Two No-sew Tote Tutorials

So you don't sew! I hear you, I am not a big sewer either. I have a machine and can stumble my way through simple bags, pillows and things. Perhaps you are going through my book's workshop and are on week 3 (Poetry Tote) and don't have a machine, or have no real confidence in your sewing skills - no worries, you can do something different....

I would like to present to you Two 'no-sew' totes!

VERSION ONE - Altered Canvas Tote

The journal to the left was created by Shannon Mucha. Shannon, as many of you may know was spotlighted in my book. She is an accomplished artist, photographer and illustrator and is currently part of the Artistic Mother Group hosted by Trudy Callan. That group is going through the workshop in my book together.

Shannon is moving house so her sewing machine has been packed away! She wanted to keep up with the group so she made her poetry journal tote bag (Week 3) to house her journal using a pre-made canvas tote bag (available from craft stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby). I love what she has done with this plain white canvas tote and she has graciously allowed me to post her work here!

Step One

Paint the plain canvas bag (handle and body) with fabric dye. Use a few different colors, layering different colors at the edges can give an nice blending effect. Paint the interior of the bag too. Let dry.

Step Two

Create a collage on paper keeping in mind the colors/style of the journal it is to house. Using fabric glue, glue this collage onto the bag. Add strips of ribbon to cover the edges of the paper and the canvas bag, again using fabric glue. 

Step Three

Spray the collage with some acrylic coating. Tie a bow on the handle.

Step Four

Put your tote into the bag letting the fibers on the journal spill over.

And there you have it, a beautiful journal and tote bag. Thank you so much Shannon for sharing.

VERSION 2 - No-sew fabric tote

Step One

Measure your notebook. Cut some fabric about 2 inches larger around the top & sides of the journal & double the height. For example: My journal is 4x7, my fabric 8x18.

Step Two

Cut out a piece of iron on fusible webbing (available at craft/fabric stores, it strengthens the fabric so it is not all floppy) the same size as your fabric. Iron it onto the wrong side of your fabric.

Step Three

Using your iron fold and flatten all the edges of the fabric in towards the back.

Step Four

Glue the flattened seams down.

Step Five

Fold the fabric wrong sides together. Now comes the fun part - Staple the sides together!

Step Six

Create your journal cover collage using a printed out copy of your cover (I photographed the image and uploaded it to Word, resized and printed it out on Matte Photo paper).Glue everything down with fabric glue.

Step Seven

The staples need to be covered up so get a long strip of wide ribbon. Glue half the ribbon on the front of the right hand side of the tote, smooth in place. Turn over and glue the remaining ribbon on the back. The ribbon should cover up the staples and sides and it secured to the bag. Arch this ribbon over and repeat on the left side. Trim or fold in the end of the ribbon and glue down.

Step Eight

Add your journal to it's tote!


If you would like to win some collage supplies enter my second 'Artistic Mother Starter Kit' giveaway! It ends Thursday, April 15 at noon :)


If you have made a tote based on my book then would you consider posting it to the Artistic Mother Flickr group? I am so enjoying seeing what folks are creating!



The Arts and Healing Network is an on-line resource for anyone interested in the healing potential of art. At the beginning of each month, they publish a newsletter which includes interviews with leaders in the field of art and healing and book reviews. I just received word from them that they have done a review of my book!

You can check out their current newsletter here (scroll down a bit and you will see my book cover and the review). Thank you, Danny!


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