Get Your Artsy On With Contact Paper

Once you learn this technique I can (almost) guarantee you’re gonna find a way to use it.  Contact paper isn’t just for lining shelves anymore, OH NO.  A single roll of contact paper can transform your life.  It’s true.

With a single roll of contact paper you could makeover your entire wardrobe, if you wanted…

Or you could fancy-up a plain ol’ tote bag.

Here’s how.

Gather yo shit! I mean, round up supplies.

Again, you will need:

  • A canvas tote bag
  • A piece of cardboard
  • contact paper
  • scissors *or x-acto knife
  • small plates for the paint
  • sponges or brushes (I like sponges better for this, but a brush will do if that’s what you have)
  • markers (maybe, I didn’t end up using them)
  • paint

Because you’re printing on canvas, don’t worry about buying fabric paint, acrylic will work great.  I’m quite fond of the Martha Stewart line.  These are the colors I used:

granny smith, pool, raspberry ice & marmalade

Place the cardboard inside the bag.  The cardboard serves as a stabilizer to keep the canvas as flat as possible, but also keeps the paint from seeping into the other side of the bag.

And because we like to keep things hip hop around here, I encourage you to go ahead and freestyle your design.  That’s what I did.  Cause I stink at planning ahead.  But if you’d rather draw it out first, go for it.  Draw it directly onto the contact paper. Then cut it out and lay out onto the canvas.  If you have something intricate to cut, it’s best to lay it flat and use an x-acto knife.

If you want to make something similar to mine, cut a bunch of strips about .5 inch wide.  Use the lines on the contact paper as guides.

Lay the design out onto the bag.  Once you like what you see, peel off the back of the paper and stick it to the bag.

As you can see in the photo above, some of the horizontal lines hang over the right edge.  That’s ok.  Just make sure that you keep even lines when you’re painting.  If this makes you uncomfortable you can cut them all evenly and place a long strip along the edge to mask the border.

Place some paint onto a small plate and get ready for some real fun.

Using a dabbing motion, paint onto the unprotected lines.

Allow the paint to dry and then peel off the paper.  It’s like magic!

I tried something a little different for the other side of the bag.

I was inspired by Poppytalk Handmade’s tutorial on using contact paper for printing fabric and decided to make some triangles too.  Also, I was experimenting with the possibilities of only using scissors, which significantly limits the amount of detail that can be cut out, so I was bound to something simple.

That’s ok cause I’m just a simple girl, really.

Make a small snip in the shape and cut around the inside borders.


Carefully peel the backing off the whole sheet of contact paper.  It will probably get all bunched up into a ball and that’s OK.  See?

Just pull it apart and stick it back on the fabric and follow the same painting process as before.

Aw yeah son.

PS – If you can guess (correctly) which two hip hop songs were referenced in this post I’ll send you a hand-written postcard.

1 Comment

  • Lizzy says:

    Ugh. This is driving me crazy. I want the hand written post card, but I only got Snoop Dogg (which was a hilarious adaptation of Lodi Dodi if I do say so myself).

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