A Magazine About Food, Art & Exchange In Midtown Kingston, Published By The Hudson Valley Current.

DIY Upcycled Shopping Tote

by Nixie Sparrow  

Materials Needed:
• Blank Tote Bag – (we purchased 100% cotton eco-friendly tote bags – 15 x 16 x 4)
• Cardstock and/or sheet of cardboard (to line inside of bag)
• Painter’s Tape
• Acrylic and/or Fabric Paints (Black and White)
• Plate (or reusable palette if you have – to mix paints)
• Medium wide-tipped paint brush
• Water jar


• Start with your blank tote bag on a flat, clean surface. We personally put down a large piece of paper to protect our table top before beginning.

• Line the inside of your bag with cardstock or cardboard. This prevents the paint from bleeding through to the other side.

• Using the painter’s tape you will create a stencil of stripes for your tote. Starting from the top, begin adhering the tape horizontally across your tote bag. We personally taped over the edges on either side of the fabric to anchor it to the tabletop.

• Continue adhering your strips, making the gap in be

• Once you have adhered your strips, be sure they are all tightly sealed onto your fabric. Having open gaps will allow paint to get underneath and disrupt your clean, straight lines!

• Now the painting begins. Starting with a good amount (Oreo cookie sized) of white paint in your palette, paint your top stripe in between the first two pieces of tape. 

tween each piece of tape a little wider as you progress to the bottom of the tote. This negative space in between each piece of tape will be where your paint is placed.

• After this strip has been painted, you will then add a very small amount (pea-sized) of black paint to the white in your palette. This will create a very light grey. Paint your second stripe.

• Continue adding a small amount of black to your palette for each stripe that you paint. The paint will progressively get darker and darker, creating a fade or ‘ombre’ effect.

• As you reach the bottom of your tote, you should have a very dark grey (or can paint the bottom solid black.)

• You can make this as drastic as you wish – it’s up to you! You can also do this with other colors as well. We personally suggest always starting with your lighter color and adding in the deeper tones. For example, you could go from light pink to red – Using colors white and red, start with white and add your red. Don’t use black to make ‘darker’! Black makes things muddy. We only used in this particular project because we wanted the grey tones.)

• Once dry, peel off your tape, remove the cardstock on the inside and voila! Your new, reusable tote and/or grocery bag!

Happy Earth Day!

For more information about Nixie Sparrow or to find out about their DIY workshops in Beacon, visit nixiesparrow.com