Tote Bag Making at OkayOk

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far. I have to admit that I’m feeling a little dejected by the return to chilly weather. Is it just me, or has this spring (aside from that one amazing weekend of summer-like temperatures) been exceptionally cold and un-spring-like? I mean, I can’t believe May is next week and I’m still wearing my winter coat! But according to the forecast, we should be getting back into more seasonable temperatures by next week, so I’m holding out hope. Spring in Ontario is a wild creature!

Today I wanted to share a fun experience I had a couple of weeks ago that will be of interest to anyone who loves art, fashion or being crafty! It was my friend Sandra’s 30th birthday, and she decided to celebrate with a tote bag making workshop. Sandra has been one of my closest friends since high school. We met in the ninth grade working on the high school play, which is appropriate because not only does she still work in theatre today, but she’s one of the most talented and artistic people I know! Sandra is an amazing costume designer who works in theatre and film, and she’s exceptionally creative with a keen eye for design. This bag-making workshop was right up her alley, and I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated her 30th birthday!

The tote bag workshop is offered by OkayOk, a Toronto-based contemporary fashion brand founded by designer Adrienne Butikofer. Adrienne designs all sorts of apparel and accessories: from tee shirts, hoodies and lounge pants to tote bags, hats and socks. The playful, whimsical patterns on the clothes are so much fun – I especially love the Confetti collection, which makes even casual loungewear feel like a reason to celebrate! The brand also makes some especially adorable clothing for kids.

OkayOk sells these fun cotton canvas totes in colourful polka dot patterns, but if you want to get a little more creative, you can design your own custom tote bag at one of their workshops! The private workshops take place at OkayOk’s studio in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, and can be booked for groups of six to eight.

When we arrived at the studio, we were greeted by Adrienne, who hosted the entire workshop. First, we each got to choose our colour of tote: either black or cream. Then we were shown to a table of vinyl polka dot decals. We each got to choose 16 different decals with which to craft our bag’s design. There were so many options for not only colours, but finishes and textures. Shiny, matte, sequin, glitter, velvet…we were like kids in a candy store!

I’d thought that choosing our decals would be a relatively simple process, but you wouldn’t believe how many times we each went back to the table, swapping out decals after having laid them out on the bag and changing our minds. Finally, we all arrived at layouts we were happy with.

After finalizing our designs, the next step was to ensure all the decals were aligned and evenly spaced out before taping them down and handing them to Adrienne, who used a heat press to transfer the vinyl decals to the bags. After waiting for our bags to cool down, we peeled off the tape and the protective coating from each decal, and then Adrienne ran the bags through the heat press again to finish them off.

My bag’s colour scheme was gold and pink, with lots of sparkles, sequins and glitter. There were seven of us at the workshop, and it was so neat to see what everyone came up with. Each bag was so unique and reflected the “designer’s” personality so well!

We were in the studio for about two hours and had a great time. Adrienne was such a welcoming and informative host, and walked us through every step of the process, offering helpful design advice along the way. We were also allowed to bring our own snacks and beverages to enjoy during the party. Not only was the experience itself a ton of fun, but everyone got to leave with a beautiful souvenir. I’m usually that person who’s trying to get rid of tote bags (I’ve amassed so many free ones from trade shows and the like over the years) but this is one tote that has a proud place in my collection – I absolutely love it!

If you’re interested in booking a tote bag workshop at OkayOk, you can do so on their website. It’s such a cute and unique party idea, and not just for a birthday: it would also make for a fun bridal or bachelorette party, corporate team-building activity, or just something different to do for girls’ night out! And if you’re interested in shopping OkayOk’s collections, you can do so online or visit their studio to check out their merchandise in person.

A huge thank you to Adrienne, the talented designer behind OkayOk, for having us – we had a blast!

Have any of you ever done a creative workshop or other craft-making activity? If you know of any fun ones in Ontario I should try, shout them out in the comments – I always love finding new ways to get crafty!

2 responses to “Tote Bag Making at OkayOk”

  1. What a fun idea! You can never have too many tote bags, esp. one you designed yourself!!


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