DIY Stenciled Patterned Scarf

Some of you I know live in warm places year-round. Lucky, lucky you! I don’t know why I haven’t yet joined you, but for now I’m in the American Midwest under a blanket of snow and cold air. We bundle up here until we waddle like penguins under layers of coats, hats, scarves, shawls, thick socks and boots. Usually all these layers are in drab colors and we look like depressed penguins suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Which we probably are!

Instead of looking like these Chicago people:

Chicago Cold Weather

Source: CBS Chicago

I’d rather look like this:

Penguins in Colorful Sweaters from the Penguin Foundation

Source: Penguin Foundation

So why not wear some happy, colorful and pattern-full layers? As you know, I do a lot of painting with stencils, and sometimes I’ve imagined wearing these patterns! Why not?

Yes, you can stencil on fabric. In fact I stenciled on scarves and shawls recently, including a currently fashionable infinity scarf. Here’s how to do it, in a DIY stenciled scarf post I wrote for Paint and Pattern blogzine:

How to Stencil a Scarf

Hop on over to Paint+Pattern to see how to paint this mud cloth-inspired shawl.

Look for a scarf or shawl with a smooth flat surface. A smooth surface is easier to paint. I found mine at World Market at my local store but some colors are also available online — just search “pashmina” on World Market’s website and you’ll find colors like apple green, orchid, lilac, coral and more. They’re on sale right now for $4.99 and $7.99:

Apple and Orchid Infinity Scarves from World Market

Lilac and Coral Shawls

You can also find smooth shawls and scarves like this in lots of places like Target, TJ Maxx, etc.

Here’s another color shawl I stenciled. It’s posing in our freezing cold backyard in front of my dear dead garden:

Stenciled Shawl

I froze my little buns off taking photos out there, and then I got back in the house and saw the one little orange tassel is out of place and it is still bugging me! Call that “Design OCD.” Yes I can be a perfectionist and have “Design OCD” pretty bad. That tassel situation is a little too complex for me to fix in Photoshop and make it look natural. Believe me there are plenty of things I fix in Photoshop and you would never know! It was too cold to go back out in the whipping wind and photograph it again. This whole shawl was almost picked up by the wind, flung off the dress form and thrown across the yard to get stuck up in the sticks of the trees. The photo froze this in a moment in time so you have no idea how cold and windy it was! It might look serene but it’s all an illusion.

Even as I write this, it’s sunny out but don’t be fooled — the wind is outside my windows whipping snow around like mad and building drifts against the house.

And that is why, it’s good to have a bunch of warm things like these shawls to wrap around your shoulders and cuddle on a couch in front of a fire with hot cocoa. And when the shawl is colorful and patterned, all the better!

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Trending: Carpet Bags

Call ’em carpet bags, kilim bags, call them whatever you like — they are bags made of carpet remnants from rugs around the world. They often have a bohemian look and are a great style for those of us with wanderlust. They seem to be a trend.

How do I detect a trend? Well, it’s simple. I go by the “rule of 3’s.” If something new shows up 3 times from 3 different sources within 30 minutes, then it might be a trend. Because with all the info we’re exposed to all the time, what’s the chance of that happening if the “thing” is not a trend? This happened yesterday with these bags, on my various social media feeds. So, callin’ it.

#1. First, this boho carpet travel bag by Barbara Bui from spring 2013 collection showed up on Facebook:

Barbara Bui Carpet Bag Spring 2013

#2. Right after checking Facebook, I skipped over to email where there was a notice from Novica about this Zapotec Handbag, made by Alfredo Ruiz. It has a replication of the Ojo de Dios glyph (eye of God) motif. Novica has a tastemaker blog post all about this bohemian carpet bag:

Zapotec Carpet Bag from Novica

#3. Then, a little further down my email list was a post from Justina Blakeney’s blog about kilim bags such as these from Burberry (this one is actually designed for men!):

Burberry Rug Bag

If you’d like one of your own, Etsy is a great place to find vintage bags or new bags made from older carpet textiles.

Here’s a 1970s vintage overnight bag made from Turkish rugs. From Daisy Chain Vintage on Etsy, it’s been sold, but it’s a good look to search for with it’s timeless neutral colors and details:

Kilim Carpet Bag via Daisy Chain Vintage on etsy

From Etsy shop Bohemiennes, this is a bold graphic vintage carpet bag that would look great hanging casually off a mid century modern chair:

Carpet Bag via Etsy Shop Bohemiennes

This next style adds just a bit of color and striped pattern to an otherwise neutral bag. It’s from Istanbul, which is the source of many great rugs, at Etsy shop The Orient Bazaar:

Kilim Bag via The Orient Bazaar

Another vintage duffle weekender from Etsy shop Goodbye Heart Woman. I like the off-center placement of this kilim rug pattern:

Vintage Kilim Duffle Bag via Etsy Shop Goodbye Heart Woman

Of course this trend isn’t new. These have been a trend before. That’s why there’s so many vintage bags on the market! I have a vague memory of these from the 1970s but I was a young child then and paid more attention to Barbie dolls than bags at that time. I also remember taking macrame classes and made a pot-hanger — another trend that has returned now.

