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Canvas Tote Bag Design DIY – Make It Spectacular and Yours

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of these links I will be compensated. Thank you.

With this quick and easy canvas tote bag design DIY you can change your plain tote bag into a customized gift or craft fair product.

A horizontal rectangle with a photo of a wood bench with two tote bags on it, one tote bag has an image of a roaring brown bear standing in front of a cub with the stipes of the lesbian flag and another cub with the stipes of the non binary flat, on either side of the image are the words "mama" and "bear", along the top of the tote is a crochet trim made with rainbow yarn. The other tote bag is decorated with various craft images, the Jessie At Home logo, and pom pom yarn. Over the left half of the image at an angles is a green to yellow gradient section with a wavy edge, on top of this is the text "Canvas tote bag design DIY" and "Jessie At Home dot com."

Some products in this tutorial were provided by Artesprix. All opinions are my own.

Create cool tote bags for the whole team. Use this personalized tote bag DIY to inspire your creativity for yourself or for bag to give or sell. Learn how to trim a tote bag, with or without a sewing machine. Make custom tote bags for everyone and have a blast making them!

September 2021 Blank of the Month: Poly Canvas Tote Bag; use code Jessie10 to get 10% off your entire purchase with the exception of the Heat Press.

Vertical rectangle, the top 3/4 is a photo of a tote bag with an image of a roaring brown bear standing in front of a cub with the stipes of the lesbian flag and another cub with the stipes of the non binary flat, on either side of the image are the words "mama" and "bear", along the top of the tote is a crochet trim made with rainbow yarn. Below all this are 2 more photos, one of another tote bag decorated with various craft images, the Jessie At Home logo, and pom pom yarn on a wood bench, and another photo of both tote bags on the same bench. Across the top of all this at an angle is a purple stripe with the text "quick and easy tote bag makeover."

Canvas Tote Bag Design DIY Supplies

Use code Jessie10 to get 10% off your Artesprix order – not valid on the Heat Press

Artesprix Sublimation Markers

Canvas Tote Bag Design DIY Tutorial

Step one is to decide WHAT you want to sublimate onto your tote bag. I thought long and hard about the two tote bags I have. I finally decided I needed one for school functions so it should be a Mama Bear bag, and the other for business trips so it should be a Jessie At Home bag.

Once you know what you want, draw or find your images and text. I searched and searched to find a great Mama Bear image (it had 3 cubs, but I just only colored 1). Next I made the text I wanted. For the Jessie At Home bag I already had all my brand graphics.

Once you have your images chosen, print them out. If you’re drawing them, then do that. Now it’s time to color with your Artesprix Sublimation Markers! Remember that whatever you color will end up mirror imaged on the final product. This actually works great because you don’t want anything but the sublimation marker on the side of the paper your putting on your blank. All you do is take your image, flip it over, and trace and color it with your markers on the back so it’s reversed.

Watch Me Color!

If you can’t see this video, try watching it on YouTube HERE.

Now it’s time to sublimate! First you are going to want to run a lint roller over your bag, you want the ink to be on the bag, not the lint on the bag! Preheat your heat source to the temperature you blank requires. Times and temps are listed on the Artesprix site. In this case, it was 450.

A photo of a plain white tote bag laying flat on a gray background, with a link roller on top of it.

Make your sublimation sandwich on top of your heat safe surface. On your heat safe surface, place a piece of Protective Paper, then your tote bag with the side you’re sublimating facing up, then your colored image with the colored side facing down, and attached with plenty of Heat Tape, and lastly another place a piece of Protective Paper.

A photo of a plain white tote bag laying flat on a gray background, with various colored art graphics taped face down on it.

A Few Tips

  • Remember the heat tape will not transfer as much heat, so be sure you do not have any tape over any part of the colored parts of your image, or that part will not transfer as well.
  • If you make any mistakes while coloring, you can cover them with heat tape. This only works if you don’t need to color over them. For example, I started to color a stripe that was supposed to be white on one of my bear cubs. So I cut a small piece of heat tape and placed it over the part I shouldn’t have colored. When I transferred the image, the mistake didn’t show because the ink couldn’t go though the tape.
  • Plan your full project before you tape. You don’t want to be half way through and realize you forgot to leave room for the second image you were going to add, or for the trim on the bag.
  • Be sure your top piece of protective paper is completely between your blank and your heat source. For small blanks like key chains, this could mean the paper is just bigger than the key chain, but for the tote, it means your paper will need to be bigger than your heat source, even if your image is tiny. The reason for this is that you don’t want to accidently transfer anything that may be on your heat source onto your blank.
Vertical rectangular image, the top half is an image of a plain white tote bag laying flat with a link roller on top of it, one the top left corner is the word "before" and on the right is "tote bag design DIY." The bottom half is an image of two decorated tote bags on a wood bench and on the top left corner is the work "after." On the very bottom is the text "Jessie At Home dot com."

