Thursday 3 October 2019

Gift-worthy Stencilled Bag for the fab StencilGirl Gift-Worthy Team Blog Hop

Hi, servus and you're just in time to join in our fun and inspiring "Gift-worthy" blog hop over at the StencilGirl Talk blog.

I love to give books as presents and recently my husband bought a book in one of our larger Austrian bookstores and it came with a lovely little cotton bag instead of the (in the meanwhile almost completely banned) plastic bags - this inspired me to create my own lovely cotton book-bag to give the next book in instead of wrapping it in wrapping paper.

I had found some cheap plain small cotton bags in a dollar store recently and these were the perfect size to give a book in - so I decided to customise one of the bags with some inspiring artsy buttons made from shrink foil. I just love that stuff and I had some StencilGirl stencils in mind that were the perfect fit for a book-gift-worthy little bag.

I've created buttons with various designs but my favourite one is this one:

I totally love the layered design that I achieved by using just one stencil!

It's the smallest stencil from the "Sand and Sea" Stencil Club collection from June 2016 designed by Carolyn Dube and I also found it is one of my most used stencils ;)

But I also love how the other buttons turned out. On these I have used the

and the smallest stencil of Mary Beth's Private Collection 16.4 stencil kit, also one of my favourite go-to stencil collections ;) 

I also used one of the quotes on the "Conversation with Matisse" stencil on my cotton book-bag. 

If you want to skip the tutorial and go directly to the info and links list for the Blog Hop, simply scroll to the bottom of this post! 

Creating buttons from shrink foil or plastic is really easy. 

First you die cut some circles of different sizes from a shrink foil sheet. As you can see I have used a Thinlits circle dies set and these worked just fine. Then I used a hole punch kit and added the holes. Make sure you leave at least an eighth of an inch (about 5 mm) distance between the hole and the circle edge - otherwise the shrink foil may tear at these points during the heating and shrinking process! (I can tell...I had to do the first test button twice because I punched the holes too close to the edge...I am afraid the image below shows these wrongly punched holes instead of the proper punched ones). 

Pick some stencils with designs of matching size...but you can also only use small sections of large stencils of course. I did both, but especially the Faces in the Crowd stencil had the perfect size for my mid sized buttons!

I used DecoArt Americana Lamp Black Acrylic paint and a stipple brush. Most shrink foils have a matte (sanded) side to work on. If you have foil that has two glossy sides, simply use a very fine grid sanding paper and sand one side of the sheet yourself.

When stippling the paint through the stencil also make sure your brush isn't loaded with too much paint as this often leads to smudged images. I usually load the brush and then stipple off the excess paint on a sheet of paper before I use the left over paint on the brush with the stencil.

As you can see I have used two larger stencils and only part of their designs for the smaller buttons.

The largest circle was a perfect fit for one of the blue Matisse ladies. I used DecoArt Americana Ultra Blue Deep acrylic paint and a cosmetic sponge this time.

I also loved how my "Love Face" button turned out.

But now on to my favourite button and how I created the rain drop layers: 

The picture below shows the fully painted button looked at from the back: the largest drops are on top and cover up the darker smaller ones...but if you turn the button around... will find that the darker smaller drops are fully visible (as in the picture with the sewed on button) and the largest drops now are in the background. It's the same as with reverse glass painting - you start with the layer that usually - if you would paint on paper - is the one you add as a final step. But now you have to think and work the other way round and add the layers in reverse order! Each layer you add will later be behind the layer you have done before!

So obviously I had started with the darkest, smallest drops and stencilled these to the matte back side of my die cut shrink foil circle (using a mix of DecoArt Americana Lamp Black and Ultra Blue Deep). That was followed with a second layer  - the middle size drops (done with a mix of Sea Breeze and Ultra Blue Deep), and I ended with the third layer of the largest drops using Sea Breeze Americana paint (the picture above shows the layers in this order - looking at the button from its back side).

The picture below shows the button how it will look like being seen from the front side - what during the process was covered by the layers added, now covers these layers. Makes sense for you? I hope so. ;)

I finished most of the buttons off by adding DecoArt Titanium White acrylic paint as a final backing layer (this way the buttons have an opaque white background instead of having any colours from fabrics the buttons get sewn to peek through).

When shrinking the shrink foil buttons I like to use a metal box (an old cookie container) as it spreads the heat from the heat tool more evenly when getting hot) and the steel bench block to flatten them before they cool (which only takes seconds). I do one button at a time.

Don't be shocked when your shrink foil button starts to curl and bend - it will spread out (almost) flat once it has completely shrunk (which is to about 50% of its original size).

Time to add an artsy quote to my artsy button book-bag!

I used Ultra Blue Deep again and a small stipple brush. I put an acetate sheet into the bag so the paint would not seep through to the inside and thus stain the bag's other side.

I used my heat tool to dry the paint...

...before I sewed the buttons to the bag using dark blue thread.