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DIY Anthro-Style Stenciled Tote Bag

Lately I’ve been drawn  to casual tote bags with a mix of patterns and colors on them. Like these from Anthropologie:

Anthropologie Border Patterned Tote Bags -- Make a DIY Bag Like These

If you want to see more like these, I’ve pinned a bunch more patterned tote bags here from Anthro, Free People, Calypso St. Barth, Accessorize, etc.

What I see when I look at these bags is mix ‘n matched combos of border patterns. Like border patterns from stencils. Thus, you could paint a bag with stencils. Right? And so I did.

You can find blank cotton tote bags in different sizes at craft stores like JoAnn and Hobby Lobby. From the selection in my local stores, I found Hobby Lobby carries slightly thicker tote bags than JoAnn. Dharma Trading also sells them online. They’re usually available in white, beige and black.

Tote Bag Blanks

You will need to iron the tote bag before painting on it. In the photo above, the bag in the front is a tote bag directly from the package; I ironed the one in the back.

I chose a mix of stencils from my collection from Royal Design Studio. I think a good “formula” for some visual variety is to 1.) mix rounded shapes with straight-edged shapes, and 2.) mix larger shapes with smaller shapes. Here you can see the finished stenciled tote bag and how I mixed patterns:

DIY Anthro-Style Patterned Tote Bag with Stencils

To create this bag, I “built” the design from the bottom-up, starting with a dark gray color pattern on the bottom. I used Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan in Graphite for this color:

DIY Anthro-Style Patterned Tote Bag

When you want to create a line to “cut off” a larger pattern, as I needed to do with this one, just put painter’s tape on the stencil:

Making a DIY Anthropologie-Style Tote Bag

As you can see above, I used a different kind of paint – Benjamin Moore latex – for the light gray pattern. If you like a Benjamin Moore color, the sample pots of their paints are great for getting the small quantities you’d use for crafts.

Next I painted a red pattern with Royal Design Studio Stencil Creme in Renaissance Red. These paints have a little shimmer to them which really brings the color to life.

Painting Stencil Patterns on Tote Bag

Then I painted another row of light gray paint in a different small border pattern.

The final row at the top of the bag is solid Graphite.

You may notice the original tote bag “blanks” had cotton canvas handles. But I wanted to dress the tote bag up, so I cut those handles off and replaced them with long cross-body handles in black faux leather.

DIY Stenciled Tote Bag Anthropologie-Style

Here I am wearing it around the kitchen after finishing it! The tassel bundle is another DIY. I shared the how-to for that here.

Finished DIY Stenciled and Tasseled Tote Bag

I was so thrilled with this stenciled tote bag, I wore it around the house all night. Then I just had to wear it to work the next day, to carry all my fruits and veggies in it (so it’s a great farmers market bag). I got stopped that day by colleagues who wanted to order this for themselves and as gifts for family! So … you can paint this yourself, or you can order it made for you — I’ve set up an Etsy shop with this tote bag in it. More patterned bag  styles will be coming!

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Tribal Lamp Pattern Inspiration: Raven + Lily

A few weeks ago I shared this lamp that I painted with Royal Design Studio tribal stencil patterns:

African Tribal Stenciled Lamp with Baobob Tree Proportions

To find out how to stencil a lamp shade like this, head on over to Paint + Pattern, an online magazine where, as a regular contributor there, I shared all the painting details!

But there’s much more to like about this stencil than the design alone. Royal Design Studio created this stencil and many others inspired by the jewelry, accessories and clothing designs of Raven + Lily. Part of the proceeds from these stencils help Raven + Lily’s efforts. Raven + Lily employs marginalized women in Africa, India and Asia, who have too few other opportunities to earn a livelihood. For example, women in Ethiopia who are HIV+ have been trained with the skills to make stylish jewelry like this:

Raven and Lily Jewelry

And also, much of their jewelry is made from metals from melted down bullet casings. As a public health professional I’ve worked on violence prevention and am too aware of the toll of violence and disease. So the idea of taking something that was intended for violence and transforming it into something of beauty is really appealing. And so is supporting projects like that.

Previous posts here talked about an obsession with tassel necklaces, so I was thrilled to see a tassel necklace at Raven + Lily and of course had to have it. It’s made by women in India of black rosewood and gold beads. Here it is with my lamp inspired by their designs:

Raven and Lily Tassel Necklace


If you like the stencil design on my lampshade, you can of course get the stencil and paint it yourself on whatever you like. It also appears on some Raven + Lily products, like this makeup bag:

Raven and Lily Organic Cotton Makeup Bag

These stencils and products are a fun and stylish way to support a great cause! Also, I should note, this is not a sponsored post – I bought the necklace myself because I want to support what Raven + Lily is doing.

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