March 14, 2016  

Colorful Goodies DIY Ombré Tote

Boy, do I have a treat for you today! First of all, today’s craft project is just so stinkin’ cute and I know you’re going to love it as much as I do. I’m totally crushing on all things ombré lately, and bright summer hues are just what I need to lift my mood.

Not only am I sharing this DIY ombré tote tutorial with you, but I’ve also teamed up with TWENTY-ONE other bloggers to bring you Silhouette projects today! So stick with me because this blog post is long, but packed full of good stuff.

I’ve joined up with my blogger friends for today’s Silhouette Challenge, which was all about creating a project using fabric. This was a great challenge for me because it’s my first forray into the land of fabric projects using my Silhouette. So far, I’ve experimented with paper and vinyl, but fabric opens up a whole other world of possibilities. I decided to start with a boring fabric tote and turn it into something much more colorful and fun. I was thinking of giving these away as gifts, but of course now I just want to keep them all to myself 😉

Can you get any cuter? Such a sweet DIY ombre tote bag using Rit dye and Silhouette lettering.

Alrighty, we have a lot to cover today so I’m going to dive right into the tutorial for these DIY ombré totes. Keep on scrolling all the way to the bottom to find links to my blog friends’ projects and the giveaway! We’re giving away a heat press valued at $300, which would have been super handy for this project.

For all of my Silhouette friends, this project is pretty simple to make! Venturing into heat transfer material seemed intimidating, but it was actually quite easy.

If you don’t own a Silhouette cutting machine, that’s okay. You can still follow the ombré tote dye instructions, and I have included an alternate way to add lettering if you don’t have a Silhouette to make your own.

What a super cute and cheery Silhouette project! Use HTV material to make this DIY ombre tote with Rit dye.


Supply List

Here are the supplies needed to make this project. For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links for supplies I personally use and recommend. See my disclosure policy here.

How To Make A DIY Ombré Tote Using Rit Dye

This was my first time experimenting with Rit dye, and it was so cool to watch my plain totes turn into colorful goodness! I was very impressed with the color selection Rit has. My local craft store had a very large selection of dye colors, which made it difficult to choose just a few! I went with some summery colors for this project, and I am already dreaming up more dye projects so I can try out some of their colors.

Tip: Dye your tote outside or on a covered surface so you don’t stain anything. This dye has staying power!

1 | Prepare Dye

Fill a bucket with hot water and mix in a packet of powdered Rit dye. I used an entire packet for each of my totes, but you could use half of one if you want a lighter color. I was going for very concentrated colors and was super impressed with how vibrant this dye is.

Quick Tip: Pour your dye powder into the bucket while filling it so the water naturally mixes up the powder. This will save you from needing to stir it.

2 | Dip-Dye Your Tote

First, rinse your tote under warm water so it is wet. Then submerge your tote in the dye at varying levels to create the dip-dyed ombré effect. I tied my tote to the nearby shelf so I wouldn’t have to hold it. Here’s what my dying set-up looked like. I had all three going at once:

How to dip-dye a tote bag to create an ombre effect. So easy!

To create the different levels of color, I moved the bag higher over time so the bottom layer became the most saturated. You can totally experiment with this step, but here’s the timing I followed. After the allotted time for one layer, I would tie the bag a bit higher so less of it was dipped in the water during the next layer.

Layer 1 – Quick dip up to the top of the tote (not the handles)

Layer 2 – 5 minutes

Layer 3 – 25 minutes

Layer 4 – 50 minutes

3 | Rinse The Dye

Once your final layer is complete, it’s time to rinse out the excess dye. Definitely wear rubber gloves for this step! I held the tote over the bucket and wrung out as much liquid as possible. While doing this, I quickly dipped the handles into the dye just so they would have a slight color to them.

I followed the directions for rinsing the dye in a sink, running water over the tote while wringing out the fabric. Start with hot water and gradually work toward cold water. Keep squeezing your fabric until the water runs clear, which will take some time.

