Make an Indigo-Dyed Market Tote

Hit the farmers’ market in style with a cool, custom tote. These indigo-dyed tote bags make for endless possibilities of pattern and style, so grab your materials and make one for everybody you know!
Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Beauty-2_h

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Beauty-2_h

By: Chelsea Costa

Materials Needed:

  • plain canvas tote bags
  • indigo dye kit
  • aluminum foil
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • stirring stick
  • waterproof drop cloth

Prep the Materials

Spread a dropcloth over your work area (cutting open a plastic trash bag works perfectly.) Fill the bucket with about 4 gallons of warm water. Put on rubber gloves (your kit should include them.)

Mix the Dye

Begin by slowly emptying the contents of the dye packet into the water and stirring gently. Once thoroughly mixed, empty the accompanying packets of reducing agent while continuing to stir. (Note: each dye kit may have slightly differing instructions. Be sure to read your kit’s instructions thoroughly.) Stir slowly and gently in one direction until fully dissolved.

Let It Sit

Over the bucket with foil and let the dye sit for approximately an hour. Covering is important to avoid oxidization.

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Step-3_h

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Step-3_h

Pick a Pattern: Stripes

This is the fun part! Decide on a pattern and start folding your tote bag. For a more striped look (as shown below), first tuck the handles inside the tote bag. Fold the bag accordion-style. Fold the accordion in half, then half again and put a rubber band (included in your kit) around the center to hold it together.

Pick a Pattern: Tie-Dye Bursts

For a traditional tye-dye “burst” look (as shown below), gather small bunches of the canvas tote together and wrap a rubber band around each gathered bunch. We used 9 rubber bands for 9 small gathered sections of the tote (including on the handle.)

Dip and Dye: Stripe Pattern

Remove the foil from the bucket. There will be some debris floating on the top of the dye vat; move it to the side or gently scoop it out. If you’re making stripes, gently dip one side of the tote into the bucket, so that the folded accordions are touching the top of the dye. Hold it in the dye for 1-4 minutes, depending on darkness desired. Remove, flip over, and dip the other side, leaving a bit of the center un-dyed.

Dip and Dye: Tie-Dye Burst Pattern

If you’re making the tie-dye burst pattern, submerge the entire tote under the surface for 1-4 minutes.

Remove and Cover

As you are pulling the tote out of the dye, gently squeeze to wring out extra dye liquid. Cover the dye vat again to avoid oxidization.

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Step-3_h

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Step-3_h

Oxidize and Rinse

Set the dyed pieces out for approximately 20 minutes to fully oxidize (you’ll see them going from a greenish color to dark blue.) If you’d like the pieces darker, repeat the dipping process. If not, rinse the pieces under cool water to remove excess dye. Squeeze them out, remove rubber bands, and unfold to see your design.

Wash and Wear

Put your dyed objects through a cool cycle in the washing machine to rinse out the remaining dye. Allow the totes to dry thoroughly, then take them to the market and fill them up!

Note: To dispose of the indigo dye, carefully pour down drain and rinse tools with a mild cleanser.

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Beauty-Close_v

Original_Chelsea-Costa-Indigo-Market-Tote-Beauty-Close_v

Keep Reading

Next Up

Make an Easy-to-Sew Lined Tote Bag

Custom tote bags can add to a fun personal fashion statement. Learn how to make a lined fabric tote bag that's perfect for work and play in this straightforward home sewing project for tweens, teens or anyone new to sewing.

How to Make a Tassel Camera Strap

Personalize your camera with a cotton strap embellished with metallic leather and craft paint.

How to Make a Leather Passport Holder

Never lose your passport again: Make this easy leather and fabric holder so your passport is stylish and easy to find.

Make Your Own Boho-Chic Rope Tassel Keychain

Break out the embroidery thread from your summer camp days, and instantly upgrade your keys, bottle-openers, bags and more with this super-simple and trendy tassel keychain.

26 Bright + Happy Sunroom Design Ideas

Sunshine + air conditioning = paradise.

What Color Should You Paint Your Front Door?

It’s not just about your home. It’s about you and how you want to be viewed by the world. With so many options in paint, almost any color family can look good on your front door if you pick the right hue. So before we talk about the style and color of your house (more on that in the results), let’s talk about you.

Dress Up Glass Jars With Hand-Drawn Designs

With a few simple drawing techniques, you can make these bohemian-style, hand-painted jars. Fill with wildflowers and cuttings from the garden to display around your home.

How to Paint a Polka-Dot Patterned Luggage Tag

Doing a little traveling? Keep track of your bags easily by painting a custom polka-dot design on your luggage tags.

On TV

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.