Blank Canvas Tutorials: Fishy Pool Tote

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

Hey guys! I’m starting a new weekly tutorial series today all about decorating and personalizing the plain canvas tote which has recently become a trendy purse replacement. I love the possibilities of making the plain canvas tote your own, especially since the materials are super budget friendly.

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

This first blank canvas tutorial is a cute fishy pool tote to carry around your towels, toys and any other snacks and reading material for a day at the pool or beach. It involves both freezer paper stenciling and simple embroidery which I promise is way easier than it seems (if you’ve never done it before, check out this project here for embroidery techniques).

Keep reading to see the full tutorial…

To make the scalloped ocean:

1. Measure the width of your tote bag and cut a piece of freezer stencil about 4 inches high in that length.

2. Using something round like a ramekin, trace small circles that are at least 1/2 inch from the bottom. Try to make them as even as possible.

3. Cut out the shape and iron it onto the top of your tote.

4. Fill in all the rest of the tote below the scallops with fabric paint and let dry completely.

To make the embroidered fish:

1. Draw the fish design on a piece of paper first to practice, then using it as a guide, make small pricks with your embroidery needle where you want to make each stitch.

2. Then, following your pricked guide, start embroidering along the design of the fish. You can use this post as an embroidery help if you need it.

3. Make a simple half moon eye and small bubbles coming up to the surface. I also made a baby fish following behind.

Are you into the canvas tote bag trend?


Silly question but what size bag are you using for these projects? Thanks so much!

Really cute idea. I’ve been experimenting with printing/painting designs onto tote bags lately but I haven’t done anything like this, I might try it out!

Very cute! And where is your outfit from! Love the skirt and tank

What a great bag! Excited to see the other tote projects you have up your sleeve. Very cute embroidery details.

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