The Ultimate Arts and Crafts Guide with Blank Canvas Tote Bags

By now, you already know how versatile, practical and fashionable our blank canvas tote bags are.

Whether you're handing them out as promotional gear, using them as fun swag for your next networking event or simply investing in a bulk order to celebrate an upcoming special occasion, they're the ultimate clean slate. 

However, as stylish as the blank bags are, we all know they're even more dynamic when they're covered with your custom design!

The only problem? You're staring at the blank bag online with no clue where to start.

Looking for a little inspiration as you approach your project? That's why we're here!

Today, we're sharing an in-depth arts and crafts guide to fuel you with plenty of ideas and get your creative juices flowing as you create the ultimate canvas bag design of your dreams!

Ready to learn more? Let's get started!

Start With the Right Bag

When you're ready to design your custom tote bags, you don't want one that's going to fall apart after a few uses. You also don't want a "one-size-fits-all" bag that could end up being way too big or way too small for your needs.

That's why it's smart to stick with our selection. The blank canvas tote bags from BagzDepot are sturdy, classy and built to last. They're also available in a wide range of styles, colors, and sizes. This way, you're sure to find the one that fits your needs.

The best part? We use only the highest-quality, sustainable and eco-friendly materials to craft each bag. This means they'll hold up just fine against regular washes, spills, and heavy-duty uses. After all, they're meant to become staples in your wardrobe, and we want you to use them as such!

Creating the right bag begins with determining your requirements. Before you start brainstorming your arts and craft design, start by choosing the following features:

  • Handle type (fabric or rope, solid or colored)
  • Bag size
  • Included accessories (pockets, zippers)
  • Gusset (yes or no)

These are just a few of the many special touches you can customize to make sure your bag is ready for decoration! Once you've made your selection and placed your order, the real fun begins!

Decide Your Method

There are thousands of ways you can put your own creative spin on a blank canvas tote bag. From creating a custom screen-printed design at home to simply coloring on it with paint markers, the only limit is your imagination! For brevity's sake, we're sharing our top five favorite methods, including a DIY tutorial from start to finish! 

The different methods that we will be showcasing include:

  • Screen printing
  • Paint dipping
  • Applique
  • Paint stamping
  • Transfer paper pattern

Let's take a look at the steps you can take to make each of these designs a reality!

1. DIY Screenprinting

When you order from BagzDepot, we're happy to help you create a custom screen-printed design online! With our comprehensive screen printing services, you can choose up to five colors for your design, making this the ideal way to advertise your logo, slogan, graphic design or special message.

During this artistic process, our team of experts will work to complete the technical process of creating the custom stencils and screens required to transfer your artwork onto each bag. The outcome is a professional product that's sure to turn heads.

Want to get the same look at home? You can! Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

To screen print your bag at home, it's easiest to use a ready-to-use screen stencil. You can find these online, or you can make your own using this method with a vinyl cutter!

In addition to your stencil, you'll also need the following supplies:

  • Blank, ironed canvas tote bag
  • Screen printing ink
  • Plastic knife
  • Squeegee
  • Plastic canvas
  • Piece of cardboard

Step 2: Complete the Stencil Transfer

You need your work area to be firm and flat, so go ahead and put the piece of cardboard inside of your tote bag and work on top of the plastic canvas. This will help make sure the ink doesn't bleed and transfer onto the other side

Place the stencil on the tote bag in the correct position and location. It helps to hold it in place with tape so it doesn't wiggle!

Next, add the ink to your squeegee. You might need to use a putty knife or a craft stick.

Then, move the loaded squeegee up and down over the stencil. It may take several times to make sure the ink is coming out and transferring correctly. Be careful to keep your pressure light, as it could easily bleed through if you press down too hard.

Step 3: Let the Bag Dry

Once you're satisfied with the look of the stencil, take a step back and let the bag dry. If you're in a rush, holding a hair dryer over the design can speed up the drying process!

Step 4: Iron the Design

Finally, once everything has dried, go over the design with an iron to set it forever! You now have your very own screen-printed bag that you can share with friends, family members, and co-workers!

2. DIY Paint Dipping

Have you seen the fashion-forward canvas tote bags that feature a solid-colored bottom? These are known as "dipped" bags and they couldn't be easier to make. Here's what to do.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

The items you'll need for the DIY paint-dipped canvas bag include:

  • Blank, ironed canvas tote bag
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Exacto blade
  • Masking tape
  • Printable cardstock sticker
  • Simple stand 

Step 2: Measure Your Dipped Space

First, measure off the amount of the bag's bottom that you want to dip in the paint. Mark off this area with masking tape.

Step 3: Turn the Back Over

To make the dipping process easier, it's best to flip your bag upside down. You can use any simple stand to hold it up. Even a candlestick works!

Step 4: Paint the Bag

You won't actually dip the bag in the paint! To achieve a more exact, finished look, use your paintbrush to paint the fabric paint of your choice from the line of the masking tape down.

Step 5: Cut Out Your Sticker

While the paint on the bag is drying, use an Exacto knife to cut the design out of your printable cardstock sticker. This can be any design you choose, so try a fun message! Once you remove the design, you're basically left with a stencil. 

