How to Make Reusable Labels for Fabric Bins

I’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of Googling on labeling our Closetmaid fabric bins that we use to store Elizabeth’s toys. I couldn’t find anything anywhere that I thought would work for labels that would stay put for toddlers to play with, while also being reusable and pretty enough to satisfy me. So I had to invent it myself. I decided to use chalkboard paint to label the bins.

Here are all our bins.

I used a business card to measure the area I was going to paint. I measured from the top and from the side so that all the labels would be in the same place on each bin.

And a little hint, since I had to do twelve bins, I made a tiny mark on my ruler so that I didn’t have to keep measuring, just line up the card with the lines on the ruler. I put painter’s tape around the business card. The business card is just there for measuring purposes, so I didn’t tape it down, just used it as a size guideline.

I put a tape box on each bin, making sure it was all lined up pretty and I pushed the tape down firmly.

Then I painted each square with chalkboard paint. You can get chalkboard paint at a lot of places now, I got ours at Home Depot. It was tintable and I chose the periwinkle color because I thought it would match fairly well with all of our bin colors. It came out much more purple than the picture on the can.

The canvas bins are very porous and they soak up a lot of paint. It took me four coats before it was actually a finished surface. I suggest letting the paint dry more thoroughly between coats than I did because I ended up with some bubbling. After the paint is dry (enough), I pulled off the tape.


Again, since the bins aren’t made from smooth fabric, there is some wicking under the tape and the edges aren’t smooth. If this doesn’t bother you, you are finished. If you are like me and the uneven edges drive you crazy, there is one more step.

I cut ribbon to fit around the edges of the painted surface and used fabric glue to attach the ribbon to the bins. Make sure that you heat seal the edges of your ribbon first. (If you’ve never done that, it just means briefly touching the edges of the ribbon to a flame. The ribbon will melt just a bit and then your ribbon edges won’t unravel.)

Then I used chalkboard markers to write on the labels. Chalkboard markers are kind of the wet erase equivalent of chalk. They don’t come off unless you use water or cleaner of some kind. (I’ve found that baby wipes are really good to erase them.) I used two colors of chalkboard marker to get this effect. (I did the blue first and then wrote over it with green while the blue was still wet.)

Also, be sure to follow the instructions of your chalkboard paint for drying time and any prep it needs before writing on it.

These erase fairly well. Sometimes a bit of color is left behind, but a baby wipe gets off most of it. Now we have bin labels that can’t be pulled off by a toddler, but are still erasable and reusable so that I can keep relabeling the bins.