So this final picture shows (almost) all I needed to create a gift-worthy stencilled bag for book lovers. If you do not have a heat tool you can also bake the shrink foil buttons in your oven to shrink them. Simply follow the instructions on the shrink foil packaging. 

And I see so many other possible ways to use self made stencilled shrink foil buttons...just remember: if you decide to use them on a dark background add a final layer of white paint to your buttons' backs before you shrink them! 

I hope you like my little gift-worthy project for our Gift-Worthy Team Blog Hop! Check out the fantastic makes of my teamies, too - you will be amazed by their creativity! 

Be sure to hop over to each fantastic project and leave a comment for the artist! 
The more comments, the more chances you'll have to win $50 worth of StencilGirl® stencils! Good luck!
Claudia Neubacher's Tote Bag (you are now here)
Sunila & Aditi Mahajan's Treasure Box
Peg Robinson's Necklace
Shel C's Journal Set
Jennifer Gallagher's Paper Mache Gift Box
Linda Edkins Wyatt's Beach Memories Painting
Jill McDowell's Twisted Treasure Pouches
Carol Baxter's Advent Calendar

The contest closes 10-8-19 at 11:59 p.m. CST.  The winner will notified by email 10-9-19.

Good luck and as always 
hugs and happy crafting!


  1. Ooh I really like the artsy buttons and will have to check out shrink foil. Thank you

  2. Claudia: I need to try shrink foils now! Thanks so much for showing me something new and delightfully fun!

  3. A fun project for my art group

  4. This is fantastic Claudia!! You've rocked it! Love how you created the buttons and then stitched them onto the bag. xx Sunila & Aditi

  5. This is such a great idea, the buttons look really neat attached to your bag, and that quote is a favorite of mine. These buttons turned out really well, I’m thinking I must add this technique to my to try list!

  6. Wow Claudia, I would never have thought to use Stencils to decorate Shrink foil before I saw your post, Thank you for the wonderful inspiration and instructions :)

  7. Very creative, Caudia! Wow, that shrink art really shrinks! But with all of your intricate details intact. LOVE how you made holes and sewed them onto the bag - genius! xoxo

  8. I love tote bags and shrink plastic is so fun! Great idea to make buttons with it.

  9. This is such a wonderful idea! Love the different techniques you used!

  10. I love that your shops are almost all banned from using those plastic bags that are so bad for the environment! I love the idea of using shrink plastic as sew on pieces instead of trying to attach them with glue (like I would have LOL)

  11. I love tote bags, and this is a nice simple one. Your buttons are really special - thanks for sharing!

  12. I love your bag and the use of shrink plastic decorations, awesome quote too.

  13. What a creative fun project! This is the first time I'm seeing a shrink plastic tutorial and it is so fun! :)

  14. Very nice! I never thought of making buttons.

  15. I really appreciated the explanation of how you did the raindrops on the buttons. Sometimes I do things without thinking about it first. You prevented me from doing that. Great idea for giving books.

  16. I love the idea of using shrink plastic for buttons to be sewn on . The raindrop button is really pretty and I appreciate your explanation of how to layer the paint - I wouldn’t have thought of it

  17. Where do we find shrink foil in the United States? I am aware of Shriny Dinks which are made of plastic, but not familiar with shrink foil

    1. It's the same as Shrinky Dinks I think. I found the translation "shrink plastic" and "shrink foil" for the same kind of thing. Maybe plastic gets closer to the feel of the product. Hope that helps. xxx

  18. I love, love,love using the stencils with shrink foil! Wonderful gift idea!

  19. Love your choice of stencils and I agree with you about the one with the various size drops. I might have to look for that one. I can see many uses for it. Thanks for the tutorial.

  20. great project ... thanks for the ispiration

  21. I love shrink plastic and you have used it in a great way on your tote! Very nice job!

  22. Very cool idea for buttons....gotta go hunt down my Shrinky Dinks in my embarassingly large stash.

  23. ohh, so cute! I love the size of the bag, and the idea of using it to give a gift book in!

  24. Sigh...another project too as to the list....button making!

  25. Inspirational! I might glue tie tack backs to the buttons so they could be worn as well.
    Pins on a Jeanne jacket =cool.

  26. This little Tote Bag is wonderful! Especially when you place a book or any purposeful gift inside!

  27. These buttons are fantastic. I hadn't thought to use my stencils on shrink plastic, but now I think I need to try this and have some fun in my studio. TFS

  28. Beffore it was stencils for me, it was anything fabric. Love this idea

  29. Oh this is great! Thank you for the tips on shrink paper. I always have a bit of a problem with them.

  30. Claudia, I love the tote bag you made!

  31. Such a cute idea making buttons, love the face one! Awesome bag.

  32. And I was just wondering what to do with the one sheet of shrink plastic I have! Now I know!! Wahoo!

  33. Oooooo awesome!! What a fabulous idea.

  34. Can't go wrong with a great tote bag like this. Love the buttons! toneill26 (at) gmail (dot com)

  35. It's great that you put your own special twist on this lovely tote bag.

  36. Your buttons are wonderful!

  37. Absolutely love love love your bag!!


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