Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Decorate Canvas Bags

It's fun to decorate a canvas bag. There are some many different options to choose from. You can paint on them, draw on them, add ribbon and/or sequins to them; and I'm sure that you'll come up with some other ideas on your own too.

A simple way for both kids and adults to start, is by using a bag that already has an outline design printed on it. The design can be colored in with paint markers, painted in with brushes, outlined with dimensional paint, etc. The artists can also glue on embellishments, and/or add extra design elements to the original drawing.

Would you label this camel bag with, Is it hump day?

The design can be an animal, like the camel, or something as simple as an outline of a word. Kids like filling in their letters with decorative designs.

I have found that fabric paint markers work pretty well for painting on canvas.

When using the paint markers, they may require shaking them up from time to time to mix up the paint. Be sure to put the lid back on before commencing to shaking them, as the tip may fly off. So keep those lids on when shaking so you won't have to spend time searching for that little tip.

You can choose from basic colors to neon and/or pearly colors.

Also, I have found the medium tipped paint markers to work better than the fine tipped ones. The paint flow works better and was more consistent with the medium tipped ones.

Those who like more details can choose a more complex design, like the sparrows sitting on a rail. There are plants in front of the wall, and sky above the wall.

Another fun way to decorate a canvas bag is by drawing your own design, using stencils, and/or with sponge painting. Although this video didn't show it, it is a good idea to place a sheet of flat cardboard in between the fabric layers, before painting. Leave the cardboard in place until after the paint has dried.

My preferred method of drawing on blank canvas is with watercolor pencils. The paint that you add will blend in with the colors of the watercolor pencils, and any excess can be wiped away with a damp cloth once the paint has completely dried. And there are no dark pencil lines to show through.

You might also like to add ribbon and other embellishments to your design. My preference for gluing items onto fabric is the Ultimate Glue. It dries clear and remains flexible. In my own experience, it has held up very well. I have used it for hemming floor cloths.

Flowers may be your artists' desire. Flower shapes can be more forgiving for young artists. Some designs today show the colors of the petals going outside of the line, as part of the design.

Extra dimension can be added with dimensional paint. I recommend that the dimensional paint be used sparingly, perhaps just for outlining after the other colors have been painted in. The dimensional paint will take longer to dry and is easy to smudge if you're working around it. So it's best to save the dimensional paint until the end.

A simple way to add drawings and/or letters is to have some stencils on hand. These can also be outlined onto the bags using watercolor pencils.

Now that you've got some painting ideas and inspiration in mind, here are some basic tips to follow:

1. Before painting, place a flat sheet of cardboard directly underneath your painting layer of fabric, to keep the paint from bleeding through to the underneath layer of fabric and/or your table top.

2. For first time painters, use the fabric paint markers, as there is less mess and more control of the paint.

3. If this is being done as an activity for a birthday or other gathering, have the artists do their paintings at the beginning of the party so that the paint can be drying while they are eating and/or enjoying other activities. Note that dimensional paint and paint that is applied thickly, can take hours to dry to the touch.

4. Once the paintings have thoroughly dried, follow the manufacturer's directions for heat setting the design (if any), to ensure longer lasting results.

Find more outline bags by CherylsArt online at

Here are some coloring options for bags at Amazon:

Happy creating!

Cheryl Paton