Reusable tote bags are a big thing around these here parts. They’re so big, in fact, that when I went to NYC last March, I excitedly bought my mom a canvas grocery bag from the Zabars featured in You’ve Got Mail (“get in another line”) because I knew she would appreciate both the reference AND the usability. So in the spirit of recycling + good packaging (no longer mutually exclusive!), I decided to create a few tote bags for myself and for others this holiday season. Here’s how to create your own tote bag design:

Tote Bag DIY | Ann-Marie Loves Paper
Tote Bag DIY | Ann-Marie Loves Paper IMG_3938
Tote Bag DIY | Ann-Marie Loves Paper
Tote Bag DIY | Ann-Marie Loves Paper
Tote Bag DIY | Ann-Marie Loves Paper


1. Make a stencil. I designed mine in Silhouette Studio and had my Cameo Die-Cutting Machine do the hard work for me. If you don’t have a machine, fear not! You can always use an xacto knife to achieve very similar results.

2. Place a sheet of chipboard / cardboard / heavyweight paper inside your tote. (Note: If your bag needs ironing – ugh, ironing! – do this beforehand. It’ll be worth it, I promise.)

3. Position your stencil over the area you would like to paint and adhere it to the bag with removable tape.

4. Using a multi-surface craft paint and a foam paint pouncer, dot over your stencil gently yet firmly until the whole area is covered in paint. I only applied a single coat because that was all I needed. Apply as many coats as you deem necessary.

5. Let dry. Slowly lift your stencil and check for any areas that may need a touch-up.

6. Bring your tote everywhere you shop and let the compliments roll in!


Martha Stewart Gold Metallic Paint // Martha Stewart Crafts Foam Pouncer // Tote Bags  //  Silhouette Cameo


3 Responses to “tote bag diy.”

  1. jamaica

    Love this Ann-Marie! What a great idea. Plastic bags were banned in SLO county this fall so I have a slew of random bags littering the back seat of my car, I’d love to have a set of pretty ones.

    • annmarielovespaper

      I love SLO for doing that! I’m a recycling fiend! You should definitely make a few of these bags for yourself. I have no doubt they would be amazing!


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