Many years ago, we had this totebag painting idea. Actually, we received small tote bags as a party favor and decided to decorate the tote bags. There are actually many ways to hand paint a tote bag, but this was a kids’ craft idea that we loved. We even used the totebags as travel sensory kits for a while.
Totebag Painting Idea
Let’s get started with this totebag painting activity.
We went to a fun birthday party this past weekend, and got these little bags as part of the party favor.
Little Guy brought his out today and was so sad that his bag was yellow and not his favorite color, RED.
I started to say, “Well, what can we do about this problem?”
Big Sister cut in and said “I know!!! We can PAINT them and GLUE STUFF to them!” This was a really creative painting idea that she came up with on her own, so we went with it!
This girl is SO my daughter!
Little Guy thought that was a pretty smart idea. So, we pulled out the paints, glue, glitter, sparkly hearts, and puffs.
Tips for Making Hand Painted Tote Bags with Kids
Painting a tote bag can be a creative and fun sensory activity. It can get a little messy, but with some prep work, you can make this activity with kids and then use the bag to hold all kinds of fine motor items or sensory tools.
Here are some tips for making a hand painted tote bag:
- Choose the Right Tote Bag for Painting: Select a tote bag made of a material suitable for painting. Canvas bags are a popular choice as they provide a smooth surface for painting. You’ll want a tote bag that is a solid color. Smaller is a great size for younger kids. There are miniature tote bags on Amazon (affiliate link) which would be great for a therapy caseload or a classroom activity.
2. Add a Piece of Cardboard so the paint doesn’t bleed through the sides of the bag: Before starting to paint the tote bag, slide a piece of cardboard into the bag. This way, when you paint, it only ends up on one side of the bag. You can even paint one side and allow it to dry, then paint the other side.
When you have that piece of cardboard in the bag, you can even use it to prop up the bag to allow the paint to dry faster.
3. Select Paint to Paint the Tote Bag: We used washable paints because we knew we wouldn’t be washing our tote bags and my kids were very young at the time that we hand painted tote bags. You could use other types of paints, however, especially if you want to wash your bag at some point. Good paints to use are acrylic paints or fabric paint.
4. Prepare Your Workspace: Lay down a protective covering to prevent paint from spreading onto surfaces. Have all your materials organized and within reach to create a comfortable and accessible workspace. We just used a laminated placemat as our workspace, but you could place sheets of newspaper or plastic table cloths, too.
5. Plan Your Design: Before applying paint, sketch your design on the tote bag with a pencil. This will help you visualize the final product and make adjustments before committing with paint. For my kids, we just kind of painted, and that worked out great!
6. Use Appropriate Brushes: Select brushes of different sizes based on the details of your design. Larger brushes are ideal for broad strokes, while smaller brushes are better for intricate details.
If you are creating a hand painted tote bag with features like a child’s name, flowers, or other details, a finer brush would help. If you are using washable paints with a younger child, a sponge brush or even finger painting is fine, too.
7. Apply Thin Layers: Instead of applying a thick layer of paint, use thin layers to achieve a more even and professional-looking finish. Allow each layer to dry before adding the next.
8. Add Texture or Patterns: Experiment with adding texture or patterns to your design. You can use sponges, stencils, or even household items to create unique effects.
9. Seal the Design: Once your design is complete and fully dry, consider sealing it with fabric sealant or ironing it according to the paint manufacturer’s instructions. This helps ensure the longevity of your painted tote bag. We didn’t need to do this step because we just used washable paints.
What do you think? Will you make a painted tote bag in your therapy sessions, at home, or in the classroom?