Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DIY Arrow Tote

I don't know about you guys, but all summer long I've been dreaming up a tote bag project. I thought about stamping one, dip-dying one, you name it and the idea has probably passed through my head. Simultaneously, I've been really drawn to arrow motifs (perhaps my inner 12 year old Hunger Games/Katniss Everdeen fangirl talking?) and eventually decided to make a tote bag that would have some sort of an arrow on it!

The day I finally figured out the How of it all, was a slow day at work, so there was a some extra time to chat with my co-worker. That obviously led to extra time for yours truly to just think out loud about this project (I gotta work on that whole thinking out loud, thing...), and after doing a couple of sketches I decided on a plan of action: I would draw up a pretty arrow template, paint it on my tote with fabric paint, and then do some simple embroidery to outline the shape and add the details!

If you'd like to make one for yourself, here's what you'll need:
Supplies!
- 1 large tote bag (or more if you're feeling ambitious!)
- Fabric paint, not puff paint, in the color of your choosing
- Awesome gold metallic yarn, or embroidery floss/yarn of your choice
- 1 large embroidery/tapestry needle
- Scissors
- A thin paint brush for the outline and a thicker one to fill everything in
Arrow template, printed and sized to fit your tote
- Transfer paper, OR if you're like me and always forget to buy one thing at the store, you can use a soft lead pencil and a hard lead pencil
Ok, buddies! Let's get started! First things first, you're going to want to transfer your template onto your tote! Actually, scratch that. First things first, iron your tote. Mine was ultra wrinkled. After you're tote is relatively wrinkle free, then you can transfer your template.

If you have transfer paper, have at it! Otherwise, let's talk about the pencil method. If you need to transfer a pattern to something that isn't transparent, such as a tote bag, and otherwise have no transferring materials, grab thyself a soft lead and a hard lead pencil and your printed template. Now, turn over your template, and shade the back of it with your soft lead pencil.
Then, find a good placement for the template on your tote. If you're lucky, your cat will help. Once your template is down, have your cat hold it in place, or if you don't have a cat, or your cat is unwilling to do so, you can hold it in place yourself, and then trace over the outline of the arrow with your hard leaded pencil. Skip the details for now! Tracing the outline from the top of the paper, will transfer the lead marks on the back the paper onto the tote in just the areas you went over with your pencil.
See? Pretty cool, huh? If your pencil marks are faint, you'll want to draw over them with your pencil just so it's easier to see.
Next up, use your thin paintbrush to paint the outline of your arrow with your fabric paint.
Then, use your thicker brush to fill in the arrow, and let dry. I actually did two coats, so once the first one was pretty dry, I applied the second coat of fabric paint and let that dry.

Ok guys, now this is the point at which my project, that I had planned to do in an evening, got slightly derailed. Ya know when you use something new and decide you can just figure it out and then later read the directions and find out there's a little more to it? Yea. That. This was my first time using fabric paint, and I had not realized you are supposed to let it dry for an extended amount of time, and then wash your item and let it hang dry. 

Now, when I say extended amount of time, I mean 72 hours. I am not that patient. So, I decided to partially follow the rules and throw my tote in the wash after it had dried for 24 hours. I washed my tote in cool water with a small amount of mild detergent, then hung it to dry. Once it was dry, I ironed the crap out of it (it had gotten super wrinkly AGAIN in the wash.) and got back on track!
So the next step is to transfer the details onto the pattern using the same pencil or transfer method. If you'd like, you could also free-hand the details.
Now it's embroidery time! You'll be using a backstitch to do the embroidery work, so thread up a needle and have at it! 

I started by embroidering around the whole perimeter of the shaft of the arrow. Then I moved onto the outline of the arrow head, then the outline of the feathers, and then I filled in the other details.

Once you've finished your embroidery, you should have something that looks like this:
Super cute, right? I have to say, because I had a few set backs with this project, I was a little skeptical of how it would turn out, but once I saw the finished project I was SO happy with the outcome. I'm really pleased that the combination of the embroidery and the fabric paint give this a really cool geometric quality that I've been crazy about lately.
I'm really looking forward to bringing this tote just about everywhere this summer!

Hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial!

