Prev Next
Two empty plastic milk cartons

Milk Jug Decorative Window Crafts

By Lindsey Boardman

We’re always looking for cheap or– better yet– free materials to craft with here, so we’ve played around with crafting all sorts of things out of those big plastic gallon milk jugs over the last couple of years. The type of plastic they are made from is pretty versatile as far as crafting goes. You can cut it easily with scissors, use hole punches on it, stick it with hot glue and best of all you can draw on it with permanent markers with great results due to it being semi-opaque and mildly textured on one side. We have come up with two different crafts you can make with these empty milk jugs.

Supplies Needed:

  1. Empty milk jugs (like the ones pictured below)
  2. Scissors
  3. Different colored Sharpies
  4. A hole punch
  5. Suction cups with hooks (for hanging)
  6. Small beads and pipe cleaner
  7. Paper

 

Before the kids got to doing these two crafts I had to prepare the plastic for them. All that was involved was washing out a couple of empty milk jugs like these:

Two empty milk jugs on a kitchen counter

Milk Jug Window Art

Once the milk jugs have been washed, I used a sturdy pair of scissors to cut out any flat side panels from the milk jug plastic. I wasn’t careful about the shapes I was cutting out. I just wanted to get as much area out of each jug as I could for them to draw on. All the left over bits just went right back in the recycling bin where the jugs had come from in the first place.

two white coffee mugs filled with sharpies, a pair of scissors, a hole punch and pieces of plastic on a table top

If you have really little kids then you could cut them simple shapes to scribble colors on like hearts or flowers or circles etc, or even the letters of their name. My two girls are five and six years old, so they were fine to draw their own pictures and cut out their own shapes. Just make sure that you draw on the mildly textured side of the plastic (the outer side of the milk jug) as this will hold the colors better than the smooth side. The other great thing about this plastic is that it is transparent enough that you can trace pictures through it, so my two had fun tracing their favorite cartoon characters from the fronts of their books.

A child with blonde hair sitting at a table coloring plastic with Sharpies

Close up of a child's hands tracing a Captain Underpants book cover onto a piece of plastic using a black Sharpie

My five year old did a lovely large wild flower panel on one of the irregular shaped large side pieces that I had cut from one of the milk jugs, and my six year old made a collection of candies and treats that reminded me a lot of the illustrations from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. Once they had drawn the things they wanted, they cut them out using kid’s safety scissors and hole punched a little hole to hang them from.

A close up of a child cutting a piece of plastic with a pair of scissors

We hung them in the window for the light to shine through like little stained glass decorations using teeny suction cups from the Dollar Tree.

a group of small suction cups with hooks on a table

My older daughter also used paper clips to make a long dangling display from her candy treat decorations, and I couldn’t resist making a couple myself too. Fun for all ages!

Window art made from plastic milk jugs

A shot of different designs of window art made by a child from plastic milk jugs

Milk Jug Butterflies

In addition to our  window decorations, we also made some hanging butterflies. These were to hang on a mobile for our baby that has since just arrived, but you could hang them anywhere.

Six different shaped and colored butterflies made from plastic milk jugs and pipe cleaner

Again, if you have younger kids, you could just cut out a butterfly shape and let them scribble their colors all over, or if you have older kids then they might prefer to draw their own butterflies or trace a more anatomically accurate butterfly to color.

Butterflies cut out from plastic milk cartons

I have included a pdf print out of three different anatomically correct butterflies that I drew a while back for a different art project, so anyone that wants to trace one can do so. Just click here to download and print.

I printed out these butterflies, cut them out and taped them to another piece of paper with a piece of milk jug plastic taped over the top, with the slightly textured side face up. I did this to make everything stay in place for the kids to color.

Butterflies made from plastic cut out, laying on blue paper next to a pair of scissors and a roll of tape

four sharpies laying on blue paper next to a butterfly craft made from plastic

Then when they were done I drew the intricate black details with a fine line permanent marker for them. Older kids would be able to do this part themselves though. Then we pulled the colored butterflies off the paper they were taped to and cut them out with scissors. We also gave them a little fold in the middle to make the wings crease upwards a bit. All you need for the body are a few random beads and a pipe cleaner that has been bent in half.

