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DIY Applique Tote Made with Cute Fabric

Learn how to make a DIY applique tote with your favorite fabrics! You can use any word you like. This is a great beginner sewing project.

Skills Required: Beginner. You’ll be doing some basic sewing of various cut fabrics onto the front of a tote. You’ll need a basic knowledge of a sewing machine.

DIY Applique Tote Made with Cute Fabric

Hi guys! It’s Ashlee from My So Called Crafty Life and today I am back to share a fun way to add some style to a plain canvas tote.

Close up of a word sewn onto a tote

I love applique and it is really a lot easier than most people think. I saw a tote at a local boutique that was screen printed with the word “hustle” in a cool font.

Letters sewn onto the front of a tote spelling the word Hustle

I really thought it was cute, but I decided that I wanted one with a little more design and color to it. So I decided to make my own DIY tote with an applique. This is a very easy sewing project! Check out the how-to:

How to Applique a Tote

Gather These Supplies

  • Plain Canvas Tote (Michaels)
  • Fabric Scraps
  • Pinking Shears or Scissors
  • Basting Spray
  • Sewing Machine
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Belt
  • Small Rivets 1/8″
  • 1/8″ Punch (I used my Crop-A-Dile)
  • Hammer

Cut out the Letters

The first thing you need to do is make your letters. Type out the word you want in the font you want on your computer.

Resize the font to be the size you want for your tote. You can easily just hold up your tote to the screen to decide if the letters are big enough to fit across the tote.

The word hustle on the screen of a laptop computer

Now trace the letters on paper by holding it up to the screen or trace it directly on your fabric by holding up the fabric wrong side towards you on the screen.

You can also print out and use the paper templates if you like. I’ll leave that up to you!

Holding up fabric in front of the letters on the computer screen

Cut out your letters with pinking shears or scissors. The pinking shears just give a fun little edge to the project.

Pair of pinking shears with a piece of fabric

You won’t be able to use the pinking shears or larger scissors to cut out smaller portions of your letters. Use a pair of detail scissors for the inside pieces.

Letter E cut out from the fabric

Attach the Letters

Now you need to apply them to the tote. Spray the backside of each letter with basting spray and then smooth them onto the tote making sure they are spaced nicely and straight. A ruler will help keep them in line. Go ahead and cut your handles off.

Fabric letters laid out on the front of a tote

Now you need to stitch the letters onto the tote. Top stitch each letter. Stitch about an eighth inside the edge outlining each letter. Back stitch at the beginning and end of each letter.

Sewing the fabric letters down with a sewing machine

Then remove it from the machine and then insert it again and begin on the next letter. Stitch all your letters down and then clip all excess threads.

All letters stitched down to the tote

Make and Attach the Handle

Now you are ready to add the handles. I used a long belt I picked up at the thrift store. Snip the ends off of the belt. Then fold it in half and cut it in half. These will be your new handles.

End of the belt snipped off with pieces of the belt

Mark where your rivets will go with a pen. Then punch your holes with your punch. I used my Crop-A-Dile. It needs to be the same size as your rivet package says. Mine were 1/8″. You will need to punch your holes in the handles and in the bag.

Handles attached to the tote with a hammer

Now insert your rivet into the hole in the handle and through the hole in the bag, and then snap on the end on the other side. Do the same thing with the rest of the rivets. To finish off, hammer down the rivets on a smooth sturdy surface.

Belt attached to the tote as a handle

What do you think of my appliqué tote? It’s pretty fun, right?! I used a pretty boxy font. The more straight lines your font has, the easier it will be to stitch across.

DIY applique tote hanging off the back of a chair
DIY tote with an applique word sitting in a chair

If you use a curvy font you will most likely need to use the free motion quilting process which not all machines have. Just a note for you!

I love how versatile this project is. You can easily make it your own just by the font and fabric you use as well as the type of handle.

I hope you all will give it a try sometime. You’ll have a blast!

If you all would like to see more of my work you can find me on my blog, My So Called Crafty Life, here. I’d also love for you to check out the following posts from me and my friends: