Do you love DIY farmers market totes as much as I do? If so, you are going to adore this fun afternoon stamping project. Best part? You can use vegetables (or fruits) you probably already have around the house to make companion totes that you and your favorite little can take anywhere! Guaranteed to provoke lots of oohs, ahhhs, and awwwwwwwws from other local shoppers. 🙂
Kids have a ball seeing how different vegetables look stamped, laying out their own pattern, and picking out colors, and it’s a wonderful introduction to basic kitchen skills. We even have a couple of printable templates for stencils if you want to get clever with words as we did. My friend’s daughter Asa came over to make her own tote and we had the best time experimenting with our stamps – she is super proud of her special handmade market tote, and couldn’t wait to take it out for a “test run” last night!
To make your own Vegetable Stamped DIY farmers Market Totes you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- 1 or 2 (or more!) tote bags – I like these for the adult-sized heavier totes
- Assorted vegetables or fruits for stamping – these are our favorites for stamping:
- Green Beans or Snow Peas
- Baby Artichokes
- Lemons or Limes
- Fabric paints in assorted colors (we used this brand for bright, machine-washable colors)
- A foam brush and/or assorted paint brushes
- Our farmers market tote free stencil templates
- (1) or (2) sheets of 8.5 x 11 heavy cardstock to print templates on
- An X-Acto knife to cut out template designs
Before you start, make sure you have washed and ironed your tote bags – it will make stamping or painting in the templates so much easier.
To prep, smock up (hands get messy) lay out some scrap paper for test printing + towels for cleanup and cut a few vegetables in half lengthwise. We squeezed a little of each of our paints on their own plastic container or lid (the kind you get from a deli, etc. work really well) and laid out a few foam brushes and regular paint brushes.
DIY Vegetable Stamped Farmer’s Market Tote Instructions:
- Wash and cut vegetables in half
We thought carrots, radishes, artichokes and green beans would give us a fun variety of colors, shapes and sizes. After the fact, I kind of wished we had used baby artichokes (the larger ones were hard to stamp) but we had a ton of fun experimenting anyway! Lemons, oranges and strawberries work out well too!
- Brush with paint and practice stamping on newsprint
We did some practice stamping on pieces of newsprint and liked them so much we decided to do more on drawing paper! The vegetable stamping alone could definitely be its own activity.
- Lay out a pattern on your tote with the cut vegetables
You don’t have to do this, but we decided it would be helpful to play around with the cut vegetables and lay out our final design (perfectionist in the house…).
- Begin stamping on your tote
We used a foam brush to brush paint directly on to our stamps, but you can also put your paint in a dish and dip if its easier. Once you have your stamp face down on the canvas, gently push it down from top to bottom to make sure it has completely stamped. Once you have the hang of it, stamp away!
- Let dry for 30 minutes then add details
Once you’ve made your pattern, let it dry for about 30 minutes, then you can go back and add some decoration if you’d like. We wanted to keep it simple, but thought it would be fun to add some little cut stems for color.
Using a small paintbrush, we just dipped into the fabric paint and brushed some on.
- OPTIONAL: Stamp or stencil the other side
Asa really wanted to have both sides decorated, so we waited about an hour (the fabric paint actually soaks in and sets fairly quickly) then we flipped the bag over and prepared our stencil. If you want to do the same, you can download the templates below (or make your own!).
Using an X-Acto knife, I cut out the design, then we VERY carefully painted in the stencil with a brush. When trying to stencil with fabric paint, it worked best to tape the stencil down with a thick tape and blot your foam or paint brush often as you’re working (so paint doesn’t build up and squish under the stencil). After our stencil paint had set, we stamped some more vegetables to fill in.
Before you use these, make sure you thoroughly let the paint dry – we did a little finger-dry test to see if she could safely carry it around last night and, amazingly, our paints were set and dry within a few hours.
This is so dependent on the type of tote you use and paints you have though. The best thing to do is to consult the directions on the fabric paints for appropriate drying times (typically 24 hours is a good amount of time to let fabric paint dry in my experience). To be safe, wait at least another 48-72 hours to wash them – and if you can’t handwash, turn your tote inside out, wash on gentle and let air dry.
I absolutely LOVE how these turned out! Looking for another fun project for budding foodies? Try making your own set of cardboard market food (we have templates to help!) or keep the summer-food-themed art party going with a cardboard design-your-own food truck project!
*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community.
When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.