DIY Painted Tote Bag (for under $3.00)

I was stumped on what to buy a friend for her birthday this year.  I wanted to give her something unique and from the heart so I decided to use a bit of my creative skills and make her some handmade Project Life-type cards, a pack of ‘real’ Project Life cards, some chocolate dipped Oreos and a hand painted tote bag.  She’s been really into scrapbooking lately so I was in search for a bag that was big enough for her to carry her scrapbook and supplies in so she could bring to her scrapbooking meet-up each month.

At first I was going to sew her a bag but I was a bit time crunched – and honestly I have a backlog of about 200 sewing projects in queue – so instead I hit the ‘net to purchase a blank bag to use, knowing she would like it just the same.

Upon my search I found these great bags at US Blanks and purchased two of them (one of her and, shhh, one for me!)  These bags are high quality and are Made in the USA!   They come in a Natural color and only cost $11.00 each.

A note on the bag-  You can also use any other tote bag you desire or if you have one on-hand at home you’d like to bring new life to, this is a fun and easy project to do.  I’d recommend a lighter color bag but this project would also work with a darker color bag and lighter color paints.

After making or purchasing a bag, the additional supplies you’ll need for this project include:

– Painter’s tape (I used leftover Scotch blue tape)
– Acrylic paints (I used Apple Barrel – which retail for about .50 cents each)
– Foam brushes (available at your local craft or home improvement store)
– An old t-shirt/rag or piece of cardboard to place inside the bag in case any color runs through


First insert your old t-shirt/rag/cardboard into the bag in case any color runs through the bag.  Next, apply the tape to the bag.  I didn’t follow any design, I knew I wanted a more abstract design so this is the path I took.  You can also use your creativity and skip using the tape and paint any design you’d like on the bag!  Make sure to really press the tape down onto the bag.


After finishing applying the tape, start applying paint with the foam brushes onto the bag.  Make sure you apply enough paint so you still don’t see the color of the bag.  I recommend using back and forth and up and down strokes while applying the paint for full coverage.


Continuing painting until all of your “blocks” are filled.  Originally I was going to stick with just three colors but I decided to add some additional colors midway into the project using leftover paint I had at home from prior projects, and I love how the bag was taking shape.


Now it’s time to reveal your masterpiece!  After the paint has dried, remove the blue painters tape from the bag.  If there is any color that has bled through you can touch-up or leave as-is  for added character.  I also only painted one side of the bag, but you can paint the back side if you’d like.


Below are the other items I added into the bag to complete her gift:


My friend loved her bag- at least that’s what she told me 🙂  I enjoyed spending the time making this one of a kind gift for her and excited that she’s carrying around an “original Kate” bag.  Now I just have to find the time to make myself one… maybe this weekend!

Love, Kate

Tags: bag, diy, paint, tote bag

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