Blank Canvas Tutorials: Book Tote

Photography on the final images is by Liz Daly, a San Francisco based photographer

I have another fun blank canvas tutorial to share with you today! In this series we’re decorating the plain canvas tote bag which you can buy for under $2. We’ve already made a pool tote and a neon dot tote, and this week we’re making a cute personalized book bag for trips to the library.

Going to the library is one of my favorite things to do with Henry. I let him pick out whatever books he wants and we sit and read through a bunch of them until he gets ansy and we head out to the playground. He loves the idea of picking the books out and especially loves standing on a stool to check them out. It’s pretty cute! I thought it would be fun to make a personalized tote bag just for our library trips.

PS You can buy plain canvas totes here for under $2 each.

Keep reading to see the full tutorial…

Print out the words you want to be on the front and tape it to a piece of freezer stencil and then tape both of those to a cutting board. Cut out the inside of the letters. You’ll be cutting through both the printer paper and the freezer paper. Remember that you’ll be filling those in with paint later. It’s a little time consuming but it shouldn’t take longer than about 20 minutes unless your kid has a super long name.

Here’s what it should look like when it’s done. Tear off the printer paper and just keep the freezer stencil paper.

Iron that freezer paper onto the bag, trying to center it as best as possible and then apply fabric paint to the inside of those letters you cut out. Let dry completely.

To create the apple I made a simple design and printed it out. Then I cut out each section. First the larger piece…

Then the middle piece, and then the tiny seeds piece.

First I ironed on the large piece and painted it with red and green fabric paint. Let dry.

Then I placed the middle piece on top and had to carefully paint in the middle with some weights on the paper. The freezer paper wouldn’t stick to the painted surface below so I had to be extra careful. I added the seeds with a tiny paint brush after the orange section dried.


that bag is adorbs and looks so professional… definitely wanna try it but have a feeling it won’t turn out looking quite like your bag (i tend to loose patience and end up wanting to just get it done!) haha

I’m sure this is a ridiculous question, but how did you print out your son’s name like that?



I love the font. Do you know the name? Thanks for the fun project!

cute tote. aren’t we not supposed to put our children’s names on their outerware though, for fear of “stranger danger”? you wouldn’t want randoms knowingh your child’s name and calling out to him/feigning familiarity.

I love your tutorials….this one is so cute and also love the oh so simple, but oh so cute neon dot tote. This would be cute as a give away for my book club members next time it’s at my house.

love this! i just got back from the library and am hating my own, falling-apart-at-the-seams bag more than ever! perfect timing. thanks for this.

I love this project- thanks for the tutorial. Your boy is so grown up!

How precious! What fun library adventures you have 🙂 This little apple tote makes me want to go to the library!

Liz I couldn’t help but notice how your bright red lipstick matches your shoes–love it!

I adore this DIY project b/c it’s useful & cute, AND brilliant. Although, I think I may have to get oversized bags since we tend to go overboard when at the library. We can’t help ourselves. I’m going to do this with my 3 older kids & have them each make one. GREAT idea, thanks!

yeah, we totally go overboard too. I thought a smaller bag would help limit ourselves- it’s hard to keep track of all those books!

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