Mod Podge Photo Transfer: Reusable Market Bags

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I've been a fan of Mod Podge for a very long time.  I'm not kidding, I think that I bought my first jar back in the early 1990's. Yes, you read that correctly, that long ago!  I recently had the chance to try their new Photo Transfer Medium and today, I'm going to share what I learned.  There is a little bit of a learning curve but it's really easy to use and the results are beautiful. What's even better is that you can use it on everything from wood to fabric to canvas...even glass!

First, I tried transferring type printed on an (InkJet printer) onto wood tags over dark chalk paint to make labels for my chalk board wall calender which you can see here.  I made every conceivable mistake from rubbing too hard, to not applying enough medium, to pressing too hard when I smoothed it out. The look was rustic and imperfect and it was perfect for the chalkboard.  What I learned: the background of the image will be white so it works equally well over dark as well as light colors.

Next, I tried an InkJet printed Image transferred onto cotton towel. I did better with the image but I found that, after it was washed a couple of times, the color wasn't as bright as I had hoped it would be. What I learned: Even though it has a slightly rubbery feel, the image stays flexible even when it's washed which means that it doesn't crack! and LaserJet printed images produce a brighter, cleaner image.

Finally, I decided to try it on heavy cotton canvas to make some reusable market bags....because I'm green. Yep, the environment and me, we're BFF's and, regardless of the fact that there's snow outside today, I'm confident that spring is right around the corner and local farmer's markets will be here in no time!

Reusable Market Bags using Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium:

Note: This medium uses PHOTO COPIES of photographs. Don't use your actual photos, it won't work.
  • Choose the photos that you want to use. Black and white, color, even drawings...anything goes! Print them on either an InkJet or LaserJet printer.  *Note: If there's printing on your photos, make sure that you use the mirror image setting when you print.
  • Carefully trim the photos to only what you want to show on your final product. I left a white border around my images on purpose because it reminds me of older photographs from the 1950's and '60's. 
  • Wash and press the fabric onto which you'll be transferring the photos. *I used natural cotton canvas that measures 16 inches wide by 36 inches long. 
  • Protect your work surface with waxed paper and place a piece between the layers of the bags to prevent any medium from seeping through to the back side of the bag. 
  • Coat the copy of your photo using a thick layer of the medium. (You can find the photo transfer medium and other Mod Podge products at Michaels.) It should be about 1/16 of an inch thick and the image should be pretty much invisible at this point.
  • Place the coated image onto the fabric with the coated side down and gently smooth it. The goal is to ensure that the medium is in good contact with the fabric and any air pockets are removed. Don't press too hard or you'll thin the medium. Clean up any medium that gets oozes out or gets onto the fabric using a damp sponge or cloth.
  • Allow the piece to dry for 24 hours. 
  • Using a damp sponge, wet the image with cool water and wait for a minute or two. Squeeze the sponge until it's nearly dry and then gently rub the image until the paper dissolves.  Be careful not to rub too hard. 
  • Allow the image and the fabric to dry. After the images were dry, I carefully coated them with Gloss Mod Podge. It made the images just a little richer in color and will protect them.

  • Assemble the bags by pressing under 1/2 inch and then 1 inch on the top of the bag. This will form the channel for the draw string that will hold the bag closed. 
  • Stitch close to the edge of the channel (I also stitch close to the top edge because I can't leave well enough alone think that it looks nicer. 
  • With right sides together, sew a 1/2 inch seam down each side beginning below the channel.  I reinforce the seams and finish the edges by sewing a zigzag stitch along the side of the bag.
  • Turn the bag right side out and press the seams flat taking care not to iron the image. The medium is a little rubbery feeling and will melt if it's ironed. Trust me...don't do it. 

  • Cut a piece of cotton cord (or use a shoe string) that is 48 inches long. Put a piece of tape at the end of the cord to keep it from unraveling, knot the end of the cord and thread it through the channel at the top of the bag.

I added a little decorative trim and some stenciled words. It was easy and so much better than using a bunch of plastic bags every time I buy produce!  I also decided to make a tote bag to put them into...of course, the tote can also be used for "overflow" during July and August when I usually need to make a second trip to the car! I used a pre-made canvas bag from the craft store, exactly the same steps as above photos of my sons.

Now I'm all set for farmer's markets...and warmer weather with my cute market bags. Plus, I'm reducing my carbon foot print... Heck, at this rate, I'll be a carbon stiletto by the time the snow melts!

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P.S. Do you know what else is right around the corner!? Mother's Day. I'll bet that you know a Mom or Grandma who would love a cute canvas bag with photos on it!