This is such an easy DIY gift you can make in a basket, bag, or insulated tote. I used a blank insulated tote and added a little custom touch by screen printing with vinyl cut on my Cricut.
I’m excited to show you how to screen print with your Cricut or Silhouette to put your own design, logo, or quote on your tote bags.
DIY Screen Printing Supply List
- Screen Printing Frame
- 6″ Squeegee or 9″ Squeegee for larger projects
- Fabric Screen Printing Ink (I used white)
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Mat
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
- Heat Gun (optional, speeds up the drying process)
- Blank Cooler Tote Bags
- Stay Cool SVG Cut File
- EasyPress 2 (or read other ways to heat set the ink)
Why is screen printing better than vinyl?
Screen printing is a great process for a number of reasons. I love the quality of screen printed items compared to iron-on vinyl. But with a project like this, where I needed to make 6 gifts, screen printing was so much more economical and time saving!
I used one vinyl cut to make the same print on all 6 bags in a matter of minutes. I was able to use a scrap piece of vinyl, so this essentially cost nothing in vinyl.
If you have several shirts or totes to make, screen printing is a great way to make multiple items with only one piece of vinyl.
How to Screen Print with Vinyl
Step 1: Cut your design on Oracal 651 vinyl.
Step 2: Transfer your vinyl to the screen. If you are having trouble getting your vinyl to stick to your screen, try this transfer tape.
Step 3: Use painter’s tape to cover any exposed areas of your screen, where you don’t want ink going through.
Step 4: Place the screen on top of your cooler, lining up the design in the spot you want to print.
Step 5: Squeegee ink over the screen and carefully lift the screen to reveal your printed design.
Step 6: Allow the ink to air dry for 2-5 days or speed up the drying process by using a heat gun or fan.
Step 7: Heat press the dry ink for 40 seconds at 360 degrees.
Step 8: Fill your bag with ice cream toppings and add the printable “Just Add Ice Cream” tag.
Watch this whole process in action in the video below.
For more details on the screen printing process using your Cricut or Silhouette, check out my “Complete Guide to Screen Printing with Craft Vinyl” ebook.
Making an Ice Cream Sundae Kit
Once you have screen printed on your tote bags, it’s time to assemble all of your ice cream sundae supplies. I filled my bags with sugar cones, gummy bears, Buncha Crunch, M&Ms, Marshmallows, and sprinkles. I tied up the printable Just Add Ice Cream Printable Tags with an ice cream scoop.
For the tags, I used:
Tips for Screen Printing on Coolers
Screen printing on bulky items that don’t lie completely flat can be tricky. I have found the best way to screen print on these items is by adding a piece of scrap wood inside the tote. I recently shared tips about avoiding seams when screen printing on similar items.
On this blank cooler, I printed on the pocket, so sliding a piece of wood into the pocket worked perfectly. This raised the surface just enough so that my screen was flush with the pocket area.
While white ink is usually tricky when screen printing on shirts (more tips on screen printing white ink). I found that white ink worked great on this blue tote. The thick texture of the white ink covered the tote surface nicely. And since the tote isn’t likely to be washed frequently, it is not likely to have cracking issues like t-shirts.