Dyeing a Tote Bag AFTER Applying a Transfer?

Dye Redesign Redesign with prima Tote Tote bag transfer

During a time when I'm setting up a space at a store and managing a new Redesign with Prima transfer release, I somehow managed to also create a special gift just in time for Mother's Day. 

I love being able to look around my workspace and pull random things and come up with a one-of-a-kind, personalized gift. 

So when I saw this Redesign canvas tote bag, and thought about how Kristy (my Dad's wife) loves to garden, and thinking of the new Vintage Seed and Fungi Forest transfers, it all clicked. 


(I ended up using a couple pieces from the Floral Collection transfer, too.) 

Normally I would have dyed the bag first to give it some color. But I was completely out of dye, so I decided to proceed with it natural.

(Well, that changed later, but let me tell the story...) 

I’d heard some people were using spray adhesive before applying transfers and I thought I'd try that. I had this can of Loctite Spray Adhesive on-hand, and I sprayed one section at a time, a few seconds before applying each transfer piece, so the surface was tacky but not soaking wet. 

The transfer pieces went down nicely, and I first rubbed them with the basic transfer tool, but then I used a flathead screwdriver to really secure those babies to the fabric before peeling off the backing paper. Because of this step, no additional burnishing was needed.

(Sorry, I didn’t take more pictures here - I didn’t think about doing a blog till later.) 

To urther ensure durability, I sprayed the bag with Mod Podge Ultra Spray-on All-in-One Glue and Sealer, then lightly brushed it to smooth out the sealer. This spray was so easy to use - much easier than the Mod Podge for Fabric product I've used on aprons - and it left a more natural appearance and feel.

I stepped back to look at my "masterpiece". I didn't love it. In fact, I didn't even like it. It needed something. But what? It was too late to dye it because I'd already applied the transfers, and you certainly wouldn't want to submerge the decorated piece in water. Or would you???... 

I had to. 



Still not having any dye on-hand, I decided to try watered down Dixie Belle paint. I had some leftover custom color I had created mixing Holy Guacamole and Burlap, and I thought that would be perfect. Blasting hot water in the kitchen sink (don't try this in a porous sink, and use a bucket if you aren't sure about your sink), I added about 2 ounces of paint and swished it around to mix. 

Now, normally when you dye fabric, you make sure the fabric is wet before you add it to the dye. This ensures more even color. But I channeled my inner rebel and just plopped it right in.  

Because the tote bag is 100% cotton, it sucked up the paint/dye instantly. (Synthetic fabrics do not take well to dye.) I swished it around for just about 3-4 minutes - I didn't want to keep it in there any longer than I had to because I was worried about the transfers. 

I pulled the bag out of the paint dye and very lightly "rinsed" it with the faucet - a light spray stream, and only a tiny bit - so I would remove excess paint/dye without washing away the color. 

Then I sandwiched the bag between two stacks of paper towels to absorb some of the water. 

I thought it might be very wrinkled but it wasn't at all!  I lightly shaped the bag and hung it to dry naturally (no dryer!). 


As you can see, it came out great. I love the vintage, broken-in look and feel. It's now something I can be proud of. And now I want to do a bunch more in different styles!


What color and transfers might you like to use on your bag? 


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  • Dee on

    I love how this bag turned out!! I’ve never dyed fabric before and I really want to give it a try…and the transfers are just a bonus! Thank you for sharing

  • marti jo on

    I’m doing this as we speak! Wish me luck and thanks for the great idea and products! :)

  • Glendia on

    LOVE THIS.
    Avacado green or a blue might be pretty.
    Your level of creativity is awesome.
    Thank you for sharing



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