journaled tote bag

Journaled Tote Bag with rosette flowers and instructions

Create a custom journaled tote bag for you or for a friend and use fun mixed media techniques.  I don’t know about you but I can always use an extra bag.  They are perfect for trips to the library, gym or to the grocery store and if I am going  to carry something around I might as well carry something pretty and inspiring.

Materials for journaled tote bag

  • Black canvas tote bag, 24”x16”
  • White cotton fabric, 1 yd.
  • Natural canvas, 10” square
  • Black embroidery floss
  • Sewing thread: black, white
  • Buttons Galore and More Laura Kelly Hand Dyed Sunshine Yellow Button Mix
  • Prima Marketing Dynasty Ivory Flower Centers

Basic Supplies for journaled tote bag

Gather the following supplies: plastic container, spoon, old towel, scissors, iron and pressing surface, paintbrushes, rubber gloves, straight pins, newspaper (to cover work surface)

Tools for journaled tote:

  • Sewing machine
  • Embroidery needle
  • Jacquard iDye for Natural Fabrics: Deep Orange, Chartreuse, Pink, Turquoise, Lilac
  • Jacquard Lumiere Paints: Hi-Lite Red, Metallic Gold, Metallic Silver, Metallic Olive Green, Neopaque White
  • Markers: Jacquard Tee Juice Black Medium Point Marker; fine-tip black
  • Beacon Adhesives Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive

Directions to make journaled tote:

1. On covered work surface, use paints to create color swatches on tote as shown then paint Metallic Gold along bottom of bag; dry brush Neopaque White. Let dry and paint section of Neopaque White along top edge of bag; dry brush Metallic Gold. Let dry and add Hi-Lite Red and Metallic Silver randomly along top and bottom of bag and let the surface dry.

2. Cut white cotton fabric in half; set one half aside for use in Step 5. Tear other half into 2”-wide strips. Machine-sew straight stitch using white thread joining strips on short edges, creating one long strip measuring approximately 2 yds. long. Cut sewn strip into five shorter strips for dyeing.

3. Wearing rubber gloves then follow manufacturer’s instructions to mix 2 cups of hot water with Deep Orange dye in plastic container. Stir well with mixing spoon and submerge one fabric strip into dye bath. Remove and rinse under cool water. Squeeze out excess dye with old towel. Hang to dry. Repeat process to dye remaining four strips Chartreuse, Pink, Lilac, and Turquoise. Let dry.

4. While strips are drying, freehand draw and cut out seven leaves from natural canvas. Paint leaves Metallic Olive; let dry. Machine-sew straight stitch for vein lines and leaf outlines using black thread. Knot and clip thread ends.

5. Cut remaining white fabric into two 2”x10” and one 2”x8” strips. Position fabric on work surface. Use Medium Point Black marker to write “Be the Change” and “you want to see” on longer strips and “in the world” on shorter strip. Pin strips in place on front of tote. Machine-sew zigzag stitch around edges of sayings using black thread. Remove pins. Lightly drybrush around strips Metallic Silver and Metallic Gold. Let dry.

6. Use iron to press dyed strips. Cut 1/2”x12” Turquoise strip (for stem). Use fine-tip black marker to journal message or sentiment down length of stem.

7. For rolled flowers, twist one end of dyed strip inward and roll into spiral. Continue, adding small amount of fabric glue every 1-1/2” to 2” on spiral. Create rolled flowers that are various sizes by using more or less of dyed strips. Create one Lilac, one Pink, one Turquoise, and two Deep Orange flowers.

8. Create the ruffled flowers, use sewing machine and white thread to knife pleat dyed strips down center. Roll strips into spirals, adding small amount of glue every 1-1/2” to 2” on spiral. Adhere end to secure.

9. To make the flower centers, cut small 1” circles from remaining dyed fabric or roll remaining strips into small spirals an adhere flower centers onto flowers. Adhere Ivory Flower Centers and rhinestones onto flower centers. Adhere flowers onto front of tote using photo as guide and adhere journaled stem along left side of tote and leaves around flowers.

10. Use embroidery needle and three strands of black embroidery floss to attach buttons onto flowers and leaves and knot and clip thread ends.


1. Add ruffled lace, fabric bows, and other embellishments onto tote handles as desired.

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