Repurposed Nautical Tote Bag

Added by on July 26th, 2012 @ 9:51 am

The LL Bean tote is a classic here in northern New England, especially in Maine. What better way to add your personal touch than with a little nautical embellishment? Aubin of the In the Usual Way blog shares a very easy DIY project on how to transfer your favorite images to a thrifted or well loved tote – what images would you choose?

Summer Series: Repurposed Nautical Tote Bag

There are few things I love more than adding a personal touch to clothing and accessories by drawing on them; and while there are a few different ways to transfer an image onto fabric I’d like to share my favorite method with you today on a canvas tote bag I picked up at Goodwill recently.

For this project you will need:

–One canvas tote bag

–One or more images printed or drawn on plain paper

–Painter’s tape or masking tape

–One stick of drawing charcoal

–A bobbypin or a similar object with a small blunt end

Step One: Cut away any excess paper from your image so you have a manageable sized piece of paper to work with. Decide where you want the transferred picture to go. Once you’ve found a placement you like,lightly mark where the edges of the paper fall on the canvas so you can put it in the same place after step two.

Step Two: On an easily cleanable surface cover the back of your paper with a layer of charcoal. Although the charcoal should be even across the paper it doesn’t need to be a thick layer.

Step Three: Carefully place your image on the canvas bag again, charcoal side down. Tape it in place.

Step Four: Holding your bobby pin firmly, press down on the paper and trace the bobby pin down all the lines of the image. If you have a particularly detailed image don’t get frustrated if you forget which lines you’ve traced over– it doesn’t hurt it to trace over the lines more than once! Tip: If you have a pencil with a dull point you can trace the lines with that. Make sure the point isn’t too sharp, though, or it might tear through the paper.

Step Five: Carefully remove the tape and lift the paper directly up off of the tote bag so that the charcoal doesn’t smudge. If all the lines were traced over you should be left with a faint outline of your image in charcoal on your bag!

Step Six: Repeat this method until all of your images have been transferred. This will give you a guide for coloring in your images.

Step Seven: Complete the project with any materials you like! I chose to outline my images in permanent marker and then color them in with fabric markers in two different shades of gray to add to the old time nautical theme I’d started. The possibilities are endless, so experiment and don’t forget to link pictures of your finished projects in the comments!



Ken Christian
Senior Director, Communications
Goodwill Administrative Office

Updated 1 year ago by Kimberly Curry

DIY & Goodwill NNE

Giving new life to Goodwill finds extends the life of the item and makes for a sustainable choice. Not only will you be saving money, but you will be saving our planet by diverting products from landfills.

Sustainability & Goodwill NNE

Sustainability starts with a shirt. Goodwill calls it shirt economics. Shirt donations create jobs, and shirt sales sustain the working community.

aubin thomas

Aubin is a twenty-something artist who lives and works in Portland, Maine. She enjoys drawing, making music, and cooking gluten and dairy free food. She also enjoys exploring little known history and sharing historical anecdotes with others. Her recipes, style, and historical interests can be found on her blog, In the Usual Way.

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