Mother’s Day Tote with Subway Art

Good Gift for Mom |

As promised, I’m back today with another one of my homemade Mother’s Day gift ideas. And although I think this is a fun one, I can tell you that this little project left me with lots of tips for what NOT to do.  You are about to benefit from all of my stumbles and hopefully this will make for a super easy gift that you can recreate.

To begin making this custom tote for mom, you’ll need to gather a couple of supplies:

1. Canvas Tote

Canvas Tote |

2. Iron Transfer Paper (ITP)

Iron Transfer Paper |

3. Embellishments.  I really like the applique bird, but I couldn’t pass up the felted flowers either.  I have plans for both.

Embellishments |

4. Subway Art.  I’ve included a free printable you can download here: Subway Art – Black & White.  You can customize the colors yourself or you can also download the purple and green version I used here: Subway Art – Purple & Green.

Subway Art |

Now here is where things started getting interesting… at the beginning.  I was actually hoping to just print the letters in white and iron them on.  I don’t know what I was thinking. I quickly realized that the transfer paper doesn’t work that way.

After my initial disappointment, I decided to embrace that I wouldn’t be doing white lettering so why not play with the color and the art edging.  Once I came up with a color combo for the lettering, the art easily printed onto the iron transfer paper.

Step 1: Create edge lines so that you have a reference for cutting a decorative border.

Define Art Border |

Step 2: Cut art edges with decorative scissors.  I chose a scalloped edge that will mimic the felted flower I will be adding later.

Decorative Edge Subway Art |

Tip 1: Read instructions included with your iron transfer paper.  Not all ITP works the same.  I watched a video and thought I had this all locked in.

I did not.  This leads me to Tip 2.

Tip 2: Remove backing from iron transfer paper.  This is important or the paper will not adhere.  Trust me… I know.

Remove Backing Paper |

Step 3: Prep your tote to iron.  You will need a hard surface and a protective cloth to go under your project.  This will protect your ironing board and the rest of the tote.

Prep Project |

Step 4: Once you’ve positioned your artwork, cover it with wax paper.  Tip 3: The wax paper (like the instructions) may stick to the inside of the ITP packaging… look for it and use it.  Don’t ask me how I know this…

Ready for Iron Transfer |

Tip 4: Make sure the steam setting is OFF on your iron.  If it isn’t, the color will bleed through your iron transfer paper.  I wish I didn’t have first hand knowledge of this, but even after looking at my iron several times to confirm that the steam was off, it didn’t register in my brain that the steam was still on.  You can’t see the blue bleed through as much in the remaining photos, but it’s definitely noticeable in person.

Step 5: Iron you artwork onto your tote. Move in small circles covering each area for about 20 seconds each.  Be sure to get the corners too.

Subway Art Tote |

Once your craft has cooled, you are ready to add embellishments.

Cool Mothers Day Gift |

Overall, I’m super happy with this creative Mother’s Day gift… despite the bumps in the road.  And somedays are just like that.  I’m confident that the next time I try this craft, it will go smoothly.  In fact I’m so confident, I’ve got another iron transfer paper design in the works.

But until then… Have you worked with ITP before?  Any tips for the newly initiated? Misery loves company… what was the last DIY you tried that didn’t go according to plan?


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