What you’ll need
- blank canvas tote bags
- printable iron-on paper
- a printer
- Photoshop or other image editing software, like Photopea
- an iron with a no-steam setting
- a towel to iron on
Full disclosure: I’ve added links to the products I used to make these bags. I haven’t been paid to promote anything but some of the links are affiliate links, and I’ll earn a small commission if you buy through them.
How to make it
First, you need a gorgeous graphic!
If you’re not sure how to use Photoshop, there are some step-by-step instructions here on how to edit the text. Add your friend’s name and the role they have at your wedding, and you’re ready to print!
You’ll need to print the image mirrored, with the text is reversed, so it shows the right way in the end, on the tote bag.
A lot of printers have mirroring functionality built-in. On my Epson Expression Home XP-245, ‘mirror image’ appears as an option under
'file' > 'print' > 'print settings' > 'print settings'.
If you can’t see anything in your settings, don’t worry – you can do it in Photoshop!
'image' > 'image rotation' > 'flip canvas horizontal' and your image will flip round. (Just remember to undo it before you add in the next name!)
I’d recommend printing on a sheet of plain paper before you print on the transfer paper, to make sure you’re happy with everything. When you are, pop your transfer paper in and print your gorgeous graphic!
It’s worth leaving your transfer paper to completely dry before doing the next step, so you’ll want to have two cups of coffee and an episode of ‘The Good Place’ before you carry on. (I mean it. Skipping this step might result in inferior tote bags. Or less Janet in your life. I don’t want either of those things for you.)
Cut your graphic out. You want to leave a little gap between the graphic and the edge you’re cutting, but it’s worth cutting around the letters rather than leaving a big block; it’ll be much less noticeable on the final bag.
This is truly the worst step. Time to iron.
It’s important that you’re not using the steam setting on your iron. I left mine on by mistake on my first bag and, erm… There was definite peeling.
The first bag I tried was the bag I was making for myself, so I wouldn’t ruin anyone else’s if I made a mistake, and I’m so glad I did! I decided the peeling damage wasn’t bad enough to make a second bag for me, but I would have worried about giving this to someone else as a present when half the word ‘bride’ came off with the transfer paper!
But, before you can worry about your graphic, you’ll need to iron your tote bag. The blank canvas tote bags I bought were wonderfully cheap, but also wonderfully wrinkled; I needed to spend a few minutes smoothing them out before I could do anything.
When you’re ready, position the graphic on the bag transfer-paper-side-up and pop a sheet of wax paper (that should be included with your iron-on paper) over the top, then iron it evenly, moving in small circles. I found removing the wax paper just to do the edges really helped them bond a bit more, and heaving a big sigh every few minutes helped me remember why I don’t iron more often.
When the tote bag has completely cooled down – and they do mean completely, as I found out! – peel the transfer paper off as slowly and carefully as you can. If you go slowly, even if the transfer hasn’t bonded to the fabric properly, you can smooth the transfer paper back down and whip out your iron again, but if you go too fast, you’ll rip it entirely.
Once the transfer paper’s off, all that’s left is admiring your gorgeous, unique tote bags (you’ll want to budget at least half an hour for both ooh-ing and aah-ing) and working out what presents you want to fill them up with!
Cost of supplies
You can get a set of 20 blank canvas bags on Amazon for £18, and 20 sheets of iron-on transfer paper for £16. Assuming you’ve already got a printer and an iron, that should be enough to make bags for your entire wedding party and have some left over for birthday presents for less than £35.
If you can shop around, some specialist stores like Hobbycraft sell canvas bags even cheaper, though you do want to make sure you’re getting a decent size that’ll fit your presents.