How-To: Easy, Inexpensive Neon Canvas Tote

I’m a fan of Kristen Turner’s Glitter ‘n’ Glue, a blog about making your own DIY fashion statement. I’m so thankful that Kristen has come up with several neon-inspired projects the past few months to help satisfy my neon craving these days (more to come on that). I really wanted a low-key neon bag (is there such a thing?), but really wasn’t in the mood to spend a ton of money. I decided I wanted to make something myself and see what kind of neon paints are available at the craft store these days.

A trip to Michaels proved fruitful when I found the DecoArt Americana acrylic paint line and their Neon offering. Tulip also has many neon colors to choose from, but I was curious to try DecoArt, thanks to a previous Whimseybox mailing. The paints come in standard sizes for about $1.79. I picked up pink, green, yellow and blue. I also found this great tote while at Michaels, too. I’ll be honest, I was pretty sure I’d find just a plain bag, but this one is a great size and even has a sturdy bottom so that the bag sits up nicely. The tote was $9.99, but with a half-off coupon, it was an even better deal!


  • Your choice of neon paint
  • Foam brush
  • Painter’s masking tape
  • Canvas tote of your choice
  • Grocery bag
  • Newspapers or any other medium to set up a work space while painting

First, rip off a piece of tape the width of your bag. I wanted a big neon block on both sides of the tote and nothing else. Position the tape directly onto your bag and press firmly onto the canvas, making sure all the edges of the tape are secure on the bag.

Next, place the grocery bag inside your tote to prevent the paint from bleeding through the bag. This is especially important if you’re using a lighter weight fabric. Once that is done, squirt a generous amount of paint directly onto the tote and begin filling in the area, beginning at the top. My bag had pretty thick canvas, so I needed to use quite a bit to complete the whole item.

If you have detail on the bag, like the piping on mine, work the paint carefully into those areas. I didn’t mask this area off – it’s just like painting a room, in my opinion. The professionals don’t use tape for trim work, and you don’t need to, either!

Let the bag dry completely and repeat the same process for the other side.

DecoArt recommends heat-setting the paint for the final finish. I was lucky enough to receive a few insider tips from Mallie of DecoArt to finish my tote.

To make design permanent, heat set all colors by placing cloth or paper towel over dry painted area. Never iron directly on the paint. Use temperature setting appropriate for the particular fabric and heat set for 20-30 seconds per section. Heat set reverse side in the same manner.

Mallie also tipped me off to their Fabric Medium, which they recommend for fabric projects. Because canvas is so rigid, I didn’t need to use it, but I’m definitely curious to try it for upcoming projects.

I’m really happy with the outcome!

Of all the colors I picked up, pink has been my favorite so far. The colors, in general, are incredibly rich and vivid – if you’ve had neon crafts on the brain, you need to give these a try.

Now it’s time for some warm days so I can hit the town with this bad boy.

Extra – More neon from Glitter ‘n’ Glue
Neon Studded Clutch
Neon Satchel
DIY Neon Necklace