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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monogrammed Tote

I have an inexpensive gift idea for you that will make a big impression.  Last year I made these totes as gifts for some friends.  This year, I wanted to make them for Ryan's teachers as an end of the year gift.  If you haven't noticed, I think Ryan's teachers are two very special loving ladies who took great care of my little man this year.

I'll give you the full tutorial, but first I wanted to show you the finished product with the gift I put inside. (I'll give you the clipboard tutorial another day).

Here is what you will need:

  • A tote bag (you can get these in a three pack at most craft stores)
  • Decorative ribbon for top of tote
  • Apple Barrel paint (cheapest at Walmart)- in black for small letters and matching color of ribbon
  • Textile Medium (to make it washable)
  • Foam paint brushes
  • Freezer paper (found in the plastic wrap/foil aisle of any grocery store)
  • Exacto knife
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Pencil to trace letters
  • Printed letters in your choice of font (I used Annabel Script 400pt for Large letter and 200pt for small letter)
  • sewing machine or needle and thread

I am going to give you the tutorial for all those of you who don't have a Silhouette, but you can easily cut your letters on freezer paper using the Silhouette as well.  Shannon has done this many times and suggests selecting "Vellum" speed 3, thickness 25.  Make sure to use a mat that has plenty of stickiness left to it.  Rub the freezer paper down well to avoid any bubbles, which could cause the paper to tear.

If you don't have a Silhouette, here is the tutorial for you!

1.  Print off your letters or any design that you want to use.  Cut a piece of freezer paper larger than the  size of your letters.  With the waxy side down, trace your letters or design.  A typical monogram is your three initials.  The first initial goes to the left, your second initial goes to the right and your last initial is the large one in the middle.

 2.  Here are all my letters ready to be cut out.  If you make the freezer paper too small don't worry, you can add more freezer paper to the shirt so that you don't get paint where it shouldn't go.

3.  Now take your exacto knife and cut out your letter.  Make sure to keep any pieces that make up the letter (see my D and L as examples-they have little portions that will need to go back in).

4.  Measure the rim of your tote bag with your ribbon and add about 3 inches to overlap the ribbon when you sew it on.

5. Heat up your iron to the highest or cotton setting.  Turn off any steam settings. Iron your tote bag.  Then cut out a large piece of freezer paper that will fit the inside of your tote bag. You want this piece to cover the entire inside so that you don't have paint bleed through.  Place the freezer paper waxy side up and iron your tote again.  This will help the freezer paper to adhere to the inside.

6.  Take your ribbon and put it at the top of your tote.  You are using to help gauge where to put your letters or design.  Center the freezer paper of your large letter in the middle of the tote bag.  Iron it down making sure it is flat and without any bubbles.  Then center the freezer paper with your smaller letters to the left and right, iron down too.

7.  If you use fabric paint, then you can go ahead and paint away.  If you are using acrylic paint, you need to add textile medium according to the directions on the bottle and mix it.  This makes the acrylic paint safe to machine wash.  You can get many more uses of your acrylic paint by doing this as it is much less expensive than fabric paint.

8.  Using a foam brush for each color, paint your letters.  Make sure not to use too much paint as it might cause the freezer paper to bubble and paint to bleed underneath.  I painted the large letter to match my coordinating ribbon and the small letters in black.  I did two light coats on each letter.  You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process if you get impatient.  Just make sure that the first coat is completely dry before painting the second coat.

 9.  Peel off the freezer paper.  If you have any difficulty, use your exacto knife to get under the freezer paper.

10.  Using your sewing machine or just needle and thread, sew your ribbon to the top of the tote.  I put my seam in the back and tucked the ribbon underneath for a clean look.

Ta Da!  Finished tote bags that are personalized and special for the recipient.   Ryan's teachers loved these and the clipboard that I included inside (the tutorial is coming soon).

Freezer paper stencils are fantastic and let you make inexpensive personalized gifts.  If you have any questions, please let me know!

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  1. Jealous wish my kids would make me one!

  2. Those are so cute! We made the altered clipboards for the staff at our school for teacher appreciation week, and they all loved them. Great idea.

  3. I always wondered how that worked. Very cute! At our local Dollar Tree, they are selling totes with yellow, green, blue and red handles.

  4. As a former teacher, I LOVE this project. It is cute, useful, and just plain awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Such a fabulous idea! I love the ribbon and paint colors:)


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