I love making projects with dollar store “finds.” It’s so rewarding when you can achieve big-ticket looks with your art and crafty projects but only spend a few bucks to do it. This project is a great example of that.
I started with a cotton tote bag that I had been given when I attended the Creativation trade show in Phoenix, AZ in 2017. It was at that show that I met Emmie and Ian, the owners of ART FOAMIES, so it is great to be able to use their fabulous products to embellish this ordinary bag and have it as a keepsake of when I met these wonderful people.
Here’s how this project came together.
I wanted to preserve some of the graphics that were already printed on the bag but to embellish it further to make it more fun and interesting. Here are photos of the front and back of the bag before I got started.
I also had picked up some fun neon colored iron-on patches from the dollar store when I was shopping for their inexpensive fabric paint in bright colors.
I used some of the black fabric paint (poured into a dish) and a small paintbrush to paint out the advertising on the large balloon you see on the bag.
Then I used the same small paintbrush and watered down the fabric paint in the dish and splattered the black paint all over the bag, both sides (including the straps).
Next, I did the same splatter technique with four other colors (neons in pink, orange, yellow and blue) on both sides of the bag and the straps.
Don’t worry if some of the splatters are a bit wonky or if they run. This is supposed to be a fun and whimsical project, so perfection is not expected.
Next, I poured out some dark purple fabric spray paint into a dish. I used the brayer to apply the paint to the ART FOAMIES heart stamp and stamped each of the four iron-on transfers. Cutting the hearts out with pinking shears gives them a fun look. These will be applied to the back of the bag.
I used a pencil and ruler to find the center of the back of the bag and marked it lightly in pencil, and then laid out the hearts in a pleasing pattern.
When I was happy with the placement of the hearts, I ironed them into place. (Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your iron’s heat seating. The patches I got did not have instructions so I just used a medium setting on my iron and checked periodically during the ironing process to ensure that all the edges of the patches were held securely in place.)
For the next step I used the purple fabric spray paint (poured into a dish) and a beige ZIG acrylic marker. I also used another ART FOAMIES stamp, this time a leaf pattern, again with the brayer. I positioned these stamps around the iron-on patches in a pleasing pattern.
NOTE: when stamping on fabric you may not get as opaque a finish as you’d like. You can either try to stamp over top of the first impression you made, or you can use some of the fabric paint and a small paint brush to fill in color where it’s needed. I did a combination of these two choices to get the color coverage I was looking for.
I used the ZIG marker (beige) to help sharpen up the areas of the stamped leaf pattern that I didn’t want to be purple, or where there was too much splatter showing through. (See the next photo of the back of the bag BEFORE I used the ZIG marker and you’ll see what I mean.)
Now, on the front of the bag, I repeated the process with the ART FOAMIES leaf stamp, purple paint and beige marker, working around the existing screenprinted images.
With some colourful dollar store buttons, embroidery yarn (beige to match the bag) and a needle, I had SO much fun embellishing the bag, it was hard to know when to stop! Just think what else you could be using for this project besides buttons. The sky’s the limit.
So, I am still debating whether to add even more to the bag or leave it as is. I am tempted to add some sparkle in the form of glittery dimensional paint, but will leave it for a few days and see if the urge passes or not. LOL!
Tote bag (canvas, cotton or other material)
Dollar Store iron-on patches (4 in neon colors)
Dollar Store fabric paints and sprays
Dollar Store buttons
Dollar Store embroidery yarn (beige) & a needle
Paint pen (I used a ZIG acrylic marker in an off-white color)
Small paint brushes
Fabric scissors or pinking shears
Art Foamies stamps used:
I hope you’ve been inspired to challenge yourself to see what you can create with dollar store supplies, a recycled bag and, of course, your ART FOAMIES stamps! Happy creating, everyone!