20 Embellishment Ideas for Blank Canvas Tote Bags

20 Embellishment Ideas for Blank Canvas Tote Bags

The tote bag is perhaps one of today’s most versatile accouterments: it carts your groceries, gym gear and odds and ends from point A to point B, and when properly adorned, it can be a fashion statement that’s memorable and unique. We’ve rounded up a huge variety of amazing ways to embellish your blank canvas tote bags for one-of-a-kind fashion accessories, marketing giveaways and hand-crafted gift bags that your recipients will adore. The best part is, you don’t have to be a professional screen-printer or crafter to nail these awesome designs.

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Sew Fancy! Sew-On Tote Bag Accents

Got some needle and thread? If you’re even mildly comfortable with a needle, you can take your blank totes from basic to eye-catching in almost no time at all. We recommend using unadorned solid tote bags for sewing, since they’re easy to penetrate with a needle and provide a woven base that’ll work well with a wide variety of sewn-on accoutrements.

  • Tassels, Tassels and More Tassels — The tassel craze isn’t likely to die down anytime soon, and we’re not complaining! These fringed and beaded accessories bring big-time color and excitement to any outfit or accessory, especially the blank tote. And, like all of these crafty ideas, your tote bag acts as a literal blank canvas, so you can let your mind run wild. Space tassels apart for a beachy, boho look or add one or two near the handles for a trendy finishing touch.
  • Wearable Cross Stitch — Cross stitching is an amazing skill, but it does provide some limitations for those who are keen on wearable works of art. You can take your fancy needlework with you wherever you go when you use a canvas tote as the background for your special, stitched designs. You can either use a cross stitch pattern in the traditional manner — with a wooden embroidery hoop and a piece of fabric, sewn onto the tote later — or you can simplify the process when you cross stitch directly onto the fabric.
  • Glass seed and bugle beadsBead We Say More? — Hello, bead-lovers! If you’ve crossed off every other bead working project and are looking for something totally new, we’d recommend using your blank totes as a backdrop for some fancy beadwork. Sew small, tube beads in intricate patterns inspired by Native American designs or create eye-catching, dangling adornments with a few hand-crafted statement beads in big colors and patterns.
  • Ruffle Things Up — Ruffles, like tassels, are some of the fashion world’s most in-vogue adornments. You can create pretty and feminine ruffled tote bags by sewing layers of ruffled fabric directly onto the canvas. Layer different colors and fabric textures to create the appearance of a ruffled skirt and top things off with fun, fabric florals and bows. You can even take things up a few notches when you use the super-trendy ombré look to complete your ruffly design.
  • Metallic Studs and Punky Punches — There are few fashion accessories that can’t be brightened up with some metallic sew-on studs. These punk rock mainstays couple the edginess of hard metals with the chic glamour of metallics for a design that’s ideal for any personality. Bedazzle your studded tote bag with slim, lighter weight sew-on hardware to keep it lightweight.

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Printed to Perfection: Screen-Printing Ideas

You see screen-printed tote bags just about everywhere these days. They’re often used as special donation incentives, giveaways and personalized gift bags for brides, customers and trade show attendees. You can create one-of-a-kind swag bags for almost any application without the help of a professional screen-printing service. Start with our super-economical promo totes if you’re looking for a low-cost backdrop for your printed prizes.

  • Two-Color Printing — While black-on-canvas screen-printing is an all-time staple, it can be fun to mix in a pop of color to create a design that’s super-unique. This technique is achieved by creating a basic design in black or another dark color, waiting for it to dry and then printing a second layer (either in the same or different pattern) overtop. The result is a bright, intriguing design that’ll dazzle customers and fans!

2 color printing on blank canvas bags

  • Perfectly Printed Patterns — Complex designs are never the best idea for DIY screen printing, but you can achieve an intricate, complex look when you create a pattern through simple shapes. Screen-printing dots, geometrics, flowers and swirls a relatively simple way to cover the entirety of your tote bag fast. Make your entire pattern on a single screen so that you don’t have to keep applying it at different intervals.
  • Putting things into Context — Everybody loves a good text design, and that’s good news for screen-printers who are looking for simple yet eye-catching designs. Make your totes trendy and expressive when you use a single word or phrase as the focal point of the design. Choosing a bright, stylish font and placing the printed design in the center of the tote bag will help create balance and simplicity. Add text to promote your band or create unique, marketable tote bags with fun and uplifting phrases.
  • Double-Sided Delight — Your tote bag has two blank sides for a reason! Take advantage of all this decorating opportunity when you create designs that offer a 360-degree appeal. You can keep it relatively simple by printing all-around stripes or trims or cover the entirety of your bag with a mesmerizing pattern that can be seen from every angle. This motif works well with wording, too. For example, we’ve seen tote bag designs with logos or patterns on one side and fun, quirky messages on the other.
  • Pretty and Personalized — Once you’ve mastered at-home screen printing (or you’re in good with a printer who you trust), it’s time to try your hand at creating custom, personalized tote bags for gifts and special events. These totes are perfect for the budget-minded business-owner who wants to produce hand-crafted goods for specific customers. Personalization is simple with home screen-printing, but it can also be mastered with hand-lettering, iron-on letters and sewing.

