How to Personalize a Canvas Tote Bag

Variety of options for decorating canvas bags.
Variety of options for decorating canvas bags. | Source

Personalizing a Canvas Tote Bag

Whether you are looking for a cool bag to tote your beach gear in or if you are looking for something to carry your library books in, personalizing your tote is not only fashionable, it is great fun. Finding a plain canvas bag is easy. They are readily available at craft stores such as Michaels or online through Amazon. So how can you get started? Grab your bag, some fabric glue, paints, markers if you want and some creativity!

Step by Step Photos to Decorating a Canvas Bag

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Measure and mark the length of the fabric lining that you want across the top.  I made a three inch fabric band.After gluing the front down, turn the bag over and cut away the fabric where the straps are and then glue the remaining fabric inside the bag.Remember to allow dry time so that the bag doesn't glue together!Add a three inch ribbon to cover the seam from each side of the fabric.Add a ribbon trim along the bottom to cover the fabric cuts along the bottom.Add your designs.  I used stencils and fabric paint to create my bag.  I finished my bag off with a white flower at the top that I glued to the front and reinforced with a safety pin from the inside.
Measure and mark the length of the fabric lining that you want across the top.  I made a three inch fabric band.
Measure and mark the length of the fabric lining that you want across the top. I made a three inch fabric band. | Source
After gluing the front down, turn the bag over and cut away the fabric where the straps are and then glue the remaining fabric inside the bag.
After gluing the front down, turn the bag over and cut away the fabric where the straps are and then glue the remaining fabric inside the bag. | Source
Remember to allow dry time so that the bag doesn't glue together!
Remember to allow dry time so that the bag doesn't glue together! | Source
Add a three inch ribbon to cover the seam from each side of the fabric.
Add a three inch ribbon to cover the seam from each side of the fabric. | Source
Add a ribbon trim along the bottom to cover the fabric cuts along the bottom.
Add a ribbon trim along the bottom to cover the fabric cuts along the bottom. | Source
Add your designs.  I used stencils and fabric paint to create my bag.
Add your designs. I used stencils and fabric paint to create my bag. | Source
I finished my bag off with a white flower at the top that I glued to the front and reinforced with a safety pin from the inside.
I finished my bag off with a white flower at the top that I glued to the front and reinforced with a safety pin from the inside. | Source

Fun Beach Sayings for Your Beach Bag

  1. Life's a Beach
  2. Fun in the Sun
  3. Beach Bum
  4. Hang Ten
  5. Surf's Up
  6. Splish Splash
  7. Bathing Beauty
  8. Sandcastles in the Sun
  9. Footprints in the Sand
  10. Treasures From the Sea

Step by Step Instructions for Personalizing Your Canvas Bag

  1. Choose your bag. There are a variety of colors, styles, and sizes to choose from.
  2. Select your fabric and ribbon that you would like to add to your bag. There so many styles and colors to choose from that you will be able to create a very unique bag for yourself.
  3. Measure the width of your bag and cut the length of your fabric about 1/2 inch longer than the width. Then measure the height at about four inches. You will need 3 inches for the front and then about an inch to tuck and glue on the inside.
  4. Measure the from the top of the bag down to about three inches and place a dot to mark the height. This will be your guide for gluing the fabric.
  5. Glue the fabric so that it meets your three inch mark on the bag. Cut away the fabric where the straps of the bag are so that you can fold the fabric over and then glue the extra to the inside of the bag.
  6. Repeat for the other side of the bag and allow about 10-15 minutes to begin to dry before continuing.
  7. Cut two pieces of ribbon that is three inches long. Glue this on the sides of the bag where the two pieces of fabric meet. Fold and glue the top of the ribbon over so that it looks clean on the front.
  8. Next measure and cut two ribbons that are about a half of an inch longer than the width of your bag. Glue one to the very bottom edge of your fabric and wrap the excess around to the front. This will cover any frays from the fabric. Repeat with the second ribbon on the other side.
  9. Now you can add any sayings, pictures, rhinestones, flowers, or any other embellishments to add beauty and originality to your bag. Allow your bag to dry for at least 24 hours before you use it.

