diy tote bag

Here’s an easy project to do:

customize an inexpensive canvas tote bag with a design of your choice.


You just need a few supplies:


:: canvas tote bag {like these}
:: printable fabric transfer sheet {like these}
:: computer & ink jet printer
:: iron
:: scissors

STEP ONE: design what you want on your bag


I made these simple banners with each of my children’s numbers, but you could do anything you like. An initial would be cute, favorite quote or word, clipart you love … anything you like. Just design in whatever program you are comfortable with {pixlr.com is a good free one} formatted on an 8.5 x 11 document.

STEP TWO: print onto transfer sheet


Make sure you print in reverse {your print out will look like a mirror image of what you designed}. Your program may have an option for t-shirt transfer for the media type and it will reverse automatically. If not, you can reverse the image before you print. Not sure how? Google “reverse image in ___ ” and fill in whatever design software you are using.  You should be able to find an easy solution.

STEP THREE: cut out design, leaving a small border of white


STEP FOUR – SEVEN: follow the directions on the transfer paper packaging


put your design face down on your bag . press iron firmly for about 30 seconds, moving slowly across paper . let cool . peel off paper backing

You end up with a custom bag that is super versatile, and pretty darling, too.


We’ll use ours this summer for swim lessons.


But they also work great for overnight stays, dance class, piano lessons, trick-or-treating, easter egg hunting, library book toting. My kids received monogrammed bags as a party favor a few years ago and we’ve used them for everything. They wash up well for the first few washes, but the transfers will probably start to fade or peel over time.  But, really, by that point, you’ll probably want a new design anyway so go ahead and replace them when the time comes.

Multi-purpose, inexpensive, cute and simple to make: pretty much the perfect project!

9 Responses to diy tote bag

  1. asia@ itsanorganizedchaos.com May 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    love it.

  2. Katherine May 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    I would also love to use the download if you are willing to share. Tote bags for swimming lessons is a great idea!

  3. Andrea May 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Great idea, Emily! I could see these working well in a mudroom, hanging from hooks. A cute way to corral each family members mittens/hats/etc.

  4. Sarah Barksdale Design May 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    This is a cute idea! These would make really great party or shower favors!

  5. Chaney May 17, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    cute cute!! I love this idea!

  6. Tonya May 17, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I know that this is a lot to ask, but would you be willing to share your design as a download? If not, I understand.


  7. Emily May 17, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Love this idea!! How did you find the banner to start with? Was it just a clipart image you started with and inserted into the program as a jpg? I love custom designs but always wonder how to get a base image to start with.

    • emily May 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      I created the banner in Illustrator just drawing it out with the pencil tool. I’ll do a tutorial soon about how to make simple shapes like this.

  8. Jenn @ A Simple Haven May 17, 2013 at 5:06 am #

    Love it! Simple, cute, and functional. I think they’d make great birthday presents (or birthday present holders) for kids’ friends, too!

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