Decorating Cloth Bags

July 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

An inexpensive, plain cloth bag can be decorated in many ways using one or several different craft techniques. Dyeing techniques, fabric painting, fabric appliqué, embroidery and embellishment with buttons, charms and beads are just a few ways to decorate a cloth bag and make it your own. Whether you decorate the bag with a simple trim or transform it entirely with detailed designs, a decorated cloth bag makes a fun craft project, a functional item and a great homemade gift.

      Fabric Painting :

   1. Fabric paints are available in a wide variety of colors at craft stores and can be used in innumerable ways to decorate a cloth bag. If you are a good artist, the bag can function as a canvas for even the most elaborate designs. If you are not a good artist, a repeat pattern of a simple motif can be very effective too. Even a very simple design of circles in a few different colors scattered over the surface of the bag will transform it into something new. Rubber stamps can be used with fabric paint and are now available in literally hundreds of thousands of patterns and motifs in craft store scrapbooking departments.

      Fabric Dyeing :

   2. Different hand-dyeing techniques can be used to decorate a cloth bag. Tie-dyeing methods using one or more colors of dye can produce a wide variety of effects including circles and stripes, and, depending on the color palette you choose, can range from the most psychedelic, hippie style to formal and sophisticated. Batik techniques, used to decorate with a design in melted wax before dyeing it and removing the wax, will result in a truly one-of-a-kind decorated bag and allow you to show your own artistic vision in an unusual way. A dyeing technique for a simple, but good looking design is dip-dyeing. Fill a dye bath up to a certain level and dip the top or the bottom of the bag only into the bath. Once dry, you can then repeat this with another color to dip the other side of the bag, or the same side at a different depth to create graduated stripes of color.

      Appliqué :

   3. Simple patterns cut out of a contrasting fabric, such as stars, hearts, geometric shapes or spirals, can be appliquéd to a cloth bag with basic hand sewing skills. Different patterns, colors and various types of fabric will all produce very different looking bags, from folksy to modern to elegant, depending on your choice, all using the same basic technique. You can turn the fabric edges under and sew carefully with tiny invisible stitches for a seamless look, or leave edges raw or frayed and decorate the outline with long, thick top-stitching using a few strands of embroidery floss.
      Buttons, Beads and Trim :

   4. The sewing, scrapbooking, beading and button departments in craft stores are full of notions that can be used to decorate a cloth bag and are available in every style, shape and color imaginable. Buttons can be used to embellish a cloth bag to great effect, especially considering the wide variety available. You could purchase lots of the same button or all different kinds and sew a row around the top of the bag, cover the bag entirely with buttons, or arrange a cluster of buttons in one corner of the bag. Beads can be used in the same manner. Ribbons, lace and trims intended for home decorating purposes can be purchased by the yard and sewn onto a cloth bag for decoration. You could trim the handles or the top of the bag, or create a freestyle design on the surface of the bag and sew it in place.


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