Trim Time!

For my bags I used 2 different trims. My Jessie At Home bag was trimmed with pom pom yarn. It has small pom poms seperated by about 6″ of string. I sewed around the top of the bag, right were the stitching line already was, and just pulled the string sections up so they made little loops above the stitch line and the pom poms were below the line. Then I added a few extra pieces to dangle on one side. You could do the same using hot glue if you don’t want to sew.

The Mama Bear bag has crochet trim made the following way:

  • Crochet a chain that wraps all the way around the top of your bag where the stitching line is, plus a few inches.
  • Slip stitch into the first chain made, taking care not to twist.
  • First Round: Ch 3, dc in the same ch, [dc in each of the next 2 ch, 2 dc in next ch] around, sl st to the top of the beginning ch 3. {If you want your trim to have more ruffle, then put 2 dc in every other ch, instead of every third ch}
  • Second Round: Ch 3, dc in each st around, sl st to the top of the beginning ch 3.
  • Repeat the Second Round until your trim is as long as you want it.
  • Fasten off and weave in ends.
A purple vertical rectangle with a photo in the middle of a tote bag with an image of a roaring brown bear standing in front of a cub with the stipes of the lesbian flag and another cub with the stipes of the non binary flat, on either side of the image are the words "mama" and "bear", along the top of the tote is a crochet trim made with rainbow yarn. On the top of the rectangle is large text which reads "how to add crochet trim." On the bottom of the rectangle is text which reads "to a fabric tote bag" and there is an orange arrow leading from that text to the trim on the bag in the photo. At the bottom of the photo is text which reads "Jessie At Home dot com."

To attach your trim, place it around your bag and use pins to hold it in place evenly around, so the top is just touching the stitching line at the top of the bag. Now top stitch with a sewing machine between the starting chains and the bottom of the first round. If you don’t want to sew, then use hot glue and glue it close to the top of the trim a few inches at a time. You will still want to pin it first to be sure it’s even.

A square photo of two tote bags laying flat, one above the other. One tote bag has an image of a roaring brown bear standing in front of a cub with the stipes of the lesbian flag and another cub with the stipes of the non binary flat, on either side of the image are the words "mama" and "bear", along the top of the tote is a crochet trim made with rainbow yarn. The other tote bag is decorated with various craft images, the Jessie At Home logo, and pom pom yarn.

No go fourth and show of your crafty awesomeness!! Or give the bag to someone and spread some crafty love!

Don’t forget to use code Jessie10 to get 10% off your Artesprix order – not valid on the Heat Press or sale items.

Vertical rectangle, the top third is a photo of a wood bench with a tote bag on it, the tote bag has an image of a roaring brown bear standing in front of a cub with the stipes of the lesbian flag and another cub with the stipes of the non binary flat, on either side of the image are the words "mama" and "bear", along the top of the tote is a crochet trim made with rainbow yarn. The bottom two thirds is a photo of another tote bag decorated with various craft images, the Jessie At Home logo, and pom pom yarn on a the bench. On the top left corner of the rectangle is a yellow circle with the words "canvas tote bag" and a yellow arrow going from the circle to the center of the rectangle with the words "sublimation ideas". On the very bottom is the text "Jessie At Home dot com."

Happy sublimating my crafty friends!

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© Copyright 2021 Jessie Rayot / Jessie At Home All my videos, patterns, charts, photos and posts are my own work, so you may not copy them in any way. If you want to share this information with someone, then share the link to this post. If you want to share on your own blog / website, then you may use the first photo in this post and link back to this post. Also, you may not give away printed copies of this post.

If you liked this Canvas Tote Bag Design DIY post, then take a look at these.

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Canvas Tote Bag Design DIY – Make It Spectacular and YoursCanvas Tote Bag Design DIY – Make It Spectacular and YoursCanvas Tote Bag Design DIY – Make It Spectacular and YoursCanvas Tote Bag Design DIY – Make It Spectacular and Yours

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