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Fun Craft Ideas: Painting Tote Bags for Kids

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Tote bags are for everyone, and kids, of course, are no exception. To make things more fun and interactive for them, we have created our line of coloring-painting tote bags. These items combine functionality with style. In the first stage, they serve as a colorful craft project to unleash artistic potential. However, once completed, they turn into a wearable piece of art. If you are intrigued by the project and want to give it a shot, you can either purchase a ready-made tote or create one yourself. 

Ready-Made Painting Tote Bags


Explore our selection of coloring-painting totes for kids. We have grouped the available ready-made designs in two levels, basic and advanced to help parents with their selection. When determining the appropriate level for your kids, guide yourself based on their age and painting experience. 

For our designs, we decided to focus on animals and a few other natural elements (e.g. various types of trees). This way, we added an educational level to the activity, as kids can learn to recognize and name different animals and plants while they are “bringing them to life” through paint.

Regardless of the image you select, you can opt to include a name at the bottom part of the painting tote bag. This is printed in large letters that can easily be colored in to match the drawing. However, you can also send in your design, and we will print it on a blank tote. You can draw the contour yourself or use one of your children’s sketches and surprise them!

Basic Level


We have several different models of painting tote bags categorized as basic-level designs. These usually feature a single animal in a fun pose, like this happy elephant holding an umbrella or a monkey hanging from a branch with a violin. As you can see, the drawing is large enough for large brush strokes. However, we have also inserted a few trickier areas to challenge young artists (the tail and nails). 

Advanced Level


The advanced level painting tote bags usually contain a group of animals (like this fun gathering of a giraffe, zebra, and gazelle) and some elements of nature like trees or flowers. These drawings are more detailed, and they present a higher number of small surfaces that require a bit more dexterity to be painted. 

DIY Painting Tote Bags


If you wish to be more involved in the process, you can create the contour directly on the tote bag yourself. Read our article or watch our video tutorial for a step-by-step guide. This alternative ensures that the tote has that special and personalized tote bags for mommy or daddy touch. You know your children better than anyone, so you probably know best what designs would appeal to them. Also, do not worry about your drawing skills! You do not need to be a renowned artist to create a painting tote bag; just keep things simple and fun.

How To Prepare Your Painting Tote Bag



Regardless which of the above options you chose, you still need to prep the bag for the painting process. Bear in mind that this is an untreated piece of fabric, so it will act fundamentally different from other painting surfaces that we are more accustomed to (e.g. paper or canvas). 

If you want to be thorough, you need to start preparing in advance for painting the tote bag. It is a good idea to wash the fabric before you start working to ensure that you have a nice and clean base for painting. Leave the tote out to air-dry. Make sure that it has dried completely before you move on to the next stage. During the summer season, feel free to hang the tote outside and let the fresh breeze go through the material. 

If the contour of the design is already on, it is essential to turn the tote inside out before washing and drying to protect the print. Leave the material turned inside out and use an iron to smooth out any wrinkles. It is always ideal to check the tag and follow the instructions included. These might vary depending on the fabric.

Then stretch out the material to avoid any wrinkles, as these will damage the outcome. To make things easier, secure the four corners to a hard surface. For this, you can use paper clips and a cardboard sheet as support. Also, make sure to slip in an additional cardboard sheet inside the bag to prevent any color transfer to the other side. When all this is done you are all set to start painting the tote bag.

What Types of Paint to Use



In the following section, we cover the main types of paint you can use for this craft project. Each presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Do not try to get too technical with the task. The most important thing is to have fun painting tote bags.




One of the upsides to using watercolors for painting is that you probably already have them at home. On the downside, however, these are not the most durable of alternatives since they fade in time. Also, they tend to be absorbed very quickly by the fabric, especially cotton. However, this can be easily mended with a few practice brushes. Set up a piece of similar fabric for your kids to exercise until they get the hang of it and then move on to the tote.

Oil Paint



If you use oil-based colors for painting tote bags, you need to arm yourself with patience as these take longer to dry. Your kid can create some dreamy images in this medium, as the colors beautifully blend. Also, the end result will be bright and vibrant (unlike watercolors, which tend to be more matt and slightly faded once dried). However, be warned that in time, the fabric can suffer from prolonged exposure to oil paints. 

Acrylic Paint



This is probably the most kid-friendly option. The colors make it easy to transition between different shades and are suitable for layering (if you allow for sufficient drying time). The paint tends to dry very fast, and the colors remain vibrant and glossy. However, a unique trait of this option is that colors can look darker when it dries. So always keep this at the back of your mind while painting.

Fabric Markers



An alternative method for painting tote bags is to use fabric markers. It is important to use ones that are specifically designed for this medium. So, if you do not have any at home, stock up on them at your local craft store. You will be happy to discover a wonderful selection of vibrant colors, and so will your kids. After the project is finished, you can safely wash the piece of art, as the colors will not wash out.

Beyond Fun: The Psychology of Children’s Art



Painting can be essential for child development. Psychologists have long studied the artistic side of childhood. Some experts take things one step further and argue in favor of the healing power of art (both for adults and kids). Art therapy has leaped to the forefront of the field as a specific field of mental health. The creative process can help increase self-esteem, decrease anxiety, explore the depths of our inner-self, and mend social difficulties.

Art can be a medium for kids to express themselves but also explore their inner self and the outer world. You can turn their interest towards this activity or fuel their existing passion to help them develop an artistic side and a better self-understanding. Children may often struggle with expressing their thoughts and feelings through words (particularly when dealing with negative emotions like shame, anger, or envy). 

Drawings or paintings can present a more convenient medium for getting a message across to the often bewildering and alien world of adults. We can look beyond the subjective value attributed to their scribbles and take a peek inside the message embedded in children’s creations. You can take a fun craft activity like painting tote bags as a platform to launch a sincere talk about their inner landscape or how they perceive the world around them. Use the creative process as a valuable bonding experience.

What is more, the act of painting also animates motor skills and can help kids with their grip and fine motions (which need a lot of nurturing especially during the early years). It also relies on advanced coordination between hands, perception, and cognition. On top of this, it can help nurture focus, since finishing requires a fairly lengthy commitment.

Painting Tote Bags for Kids as Wearable Art

If you are looking for a fun and creative activity to do with your children, look no further than the painting tote bags. Turn a plain tote into a practical piece of art infused with magic. After your kids have finished the projects, they can keep and wear the bags themselves, or gift them to other family members or friends on special occasions.