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How to Stencil a Tote Bag in 4 Easy Steps

Don’t have a lot of time on your hands? Stenciling a tote bag is such a fun and fast project! It took me under 10 minutes a bag and is the perfect way to customize your daughters birthday party gift bags, wedding gift bags, Green grocery bags, book bags and more.  There are so many stencil designs to choose from, you can really mix and match to find the stencil pattern and colors that fit any theme. My Cutting Edge Stencils DIY partner, Kerry, and I ended up making about 15 of these totes to give away to lucky people at the Brimfield Antique Show. The Brimfield Antique show is the largest antique show in the New England region and Cutting Edge Stencils was lucky enough to be invited to go. At any rate, while stenciling these totes, I got so inspired and into it, I didn’t want to stop and kept on thinking of friends who I could make a bag for as a personalized gift. Kerry and I really had a blast making these totes and I hope that you find ten minutes to make one (or ten) yourself.

Stenciled tote bags

What you will need: Cutting Edge Stencils Craft Stencils (we used Casablanca craft stencil, Rabat craft stencil, Marrakech craft stencil, and the Hand Forged craft stencil) and Small sized Flower Stencils (we used Anemone Grande Small, Chrysanthemum Grande Small, Zinnia Grande X-Small, Tree Peony Small, Peony Small and Dahlia Grande Small), Tote bags, Benjamin Moore Sample paints (to get these go to your local Benjamin Moore and pick out a number of sample colors (found at Benjamin Moore stores and only cost around $3.99), 5/8″ stencil brush, paper plate, piece of cardboard, blue painters tape, fabric medium (optional)

ironing tote for stenciling

1. To prep your tote, give it a quick iron. If you are worried about your iron staining the bag, place a thin piece of fabric between it and the tote. This step is to give yourself a nice smooth surface to stencil on. Kerry was gracious enough to do the ironing while I taped frames on the bags (see below).

tape out tote bag for stencil project

2. After your tote is nice and ironed. Take your blue tape and create a border so that you have a nice frame around the area that you are going to stencil. If you are doing one of the small flower stencils like the Anemone Grande, there is no need for the frame. It is mainly for allover craft stencil like the Casablanca or Rabat but feel free to keep the border is you like the look as we did with the Zinnia Extra Small stencil below. To see our extensive stencil collection of flower stencils to choose from click here!!

Zinnia Wall Art Stencil

3. Place your stencil where you want and then tape it down on all four sides. Then choose your Benjamin Moore color and in a pouncing motion, begin to stencil! You should have a paper or plastic plate at hand to pour a dollop of paint onto and offload any extra paint on your brush (to offload extra paint on your brush, first dip your brush in your dollop of paint and then “brush” your plate until you see that the excess paint has been removed. Note: If you plan on washing your bag and/or don’t want the paint to slightly stiffen the bag, add some fabric medium to your dollop of paint and you’re good to go. In this example I used the Zinnia Extra Small stencil with Benjamin Moore AF-385 Splendor as the stencil color. I used a 5/8 stencil brush as well.

zinnia wall stencil diy project

4. When you are finished filling in your stencil be sure to lift up a corner to check that you are happy with the coverage before you completely remove it. As you can see, I got paint on the blue tape while stenciling but this isn’t a problem because it will be removed to create a nice crisp edge in the end.

Stenciling Zinnia Wall Art Stencil on tote

5. Continue steps 3 and 4 for a few more repeats with other colors (I used Benjamine Moore AF-420 Agave). It has a nice effect to overlap your first layer of Zinnias with a second in a different color. You don’t want to completely cover your first layer but don’t be afraid to have your stencils overlap slightly.

Craft stencils for DIY project

6. To finish up my tote, I stenciled more Zinnia’s the same way but added a layer of light green Zinnias and then added a couple of butterflies to add the finishing touch! You can see the finished product above center. In this photo you can also see on the left a tote I stenciled with the Hand Forged Medium craft stencil with Benjamin Moore Costa Rica Blue 2064-50 and Harvest Moon 2167-30 as the stencil colors. On your far right is the Rabat Craft Stencil in the small scale with Benjamin Moore Pear Green 2028 and Lodge AF-115.

flower stencils

Here we used from left to right, Cutting Edge Stencils Chrysanthemum (Benjamin Moore colors Pear Green 2028-40, Blue Spa 2052-40, Schooner AF-520), Tree Peony Small (Benjamin Moore Colors, Sunshine 2021-30, Harvest Moon 2167-30, Raisin Torte 2083-10), and Chrysanthemum Grande Small (Benjamin Moore colors Sunshine, 2021-30, Easter Pink 2076-50, Pink Corsage 1349). Note: The Chrysanthemum on the far left is only sold as part of the Geisha’s Garden kit.

craft stencils for placemats

Kerry and I got our hands on some place mats as well! On the top we used the Casablanca Craft Small stencil ( Benjamine Moore colors: Pear Green 2028-40, Blue Spa 2052-40, Lodge AF-115). On the bottom left we used the Marrakech Craft Stencil Medium with butterflies and the scroll from Geisha’s Garden kit (Benjamin Moore colors: Schooner 2021-30, Pink Corsage 1349, Coral Gables with an additional coat of gold metallic) and on the bottom left is the Rabat Craft Stencil Medium in Benjamin Moore Softened Violet and Blueberry.

stenciled placemats

These were so much fun! On the top (Benjamin Moore Coral Gables, Blue Spa, Pear Green) and bottom left (Benjamin Moore Blueberry, Wenge with a second layer of metallic silver paint over the center) we have the Zinnia Extra Small.  On the bottom right we have the garden birds in Benjamin Moore Pink Corsage and the Zinnia Extra Small in Sunshine.

Now you see how fast and easy stenciling a tote or place mat is! You should definitely give it a try and post your photo on our Facebook page. Stenciling a tote would even be a great activity to have at a kids birthday party so that each guest could take home their very own stenciled bag! There really is no age limit. If you found some cheap place mats and want to spruce them up, use an allover geometric stencil for a modern and and sophisticated look. Either way, be proud of your accomplishments and have fun!

Thanks for stopping by and keep posted for more tutorials!

Yours Truly,

Gabi and the Cutting Edge Stencils Crew

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