BAG DIY: Cartoon Camera Purse

This DIY cartoon camera purse feeds into my love of quirky bags and photography. There are a range of styles to choose from from classic, to Polaroid, to Instagram. The final result is a stylized version of the real thing, using Tulip Soft Fabric Paints to makeover an old bag. I searched for a square bag to make a squatty camera that was a mix of classic and Instagram. I finally found one with a flat back, two little cargo pockets, and a long strap...that as a bonus is a lunch box. The canvas exterior creates a nice structure to paint on. Below are some examples of camera purse designs that I pulled inspiration from.

Camera Purses

  • A plain purse - One you already have or thrifted, in any square or horizontal rectangle style a flat side. Sturdy matte fabrics like vinyl, leather, and canvas work the best for this project. I used a soft lunch box
  • Tulip Soft Fabric Paints in Matte - I used white, blue, pink, green, and black. I custom mixed the green with white and yellow for a brighter light green. I mixed white with the blue, and with the pink to lighten them
  • A small flat or round paint brush
  • A small detail paint brush
  • White chalk
  • A foam plate - To use as a palette
  • A cup of water - To clean the brushes in between colors
  • Paper towels - To clean the brushes in between colors
  • Wax paper - To protect your work surface and bag fabric
  • A circle object - To trace for a lens
  • A ruler

1) Look over your bag. Decide which side you want the camera on. My was defaulted to the back, as it was the only flat side. If there is any dirt on your bag, clean it off with a damp paper towel. Remove any detachable straps, for easier painting.

2) Decide where you want the lens. I chose the center. Place your circle object down flat onto the bag. Trace around it with the chalk. You can make the circle bigger or smaller if needed, using the chalk. Erase any chalk mistakes with a damp paper towel. I made my circle bigger than photographed.

3) Using the ruler and chalk, draw two straight lines across the bag that intersect with the circle. Mine match up to the side seams, for continuity when painting.

4) I used the larger brush to paint the circle pink, the center stripe blue, and the other stripes green. I had originally done the top and bottom stripes yellow, but decided I didn't like it, so I painted them green instead.

TIP: This fabric paint takes 2-4 coats for it to be opaque and even. Let each coat dry completely before adding another.

5) At the top left, I painted a white circle for the flash. At the top right, I painted a white rectangle for the view finder.

6) If you aren't good at freehand painting, you can trace a smaller circle object for the center of the lens, using the chalk again. Paint the center of the lens black.

7) For more color detail on the lens, paint a ring of blue on the pink ring. The below photo shows more black detail. I'll explain that at the end.

8) I painted the top section between the handle and matching bottom section, pink. I divided the sides, extending the blue and green stripes around to the sides. The green flows up to the top, meeting the pink sections.

9) The front of my bag has several pockets and trim segments. Keeping with the colors of the rest of the bag, I divided the sections in paint. I uses a strip of wax paper under the pink pockets, so the green didn't make the fabric stick while drying.

10) Time to add outlines. I used the detail brush for all the finishing details. Starting with the pockets, I painted the trim and piping black with the detail brush. This works better than a paint pen, because the piping has crevices a pen nib is too fat to go into.

11) On the camera side, I outlined the lens and stripe details in black. I outlined the flash circle and painted horizontal lines across it in black. I outlined the viewfinder rectangle, and added details in black. I painted the piping black with the detail brush. I used white to paint a shine mark on the black lens.

12) On the top, I outlined the seam where the green meets the pink. On the center top, I painted a rectangle and ACME in black. On the left, I painted a pink circle, with two black circles and a black triangle, for the shutter button. On the right, I painted a pink circle, outlined in black, with a black middle circle, radiating black lines, and a black triangle, for the setting indicator.

13) On the right and left sides, I outlined where the green meets the blue, in black. In the center of the blue right side, I painted a rectangle and TOON in black.
14) On the bottom, I outlined where the pink meets the green. I painted a circle with an X, in the center of the pink, for the tripod screw hole. On the right of the pink, I painted a thick vertical line, a battery with a lighting bolt, and B, for the battery compartment.

15) To finish, I painted the zipper fabric black.

My particular bag came with a long detachable strap (not shown). I haven't painted that yet, but I might leave it black, just to make my life easier. This bag is meant to be a lunch box, as it has insulation, but it can be used as a regular purse with or without the long strap. The fabric paint is durable and can be wiped clean. You can choose any color combination you want. These are colors I'm attracted to at the moment, and help create the cartoonish effect. Tulip soft fabric paints come in a variety of colors, in packs and separate, so check out the range. For this project, matte or velveteen are best, as they give the most even finish. Now that you know how I painted this bag, go look through your old bags or at second hand bags for one that need a cartoon camera makeover. Happy Makery!

DISCLOSURE: I was sent the Tulip Soft Fabric Paints by I Love To Create, for the purpose of making projects. All opinions, projects, photos, and content is my own.


  1. Replies
    1. Nice. That looks like a Jump From Paper 2D bag. I used those as inspiration for my other cartoon bag diy.


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