BAG TUTORIAL: Color Blocked Geometric Bag

I was on a roll redesigning bags, so I rummaged through my stacks of clothing to alter, for the remaining two bags lurking at the bottom. This one started out as a bag I'd gotten free with a magazine subscription. Mine was a cream bag with brown handles. I like the style, but the light color will get easily dirty with heavy usage. It has several fabric sections, which I used to do the colorblocking. If yours doesn't have these design details, you can fake them. This trompe l'oeil bag tutorial is handy for figuring that out. That one uses iron ons, but you can paint your faux bag details instead. To me, the colorblocking seemed too plain, and a bit juvenile. I made it more grown up by hand painting a geometric design all over the bag. I've been really into geometrics lately, so this was a great project to incorporate that. You can make the colorblocking a few shades of one color, 2-3 colors, or full rainbow like mine. For the overlayed design, you can make it as complicated as you wish. Let each side dry completely before moving on, or you'll have a big mess instead of a pretty bag. Ok, onto the tutorial.


  • One old light colored bag - A light colored one is best for colorful paint to show up vibrant
  • Tulip Soft fabric paints - I used the colors and formulas I had on hand. Red, yellow, grape (purple), and black in velveteen, holiday green in matte, azure blue in metallics, and orange mist pearl in pearl (I mixed yellow and red with a little orange mist pearl for an opaque paint)
  • 1 Thin liner paint brush - To paint details
  • 1 Small flat paint brush - To paint big spaces
  • 1 Foam plate - For a paint palette
  • 1 Cup of water and paper towels - For cleaning the brushes in between colors
  • Wax paper - For protecting your work surface and the bag, while painting different sections
  • Newpaper or similar large paper - To crumple up and stuff the bag, if you have a soft boxy one like mine.


1) I stuffed the bag with newprint paper, to stabilize it while I painted. This helps keep it's shape stiff, so the paint color can easily dry without sticking to bag parts they don't belong on.

2) I squeezed a little of each color, except black onto the foam plate.  I used the small flat paint brush to paint the large spaces of the bag, blocking out where I wanted colors to be, highlighting the design details. I used the liner brush to carefully paint the edges and seams. If you like the colorblocking without an overlayed design, you can stop here. If you want a design, move on to the remaining steps.

3) I dipped the liner brush into the black paint bottle, so I didn't waste any black paint by putting it on the plate 1st. You need a lot of black paint for this. I used part of a little bottle. I started with the bottom of the bag, since it's the flattest section of my bag. I started by making a line of curves, then adding triangles, curves, dots, and rectangles where I felt they fit best. Take your time. Let sections dry before moving on, if needed, to prevent smearing the paint. I painted the edges of the bottom black, to separate the sectional designs.

4) Next, I moved on to the front of the bag. The front handle is removable, so I unbuckled it, to make painting easier. I carefully painted designs on the bag, following the shapes of the sections. I edged all the sections with black paint, to separate the design sections and make the colors stand out better.

5) Since the back of the bag was long and wide, I chose a line design to work with. I painted long lines on the bag, and filled them with repeating patterns.

6) Next, I moved onto the orange side panels, doing one at a time. I edged these sections too.

7) Next, I painted the top designs. This panel bends to the sides. Since these section has narrow fabric strips, I kept it simple with stripes and edging the section.

8) For the handles, I started with the detached handle (shown reattached here). I painted a diamond and dot design, intersecting with the buckle holes. The reminder of the strap is simple with stripes. Since the handle is mostly round along the length, I had to do this in stages, letting each side dry completely before moving on. For the buckle, I painted the same box and X design you see on the sewn handle. I painted a few stripes on the loop after the buckle.

The other handle got a circle design and the same X box, where the handle is attached to the bag. Same stripes along the length. I slipped wax paper between the bag and sewn handle, to prevent the paint from getting on the bag while I was painting it.

That's all for this tutorial. It's only as complicated as you want to make it. If geometrics aren't your thing, a watercolor floral, free form paint strokes, splatters, cartoons, polka dots, stripes, what ever strikes your fancy. This is a great fabric paint for this sort of bag, as it bends well and doesn't crack, hence the "soft" part of it's name. It comes in a few different formulas. The small bottles go a long way. I still have plenty of paint left, and I've painted 6 bags now. Go get some from Michaels. Happy Makery!


  1. Hey i liked this...i have a few old bags ...gonna paint on them :)

  2. What a terrific upcycle! I have a hugs stash of old purses I love purses and can't bear to throw any out.

    I heard about your blog from Madge Potter (the World Wide Blog Hop). I'm so glad she tagged you.

    1. Aw thanks! I love to upcycle lot of the old stuff I've collected over the years. I'm glad to see you migrated over her from Margot/Madge.


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