Blank Canvas Tutorials: Heart Tote with Leather Straps

I have another blank canvas tutorial for you guys today! This is a series all about decorating a plain canvas tote in lots of fun ways. We’ve made a pool tote, neon polka dot tote, a book tote, and an image transfer tote. I saved one of my very favorites (and a super easy one) for last-this heart tote with leather straps.

I loved the addition of the leather straps on this bag so much I started added them onto a couple of the other bags I made too! I’ve seen similar bags like this sell for $30 or more, this one costs only $6 to make!

For these final product images above, I teamed up with photographer Kate Skogen of JetKat Photo

Keep reading for instructions on making one…

I made the heart using a freezer stencil technique. It’s so easy, and I’ve done is so many times on the blog, I didn’t think it needed a step by step tutorial. However,  if you’ve never done a freezer stencil project before check out this post for instructions. You can buy plain canvas totes here for under $2 each.

The leather handles were bought from this etsy shop. They cost $4 for a pair. To attach the straps I had to buy some small rivets from my local fabric store. I just explained to them what I was trying to do and they directed me to some tiny rivets that come in a pair. Here are some instructions on attaching the leather handles:

Step 1: Cut off the canvas straps. Set them aside (I have another idea for a project with these!)

Step 1: Using a small knife, make a tiny hole in the middle of the spot where the canvas strap used to be, on the outside of the bag.

Step 3: Pull out your rivets. There should be two kinds. One has a finished round end, and the other has a flatter end. Stick the flat end one through the back of the bag, through the hole you made, and finally through the leather strap until it peaks out.

Step 4: Now put the round end rivet through the front and pound it hard with a hammer. You want those rivets to be strong! I didn’t hammer it in the first time and they fell apart pretty quickly so be sure to hammer them in hard.

That’s all folks!


Loved this project! This a Christmas DIY for sure!

Do you know were we can find the handles?

The Leather Guy is a good resource for inexpensive leather straps. You can buy one long one and cut it to a bunch of different length for a few projects!

Thanks for sharing this oh-so lovely idea. Adding the leather straps to a pre-made tote totally changes the look. Thinking ahead to Christmas time and this just might be made over and over again 🙂

I’m totally pinning this one on my “handmade Christmas gifts” board! All my sisters-in-law will love this.

Lovely idea. You’ve really inspired me. I definitely want to try this. Would be cool to use them as grocery bags too.

Totally. This blank canvas tutorial series came at a good time because we’re now required to pay for bag at any store in San Francisco starting Oct 1st!

i thought you were going to show us how to make the heart, but even better…how to add the leather straps! this totally ups the anty on the chic factor of the bag. Will definitely be trying this out. Thanks

yeah I figured i’ve done so many freezer stencil projects, and this one was so easy that it wasn’t really worth the full tutorial. of course if you have questions about making the heart please ask away! glad you like it!

Do you happen to know what size tote bag you used? I think the size you have is perfect!

This is so cute! I’m in love. Favorite one yet!

Oh so pretty ! It looks like the with all my heart tote bag from Modcloth.:)

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