A quick and easy DIY reusable shopping bag that doubles as pretty home decor.
A few days ago, while decluttering my laundry room, I found a plain calico bag shoved down the bottom of my collection of reusable shopping bags. The moment I saw the bag, I was hit with crafting inspiration: I was going to give this bag a little vintage-style makeover.
Rather than, ahem, be a responsible adult and finish decluttering my laundry, I dropped everything to start work customising my reusable shopping bag.
(I have no self control.)
To begin, I designed the logo in Photoshop using two beautiful vintage graphics from The Graphics Fairy. I then printed the design on some iron-on transfer paper (this stuff is seriously awesome) and used my regular household iron to transfer the design on to the bag.
Here’s how it turned out:
This custom calico bag is really, really easy to make. All in all, the entire project took me about 20 minutes – including designing the graphic. If you’re using a pre-made graphic, you could easily get it done in less time.
Outside of being super quick and easy to make, my favourite thing about this bag is that it doubles as pretty home decor between shopping trips. As you can see from the pictures, you can transform the bag into cute home decor simply by filling it with artificial greenery and hanging it in a spot of your choosing.
(Or don’t. It’s your house. You can run around naked with the bag on your head if that’s what tickles your fancy. #yolo, as the youth say…said? I’m old, I can’t keep up.)
Whether you want you use the bag for your shopping, as home decor, or as a fancy hat, check out the tutorial below!
Custom calico reusable shopping bag
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To make your custom calico shopping bag, you will need:
- A plain calico bag. I used one I already had around the house, but if you don’t have one, you can buy a cheap set of six here (great for all of your grocery shopping!) or a smaller pack of two bags here.
- The image or design you’d like to transfer. You can download the design I used here.
- Iron on transfer paper. There’s a decent amount of variation in price/quality of iron-on transfer paper. I use this brand and have found it to be decent quality. There’s also this brand, which is slightly cheaper per sheet.
- An inkjet or laser printer. Look for iron-on transfer paper that’s designed for whatever type of printer you have (you can’t use inkjet transfer paper with a laser printer and vice versa).
- A regular household iron.
I haven’t included pictures in this tutorial because it’s honestly so simple that they’re a bit unnecessary.
- To begin, turn your iron up to its highest temperature. Turn off the stream function. Leave your iron to heat up for 5 – 7 minutes.
- While you wait for your iron to heat up, print a mirror image of your design on to your iron-on transfer paper. Cut off any excess blank paper.
- Once your iron is nice and hot, lay your design face-down on the front of your bag.
- Follow the directions on your iron-on transfer paper to transfer your design to your bag. Each brand of paper has slightly different instructions, but the following tips should help you ensure a neat transfer:
- Don’t skip the pre-heating process. You want your iron as hot as it can be.
- Press firmly with the tip of your iron, working in circular motions.
- Work in sections. For example, iron the top-left of your design, then remove the transfer paper’s backing paper off while the top-left corner is still hot. Then move on to the top right, then the bottom left, etc.
- Do not leave the iron stationary on any part of the design. If you do, the design and/or the bag itself will be ruined by a big, ugly brown scorch mark. I speak from, ahem, experience.
And that’s it! Your custom calico/canvas reusable shopping bag is complete. Here are some more pictures of the bag, so you can get an idea of how yours might turn out!
If you liked this project, please consider sharing it with others!