4 ways to customize your tote bag

It's the era of the tote bag. Sustainable, multi-use and reliable, tote bags are the perf accessory to match with almost every outfit. If you're looking to switch things up from the classic plain canvas bag, look no further. These four customizable DIYs will show off your personality with a one-of-a-kind tote bag! 


@guinessey_art | Etsy

Calling all artists! No matter your painting skill level, you can create aesthetic designs with fabric paint. Make your tote bag as detailed (like a landscape portrait) or as simple (like an orange slice) as you'd like.

What you'll need:
+ Fabric paint
+ Paintbrushes
+ Plastic bag or piece of cardboard
+ Pencil
+ (optional) Fabric markers

How to do it:
1. Plan out what you're going to paint and what colors you'll use ahead of time. Feel free to make a sketch on a piece of paper first before doing anything on your bag.
2. With a pencil, lightly sketch out your design on the tote bag.
3. Slide a plastic bag or a piece of cardboard inside the bag to prevent paint from seeping through.
4. Paint to your heart's desire and let it fully dry!


@byloveco | Etsy

Though embroidery requires a bit of a learning curve, it's an adorable (and relaxing) way to spice up your tote bag. Like painting, you have a lot of freedom with the design you can embroider—but we especially *love* the look of embroidered plants and flowers.

What you'll need:
+ Embroidery hoop
+ Embroidery floss
+ Embroidery needle
+ Pencil

How to do it:
1. Plan out your design on a piece of paper, keeping in mind your experience/skill level with embroidery. If you're just starting out, it may be best to keep your design fairly simple.
2. Use a pencil to lightly sketch out an outline of your design on the tote bag.
3. Insert the tote bag into your embroidery hoop.
4. Use different types of stitches to embroider outlines and fill in parts of your design.



This is the simplest (and easiest) customization method on this list! If you're already someone who collects pins on their vacations, or if you've been eyeing those gorgeous enamel pins on Etsy for a while, this is *perf* for you.

What you'll need:
+ Pins!

How to do it:
1. Find your best pins and arrange them around your tote bag! Double check that your pins have secure backings and won't easily fall off your bag.


Patches via Sonix, $6

Decorating your tote bag with embroidered patches is a fun and unique way to make your bag more Y-O-U. With an array of patches out there, your bag is bound to set itself apart from the rest. Be sure to have an adult supervise you for the ironing steps!

What you'll need:
+ Iron-on patches
+ Iron
+ Thin towel or washcloth
+ (optional) Needle and thread

How to do it:
1. First of all, ask an adult to supervise you, especially with steps requiring the iron.
2. Plan where you're going to place each iron-on patch. Make sure that each patch has enough space on the bag.
3. Place the bag on a flat, heat-resistant surface and iron the fabric to smooth out any wrinkles. Place the patches where you want them on the bag.
4. Heat up an iron to the hottest setting that the fabric can tolerate. Make sure that it isn't on the "steam" option or overflowing with water.
5. Place a thin towel or washcloth over the patch. Firmly press down on the patch (covered by the thin fabric) with the iron for about 15-20 seconds.
6. Make sure that the edges of the patch don't lift. Let it cool for about five minutes. If you'd like, you can also sew the edges of the patch down to secure it more.

Looking for DIY inspo? Check out these posts for more:
💌 Everything you need to glow up your laptop
💌 Leftover wrapping paper? Try out these adorable crafts
💌 A step-by-step guide to making DIY wire rings

Tag us in your customized tote bag pics on Instagram @girlslifemag!

Top image: @aaashleyk


by Jinny Kim | 3/29/2022