Customized Library Card Tote – Makes a Great Gift!

videoWhen I saw this bag from Out of Print I knew I had to make one for my Librarian Sister-in-Law and as teacher gifts!  So I got some DecoArt So Soft Fabric Paint, ordered my totes and got to work designing the vinyl stencils.  (Custom Order Stencils in my shop!)

It’s a pretty simple craft if you have the stencils.  You could go more simple and use larger letters and put something like “READ” or “Library Books” across the bag.  I used vinyl stencils and fabric paint.  You could also use Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) or Iron on Letters to customize the tote.

I personalized the teacher gifts with their class names for that year, and for my SIL, I did important dates in her life.  I wanted it to look like a full/signed out library card, so I used different handwriting fonts, different pen colors and made the date stamp part look like it was done with a date stamp.  I LOVE how they turned out and love making complete personalized gifts for people.

View the video and step by step instructions below to see how to make your own!

Out of Print Library Card Tote
DecoArt So Soft Fabric Paint
Custom Stencils (made be me)

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Gather your bag, stencils and other supplies.

  • Canvas Tote (Out of Print has them with the Library Card design printed on them)
  • Stencils & Fabric Paint / HTV / Iron on Letters or you can hand paint using fabric paint and a paint brush.
  • Stencil Smoother (such as a credit card)
  • Foam Applicator or Paint Brush (stencils are best when dabbed, this helps fight bleeding – these are the perfect tool.)
  • Tool to get tiny pieces of vinyl stencil left behind (a toothpick would work well to help pry the pieces up)

STEP 1:  I placed a piece of cardboard in the center of the bag to avoid the paint bleeding through the bag to the other side.  I also ironed my bag to make it nice and smooth for the stencil process.  You’ll want to do this inside out, or put a pillowcase between the iron and the bag, otherwise the blue lines may smear when ironing and leave messy marks on the bag.

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STEP 2: Apply the stencils according to instructions.  You’ll need a hard item like a credit card to smooth the stencil onto the bag before removing the transfer tape (see video).  Removing the transfer tape can be tricky with this project since the bag is canvas the stencil doesn’t stick as well as to a wood sign, so be careful and slow when peeling off the transfer tape.

– If you are using a different medium such as HTV or Iron on, follow the instructions for application.

img_3276STEP 3: Use the foam applicator to apply the paint, dabbing it, not rubbing it.  You want to avoid bleeding so be gentle and make sure the stencil is smooth to the bag.  Paint all areas and allow to dry before peeling the stencil.  You can peel it wet, but it will get messy for you, so you may as well let it dry.

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STEP 4:
Once the paint is dry, peel off the stencil.  You’ll need something to help pry up the little pieces, I have a tiny, sharp spatula I use, but a toothpick should do the trick!  Get all pieces off and then you are all set!  You need to let it set at least 48 hours before using it or washing it.  Since it was a bag, I didn’t wash mine before giving them away.  If you do this on a shirt or something, you may want to wash it (inside out) before giving it away.

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