Easy Summer Crafts for Kids: Tote Bags

This craft is a perfect one for kids to do as well. When I made my beach bag, my kids made one for themselves. Of course the results will not look quite as sophisticated, but they will have lots of fun! They can use their bags for their own beach towels, sunglasses, sunscreen or even to carry some beach toys. This is a great activity for a day camp activity or just something for the kids to do on a rainy day.

I allowed my kids to choose their own fabric and ribbons to add to their bags. I also put out fabric paint and stencils with fun designs like cupcakes, butterflies, ice cream cones, etc. Since my kids are still quite young, I also gave them fabric markers to use. This gave them a little more control in their designs than paint would. With guidance, they were able to glue down their fabric and ribbon as well as add their creative touches to their bags. I did all of the cutting and measuring for them. In the end, they had lots of fun and are excited to bring their very own beach bags with us to the beach this summer!

Kids Tote Bag Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Grace spreads the fabric glue on the bag.Alex places the fabric onto the bag to glue it in place.Grace adds her ribbon to the bottom of the fabric border.Coloring with fabric markers is a great way to add special detail.Alex had fun using stencils and fabric paint on his bag.Alex's finished bag.Grace's completed creation!
Grace spreads the fabric glue on the bag.
Grace spreads the fabric glue on the bag. | Source
Alex places the fabric onto the bag to glue it in place.
Alex places the fabric onto the bag to glue it in place. | Source
Grace adds her ribbon to the bottom of the fabric border.
Grace adds her ribbon to the bottom of the fabric border. | Source
Coloring with fabric markers is a great way to add special detail.
Coloring with fabric markers is a great way to add special detail. | Source
Alex had fun using stencils and fabric paint on his bag.
Alex had fun using stencils and fabric paint on his bag. | Source
Alex's finished bag.
Alex's finished bag. | Source
Grace's completed creation!
Grace's completed creation! | Source

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Comments 38 comments

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Cara-I'm glad to be the first to comment here. This project is absolutely useful twofold: first, it keeps the kids occupied during the craft and second, they will be so useful.

That is so cool that Alex's birthday is 4th of July and his tote has the stars/stripes on it! I love yours-the color and the daisy. :)

And, I also like the list of suggestions you have here for other totes. Hey, I saw totes this size in Wallie mart and they were $20 bucks! Great job-voted up.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

Great How To article for decorating plain canvas totes. Liked how you set it up so anyone can get into this project. Your list of suggesting sayings is a nice addition. Voted up and shared.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey

Really interesting. I always wanted to embellish my tote bags in some cool way. But I'm always afraid I will ruin my creation. But maybe now that I found a faster way to make tote bags I will give embellishment a try.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Cute ideas! I also like the suggested sayings. It is so easy to just draw a blank when trying to think of catchy phrases. Voted useful.


Jenna Pope profile image

Jenna Pope 4 years ago from Southern California

Great article! Now I want to make one! Voted up!


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Very creative ideas. I loved your personalized tote bags!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Letting kids create and craft their own tote bags is an opportunity for them to express themselves and make something useful while having a lot of fun. Neat to see this project highlighted with cute ideas!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Cara, I don't use a tote back unless I'm on holiday but this hub made me want to go out and buy one just so I could do a bit of adult colouring in (very therapeutic!). I also think it's a lovely project for children to do before their holidays, it's a great idea.

Voted up, etc,etc


Green Art profile image

Green Art 4 years ago

Great project ideas for kids and adults. I plan to make one to carry books to and from the library. Vote UP!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Yes he's an all American boy through and through! I can tell you that this project definitely was less than $20 and I got the exact bag I wanted along with a fun afternoon with the kids! Thanks for your comments!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

