Seasonal Shopping Totes: Winter by Jan Mollet Evans

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Seasonal Shopping Totes: Winter

by Jan Mollet Evans

With more ecologically conscious stores requiring their customers to bring their own bags, now is a great time to decorate your totes to celebrate the seasons!

This “Winter” bag is the first in a series of four tote bag projects that will help you learn a variety of techniques for stenciling with several different products. Stencils make painting easy, fast, and fun, and you’ll be able to apply your skills to a host of other projects. Not just for shopping, these totes will make great gift bags for the upcoming holiday season. They will be appreciated and utilized by your friends and family for almost all their shopping needs!

Jan Mollet Evans has worked in the creative industry for many years; stenciling was the first type of painting she learned when she was 12, and she still pursues her love of stenciling today. Her background in art teaching, as well as writing and editing how-to articles and books, has given her an in-depth knowledge of a broad spectrum of creative techniques. She has taught classes and has enjoyed studying with some of the best teachers in the creative community. Jan enjoys merging creative materials and techniques into Mixed Media designs with a unique twist.




Natural Canvas Tote Bag: 12 oz. heavy canvas, about 16” x 16” x 4” (available on from Axe Sickle)

Folk Art Matte Acrylic Paint by Plaid Enterprises
Blue Belle 2597
Folk Art Extreme Glitter Acrylic Paint by Plaid Enterprises
Confetti 2834
Hologram 2796

Silver 2787

Plaid Enterprises
Nylon Chip Brush, 1” wide No. 44289
Stencil brushes No.34038

3 brushes of 3/8” round



Stencil No. TCW164, 12” x 12”, “Stencil Flurries” (available from The Crafter’s Workshop at

18” ruler or yardstick
Removable painter’s tape
Paint palette (or foam plates)
Paper plates (do not use paper thin paper plates)
Paper towels
Scrap paper
Heavy cardboard cut to fit inside flat tote
Black Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Permanent Marker

Plastic zip-close bags to fit brushes and palette, optional

Helpful Tip:

Whenever you plan to paint on fabric, choose a natural material, not manmade, so the paint will adhere to it. Pre-wash all fabrics – without fabric softener – before painting, if washable.




Machine wash the tote bag (if washable), let it air dry, and iron it to achieve an even surface for painting. Before painting, insert a cardboard into the tote bag that holds the tote’s shape evenly stretched in place. The cardboard will also keep paint from soaking into the back side of your bag if the fabric is thin. As an alternative, you can pin or tape the tote to a stiff surface to keep it flat.


1. Assemble all the supplies needed for the project. (photo 1)

2. Position the stencil on the tote, so it forms a diamond shape. Use the ruler to be sure it is evenly spaced on both sides, top, and bottom. The points of the diamond may extend off the sides and bottom, if desired.

3. Tape in place in a few places.

4. Draw a pencil line around the outside of the stencil. Remove the stencil and put small pieces of scrap paper under the areas where the lines meet the sides, top, and bottom. That will keep paint off your work surface. (photo 2)




5. Run painter’s tape just outside the pencil line, extending it onto the protective scrap paper and work surface. In addition, put a small strip of tape along the folded edge or seam of the tote, where the diamond shape meets the edges, to keep the paint from getting on the back of the tote. (photo 3)

6. Use the Blue Belle acrylic paint and the 1” chip brush to fill in the diamond shape completely. Start from the painter’s tape and brush toward the center of the diamond. (photo 4) Be sure to completely cover the canvas, using almost all of the 2 oz. paint bottle. (photo 5)


7. Remove the painter’s tape and allow paint to dry completely. (photo 6)

8. Tape the stencil in place over the blue painted diamond, being careful not to cover any of the holes in the stencil. (photo 7)


9. Trace all the snowflake outlines with the Sharpie pen to give them definition. Hold the stencil down very close to the opening you are tracing. (photo 8) Work slowly and turn the tote so you are always pulling the pen toward you or moving it to the side, never pushing it. It is easier to work from the outside of each snowflake “branch” to the inside; keep turning the tote as outlining.

10. Mark each snowflake on the stencil with the glitter color to be used, either using stickers or a marker on the stencil near the snowflake. (photo 9). That way, an excessive amount of glitter of the same color won’t be in one area.

11. In general, paint the small snowflakes with Confetti color, the medium ones with Hologram, and the large ones with Silver, but that’s not a strict rule. Be adventurous and mix the colors, if desired.

12. Shake the Extreme Glitter paints well, and put a small amount of each in separate compartments of a palette or on a paper plate.

13. To load the brush with paint for stenciling and while painting, always hold the brush straight up and down.

14. First dip just a tiny bit of the flat end of the bristles into the Confetti paint. (photo 10) Paint all the small snowflakes with this color.

15. After dipping, dab the brush on a folded paper towel a couple of times, to push the paint into the bristles a bit and remove the excess paint. (photo 11)


16. After loading the brush in steps 14 and 15, use a dabbing motion to apply the glitter paint to the stencil openings, raising the brush up and putting it down again in a new spot. (photo 12)

17. Hold the stencil down with fingertips right next to the area being stenciled, so paint won’t get beneath the stencil. Also, do not move the brush while it is on the stencil or the glitter paint may slide under the edge of the stencil.

18. Start dabbing in the center of each flake in case there is excess paint on the brush.

19. Pick up the brush and move to the outer edge of the snowflake; continue dabbing, lifting, and moving down each segment of the snowflake to the center. As the paint is applied, refill brush occasionally, using the method in steps 14 and 15. Repeat until all the small snowflakes are painted with the Confetti paint.

20. Repeat steps 14 and 15 with the Hologram paint on the medium sized snowflakes and Silver paint on the larger ones.

21. When all the snowflakes are painted, remove the stencil immediately from the tote bag as the glitter paint acts like glue holding the stencil in place.

22. Pull up the edges of the tape where they touch the tote bag.

23. Starting at one corner of the stencil, very slowly pull the stencil up, watching beneath the underside to be sure no small parts of the stencil stick to the tote. If it is sticking, carefully lift these attached pieces off the tote so they don’t break off.

24. Set the taped stencil aside for possible use later.

25. Let the glitter paint dry at least one hour. (photo 13) If you want a more “glittery” look on the tote, replace the stencil and reapply all the paints, following steps 12 through 25. You can do this several times, removing the stencil and waiting one hour before repainting.

26. If reusing the palette of paint and brushes in one hour or so, place them in separate zip-close bags to prevent drying out before another use and use a marker to put the name of the color on the outside of each bag. Put a damp, not wet, paper towel in the bag to keep the brushes from drying out and getting hard.

Enjoy using your tote for shopping or make more of them to use for charming holiday gift bags! (photo 14)

Helpful Hint:

After stenciling, clean brushes and stencils with warm water and mild soap. Soak the stencil in a pan or sink to allow time to loosen the paint. Lay it on a pad of paper towels and wipe the stencil with a sponge, rag, or small soft toothbrush, moving slowly and carefully from the solid to the open areas to avoid damaging the stencil; pat dry with paper towels. Allow brushes to dry well before using again.

Finishing and Caring for Your Tote:

Glitter paints do not wash well. If using the bag for groceries, wash your tote, if needed. To wash, turn the tote inside-out and put it in a sink of cold water with mild soap, squeezing and rubbing gently, as needed. Rinse and turn the tote right-side-out again and hang to dry. If too much glitter has come off, reapply it as needed, matching the stencil to the marker outlines, taping in place, and following the painting instructions from 12 through 26.


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  • Margaret Riley on

    Everyone get ready! There will be a shopping bag to paint for three more seasons…spring, summer, and fall. Stay tuned!

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