Step 6: Stencil the Design to Your Bag

Stick the stencil on your bag, using more tape to hold it in place. If your canvas bag is thick, insert a piece of cardboard at this point to make sure the design doesn't bleed. Then, using the same paint that you used on the bottom, paint over the stencil.

Let the bag dry and you're finished!

3. DIY Applique

What's more fun than a three-dimensional bag? To make yours literally stand out, why not apply a creative applique that expresses your personality? For this example, we're detailing how to make a ballerina for your bag. This would make a great gift bag for the tiny dancer in your life!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

As always, you'll start by gathering your materials. The ones you'll need for this project include:

  • Blank, ironed canvas tote bag
  • Lace ribbon
  • Water erasable pen
  • Chiffon fabric
  • Beads
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle

Step 2: Create the Three-Dimensional Piece

First, you'll need to turn the chiffon fabric into a sweet tutu! To make the applique, create the design on cardstock or printer paper and cut the fabric around it. Then, bunch it at the top and sew it together to make sure it doesn't unravel. You can hand-sew or use your sewing machine.

Add the beads or special crystals to the waistline for a little shimmer, if you choose! You can also accentuate this part with the lace ribbon. Note that this is the point of the project in which you'd create any 3-D part of your project. 

Step 3: Sew Your Design to the Bag

Next, take the paper that you used to design your silhouette and tape it to your bag. Use a water erasable pen to trace around it and then remove the paper. 

Then, use your embroidery thread to sew around the design. In this case, you'll be sewing a design that looks like the top of a dance costume. When you're done, spray the bag slightly to remove the pen line. Now, all you're left with is the sewn outline!

Step 4: Hand-Stitch the Three-Dimensional Piece On

With the base piece embroidered, you're ready to add the finishing touch! Hand-stitch the applique of your choice onto the bag, aligning it with the base piece as required. In this design, you'll add the chiffon tutu below the top of the dance costume. 

Then, you're done! You may have to be a little more careful with this bag than others, but if you treat it gently your design and applique will last a long time.

4. DIY Paint Stamping

The key supply for this project might surprise you: It's a potato! This is a fun project to let the kids try, so involve the whole family and see who can make the most creative design!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Now that we've got your attention, here are the rest of the tools you will need:

  • Blank, ironed canvas tote bag
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Knife
  • And of course, a few potatoes!

Step 1: Carve Your Shapes

This project is the easiest if you choose simple geometrical shapes that you can combine into a fun design. For instance, triangles and circles placed vertically atop each other create fun ice cream cones! Or you can make fire trucks with squares, a nighttime scene with crescents, or even a simple polka-dot motif!

Either way, use your knife to slice the potatoes in half vertically and carve those shapes into the cut side. 

If you're only using one shape, you can use the same potato over and over again, washing it off as you change paint colors. Otherwise, cut enough potatoes to accommodate all of your shapes. 

Step 2: Paint Your Stamps

With your potato stamps ready, use your paintbrush to paint the fabric paint onto the carved shape. 

Step 3: Stamp Your Bag

When the paint is ready, apply the stamps to your bag. Be sure to press down firmly to make sure the entire shape transfers! It's best to stick a piece of cardboard inside the bag, first.

Step 4: Dry and Embellish

Allow your bag to dry fully before use. After it's dry, you can go back with a smaller paintbrush and add fun details, such as glitter!

5. DIY Transfer Paper Pattern

Want the look of a custom screen-printed bag without the extra steps of creating your own stencil? You can achieve a similar appearance with transfer paper!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Here are the supplies you'll need for this project:

  • Blank, ironed canvas tote bag
  • Transfer paper
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Custom design on cardstock or stock template
  • Baking paper (if not included in your package)

Step 2: Print Your Template

Whether you've made your own design online or in a word processing software, or you've purchased a pre-made designer template, go ahead and print it out on your transfer paper. The package of paper will include all of the instructions you need to position and print the design.

Step 3: Cut the Template

Next, cut the design out with your scissors. Try to stay close to the images and use your steadiest hand! You'll be applying this straight to your bag so any jagged edges will transfer over, too!

Step 4: Iron on the Image

Next, turn the paper upside down and place it on your bag in the position where you want it. Your transfer paper package should have included a sheet of baking paper. If it didn't grab one now and put it on top of the transfer paper.

Then, use an iron to apply heat to the paper. Use a circular movement to transfer the heat evenly.

Step 5: Dry and Remove Paper

Remove the baking paper and allow the shapes to cool down. Then, slowly peel the top layer of the transfer paper off.

If you notice that the design is peeling up and sticking to the paper, don't go any further. Rather, go back over the design with your iron and repeat the heat transfer steps. Be sure to let it cool down again, and you're done!

Spark Creativity With This Arts and Crafts Guide for Blank Canvas Tote Bags 

Are you ready to take your blank canvas tote bags to the next level? While we adore the neutral look of a plain bag, these fun and simple arts and crafts projects are a simple and inexpensive way to jazz it up, add personality and showcase your custom message. 

When you're ready to get started, check out our selection of blank, canvas tote bags today. Then, start dreaming and turn your vision into reality! If you have any questions along the way, feel free to contact us!

Written by Bagz Depot — November 21, 2019

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