The Best Ways to Decorate a Canvas Bag

Written by jennifer reynolds
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The Best Ways to Decorate a Canvas Bag
Paint a favourite quote onto a canvas bag to make it stand out ( Images)

Switching from plastic bags to reusable canvas tote bags when you go shopping will help reduce the amount of garbage finding its way into landfills. Using your own canvas bags is also a great way to show off your personality. You can customise your bag very easily with a little acrylic paint, stencils and paint brushes.When it comes to the design you choose, the options are endless. You may decide to paint an elaborate picture, decorate the bag with a symbolic icon or saying or simply write your name.


Alphabet stencils are available at any craft store or you can make your own if you want more control over the font. To make a stencil, simply print out the words or phrase you want to stencil onto your bag. Make sure you print it in the exact size you'd like to place on the bag. Glue or tape the paper to a piece of contact paper and cut out the letters with a sharp craft knife. Be sure to use "bridges" to hold floating white space, such as those found inside the letter O or D. A bridge is a thin strip of paper connecting the white space in the middle of a letter to the stencil so that the letter comes out properly. To create a bridge for the letter O, for example, cut a vertical line at the top centre and cut out a C shape around one side of the O. Then cut another vertical line through the top of the letter about half an inch over from your last cut (the cut should be smaller if you're working with a smaller font). Cut out the other half of the O. The white space in the middle of the letter will be held in place by your bridge. Paint in the bridges when your stencil is finished. When the paint is dry, peel the contact paper backing from your letters and stick them to your canvas bag.

Freehand Designs

If you're confident in your handwriting and painting ability, you may choose to paint letters on your canvas bag in freehand. This is a great technique to use if you want to use cursive writing, as it can be very difficult to create stencils in cursive letters. Plan out your letters using a fabric pencil that will wash off easily if you make a mistake. Only apply paint when you are satisfied with the final design.


Fabric paints are commonly used on canvas craft projects, but they can chip and come off easily. Canvas is porous and absorbent, so other types of paint will also adhere to it. Acrylic paint works great on canvas but it can crack when it is applied too thickly. When you use acrylics, apply it in very thin coats to avoid cracking and allow it to dry fully before adding the next coat. You may need two or three coats of paint before the area is totally covered to your liking.

Fabric Markers

Paint brushes can be difficult to handle and to write with in a legible manner. Fabric markers are a good alternative to liquid paints and are much easier to work with. They are available at most craft stores in a variety of colours and thicknesses. Fabric markers are essentially paint or dye that is designed to be permanent. They may fade faster than acrylic paint but you shouldn't get the cracking effect that can happen over time when layers of acrylics are applied too thickly. Fabric markers are also faster to use as they require just one application.

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