DIY Notebook Sewn Canvas Tote Bag

notebooktote2 A couple weeks ago before we left for Hawaii my intern and I spent a good part of the week reorganizing the craft room to make room for the baby and so I could finally find glue when I need it. Some blank canvas totes resurfaced in the process (from my series of DIY canvas tote tutorials I did last year) and it got me thinking again about them. I thought making a notebook sewn tote would be the perfect back to school project for the fall.diynotebooktoteI sewed the horizontal lines with a machine and hand embroidered the red stripe. I like the look of different textures, but you could also sew the red stripe with a machine if you’d rather.  This might be my favorite DIY tote yet!  I love the look of sewn designs onto fabric and canvas is a super easy fabric to sew on since it’s stiff and has no stretch.

And if you’re into the notebook lined look, here’s my tutorial to make a notebook lined t-shirt. It’s a super easy project and Henry still wears his from 2 years ago (that doesn’t seem humanly possible but somehow it is).

Photography and styling by Liz Stanley. Assisted by my new project assistant, Isabelle Ambler.

Keep reading to see how to make one yourself…

Canvas tote (I bought mine here for under $2 each)
Sewing machine
Blue thread
Red embroidery thread + needle
Straight edge

notebooktote5Step 1: With colored chalk, mark off the horizontal lines 1 inch apart down the whole length of the tote.

notebooktote6Step 2: Sew straight lines along the chalk marks with blue thread (you can use tape in addition as a guide).

notebooktote7Step 3: Continue down the whole tote. I like the look of it slightly imperfect, so don’t worry about them being exactly straight. As you can see, my lines were not.

notebooktote8Step 4: With either tape or colored chalk, draw or mark a straight line vertically about 2-3 inches in from the left side of the tote. Embroider with red thread. For a simple embroidering lesson, see my post here.

notebooktote3That’s it you’re done!



Maybe this is obvious to others, but how do I sew the blue lines without sewing the bag shut?

To BKC I would say to use the free arm on your sewing machine, like you would when hemming a pant leg.

Thanks for te great idea! This would be cute with words embroidered on it too.

What a great idea. I have at least one plain tote bag laying around in my craft stash… Now, to find the bag; maybe it has been waiting for me to find your post.

love this project, i want to try it as well but i wonder if i’ll be able to sew as straight as you…

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