Once your tote is rinsed, put it in your dryer for about an hour. I was worried my dryer might turn green, but it didn’t leave any dye residue on the dryer. If you are making multiple colors at once, I’d recommend drying them one at a time. I threw all three of mine in the dryer together and a bit of color rubbed off on the others. It isn’t super noticeable, but I’d definitely dry them separately next time. While your tote is drying, you can go ahead and carefully dump out your excess dye and rinse out the bucket so it doesn’t stain.

Note: The dye instructions list several dye methods. One involves a washing machine, and after rinsing my green bag I threw it in the washer to experiment. I learned that this ruins the dip-dyed look since it’s soaking in colored water in the machine. Notice how my green bag’s coloring is more even? That’s the result of the washing machine. The washing machine method will create a nice even dye color, but should be skipped for this dip-dyed project.

Can you get any cuter? Such a sweet DIY ombre tote bag using Rit dye and Silhouette lettering.

How To Apply Silhouette HTV Material

This was my first time using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) material and it is amazing stuff! Seriously, I now want to iron words and designs onto every piece of fabric in my house. I keep trying to think of fun saying to put on pillows, towels, shirts – you name it. So many possibilities!

If you want to use the same “goodies” lettering on your own project, feel free! You can download my cut file here. 

Note: If you do not own a Silhouette, you can find iron-on letters on Etsy or at your local craft store. If you go that route, you can just follow the package’s instructions and skip over this whole section of the tutorial. For all of my Silhouette friends, keep on reading…

1 | Adjust Page Settings

Once you’re in Silhouette Studio, click on the Design Page Settings button on the top right toolbar (it’s shaded in a darker blue in the screen shot below). This is the screen where you’ll set the size of your heat transfer material. I had a brand new roll that was 9” x 36”, so I set my paper size to match.

If you have a roll like I did, you can feed it right into your machine without a cutting mat. So if you’re not using a mat, change the cutting mat setting in this screen. If you just have a small piece of heat transfer material, you’ll want to stick it onto your cutting mat so it doesn’t wiggle around while cutting.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

2 | Design Lettering & Weld

I always struggle to decide what word or phrase to use on project like this, but I thought ‘goodies’ would be a fun one for this project. Choose your font and type out your lettering, then size it so it will fit your project and rotate it if needed to fit on your page.

Once your lettering is ready, you’ll want to weld together the letters. This essentially connects all of your letters so when you go to cut, the word will cut out as one piece. I used a cursive font and the letters were close enough together to overlap. Welding the letters together eliminated the lines that overlapped each other. The weld setting is in the Modify window, which you’ll find in the top right toolbar.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

3 | Mirror Design

This step is super important, and one I almost forgot! Because of how the HTV material works, you’ll need to mirror your design. To do this, go to the Replicate menu. Click on your design and then select either ‘Mirror Left’ or ‘Mirror Right’. It doesn’t matter which you choose.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

Once your design is mirrored, delete the original design and re-position the mirrored design so it fits on your page.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

4 | Adjust Cut Settings

Now that your design is complete, it’s time to adjust your cut settings! Go to the Cut Settings menu (top right toolbar) and make sure it’s set to ‘Cut Edge’. Then scroll down and change the material type to ‘Heat Transfer Material’.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

5 | Feed The Material Into Silhouette & Cut

Now that you’re ready to cut, load your heat transfer material into your Silhouette. Follow the instructions for your material – the glossy side should face down. Line up your material with the rollers and then select the feed button so it loads into your machine.

Change your blade number to match what Silhouette Studio recommends, and then do a quick test cut (the test cut button is in the Cut Settings menu). If the cut looks good, you’re ready to go. My blade is getting dull, so I ended up setting it one number higher than what was recommended.

Click ‘Send to Silhouette’ and let your Silhouette do the cutting!

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

6 | Weed Your Design

Trim around the edges of your design with a scissor, then use the hook tool to remove the negative space from your design (this is called weeding). When you’re finished, the lettering should be left on the clear backing. If you flip it over, you’ll see that your lettering is facing the correct way (see why we mirrored it earlier?).

How to use HTV material for the Silhouette. So easy!

