handprint flower tote bag

it is easy being green! who couldn’t use another reusable canvas bag – for groceries, target runs, library books, the farmer’s market, playdates, dance class, etc.? we decided to customize some springy totes for N’s preschool teachers and dance teacher in honor of teacher appreciation week!

i bought a 3-pack of tote bags from michael’s for $9 (individual bags for $4.) they’re a nice 13″ size for carrying lots of things! i also got three colors of non-toxic fabric paint for about $1.40 each. (they sell assorted color sets for more money, but i thought i needed a larger amount of just three colors.)

then we got down to business… i used a sponge brush to paint the fabric paint onto N’s hand. then she pressed her handprints (reapplying paint in between) on the bags in a radial fashion.

these made pretty flower petals. then she used a sturdy paintbrush to paint a center on each flower (in a different color) and a stem with leaf on each one.


you could personalize further by writing or stamping a person’s name on each tote, but we liked them as is. just let them dry for 4 hours, and you’re good to bag up your stuff!


these made great gifts for N’s teachers, (along with these custom gift tags drawn & written by N.) the bags would also work nicely for mother’s day or a reusable gift bag to fill with goodies when celebrating a birthday, bridal/baby shower, or any spring/summer event!


and if you like N’s shirt, it could be yours… click here!


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  • Love this idea, super cute, and a keepsake! Karen

  • intrigued

    you make wonderful things, but how much direction of N do you do to achieve this type of outcome.

  • jen

    thanks for asking! as you can tell by most of the posts on this blog and my philosophy as an art therapist, i am very child-centered and follow her lead and her whims. N is a very expressive kid and she asks to make art on a daily basis, always has access to art and writing materials in our home, and is always wanting to try new projects and materials.

    sometimes (like in “in the flow” “very open studio” “twig vase” or “interesting things”) i just follow what she’s already doing. at other times, i have a directive in mind (an art task) and she dives right in and makes it her own. i’m more process-oriented than product-oriented in the way i approach art (which is why many of my posts don’t lend themselves well to the crafting world,) so really it’s about our experience when entering into the creative process together, no matter what the outcome.

    for these bags specifically, she did a great job getting her hand painted (by me) and then i just turned the bags around in a circle so that she could press beside the last handprint. i reapplied the paint to her hands in between each handprint.

  • Love, love, love this! I am so bookmarking it for future gift ideas! Thank you for sharing!

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  • Oh I just love this tutorial. What a special bag you’ve created.

  • Love this post! So glad to have found your blog – as a former elementary art teacher that wanted to be an art therapist, I’ll be back 🙂

  • Jennifer Melnick

    Thanks for this, I’m going to have my kids make these for teacher end of the year gifts (preschool).. I’m going to print their pics on iron-on transfer paper for the middle of the flowers! and since they have been working on letters/reading…probably have them write teacher names too!

    happy happy!

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  • Thanks so much for showing us how to do this idea! Our playgroup did them for all their nanas, grandmas and grannys for mother’s day this year.

  • Lyndsay Kirkham

    Love this! My mama will love this from Aodhan. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Love these – we are doing them for gandmothers and teachers. Right now (may) dollartree has canvas bags with solid color trim -I know they had them last year as well. I stocked up this year!

  • jen berlingo

    awesome, jennifer – thanks for the dollartree tip! please share a pic of your bags on our facebook wall when finished. i’d love to see them! 

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  • Sara

    Used this as a retirement gift for our director (who LOVES bags)…turned out PERFECTLY!!!

  • very cool, sara! thanks for sharing! if you want to post a pic on our fb page to share, feel free! https://www.facebook.com/paintcutpaste

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  • Skyler

    Love This, Prefect gift for Christmas. Thank you.

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  • Julia

    Love this! Just had my daughter make these for her preschool teachers and gymnastic teacher. They look great! Thanks for sharing the idea!

  • Faith Lohr

    Hi there! I stumbled upon your site while browsing the web for Mother’s Day craft ideas. I loved this project and have included it in my 25 Kid Friendly Mother’s Day Crafts post. I’ve pinned this to my pinterest boards and am a new follower. I would love for you to stop by and check out your post… Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with the world. Happy Mother’s Day! http://www.artistic31mama.com/2013/05/25-kid-friendly-mothers-day-crafts.html