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Embroidered Monogram Tote Bag with French Knots

Personalize an ordinary cotton bag with a hand-stitched monogram.

embroidered tote bag

Photography: Anne Weil

Source: Martha Stewart


This idea comes from our contributor Anne Weil. The clean design and elegant typography modernize a monogram. You only need to know two techniques: French knots and the satin stitch. Plus, you can do as Weil suggests: "Keep a few extra bags on hand to have a lovely, personalized gift you can make in a jiffy for any occasion."


For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of Embroidery Projects.


  • Tote bag

  • 1 skein of size 8 embroidery thread (Color A)

  • 1 skein of 6-stranded embroidery thread in cream (Color B)

  • Embroidery needle

  • Embroidery scissors

  • Air-soluble marking pen

  • Alphabet stencils (Pictured: Martha Stewart Alphabet Stencil Set in Typewriter, $10,


  1. Secure top of the tote between the handles of an embroidery hoop. Use the marking pen and stencil to transfer chosen design to the tote (pictured: parentheses), centering between the handles and a few inches down from the top.

    embroidered tote bag
  2. Select monogram letter desired from stencil pack. Center stencil at top of tote bag between the design elements. Use an air-soluble marking pen to mark through the stencil cut-out on to the bag.

    embroidered tote bag
  3. Secure Color A embroidery thread with a knot. Stitch French knots along the design element's line by bringing the needle from back to front. Wrap the thread around the needle twice.

    embroidered tote bag
  4. Bring the needle through the tote from front to back just next to where the thread is currently coming out of the tote.

    embroidered tote bag
  5. Keep the wrapping close to the face of the fabric while holding the thread taut as you pull the length through to the back. After covering desired lines with knots, secure thread by bringing the needle through a small stitch made at the back of your work.

    embroidered tote bag
  6. For the monogram, complete the satin stitch across the letter shape. Secure the Color B thread with a knot; then, beginning at the bottom of the monogram, bring the needle from back to front just to one side of the monogram line. Bring the thread across the width of the letter and go from front to back on the other side of the letter line. Continue to make parallel satin stitches across the stencil mark, covering the initial with stitches as you work.

    embroidered tote bag
  7. To emphasize the initial, go over the stitches a second time. Secure thread to back of work as described in step 6. Remove from hoop.

    embroidered tote bag

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