My daughters love helping make homemade gifts for our friends and family members! But after several years, we've done many of the most popular gifts that kids can make-- coasters, tea towels, and hot pads.
This year we've made some adorable tote bags, customized for each recipient. I know that I've got a TON of tote bags, but they all get plenty of use, and I always seem to need more! We keep ballet gear in one, have a few in the car for library books, use one for violin music and accessories, have some that get packed when the girls are going to spend the night with their grandparents, and use some to haul gear to the playground or park. Most busy folks have plenty of use for a new tote bag!
These DIY Dotty Totes turned out just lovely, and the girls can't wait to give them away over the next few days!
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Materials for DIY Dotty Tote Bags
- blank canvas tote bags
- paper plate
- glue stick
- printer paper & scissors
- fabric paint (you'll find a much better price at a craft store)
- cotton swabs
Prepare Your Tote Bags
Wash and dry your tote bags to remove any starch or sizing. Iron if necessary. They won't look quite as crisp, but it is necessary so that the fabric paint will stick nicely.
Using a word processor, print the letters you want to put on your tote bag. Choose a thick, chunky font, and cut out the letters. Make sure to consider how large they need to be to fill the space on the bag.
Use a washable glue stick to glue the letters in place. Make sure to glue all the way to the edges. Don't worry-- they'll peel off after you've finished painting!
Time To Paint Your Tote Bag
Make small puddles of paint on your paper plate. Set out cotton swabs for each color.
I told my girls to first outline the letters with dots. First with one color.
Then with the other colors, until the letters are thickly outlined with dots.
Once the letters have a nice thick outline, add lots more dots around the whole bag. The more dots, the better the bag will look. It also looks best if there is a dense concentration of dots close to the letters that gets thinner as you move away from the letters. This concept was pretty tricky for my girls to understand, but as long as the letters themselves are thickly outlined, you'll be okay.
My 3-year-old, Maggie, didn't quite feel like making dots. So she did what she wanted, and Lena graciously helped finish the dots for her bag. It all worked out fine in the end!
After you've added LOADS of dots, it's time for the big reveal! This is by far the best part. Before the paint has dried, grab a corner of the letter and gently pull the paper up. You shouldn't have any trouble- a washable glue stick isn't really designed to hold paper to fabric!
Set aside to dry. If you want, add another word or design to the reverse side. We put hearts on several of our bags, left some blank, and added another word to others.
Part of the fun is choosing which color combinations to use!
We made "BOOKS" and "READ" library bags for our friends, "HAPPY" bags for Lena's gymnastics coaches, a "MUSIC" bag for Lena's violin teacher, and some "LOVE" bags for some family members. We also couldn't resist making a few for ourselves!
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