Handmade Monogrammed Tote Bag {Gift Idea}

monogrammed canvas tote bags

I can hear my Grandma on this one, telling me there is a difference between handmade and homemade. I think she’d really like these handmade monogram bags that we’re making for teacher’s gifts this year.

This idea came from the craft leader, Mary Hand, at an event that I was speaking at just recently. I’m pretty sure the craft leader found the idea on Pinterest. Sorry, I can’t quote the source here, but feel free to try to look it up in the vast abyss that is Pinterest. Or maybe just pin this one.

Monogram bag

Here is the template Mary made for the handmade monogram bags. She also won the label maker that day. Yeah, Mary!

Monogrammed Tote Bag idea

You can purchase the canvas tote bags online. I couldn’t find them locally. iron tote bags before monogramming

You’ll also need:

  • a pack of 12″ paper doilies, also known as cake plate liners, found with the cake decorating suppliesdoilies for monogrammed tote bags
  • spray adhesive
  • fabric paint or acrylic paint and artists paint brushessupplies for monogrammed tote bags
  • scissors
  • something to protect the back of the bag from the front and paint bleed, like a plastic grocery bag or thick cardboard.
  • Letters printed out on regular paper in your choice of fonts, about 6″ tall. I found that using the Elephant font at 350 point font and modified under Text Effects for No Text Fill (no need to waste ink, since you’ll be throwing tout the inside of the letter) and Solid Line worked well, but you can use any font you want.


Steps to creating your monogram bags:

  1. Iron the bags if needed
  2. Place a plastic bag or cardboard sheet inside the canvas bag, just under where you are going to place your design, to prevent bleed through.
  3. Cut out the inside of the doilies, leaving just a small inside border and the fancy part
  4. Cut out the inside of the printed letter. Start by poking a hole in the inside part so you have an intact outline when you are done. Take care with letters like R and D, where there might be an interior circle you’ll need to keep. Cut around the letter, leaving about 1″ of paper, so that it fits inside the trimmed doilie.
  5. Lightly spray the back of both the doily and the trimmed monogram, and place on the canvas bag. You can place it off center, as I did, or you can center it. place templates on monogrammed tote bags
  6. Carefully paint over the doily and the inside (open) part of the letter with fabric paint.painting monogrammed tote bags
  7. Let dry just a few minutes. Before it is totally dry and crusty, pull off the doily and the paper letter, leaving the design.
  8. If some of the paint has bled, use your artists brush to very carefully touch up the edges. But remember, this is handmade, and doesn’t have to be perfect. monogrammed tote bags- finished
  9. I used metallic fabric paint, and I really like the extra little sparkle.

Here’s another one in sparkly blue.

monogram bags (3)I like this one, too, but I think the darker colors work best.

I don’t think any of our teacher’s are following me yet here, so our secret is safe…these bags cost only about $3 each to make. We’ll include something else, like a gift card or a craft from the kiddos, and we’ll be done.

I hope you enjoyed this little project. Let me know how it works out for you.


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  4. Susan

    Love this Darla!

    1. Darla

      Thanks. They were very fun to make. The same technique could probably be used to personalize lots of items.

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