7 | Iron On Your Design

We’re on the final step!!! Place your design onto your tote bag and line it up how you wish. It’s so easy to do this since you have a clear backing you can see through. Firmly press down the edges and stick it to the fabric.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

Place a cloth between the image and your iron and slowly iron for about 60 seconds. Lift up a corner of your plastic backing and if the backing comes up but the lettering stays stuck to your tote, you’re good. If the lettering pulls up at all, push it back down and iron some more. Allow to cool and then gently pull off the clear plastic backing.

Silhouette Studio instructions for cutting HTV material

Viola! Aren’t these cheery totes just darling? I want to make one in every shade of the rainbow.

What a super cute and cheery Silhouette project! Use HTV material to make this DIY ombre tote with Rit dye.

I just can’t get over how cute and colorful these DIY ombré totes are! What color are you going to make?

Can you get any cuter? Such a sweet DIY ombre tote bag using Rit dye and Silhouette lettering.


Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge friends and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration! These gals are so darn creative!

Art Party SmocksCustom Daredevil Shirt ~ Silhouette Blog HopDIY Lightning Bug Wall Art with LightsDIY Chevron Mickey Mouse Shirt with Glitter HTVDIY Nautical Pillow Cover + A GIVEAWAY!Recycling Tee Shirts - St. Patty's Day Style! Appliqued Initial Heart PillowWrap-Around Shark ShirtSew A Shopping Tote Into A Zipper Pouch3 Creative Onesies for Baby Girl & Free Cut FilesPom Pom Tail Bunny OnesieFreezer Paper Stenciled Cushion with a Giveaway!Rawr! Dinosaur Birthday Shirtcustomize your Picnic BlanketIt is Well With My Soul T-Shirt DesignMonogrammed Envelope Pillows + Giveaway {The Silhouette Challenge}Toddler Trouble Shirt with free cut fileDIY Ombré ToteUpcycled t-shirt cat... Meow!Little Helper Stenciled Kids ApronDIY Easter Egg Shirt - Silhouette Heat Transfer & RhinestonesDIY: Crazy Cat Lady Shirt + Free Cut File

1. Cutesy Crafts // 2. Mama Sonshine // 3. Morena’s Corner // 4. Simply Kelly Designs // 5. Coral + Mint Design Co. // 6. A Time For Seasons // 7. Architecture of a Mom // 8. Where The Smiles Have Been // 9. Haberdashery Fun // 10. The Thinking Closet // 11. The Crafting Nook // 12. Get Silvered // 13. Tori Grant Designs // 14. From Wine to Whine // 15. Create & Babble // 16. Curly Crafty Mom // 17. unOriginal Mom // 18. The Small Stuff Counts // 19. The Experimental Home // 20. Creative Ramblings // 21. Adventures in All Things Food // 22. Minted Strawberry

Heat Press Giveaway – Sorry, this giveaway has ended.

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Can you get any cuter? Such a sweet DIY ombre tote bag using Rit dye and Silhouette lettering.



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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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  1. I love this post! One of my girlfriends gave me some iron-on vinyl that I’ve been intimidated to play around with. I might have to break it out today and play with my Silhouette!

    1. Beth, you should definitely give it a try! The iron-on vinyl is much easier to use than I expected it to be. The only real trick is to remember to mirror your design before you cut it out–otherwise the words will end up backwards once you iron it on. Looking forward to seeing what you create!

  2. Emily! I LOVE these! I saw them in my feed earlier in the week and clicked right to them. Such a fun project….I’d love to do something similar with names for our family for summer activities!

    1. Ooh, I love the idea of adding your kids’ names to these totes. That would be so cute, and they’d be perfect for a beach day. Can’t wait to see your creations, Megan. Have a great day!

    1. Thank you! I’ve been all about the bright colors, mostly because I’m ready to be done with this cold weather and I need some sunshine in my life. I know you’re a fellow Midwesterner and can relate! Have a great day, Emily!

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie! I definitely agree these would be great for the beach. They have such a summery vibe, don’t they? Thank you for stopping by, and have a wonderful day!

  3. I love these! I’m totally loving ombre lately too, and made a similar tote as a gift. Maybe I need to make one (or a few) for myself too..

    1. If you’re digging ombre like I am, than you should totally make one of these for yourself! Actually, I started off making these as gifts but now I really want to keep them all to myself. This seems to happen every time I DIY gifts, haha. Thanks for stopping by!

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