So glad that you found it useful Angelo52! I love to involve my kids in many of the projects that I do. I think it's great to show others that just about anyone can do this kind of thing! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I know what you mean Stephanie. I have not always trusted my instincts when it comes to artistic endeavors. I'm learning to let myself be creative and enjoy the creations as they evolve. Thanks so much for stopping by.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Glad you like the list of sayings. I agree that it's nice to have a handy list of sayings to go back to. Thanks for reading and commenting.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I hope you do and if you do, share a picture, I'd love to see it!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks unknown spy, I appreciate the comments!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I agree RTalloni. It really gives them a sense of pride in their own creations. I'm glad you enjoyed the project!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

LOL, that's funny Jools! Well I guess you'll just have to make one in preparation for your next holiday! Thanks for visiting and the votes.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Awesome Green Art! I hope that the directions help you out. Stop back by and let me know how it turns out!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I think I can do this one. I have a beach bag that needs a front pocket and I am on this now. What a simple easy way to accessorize a bag. Love your kids work also. Happy Mother's Day! Voted way up there!


alissaroberts profile image

alissaroberts 4 years ago from Normandy, TN

I love your cute beach bags! Great idea to let each kid make one too. Maybe that would help encourage my boys to help haul all the beach stuff on vacation. It seems like I always have at least 3 bags and a cooler hanging off me like we plan on living at the beach :) Great summer craft - voted up and pinning!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

It was simple teaches12345 and fun too! I hope that you have fun accessorizing your bag as well. Happy Mother's day to you too and thanks for the visits and votes.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Haha Alissa, yes it does become a juggling act doesn't it? I can just see the cool bags that your boys would create! Thanks for the visit and the pin. :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Awesome ideas!! I'm a fan of canvas totes and since they are not that expensive and useful for many things you could decorate as many as you want, which we have done many times.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

Great craft project for the kids (and you). I miss doing some of that stuff with the boys. Voted up


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks Sunshine! They are inexpensive and very useful as you say. I think that as a teacher I can never have too many bags! :) Thanks for your visit.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

So cool - I might have to make an adult version of this! :) Your kids are so cute. You know, they'll look back on these articles one day and think what a cool mom you are! Many votes!


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Absolutely awesome ideas! My mom's birthday is coming up and, more than likely, I'll be doing this for her birthday when we go down to the beach! Thank you for sharing :() Voted way up and awesome!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Well I definitely enjoyed making my adult version! In fact, I have a feeling it may disappear when my mom comes to visit! We'll see if they really think that I'm that cool but I do hope that they can see that we did some fun things and went to some great places. :)


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

What a lucky mom! I think that it is awesome that you would make a bag for her for her birthday. So glad that you enjoyed it and thanks so much fro reading and commenting.


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 4 years ago

While this can be a lovely project for kids, even adult DIY fans and the creative folk will love it. With the white fabric, even a few splashes of creativity will bring out zest in an otherwise dull tote bag.

Princesswithapen


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I *so* agree with you princesswithapen. Even though this started as a project for my kids, I had a great time making my own bag. That's actually why I did one too, to show that it can be great for both kids and adults. Thanks so much for your visit and comments.


travelespresso profile image

travelespresso 4 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

I love this idea! It's such a good idea for the children too. I'm going to add it to my list of craft ideas. Thanks for sharing.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks travelespresso! We had such a good time making them. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.


Anna Kathleen 4 years ago

This brings me back to the good ol' days of arts and crafts! Good thing I have a 6-year-old sister...it gives me an excuse to attempt making my own tote. Thanks for the hub; I love the idea and how simple it is. If you get a chance, check out my blog at http://anna-kathleen.blogspot.com

Happy Hubbing :)


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Glad you enjoyed it Anna. It was very simple and fun for us to make. Thanks for stopping by.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

great idea. This tote bag craft is going to make my kids busy for the school holidays next week. Chinese New Year will be a 5 days holiday. Crafts could occupy their time. Voted up


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 13 months ago from Germany

This is a great idea for letting the kids busy during their summer vacation. I wish I knew about this diy before. Thanks for sharing.


Barbara 12 months ago

Perfect and simple idea. I bougth plain canvas tote bags ( http://georgiabags.com/collections/cotton-wholesal... ) for my kids to paint them. It was a great idea for the kids. They liked it.

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