How to Stencil a Canvas Bag ~ Flea Market Style

The other day I saw a canvas bag that said “Farm Market” on it and I thought … why not create a similar bag for my monthly trips to our local flea market? The vendors always put your items into plastic grocery bags and I’m always afraid they’re going to rip while shopping. A canvas bag would eliminate this problem though. After toying with how to decorate it, I’m now ready to share how to stencil a canvas bag.

DIY Stenciled Canvas Bag. I've now got something to carry vintage finds from the flea market!I have to be honest; I wasn’t sure I could pull this off.

I usually screw up the spacing of the lettering but I figured a way to fix this.


Canvas Bag that you can decorate in a variety of ways. See how it was transformed into a Flea Market shopping bag.Here’s what I started with … a plain canvas bag from Hobby Lobby.

It cost me $4.99 and if you have a coupon, you can get it for even less.


Iron-On rick rack adds pretty trim to a plain canvas bag.I love rick rack and wanted to trim the top of the bag with it.

I was thrilled when I found this iron-on rick rack because it meant I didn’t have to sew.


I love polka dots and was thrilled to find this polka dot stencil for my canvas flea market bag!I didn’t want to leave the back of the bag plain and thought a stretch of polka dots would look cute. I used a sage green stencil creme. I like the cremes better than the liquid paints because there’s no risk of the paint bleeding under the stencil. I used an adhesive stencil spray on the back of the stencil to adhere it to the bag while painting.


Polka Dot Stenciled Canvas BagI hung the canvas bag up to dry before stenciling the front.

I waited for a couple hours which gave me time to watch a little football.


Bird Stencil is applied to canvas bag to create a flea market shopping bag.Once again, I sprayed the back of the stencil with adhesive spray to keep the template in place while working. I simply pressed it onto the canvas making sure the smaller cut-outs were in place.


How to stencil a canvas bagUsing stencil sponge brushes and creme stencil paints, I painted the sections of the stencil using a circular motion. You could be done at this point, but I wanted to give the image a little more dimension by adding shading.


How to add shading to a stencil You can add shading with the stencil in place, or remove it. I shaded the larger sections with the stencil on, then removed it to get the smaller areas like the berries. Use a darker shade of the same color you’re shading, or simply use raw umber for all shading like I did here.  Be sure to shade the same side of the objects … for example, all the berries were shaded on the lower side. After dipping a small brush in the raw umber paint, dab off the excess on a paper towel. Working carefully, gently stroke the raw umber onto one edge of the area to be shaded. You can see the leaves and branches are already shaded in the above photo.


How to add shading to a stencilI shaded the bird and also added a wing. Hubby said the bird needed an eye.


Stenciled bird and branches on canvas bagSo I gave him one. I also added faint veins to the leaves.

I wanted the artwork to look more like a painting and less like a stencil.


How to stencil letters onto canvas bagHappy with the bird and branches, I was nervous about the letters. If I screwed them up, the bag would be ruined. I had punch-out cardboard stencils for the letters, so I used the punch-outs to line up the letters and get them straight.


How to stencil lettersI kept the punched out letters in place, replacing each one after lining its stencil up in the same spot. This ensured that my letters would stay straight and evenly spaced. Using raw umber, I lightly brushed the paint in place while holding the stencil with my fingers so it wouldn’t move. Start with a light brush at first … you can always make it darker.


Stenciled letters on canvas bag. The top row of letters is shaded, the bottom is not. Shading gives a more dimensional look. The top row of letters is shaded, the bottom is not. You can see how the shading makes the letters pop a bit more. I simply shaded the left and bottom sides of the letters with a thin stroke of heavier raw umber paint.


Stenciled Canvas Flea Market BagWhew! I didn’t screw up the lettering. I love my new flea market bag!

It has pockets on the sides to hold my phone, keys, or maybe some vintage prints.


How to Stencil a Canvas BagAnd that’s how to stencil a canvas bag. I’m ready for a little vintage shopping now!

My new flea market bag can hold at least 3 white ironstone pitchers and I won’t need to worry about those plastic bags ripping and the pitchers breaking when they hit the ground. That hasn’t happened to me yet … but better to be safe than sorry.

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  1. Hi Jennifer
    I Love your bag, it came out great! I definitely need to make a similar bag for my shopping trips!
    Happy New Years!

  2. Love your bag and the great stencil tutorial. With instruction on how to line up letters and which supplies to use, I’m going to work on stenciling a pillow, thanks!
    Happy New year!

  3. Soooooo cute Jennifer. You will be stylin at the flea markets with your cute bag!!! Have a great week as we head on to the new year. Looking forward to seeing more inspiration and sharing friendship in the new year.

    1. Thanks, Kris! I always go through flea market withdrawals during January and February! Kane doesn’t start up again until March.

  4. Really cute! I love all the shading and details you added and the polka dots. I have never had a plastic bad break at a flea market but I sure have at the grocery store. Cans rolling down my driveway is not fun. This is such an inexpensive bag you could make a whole set for many different needs. I’d like to try this.

  5. Really pretty bag Jennifer. Thanks for showing how to bring out the details with shading.
    I have done that with making the paint a little heavier on one side, but I like how you did it.
    I bet I will be copying you soon. Love the dots on the back too. What a cute gift this would be.
    Happy New Year.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  6. Your bag came out really cute with your stenciling, nice job of lining up the letters too. I haven’t done much stenciling, partly because of the bleeding that you mentioned from using paint, so I’ll try the stenciling creme next time. Very helpful tutorial!