DIY Custom Teacher Tote

Custom canvas totes are the perfect teacher gift for back to school, end of the school year, or teacher appreciation week! They are personal and useful, and perfect to pack full of goodies or flowers.

It took me about 45 minutes, or half a movie to sit down and make this by hand from start to finish. I used a canvas tote bag from the Target dollar section (2 bags for $5) but I actually think this project would go even faster if you sewed the tote yourself! I’ll tell you why down below! This would be a fun activity to do as a girls night together with friends, or on your own with a favorite show!


Canvas tote bag

Embroidery thread in blue, black and red

Pencil or Frixion Pen

Straight edge

Measuring tape

Hand needle

Little scissors

Let the fun begin!

Step 1: Prepare Your Canvas Tote

First, I recommend ironing the tote first to make sure the lines go on straight! In my project, I hand stitched all the lines on, but if you made your own tote bag, you could machine stitch the blue lines on before constructing the tote which would save a lot of time.

Next, I lightly drew lines all the way across my tote to make sure I stitch in line without getting crooked. I measured down 1.5” on each side and connected the dots together, drawing a horizontal line. Using my straight edge to draw each line, I drew one line and then marked my next measurement. If you mark all the measurements at once, you have a greater chance of getting more and more off with each line. Save yourself the hassle and draw 1 line at a time!

Step Two: Stitching the Blue Lines

I used the 6 embroidery threads joined together (how it comes out of the package) and casually measured the thread 4.5 lengths of my bag horizontally to determine my thread length. This was enough thread for me to complete two lines with extra length to knot. You will inevitably get better at this hand stitching as you proceed through the project, so think about which line you want to start on while you’re still getting the hang of it. I began sewing the line at the base of my canvas tote.

Always double knot the end of your embroidery thread, you don’t want it pulling through from the pressure at the end of your line. Once your thread is through the needle and knotted at end, push it up through the inside of your bag. You are going to do what is called a running stitch across your pencil line. When you get to the end, come back across that same line, pushing your needle up through the same hole you already created. The goal is to achieve one straight line, so try to be as precise as possible. When you complete the line, tie it off with 2 knots inside the bag. Complete this step for all your blue horizontal lines.

Step Three: Stitching the Red Lines

Now draw on your vertical red line on the left side of the bag. Use the same running stitch to go up and down that line, knotting off at the end. 

Step Four: Customize it!

Embroider the teacher’s name onto the bag. I put the teacher’s name in the bottom right corner. I wrote out her name on a piece of white paper first, to determine style and size. You could print it in a font you like if you’re uncomfortable free handing. I liked the style of cursive for this bag, especially since they have learned cursive in my daughter’s 3rd grade class this year. You could do it in print and it would probably be a bit easier. So, get a draft of what you want on your bag first, then lightly copy it onto your canvas bag in pencil. I used three threads joined together for the lettering, so half of the thickness as it comes in the package. Again, double knot your ends and start by pushing up through the inside of the bag. Use a running stitch 

Use a french knot for the period after Mr. or Mrs. This will make the dot stand out and give it a professional finish.

I put flowers in my bag but you could fill this tote with whatever you want to gift to your child’s teacher! I know I am infinitely grateful for teachers and the work they do every single day to love and teach my kids!

2 Responses

  1. So simple and cute! My issue with totes is that carrying everything on one side hurts. I do like using a backpack because it keeps my hands free. I’m so tempted to get one of those little wheeling square carts that some teachers use. Seems so practical!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Get 25+ FREE

Sewing Patterns


The Coupon Code for the 25+ Free Patterns is in your E-mail.



Keep enjoying our Blog or check out our Website

for great deals on sewing patterns and fabric!