to create the accordion effect.

7. Fold the bottom of the front of the carton up. It should be a little bit taller than the accordion folds.

8. Fold that tall part in, and tuck it under the accordion folds.

9. Now for the top of the carton - cut off the ugly white part that has the expiration date, etc. You should only have the colorful part left.

10. Use the x-acto knife to gently detach the white thingy that the cap screws into. This topmost part is going to be the "lining", providing reinforcement for the top flap.

11. Fold the lining over on the already-existing crease, and trace the circle onto the other layer of the top flap. Cut this out with an x-acto knife, cutting slightly smaller circle than what you marked.

12. Now that the whole top flap has the cap hole in it, fold this over the body of the purse and trace the circle once again onto the front of the purse.

13. Pull out the bottom flap and lay it flat on the cutting mat. Cut the cap hole with the x-acto blade out of only the bottom flap.

14. Once you have your hole, put the white thingy through the hole.

15. Tuck the bottom flap back into the accordion folds so the white thingy sticks out of the front of the body of the purse.

16. Fold the top flap over the white thingy and put on the cap. You're done! Fill it with change, and be prepared to take the whole thing apart every time someone asks you how you made such a cute purse!

Carole Ann


  1. As the lucky recipient of such a coin purse, I would like to say that it's adorable, practical and fun! Thanks, Carole Ann!


  2. My oh My. Just got referred to this post from a friend. This milk carton thing is amazing. I am so into the recycle type of crafts. I'm going to refer to your post in my blog and put you on my favorites! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cool! We go through a carton of Almond Milk a week so this would be a fun project for my boyfriend and me to try! (We made books out of cereals boxes once; that was cool, too.) Too bad he just took the recycling out...

  4. Beware - you will become the crazy milk carton hoarding lady!! Everyone from my work knows to bring their empty cartons in to me...especially the cute ones!

  5. Hi Carol Ann, just made one! I've been keeping empty cartons since I've read that post and finally I have my first coin purse. This means that I'll make more... Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Irene - So glad that you liked the project! Keep up the good up-cycling!

  7. Couldn't you use this as a pattern for a real coin purse?
    Seems to be sturdy enough to trace, just make a button instead of a bottle cap.

  8. I bet you could - if you try it out, let me know how it goes!

  9. Did you think of this yourself? I've seen a pattern quite similar to this on other DIY Craft sites. It's wonderful. I've made at least 50 because all my friends and family members want them! :]

  10. Hi Maya - I have a tutorial also up on Cut Out and Keep. I've seen similar projects elsewhere, but none that do not involve glue or other materials. After messing around with milk cartons for about three months, I came up with this design, and I love it because it's 100% recycled! So glad that you love to make them too!

  11. This is genius! Congratulations!

  12. Love it! I'm sooo making this. If I could make something out of all my garbage, I would. Wow, what a Christmas gift closet that would make!

  13. Thanks Cami!
    Virginia - I know, I love to make things out of garbage, too!

  14. Brilliant! I just made one of these and it was a snap. I'm so happy it didn't take glue or anything more than some cutting - I see a lot of these in my future! I will blog about it later in the week, too and link back to you. Thanks so much for the how-to!!

  15. I make these all the time with cool looking cartons now. Since I had velcro sitting around I use a velcro closure instead of the cap. I just finished making a small one out of the new Starbucks Discoveries cartons.


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