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Looking to redecorate your home? Crafting for the holidays? Need a fun idea to do with the kids? We have craft ideas for all occasions and experience levels! From simple home decor projects to personalized giftable items, we are sure you will find projects that inspire. Be sure and share any projects you do with our products using #decoartprojects for a chance to be featured.

DIY Painted Back to School Tote

By: PMQ for two
August 7, 2017

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DIY Painted Back to School Tote
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Hello again! It's me Ariel from PMQ for two. I create bold, bright, colourful & creative home decor, DIYs and entertaining-related content. I love using DecoArt's products because of the quality and range available within the acrylics. So when they asked if I'd share a project using their acrylics and the fabric medium I jumped at the opportunity to create something for back to school.

I myself don't have any kids going back to school, but I thought that if I was going to be walking kids to and from school, or waiting at the bus stop, I'd want a cute painted tote with me. 

This graphic and colourful tote is sure to please, and all your friends will be asking you where you got it or if Kate Spade has a new bag collection. You can create your own in an afternoon or paint similar visuals on a lunch bag or back-pack for your kids. I'm partial to the tote though, because I always remember my mother carrying home things we handed her once we got off the school bus, so a tote would have been handy. 

Items needed:

  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Brilliant Red
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Mustard Seed
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Cotton Candy
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Coral Blush
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Razzle Berry
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - French Mauve
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Whispering Turquoise
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Evergreen
  • Americana Acrylics 2oz - Payne's Grey
  • Mediums 2oz - Fabric Painting Medium
  • Assorted Brushes
  • Canvas Tote
  • Scrap Piece of Cardboard


** A note on using the Fabric medium: mix it with the regular acrylics using a 2:1 ratio. I won't bother showing you the mixing process, but a little tray helps keep all the colours prepped.

Instruction #1 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote
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If you read the instructions on the label of the Fabric medium, it will tell you that anything you're applying it to should have been washed already, so that what's I did. I washed and dried the tote before even beginning the painting.

Once I was ready to get going I inserted a piece of scrap cardboard into the bag so that the paint wouldn't bleed through to the other side.

Instruction #2 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-2
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Like with all layered projects, start by painting the basic outlines and shapes of the items on the bag. It's ok to be a little messy if you're using a bigger brush, as long as you go back and fill in any spots using a finer brush.

Instruction #3 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-5
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Once the first coat is dry, start adding any colour-based details. I didn't do any shading on the apple or paper, but I did add a lighter pink on the pencil erasers, and added a lighter pink on the pink pearl erasers.

Instruction #4 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-4
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Complete any remaining details or shading on your images. In this case I was going for a very Kate Spade inspired look, so strokes are simplistic and bold with little shading.

Instruction #5 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-6
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If you don’t feel like you have enough control or precision with a liner brush a permanent marker is perfect for creating those tiny finishing touches. I applied one round of finishing touches using a fine-tip permanent marker that was washer-proof.

Instruction #6 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-8
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Let the tote bag dry overnight before removing the cardboard and using.

Instruction #7 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-25
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Instruction #8 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-21
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Instruction #9 - DIY Painted back to school canvas tote-22
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Be sure to visit PMQ for two  for more projects and to learn more about Ariel.


Love the tote! Would love to make a back to school shirt with the fabric medium and paints!

Shelley Scarbro

August 8, 2017

I like the simplicity. One thing I like to do is give a bag to my great grandchildren for their Birthday and Christmas presents. This year I'll personalize a tote for each child. My 18 yo grandson & I are making things to sell. So far it's decorative swords & dog leashes. We could make totes for pets. Maybe small back packs. Endless ideas.

Sandra Wade

August 9, 2017

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