Make a Tie Dye Tote Bag

Posted by Roxanne O'Brien
This tie dye tote bag is the perfect project to do with your kids. Learn how to easily add dye to canvas bags that will be ready in just two days.

This is a fun DIY to complete with your kiddos, or friends/family! Let's make fun, unique, and easy canvas tie dyed library bags that are done in just two days.


  • Tulip One-Step Tie Dye Kit-Super Big
  • Canvas Corp Canvas Medium Tote Bag, 15x10x4, Natural
  • Saran Wrap
  • Paper Towels
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Cooling Rack

The best value for this project is definitely purchasing the Super Big Tie Dye Kit from Tulip. You can certainly purchase a smaller dye kit if you're planning on making less projects. It has a variety of colors, will complete multiple projects, and is the best value for all the colors you'll receive! Choose canvas totes to dye (Blitsy carries a variety of different options). I chose a smaller bag for the kiddos so they can carry their own library books. Mom gets tired of carrying EVERYONE'S books, so this is a fun way to get them to want to bring their own bag and fill it only with what they can carry.

Open the dye kit and take your dye bottles to the sink. You will be filling up the bottles (which appear empty, but rest assured there is powder dye inside each bottle) with water to the fill line on the back of each bottle. Replace the colored cap, shake vigorously, with a gloved hand just in case, and set aside. Once you've mixed all the colors you'll be using, take them to your workspace. Warning: my workspace tablecloth is not pretty!! It's meant to catch spills, splatters, and all messes.

*TIP: Once you mix the dye, you have to toss the remainder when you are finished. The dye cannot be kept. You can certainly rinse out the bottles and keep them to purchase powder dyes to use on other projects!

You'll want to decide, and help the kids decide, what type of look you would like for your tie dye design and which colors you'll be using. Once you decide on that, you will take your rubber bands provided in the kit and start wrapping them around your canvas bag. We each chose to do a different design.

My youngest wanted a simple circle look so we followed the steps included within the kit that show you how to wrap your fabric and rubber bands. His ended up looking like a long, folded up umbrella!

For my oldest, he wanted simple circles and since he only using two colors (green and turquoise), he used four rubber bands to create his circles. His resembled a chicken that you'd cook for dinner!

Mine was fun! I just went to town and started wrapping the rubber bands all over the place, no rhyme or reason, honest. And when I was done, I flipped it over, and I had created a dinosaur! We were all laughing at this.

*TIP: If you'd like thicker areas of the negative space once you remove the rubber bands after you're done, you can purchase thicker rubber bands at an office supply store or craft store.

THE FUN PART! Now it's time to start applying your dye. I let each of us dye our own bags. My boys are 5-1/2 and 10. As you can see, they both did a fab job of being careful where they applied the dye. I just explained how to do it, and they followed the directions probably a touch more careful that I did just because this was their first time. We are honestly hooked on tie dye now!

What I did was get out my largest cookie sheet, lined it with layers of paper towels (and for each of us, I added another set of paper towels to absorb any spillage), then placed a cooling rack on the top. This allows any excess dye to just fall through onto the paper towels. Makes for super easy clean up, too!

Your next step is to take your finished project and wrap with Saran Wrap. Wrap them tightly and set them in a place that they won't be disturbed (or unwrapped by curious little hands). I set mine in my laundry room overnight. The longer they sit wrapped, the more vibrant the colors will be. The instructions suggest 6-8 hours at minimum. I say if you can leave them overnight, that's perfect!

THE best part of this whole process - seeing what your tie dye project looks like! Start by taking off the plastic wrap and cutting the rubber bands off. Being careful to not cut your tote!! I brought each one by the sink and did this one at a time.

After you cut off all the rubber bands, rinse the bag out with cold water. The excess dye will come out, so I suggest using a kitchen sink as it can be easily cleaned. If you use your tub or bathroom sinks, you run the risk of the dye tinting them. I wrung them out really, really well and I set them in my dish strainer while I worked on the others.

When they were all finished, I simply washed them in cold water on a very light cycle just to release any excess dye. I tossed them in the dryer and let them air dry the rest of the way. As you can see, they are a bit wrinkled, but once we put them to use, they'll be just fine. I washed and dried each bag separately just so the other colors didn't transfer since we all used different colors on ours. I'd do this the first several washings just to be on the safe side.

Now you can use them!! Such a fun project to do with the kids and it's great because this can be a fun project for any season. You could even make black, orange and purple bags or pillowcases for Halloween!