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6 Ideas for DIY Tote Bags You Can Easily Sew, Decorate, and Use Every Day

Embroidered Canvas Tote Personalization Craft

Photo: Stock Photos from SPELAG91/Shutterstock
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A durable canvas tote is a necessity. While there are many out on the market, consider a DIY version. Creating your own elegant, personalized design can turn this everyday accessory into a true style statement that is useful to boot.

Whether you use a sewing machine or a crochet hook, roomy totes are easy to make. They serve as excellent gifts for the students in your life or as an eco-friendly solution for shopping your local farmer's market. Beginners and advanced crafters alike will find an easy DIY tote the perfect craft for a spring weekend.

Read on for some of our favorite tutorials and inspirations floating around the web. Your perfect tote awaits!


Scroll down for quick and easy DIY totes that will bring in all the compliments in class or at the office.


The Easiest, Two-Seam Tote

Woman Sewing On Sewing Machine

Photo: Stock Photos from SIMON KADULA/Shutterstock

For a tote in five minutes flat, simply cut two corresponding rectangles of cotton fabric. (You can cut two more pieces if you wish to line your tote.)

Pin the rectangles together along one short side and both long sides such that the tote appears inside out. On the remaining short side, fold the raw edges under twice. Pin two lengths of cotton webbing as straps. Then, run one long seam in a U-shape along the sides which are pinned closed. Lastly, run a second seam around the opening of the bag, securing the edges with the straps in place. For extra security, reinforce the stitches over the straps. Voilà, you now have the perfect easy tote for everyday use.


The Original Flat-Bottomed Tote

Sewing A Flat-Bottomed Canvas Cotton Tote Bag

Photo: Stock Photos from FAYFENA/Shutterstock

Searching for a classic tote design? Look no further than this design for a reversible, roomy tote. You will need two different patterned cotton fabrics and a sewing machine. To make, follow these instructions from Skip to My Lou. You can also check out this tutorial video by Melanie Ham for a very similar pattern using cotton webbing for straps.


Crocheted and Cute

Crochet Market Tote Bag DIY

Photo: Stock Photos from COZYCHOMPU STUDIO/Shutterstock

For the crocheters in our midst, a tote can be a quick project. Try this Afternoon Market Bag from The Loophole Fox. For a pattern using chunkier yarn, check out this free pattern from Delia Creates.


Recycled Denim DIYs

Upcycling Jeans For Tote Bags DIY

Photo: Stock Photos from NETRUN78/Shutterstock

Your old jeans can have new life as an upcycled tote bag. If you do not have jeans ready for sacrifice, thrift stores are the perfect place to search for denim skirts or shirts that can provide large swaths of material. For a Madewell-esque lined tote with leather straps, follow these instructions from Between the Lines. Another option is to cut a back pocket from a pair of jeans and sew the pocket only to an existing canvas or fabric tote (as above).


Knotted and No-Sew

T-Shirt Knotted No-Sew Tote Bag

Photo: Stock Photos from SAVVAPANF PHOTO/Shutterstock

A no-sew alternative is a perfect tote for kids. Rather than buy new fabric, recycle a colorful t-shirt. With scissors and industrious hands, follow these helpful instructions from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.


The “Blank Canvas” Tote

Blank White Canvas Tote DIY

Photo: Stock Photos from CACTUSSTUDIO/Shutterstock

Not up for sewing at the moment? If you lack a machine, you can still make a unique tote by purchasing a plain canvas model from a craft store. On your new canvas, let your imagination run wild with colors and textures. With embroidery needles and a hoop, learn to stitch creatively. Fabric paint is also a great tool—try using foam stamps and neon colors. Dip-dying your bag is yet another option among the endless array of customizations.

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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