A butterfly made from plastic laying next to a black sharpie

Twist the bent end of the pipe cleaner and thread on a couple of the beads to one side to make the butterfly abdomen and thorax, then put your plastic milk jug wings in between the two bits of pipe cleaner and twist them together to keep the wings in place above the beaded body. Lastly you just need to thread both pipe cleaner ends through the bead that you have chosen for the head and then trim the ends to be the right length for antennae and curl them with your fingers.

Plastic butterfly colored with markers next to a "V" shaped pipe cleaner and 2 little pink beads

Close up shot of a butterfly craft made from plastic

Make as many as you like and use the bare length of pipe cleaner on the opposite side of the wings to the beaded body to tie some string and hang your butterflies.

Here are ours hanging from the mobile that we made for our latest little girly. I hope she likes them.

Milk Jug Butterflies Mobile

There are so many things you could use this type of plastic for. Hopefully these two projects will serve as inspiration for many more ideas and lots more decorative fun!

Find More Crafts for Kids from Alpha Mom:

  1. Pretty Flower and Ice Shard Tealight Votives DIY
  2. Upcycle Your T-Shirt into a Cute Potholder 
  3. How to Repurpose Damaged Books into Purses Craft

 

Lindsey Boardman
About the Author

Lindsey Boardman

Lindsey Boardman loves to share the messy art and crafting fun projects she concocts with the help of her two young daughters, her “filth wizards.” She documents this fun on her persona...

Lindsey Boardman loves to share the messy art and crafting fun projects she concocts with the help of her two young daughters, her “filth wizards.” She documents this fun on her personal blog Filth Wizardry.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Anthony from CharismaticKid
Guest

Now this is what I call a good idea. The only other use I saw in milk jugs was adding sand to them for weight lifting!

Safiyyah
Guest
Safiyyah

Wow this look awesome! I can’t wait to try this with my girls.

maryanne @ mama smiles
Guest

Lindsey has so many amazing creative ideas! I especially love these butterflies!

Sylvie Créative
Guest

Tried! Yours are so nice! Mines are OK 😉 Thanks a lot!

Bernadette
Guest

THOSE ARE AWESOME!!! I love love love the use of thematerial and the way you hung them with the paper clips. Love it!

mama magic
Guest

Wow!! Beautiful …and very creative. I’ve been wondering what to do with those gallon jugs since it was a habit collecting them for my winter sowing (now a past pastime).

Mhairi
Guest
Mhairi

Not sure how it would go but if you cut the edge of the ilk jug and then did the butterfly the wings would be beautifully curved.
I love this idea and so simple. What a great craft activity to do with children. Thanks for sharing.

Swati
Guest

Love the idea! You might want to use black and white for the infant though – newborns respond better to big patterns in black/white than fine coloured designs.

Tricia
Guest
Tricia

My three girls and I made these tonight. It was so quick, easy and fun! They turned out soooo cute!!! We will be making more of these I’m sure! Thank you for an unexpensive craft idea!

trackback

[…] Lindsay from FilthWizardry posted a tutorial on how to make these out of recycled milk jugs over at alphamom. We made ours using patterned velum paper from my scrapbooking supplies and they turned out just […]

Sarah Forhan
Guest

I love the butterflies what a great craft idea!

lollipops
Guest

What a creative way to look at things around your household. Having a fun time with the kids is as easy as finishing a jug of milk obviously. Thanks for inspiring many to spend time with the kids,even on a budget.

eliane
Guest

muito lindo !!!!

Rose Souza
Guest
Rose Souza

lovely,  I liked it !!!!!!

Theresa in Kitimat
Guest
Theresa in Kitimat

Your template for the butterflies is excellent. Thank you for sharing.

trackback

[…] ritagliate nelle bottiglie di plastica e decorate coi pennarelli, tutorial e modelli stampabili di https://alphamom.com/1616. farfalline da decorare ad acquarello, volendo possono essere fissate a mollettine da bucato. […]

trackback

[…] These window clings are absolutely beautiful!  It’s a great way to craft with kids and makes for a fun arts and […]

Clara de Assis
Guest
Clara de Assis

Adorei, pratico.