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Make a Mess: Crafty and Kid-Friendly

Let’s not take ourselves too seriously. A blank canvas tote bag is the perfect, well, blank canvas, for all your kid-friendly craft endeavors. You don’t need any fancy crafting supplies to get the whole crew in on the action. A good-quality tote from our assortment of wholesale tote bags and some markers, paints and patches will do the trick!

  • Finger Painting for all Ages — Today’s finger-painted tote bags are yesterday’s macaroni necklaces. Let your little ones express their creative side with fabric paint and their fingers to create one-of-a-kind totes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any extra-special gift. Invest in low-cost, wholesale totes if you want to use this as a fun craft activity for preschools, daycares and more.
  • Iron-On Embellishments — The best part about iron-on embellishments is that they can help you achieve a colorful, intricate design without the need for expert skills or costly supplies. Adorn your blank tote bags with iron-on patches, embroidery and lettering to create unique designs for holidays, special occasions and everyday wear. We’re particularly fond of iron-on letters, since they create a clean look without the mess associated with paint and the time associated with hand-sewing.
  • Fabulous Felt Finishes — If you’re hip to what’s happening in the craft world, you already know that felting is definitely one of the trendiest mediums around. Creating one-dimensional felt designs — many of which can be fastened with fabric glue, double-sided tape or heat applications — can help add a soft, colorful texture to your otherwise basic totes. You can even use handled tote bags as a shell for creating covered felt bags.

Hand stamping blank canvas tote bags

  • Stamped with Love — Hand-stamping is easily one of the simplest and most fun ways to adorn your basic totes. You can master this method with your preferred canvas tote bag, an ink pad, a stamping block, sticky foam sheets, fabric markers and a pair of scissors. This tutorial on tote bag stamping covers how you can create homemade stamps in thousands of custom shapes using a few basic craft supplies. Yes, please!
  • Timeless Tie-Dye — Dreaming of a simple and quick way to cover the entirety of your tote in bold color? Obviously, it has to be tie-dye! Make sure that you opt for a soft, blank cotton tote bag (machine washable is best) so that the colors are vibrant. Making a DIY tie-dye tote bag is similar to tie-dying a T-shirt or bandana. Start by tying it up in the center and twisting it clockwise, securing it with rubber bands. Now for the fun part! Apply dyes in your favorite colors to the different sections and let it soak for eight hours and then hand-wash until the water runs clear.

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Trendy Textures: Pom-Poms, Buttons and More

Love a good pop of texture? Us too! These canvas tote bag embellishments are perfect for adding a little something extra-special to your tote bag design. You can use them as primary design points or to complement screen-printing, tie-dye or sewn-on embellishments. Our rule: the more textures the better! But the details are up to you.

  • Metallic, Glitter and Sparkle — Everybody loves a little bit of dazzle. Creating an eye-catching, glittery tote can be achieved in a variety of ways. Use a hot glue gun or craft glue to adhere rhinestones, sparkly studs and gemstones to your pre-existing design or create glittery lettering with iron-on patches or sparkly fabric. Want some all-over glitz? Although it’s time consuming, you can achieve a mesmerizing display when you sew sequins all over your tote.
  • blank canvas tote bags with Colorful tulle pom pomsDimensional Pom-Poms — Like tassels, pom-poms are super-hot right now. They can be found alongside fringe, embroidery and crochet on expensive designer bags and apparel. The best part is, these colorful and fuzzy accessories can be easily added to a blank canvas tote for some serious texture and whimsy. Use small pom-poms in rainbow colors to create a unique trim at the tote’s opening or place oversized poms in a polka-dotted pattern for a three-dimensional print that seriously pops.
  • Over-the-Top Ombré — Trend-setters will love this one. You can create a DIY ombré tote in no time flat by using your favorite fabric paint in various gradients, starting with a darker tone at the bottom and finishing with a lighter shade at the top. If subtle ombré isn’t enough to pique your interest, take it to the next level with ombré sequins or glitter. Of course, you can pair your ombré tote with more super-trendy embellishments, like tassels and pom-poms.
  • No-Sew Trims that Pop — For the perfect finishing touch, dress up your blank canvas tote bags with sew-free trims that make the entire design. An eye-catching trim is enough to make even a simple, cream-colored tote stand out. Use iron-on or Velcro trim bases and attach your accoutrements without the need for a needle and thread. Fabric trims come in literally thousands of unique styles, including rhinestones, animal prints, tassels, lace, ribbons, beading, burlap, jute and so much more.
  • Not Your Preschool’s Puffy Paint — Take things back to elementary school with puffy paint tote bags! This super-simple method lets you create one-of-a-kind designs in bold, exciting colors with little effort, time or tools. While you may think of puffy painting as child’s play, there are actually plenty of ways to use this medium to create intricate, unexpected designs that people will notice. Mimic complex embroidery, kaleidoscopic designs and floral patterns with this textured paint.

With all of these awesome ideas, you’ll be able to create show-stopping canvas tote bags that are anything but basic! Make sure you’re stocked up on high-quality yet affordable wholesale canvas tote bags from our store so that you can tackle all these designs without breaking the bank.