Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Hand Dyed Embellished Tote

My mom and I both love to be creative. Thanks to my artistic mom’s encouragement, art became a way for me to find my happy place. Since we live far apart, creating things is a way to instantly connect with each other and I knew I wanted to make her a handmade gift for Mother’s Day. While I had a million ideas in my head, the one homemade gift idea that truly stood out was to make a tote bag to carry around her art supplies and our other shared love: books.
After playing around with RIT Dye and some beautiful trim, I came up with a project I know she’ll love: a subtle ombre indigo tote with embroidered heart. There’s many variations if you want to make one for yourself or as a DIY gift for your mom, so here’s the basic how-to with many ways to switch it up to match the style you’re going for!

- Basic Tote Bag

- RIT dye

- Plastic Bin and stirring stick

- Trim

- Thread and Needle

- Scissors

- Velcro Dots (optional)
Step One: Iron a basic light colored tote (I got mine from the craft store). Following the directions on the package, prepare the dye. I used RIT, so I dissolved the package into two cups of hot water and then added warm water to a plastic bin and combined them. I also added a cup of salt, which helps the dye stick.
Step Two: I’ll admit I was going for a stronger ombre pattern (ombre means it’s lighter on top and darker on the bottom). Unfortunately, the bag picked up a ton of dye after just a few seconds in the bucket. If you’d like part of your bag to stay light, then make sure not to dip the entire bag into the dye. The soaking time will depend on how dark and/or varied you wish the bag to be—less time on the first step means it’s lighter and has more contrast. Start by submerging all the parts of the bag you wish to have color. Raise 1/3 of the bag out of the dye by the handles after 1-3 minutes, letting the rest soak. Soak for a few more minutes, and pull the bag out so only the bottom third is still soaking. Soak for 15+ more minutes, depending on how dark you wish to go.
Step Three: Rinse the bag in warm water until it runs clear. Dry. Iron again, if needed.
Step Four: Add on a symbol or monogram. I made an abstract heart using an embroidered type trim from the craft store. Arrange it on the top of the tote, and carefully sew using a running stitch. Make sure to sew it to the top layer only; don’t sew the bag together!
Step Five: I added a dot of Velcro especially at the top as an extra touch. This way, the contents of the bag are more likely to stay put.
And… you’re done! I heart my mom.
Carrie MakingLemonade
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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