Stenciled Tote Bag

Stenciled Tote Bag
This is another project just like yesterday’s that came from my “Gifts for Dudes” brainstorm session, and once again, it will work for absolutely anyone. But what really inspired this tote bag is Bear. He will not carry a bag. He’ll carry a laptop bag if necessary, but otherwise he’ll just toss things loose in his car, he’ll stuff his pockets, he’ll do without, but he won’t carry a tote. This frustrates me to no end because if we’re together, it means his junk gets put in my bag. I wanted to make this tote to encourage him to carry his own dang stuff, but also to celebrate anyone out there who is caring enough about the environment to use totes instead of worrying about how cool they look.

Step 1
This is a simple freezer paper stencil technique, which is one of my mainstays. It is so very simple and so very effective. You just need a surface to stencil – a tote bag in this case – freezer paper, and paint. It has to be freezer paper (which you’ll find next to the tinfoil) because that has a wax coating on one side that will melt into the fabric just enough to hold it locked in to place.

To make my stencils I just work up my image on the computer and print it out. Then I tape that print out on top of the freezer paper, and use an exacto knife to cut through both layers of paper. Make sure you save the insides of all those letters because you’ll need those to make the stencil look right.

Step 2
Use a hot dry iron to affix the stencil to the tote bag. Those tiny little centers can be tricky, but you’ll want to take care to get those good and stuck. Your image will come out so much cleaner if you do.

Step 3
Then just paint your image. I use regular acrylic craft paint and I never bother with any of those fabric mediums. Especially not with a tote bag that doesn’t require flexibility. When the paint is dry give it a good iron to really heat set that paint in place.

Tote Bag
Not only is this a great project for anyone, but it’s a great super last minute gift. Depending on how handy you are with your exacto knife, you could have this project done and wrapped in a couple of hours. Now that I think about it, this would be a fantastic teacher’s gift too. Every teacher I know has to carry mountains of books and papers around, and if it’s an English teacher, you know they’ll enjoy the pun.