Til next time!

-Becca


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36 comments:

  1. This is adorable! If you haven't tried it yet, I really recommend freezer paper stenciling for a project like this, too. But that's me, and I don't always have a steady hand with a brush.

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    1. Oooh, good idea! Thanks for the tip, Rae!

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  2. Like your idea about that bag. Great indie detail. :) More, want more!

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    1. Thanks, Kath! I'l try to keep 'em coming!

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  3. Super cute tote Becca! I love the color combo that you chose. Thank you so much for your sweet note on Lynn + Lou. Can't wait to get to know you better.
    Love, Richelle from Lynn + Lou

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    1. Of course! And thank YOU so much for your sweet note here!

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  4. That's adorable! I love how you thought to embroider over the paint. So much cuter than a plain bag!!!

    <3 dani
    www.shopdisowned.com
    http://blog.shopdisowned.com

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    1. Thanks, Dani. I just can't resist an embroidered detail!

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  5. i adore that thread! it's simple yet sparkly, which is really my criteria for everything.

    i've never really used a tote, but maybe if i made my own i'd feel more inclined!

    xo nicole
    writeslikeagirlblog.com

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    1. Seriously, sparkles are the best! You should totally get a cute tote that you love enough to want to show it off. It would be a great way to encourage yourself to get to a farmers market and bring some veggies home to cook, which would help with one of your goals for the year!

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  6. That is so so so cute!!! Really great job!
    www.shannonheartsblog.com

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  7. This is such a wonderful DIY, I love it! You are so talented and creative!

    Xo, Hannah

    sweetsweetnoir.net

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    1. You are too sweet! Thanks, Hannah!

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  8. Super cute idea, I love the embroidery touch!
    Amia
    www.teapotsandbelles.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Amia. I love me some embroidery!

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  9. Cool project! I love almost nothing more than a handy tote!

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    1. Aren't they the best? In the city of Seattle we no longer have plastic grocery bags and the paper ones cost 5 cents a pop, so cute totes are key!

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  10. I think the addition of the gold embroidery floss really takes this bag from crafty to perfectly lovely! Also, your cats are awesome!

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    1. Thank you, mystery reader! Also, you are so right about my cats. They are super sweet and ultra-entertaining.

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  11. This is fantastic! I've been wanting to do some totes myself, but haven't found the right plain totes yet. Where did you find this great size?

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    1. I picked mine up JoAnn's. I think it was pretty similar to this one: http://www.joann.com/canvas-large-tote-bag-17-x5-25-x16-5-natural/zprd_10842037a/?green=642BA631-2D1D-5931-04BC-CA965C2C7163

      The handles/straps are a bit shorter than I like, so I'll probably replace those at some point, but otherwise the quality was pretty decent! I think it was $5 at the store. Good luck finding some good totes for your projects!

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  12. I gotta do this with a Batman stencil!

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  13. This is such a great (and easy) idea! And the method would work so well on anything; I really want to do this to a t-shirt or a dress. I also want to hand-stamp stuff... but knowing me, that'll never happen. I never get my DIY projects finished.
    oh well!
    I love the way it turned out!
    Also: cat!! Gah, I miss my cat so much! (I had to give her away when I got married because the house we live in doesn't allow indoor pets. :( ) I love the instructions on having your cat hold it in place. Hehe.
    xo
    Kristina
    www.eccentricowl.com

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    1. Thanks, Kristina! I've been thinking of doing some hand-stamping, too. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point!

      Oh, that's so sad you had to give away your cat! They're such good helpers ;)

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  14. Oh Becca, I love this! My favorite part is the embroidery detail. =) I also really like your pencil transferring technique... I never have transfer paper at the critical moment. xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Laura! It's definitely a good technique. Granted, graphite isn't as forgiving as transfer paper, but it sure works in a pinch!

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  15. What an adorable, DIY. I love tote bags and arrows for that matter... so this is double cuteness. And hehe, what is about cats? Mine always LOVES sitting on whatever I might be working on in a given moment. Too funny! Happy weekend, lovely!! xo

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    1. Thank you so much! Seriously! I'll gladly take sitting on things, because normally they steal things and run away with them!

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