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How to Decorate a Canvas Bag

by M.S. Beltran

Canvas handbag

Things You Need:

  • Canvas bag
  • Fabric paint
  • Craft brushes
  • Paper plate
  • Cup of water
  • Newspaper
  • Fabric-marking pencil
  • Paper towels
  • Templates or stencils
  • Wax or parchment paper

Decorating a canvas bag is a great way to create your own unique accessory that reflects your personal style and interests. You can use these bags as handbags, grocery totes or home storage solutions. Hand-decorated canvas bags also make great gift items because they are homemade, reusable and personalized. Decorating canvas bags is a fun hobby that is similar to other craft painting, and can be a great activity for children as well, allowing them to create a book bag or toy tote that is uniquely theirs.

Decorating a Canvas Bag:

  1. Purchasing the craft supplies that are right for you will give you a nice accessory once painted. When you are shopping for canvas bags, consider your needs when it comes to size. Additionally, you should consider the color palette that you intend to use. Light canvas bags will allow the paints to show up well, while darker bags can be decorated with a variety of bright colors and might fit better into your wardrobe. Be sure to choose a bag that you will want to use or give to a friend. Use the same principle while shopping for the paints and the other craft supplies you need so that your hard work will pay off in the form of a bag that you love.

  2. Before you can begin painting, there are a few preliminary steps. It is important to wash the bag before painting it to make sure that it will not shrink and ruin your paintings after they are already complete. You should wash the bag without using fabric softener so that the paints will stick well to the fabric. Allow your canvas bag to fully dry before painting it for the best results. If you are painting several bags to give as gifts or to use in your business or organization, it is a good idea to wash all of the bags at once to save time.

  3. Once you have purchased and washed your bag, the real fun can begin. Use newspaper to cover your work area to avoid spilling paint on your furniture or carpet. Then gather your craft supplies. Line the inside of the bag with wax paper or parchment paper so that the paint does not bleed through to the inside of the bag or through to the other side. If you choose to draw your designs freehand, you might consider using fabric pencils or chalk to sketch the outline beforehand. If you are not as confident in your drawing skills, you can use templates or stencils instead. Using a paper plate, mix your fabric paints to your liking and paint your designs onto your bag. Use water to rinse brushes when changing between colors. When you are satisfied with your design, allow the bag to dry for at least 24 hours to be sure that the paint will not come off on your clothes or skin, ruining your work.


  1. For a professional looking bag with a lot of color, texture and depth, you can layer your paints and even add other embellishments. As long as you wait for layers to dry between painting sessions, you can use a fine brush to fill in details, trace over the outlines of your designs or add shadowing. Items such as glitter, ribbons, rhinestones and other craft items will top your bag off with expert flair.

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