Stars and Stripes Stamped Bag Tutorial

Bold stars and stripes, red, white and blue… This is a great easy stamp carving project – simple shapes, gridded pattern, two colors.  If you have any interest in stamp carving, I recommend giving this a try.  This bag is easy to make and a fun graphic way to play around with fabric paint and stamps. This could also be a cute non-patriotic bag too.  Switch up the colors and maybe do a circle instead of a star?

I am loving my stars and stripes version.  We have a 4th of July parade to be in this weekend.  The kind where everyone in the neighborhood put on some red, white or blue, the kids decorate their bikes or wagons, and we  gather on a neighborhood street on the 4th of July.  We will pull the kids around the boulevard, while patriotic music plays (a bit too loudly), and everyone will get melty popsicles at the end.  Here is a picture from last year:  This year I will be taking along my new stars and stripes bag to carry the required little kid gear – water bottles, wipes, sunscreen, hats, bandaids…. because clearly more patriotic flair is necessary at this event!  😉

I highly recommend making your own!  Here is how:


  • Blank Tote Bag – found at most craft stores.  I picked mine up at Hobby Lobby and the bag measures about 13 by 13 inches.
  • Scrap Paper to place in the bag while printing
  • Paint Tray or paper plate
  • Blue and Red Fabric Paint – I am using Setacolor transparent paint (made by Pebeo) here
  • Stencil Sponge Applicators
  • Air Erasable Fabric Marker (and ruler)
  • Stamp carving tools – a linoleum carver and speedball speedy carve block (or other carving block). You will need enough to carve two 3 by 3 inch stamps.

Time and Location

This is not a sewing project, so you can do this one on any flat surface.  This project can be divided into two time chunks – one for carving the stamps and one for printing the bag

Here we go:

Step 1 – Carve your Stamps

I recently posted a stamp carving  tutorial with tips and tricks on how to successfully carve for fabric printing.  I used the same tools  and process to carve these star and stripe stamps.  Each stamp is carved on a three inch block.  Here is a pdf of a basic .  In a nutshell, transfer the pattern to the block, carve the shape, and do a practice stamp.

Step 2 – Grid your bag

Once your stamps are ready to go, use an air erasable fabric marker to draw a grid on your bag.  Divide your bag into about 3 by 3 squares.  My bag was 13 by 13 inches, so my squares ended up being a bit bigger than 3 by 3.  The goal here is to give youself a guide so the stamping looks even across the fabric.  Also, decide on your stamping pattern.  I used a repeating pattern of stars and stripes, but you could do a random pattern as well or mimic a flag design.  See the above pdf for ideas.

Step 3 – Prep for paint

Place your scrap fabric inside the tote bag.  You want it to be a barrier so that any extra paint will not leak through while printing. Next, get your printing materials together – a paint tray, sponge applicator, and stamp. Pour a small dollop of paint on your tray.  Practice loading the brush and stamping  on a scrap of paper before you jump right in.  The trick is to daub your sponge in the paint and then tap some of it off on the tray.  You want to sponge to be filled with paint, but not dripping off (like in the picture below). This will help you get even coverage when applying it to the stamp.

Step 4 – Stamp the Bag

Use your sponge to transfer paint to the stamp.  Check that you have full, even coverage.  Then, place the stamp, paint side down, one your gridded fabric and press evenly on the top to fully transfer the paint.

Step 5 – Repeat with the stars

Once all stripes have been printed, do the same with the stars.  A note:  My bag has some flecks of paint from the carving lines on the stamps.  I intentionally kept my stamps a bit rustic.  I like how the texture looks with the printing.  If you want more of a clean print, carve away the background with an x-acto knife (like discussed in the stamp carving tutorial) and be careful not to sponge much paint onto the background of the stamps when loading it up with paint.

Step 6 – Dry and Repeat

Once done printing, let your bag dry, repeat on the other side, and heat set the paint if necessary.  Now your bag is ready to use.