Introduction: Homemade Ombre Gandhi Backpack

At my high school, backpacks are given to us before the beginning of the school year. They are nice backpacks, but they are ALL THE SAME.... Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not going to settle for a backpack that could easily be mixed up with a fellow student's. I spruced up the average pack by making the main section an ombre from yellow to red, complete with a picture and quote from one of my biggest role models: Mahatma Gandhi. I hope that you can apply this technique to a bag of yours (it is such a fun summer project); I loved the process of making it and the end result. Let's get started!

Step 1: Gathering Supplies

For this project you will need:

  • A drop cloth or old tablecloth to keep your area mess-free
  • A palette or paper plate for holding paint
  • Three brush-on fabric paint colors of a similar spectrum that can blend well (for example, I used yellow, orange, and red. It is helpful to find colors in nature that can be reflected on your backpack. I googled "sunset" and found many great pictures to find inspiration from.)
  • One black brush-on fabric paint.
  • A reference picture (silhouette) and quote of a person of inspiration. I used a picture of Gandhi and a quote from him. To find a silhouette of Gandhi, I googled "Gandhi silhouette" and found many pictures with different levels of detail.
  • Masking tape to section off the areas that you want painted and the areas that you want to keep unpainted.
  • White brush-on fabric paint
  • Fabric Mod Podge
  • A pencil
  • Paint brushes and "sponge brushes"
  • A plain backpack

Step 2: Prepping Your Backpack

Set your backpack on the drop cloth and stuff with towels or blankets. This keeps your work surface even and prevents the paint from cracking or distorting when items are put in the backpack. Use masking tape to tape sections surrounding the area that you will paint. Make sure that all zippers, logos, and other fabric areas near the paint are covered.

Step 3: Paint the Base Coat

Use a sponge brush to paint a white base coat on the areas that you want painted. It took me about 5-6 coats to achieve a completely white base. Let dry overnight.

Step 4: Paint the Gradient

I started at the bottom with yellow paint, then went through orange into red. As shown in the video, I used brush strokes to initially apply the color, then overlap the next color using a sponging up-and-down motion. I used a small paintbrush near the edges to make sure that the color didn't touch any fabric that was potentially uncovered by tape (the tape didn't stick very well to some areas).

Step 5: Painting the Silhouette

I used a reference picture to pencil an outline onto the bottom of the painted area. The pencil does erase fairly well from the fabric, but it is still a good idea to use light strokes. Paint the areas that are black in the picture black on the fabric. I used a very fine paintbrush for the details, which helped. Let dry for a few hours or overnight.

Step 6: Painting the Quote

Find a quote that interests you from the same person as your silhouette. I liked the quote: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

I used my own handwriting to write this quote, but you could easily base the writing off of a computer font. Pencil the quote in first, using light strokes. Apply thin lines of black paint over the quote, using a fine paintbrush.

Let dry for a few hours or overnight.

Step 7: Fixing Any Mistakes

Remove the tape, being careful to not rip any paint off along with it. Erase any stray pencil marks.

Find any areas that are not covered in paint, and use a small brush to fill in those areas. Let dry.

This will make the pack look quite professional!

Step 8: Sealing the Design

Use a sponge brush to apply a thin coat of the fabric Mod Podge to all areas that were painted. This will prevent the paint from cracking in the future. Let dry.

Step 9: Rock Your New Pack!

Have fun with this unique design, and accept those compliments!

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