Handmade Tote Bags


Embellished, glued, ironed-on or sewn, here are our favorite ways to personalize an ordinary tote bag, and even a few ways to make your own from scratch.

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Beach-Towel Tote Bag

woman holding beach towel tote bag
The Morrisons

With a few stitches, a bath towel can be turned into an all-in-one beach mat and tote bag.

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T-shirt Bag


Turning an old T-shirt into a grocery bag is an easy way to go green.

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No-Sew Market Tote Bag


This no-sew bag can be stowed in your purse for a quick trip to the market, yet is strong enough to carry fruits and vegetables.

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Monogrammed Tote


You can monogram a canvas tote without a single stitch: Print the initial as large as possible from a computer, enlarge further on a photocopier, and cut out to make a pattern. Back fabric with fusible webbing, following the package directions. Lay the initial facedown on the webbing side of the fabric; trace, and cut out. Center the letter on the bag, and iron on.

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Yoga Mat Tote Bag


One of the best ways to keep your yoga mat in good condition is to house it in a tote bag such as this easy-to-make version.

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Removable Tote Organizer


It's not a tote itself, but this handy accessory can help organize your favorite bag. A three-pocket pouch is easily fashioned from a carpenter's canvas nail apron (available at hardware stores).

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Running-Stitch Tote

Kate Sears

This carryall, decorated using a running stitch, is as stylish as it is sturdy, thanks to a simple pattern of threads in varying colors and textures.

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Silhouette Tote Bag


A bag with a decorative silhouette is more than a useful carrier; it's a conversation piece.

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Glittered Tote Bag


Make your tote bag sparkle with this glittering rhinestone-embellishment technique.

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Doggie Tote Bag


Tote your pup, or at least his image, with you wherever you go with this adorable and easy-to-make bag.

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Iron-On Monogram Tote with Petals


An iron-on initial in a woodsy typeface is an inspired (and easy) alternative to embroidery. Floral appliques extend the theme.

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Embroidered Tote Bag


Turn a child's drawing into a long-lasting keepsake with this bag.

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Tote Bag with Iron-On Blooms


Cherry blossoms are famously short-lived, but on a sturdy satchel they can last long past the season.

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Appliqued Sea Star Tote Bag


A pair of sea stars float across a natural-hue tote. Because the canvas bag is too thick to print on, we used a lightweight canvas for the impressions (muslin also works) and appliqued them in place for a pleasing sense of dimension. The finished product is perfect for the beach, but it would look just as chic on a city street.

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Iron-On Kids' Tote Bag


A cloth bag makes a natural canvas for young artists. This iron-on design will spur their self-expression.

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Tote Bag with White Cherry Branch Silhouettes


White silhouettes give this tote bag a modern, screen-printed look.

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Monochromatic Log-Cabin Leather Tote


A monochromatic log cabin design in soft cowhide gives the pattern a modern yet relaxed vibe.

To make the bag, stitch together an 8-by-5 1/2-inch rectangle and 3-inch-wide strips using a leather needle and heavy-duty thread. Be sure to increase the stitch length to avoid perforating the leather. Add a strap of natural canvas. If you like, you can sew a matching lining.

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Personalized Tote Bag


What busy woman couldn't use a great bag? Just as personal as a gift of jewelry but a little less expected, a simple tote bearing a chic design is baggage any girl would want to carry around.

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Tote Bags with Iron-On Silhouettes


Sleek silhouettes turn a modest bag into an artful accessory.

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