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Applique Tote Bag Using a Cool Reverse Method

Make this DIY tote bag using scrap fabric and a reverse applique technique. This sweet heart is perfect for Valentine’s Day or any time of year!

Skills Required: Beginner. There’s a little bit of machine sewing to add a lining to the tote, but it’s relatively easy. The heart portion of the applique is hand sewn in.

Pretty DIY Tote Bag with Reverse Appliqué

I love taking a plain tote bag and dressing it up to make something unique. I made this DIY tote bag with some extra fabric that I had sitting around and a doily that I got at the craft store.

I did a reverse applique with a heart shape since it’s so close to Valentine’s Day, and it turned out so cute! You could make them in different colors of fabric or even different color doilies.

Learn how to make this cute heart craft below. It’s such a great gift idea for the holiday, and “sew” easy too.

DIY Applique Tote Bag

Supplies needed:

  • Heart template (click link to get it)
  • Tote bag
  • 8-inch doily
  • Fabric
  • Paper-backed fusible interfacing (Heat ‘n Bond or Wonder Under)
  • Embroidery floss and needle
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Pencil
Canvas tote bag, heart template, white doily, red fabric, and Heat n' Bond Ultrahold

Cut a piece of fabric about 1 inch larger than your doily. Cut a piece of interfacing slightly smaller than your fabric.

Doily on top of a piece of red fabric with a piece of Heat n' Bond sitting next to it

Trace the heart template onto the paper side of your interfacing using a pencil.

Heart design traced on the paper side of the interfacing

Turn your tote bag inside out. Center the heart on the bag and iron the interfacing to it with the paper side up.

Ironing the interfacing to the tote bag

Cut out the inside of the heart.

Inside of the heart cut out with the scissors from the tote bag

Peel off the paper backing.

Peeling the paper backing off the canvas bag

Center the doily over the heart opening.

Doily placed over the heart opening

Place the piece of fabric on top of the doily. Make sure the adhesive from the interfacing is completely covered by the fabric, and iron everything down.

Ironing the red fabric down to the doily and the interfacing

Turn the bag right-side-out.

Bag turned right side out with the heart and doily showing

Embroidery floss is made up of six smaller strands. Sew a running stitch around the heart using four strands of the embroidery floss. You can sew around it with a sewing machine instead, but then you’ll need to use a sewable interfacing.

Running stitch sewn in red embroidery thread about the edge of the heart

Lining the bag is optional, but I think it really finishes it off. Your measurements will depend on the size of the tote bag you have.

To get my measurements, I turned the bag inside out and measured from the left to right seam. Add 1 inch (1/2 inch for each seam), and that gives you your width.

For the length, measure from the very top of the bag to the bottom and add 1 inch. Cut out two pieces of fabric with these measurements. Pin them with right sides together and sew around both sides and the bottom with a 1/2 inch seam.

Red fabric lining pinned together on a work surface

Fold the top of the lining out about 1 inch and press with an iron.

One inch edge of the red fabric folded over and ironed

Put the lining in the inside of the bag and pin it around the top. It should be about 1 to 1/2 inch lower than the top of the bag.

Red lining pinned into the canvas tote

With the applique tote bag open, sew around the top of the lining, getting as close to the folded edge as you can.

Sewing the lining into the applique tote with a sewing machine

I used white thread so that the stitching wouldn’t show on the outside of the bag.

Hand showing the red lining on the inside of the canvas tote

I just love how this DIY tote bag looks now! I think I might send it to school with my daughter to hold her valentines.

DIY applique tote bag with a heart

For more fun craft ideas, visit my blog, Cutesy Crafts. I’d also love for you to visit the following blog posts:


Sunday 7th of February 2016

What a lovely transformation ! I think the doily is adorable.

Special Guest

Friday 5th of February 2016

This bag is so cute! I love it!