While I do have a great stock of (rapidly depleting) carrier bags in the larder, I am pretty good about going out shopping with my reusable bags.  I usually have the canvas bags popped in my handbag, and have them in the car and strewn around the house.  They are really handy if I’m nipping out with N for an appointment and need to take some books or toys out with us, or if I’m doing a bit of a shop round town.

I’ve got quite a selection, most are freebies advertising various companies, and a couple I’ve bought.  But I fancied decorating my own custom reusable bag after seeing I could bulk buy a few.  Ten plain cotton bags purchased, and I was up for a decorating afternoon.

How to and what you need to paint your own canvas reusable bags - Bubbablueandme

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I have to admit, I’m not the most creative or artistic of people, so I kept to simple designs, but you could really go to town on your own designs.

What you need to make your own custom reusable bag

Plain cotton bags
Fabric paints or pens

Any other decorative items – thread, ribbons, beads etc (optional)
Card – I used a cereal box or insert from a shirt

The how to

  1. Decide on your design
  2. Iron the bag
  3. Put the piece of card inside the bag, to prevent the paint going through to the other side.  You want to keep the bag/card as still as possible so you could masking tape it down temporarily
  4. Paint on your design
  5. Wait for the fabric paint to dry – I left mine overnight, but it’ll depend on what your paint instructions are
  6. Use.

The reusable bags should be washable, although leave it a bit longer to do so just in case.  I only did one side of each bag but once the side is dry you could turn over and repeat the pattern on the reverse as well.

I did a few designs.  The bird and tree design was inspired by a picture I’d seen on a cushion.  I drew the main part freehand on a piece of paper, popped it inside the bag and used it to trace over with the paints.

bird design on canvas reusable bag

The crayons I created a pencil stencil from card, cut out the design.  Then painted within the stencil to build up the colour gradually and keep it within the lines.

stencilling crayons on cotton bags

I was really pleased how this one turned out.  It would be great for a children’s art bag.

crayons stencil painted on bag

The third design was a spiral of roses.

bag of painted roses

I’ve still got 7 bags left so I might let N loose on them.  Because the bags I bought were cheap, I found one was coming apart at one seam, so just check yours before using because you might need to re-stitch up one side.

If you don’t want to paint the bags, you could stitch on other decorations, try tie-dying or iron on transfers of your own photos.

I think they’re a great way to give a reusable bag a personal touch, and could be a great alternative to t shirt painting for children.

Have you ever used fabric paints or decorated bags?

Make your own reusable bag

How to make your own reusable shopping bag

Keyword reusable, shopping bag, sustainable
Cook Time 30 minutes
Drying time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 1 bag

Ingredients

  • Plain cotton bag
  • Fabric paints or pens
  • Additional threads, ribbons, beads etc optional
  • Cardboard (old cereal box or newspaper)

Instructions

  1. Decide on your design

  2. Iron the bag

  3. Put the piece of card inside the bag to prevent paint going through to the other side

  4. Paint on your design

  5. Wait for the fabric paint to dry – overnight, or at least a few hours. Depending on your paint instructions

  6. Don't forget to take it shopping with you.

Recipe Notes

The reusable bags should be washable, although leave it a bit longer to do so just in case. I only did one side of each bag but once the side is dry you could turn over and repeat the pattern on the reverse as well.

4 Comments

  1. I’ve yet to try out fabric paints/decorating bags but these things are on my ever expanding wish list/to-do list 🙂 Like you mentioned in the post, I prefer simple designs as I’m not sure how to make them look complicated… your pencil stencil is brilliant!

    • Thanks Erina. I love that they’re personal. And great for kids to have a go too

  2. I’d never think to do this but it’s such a great idea and so simple really. Beautiful designs! x

    • Thanks Donna, I can’t claim everything as my own designs, but I love that there’s so much versatility. Pens are easy, but paints and brushes could be an alternative too.

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