Georgia B
Guest
Georgia B

Love this. I’m going to do this. Thank you for putting these on here. XX’s

Joyce
Guest
Joyce

Thank you for the milk jug ideas. My daycare kids will love them.

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

I just love the butterflies! Very creative.  

genevieve
Guest
genevieve

beautiful! Must get the the students in school to do them.

Asha Dsouza
Guest
Asha Dsouza

very beautiful butterfly , i love them all.. really wonderful art.. so cute…thanks for the idea…..

gloria nickolis
Guest
gloria nickolis

Unfortunately, the PDF file doesnt work for me! 🙁 Great idea tho.

Isabel Kallman
Admin

it does work. i just tried it.

For some reason, the file is taking a long time to open up. We will be working on it to try to speed up it up. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. 🙂

Elisa
Guest
Elisa

Does the permanent marker pens colour stay on the bottles? As I create art work with plastic bottles in the UK, but nothing stays on when I want to add colour, ie glass paint, acrylic paint, stray paint, felt tips :/.

trackback

[…] I first saw this craft featured on one of my favorite blogs, Filth Wizardry, where she made a mobile using butterflies made from plastic milk jugs. She went into more detail about the butterflies on a guest blog on Alphamom, including the PDF for the butterfly shapes. […]

trackback

[…] Get your kids in on the upcycling fun with these adorable milk jug window crafts by Alpha […]

trackback

[…] Milk Jug Butterflies (how cool!) […]

The Monko
Guest

These are amazing and so pretty. Love them

trackback

[…] Learn how to make a variety of butterflies out of a plastic milk jug. […]

Susan d'Heursel
Guest
Susan d'Heursel

Love these ideas. Thanks for sharing, especially the butterfly templates as this saves so much time!

trackback

[…] at DailyPress 12. Piggy Bank at Free Kids Crafts 13. Chandelier at Shoestring Pavilion 14. Butterflies at Alphamom 15. Craft Storage at Small Fry & […]

trackback

[…] Upcycled Butterflies from AlphaMom- […]

trackback

[…] for this project came from Alpha Moms blog. I thought I’d adjust it into an Easter themed project, given it is already that time of […]

Rosanna
Guest

Mi piacerebbe seguire i vostri lavori ed avere delle notifiche. Grazie e nell’attesa distinti saluti.

Mira
Guest
Mira

They are beautiful, how creative! Making some butterflies with my girls soon, thank you for sharing.

trackback

[…] 27. Milk Jug Decorative Window Crafts           […]

trackback

[…] cup hooks (pack of 12 for $1 at Dollar Tree). I followed the directions from AlphaMom for these Milk Jug Decorative Window Crafts and printed the free butterfly template from that page. The kids did surprisingly well with little […]

Katherine
Guest
Katherine

What would happen if you tried to bake these would it turn out like shrink plastic or would it burn up I wonder?

trackback

[…] source: […]

trackback

[…] Milk Carton Butterflies […]

trackback

[…] source: […]

trackback

[…] butterflies from Alpha Mom were created with plastic milk jugs and some common art supplies. How gorgeous would these be […]

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

Great craft–thanks for the printouts! We made butterfly gardens by putting grass or moss in the bottom of clear containers and then putting the butterflies inside. Big hit!

trackback

[…] 13.  Suncatchers […]

trackback

[…] – Milk Jug Butterflies from Alpha […]

trackback

[…] Image via Alpha Mom […]

angee
Guest

Love this!! But when I go to cut them, the marker rubs off. Even after a day, the marker is coming off whenever I touch it. I tried washable and Sharpies and even pen. 🙁

trackback

[…] Teach them to save money with this Pig-gy Bank or decorate the house with this Milk Jug Decorative Window Craft. […]

trackback

[…] Inspired Cups from Tiny Rotten Peanuts School Wide bottle Cap Mural Project from Meri Cherry Decorative Window Butterflies (with free template) from Alpha Mom CD Weaving Tutorial from Make It…a Wonderful Life Recycled Art Sculpture […]

trackback

[…] 6. Mooo-ving Window Display Who knew that markers, cut-up milk jugs, and small suction cups were so udderly artsy? We are deeply moo-ved by Alpha Moms window décor. For detailed direction go here. […]