Start off summer reading with these kids’ canvas tote bags decorated with their favorite book characters. This tutorial shows you how in a few easy steps.
I love visiting the library with the grandkids. Whether we hunting for fairy books, poetry, or monster tales, each visit to the library is an adventure. We definitely needed a library bag to haul them home and keep them organized until the return trip, so I decided that personalized tote bags would be just the thing. They even have library card holders! Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to create your own.
So here’s the story.
We always start the summer off with a trip to the library with Nana. I present each one of my grandkids with a personalized canvas tote bag to celebrate getting their first library card. Here are a couple of ways to personalize plain canvas bags for your little readers.
When I began searching to find ideas for kids’ book bags, I found this adorable bag at U Create. The Dr. Suess motif was perfect for my granddaughter. I didn’t have a stencil maker, so I printed and traced the letters. Easy as pie!
I tied a ribbon around the handle, glued down some rick rack, and added a library card holder. So simple! So cute! So much fun to surprise your little ones with a special library bag.
My grandson loves sharks, so I decided to personalize the next tote bag with a nautical design. The directions are super easy! I’m almost embarrassed to write a tutorial for something so simple, but I can save you a lot of time and money with these easy steps. If you can cut and paste, you GOT this!
The pictures tell a thousand words, so here goes.
1. Get this stuff.
*Hobby Lobby had all these supplies for about $10 with my coupon.
2. Print this shark from Making Learning Fun (black and white version).
3. Draw a wave about 3-4″ tall on scrap paper. Seriously, just eyeball this. A row of simple scallops will work just as well. Cut out the paper wave pattern and use it to trace waves across the width of the felt.
4. Cut the strip of waves out and place them onto the tote. Clip the corners to fit.
5. Cut a large grey fin. My fin is about 2/3 as tall as the tote. Tuck it under the waves and hot glue both in place.
6. A library card holder comes in handy for a book bag. Cut a felt rectangle slightly smaller than the badge holder. Draw an anchor on it with black marker and place it in the badge holder. Tie the badge holder (clear plastic ones sold at craft stores) to the handle of the bag with ribbon or paracord. String or ribbon also works fine. (Hot glue the edges of the cord to prevent fraying.)
7. Cut out the shark and trace it onto the grey felt.
8. Cut out the shark’s mouth from the paper template. Trace it onto red felt, and cut it out.
9. Hot glue the shark and the red mouth onto the canvas bag. I placed mine on the upper 2/3 of the bag to leave room for a name underneath it. Draw the outlines of the fins with a marker. (Outline the shark with marker if you want some added dimension.)
10. Draw the face and add white felt eyes.
11. Trace another mouth out of white felt and use it to draw triangle teeth. Cut out the teeth and hot glue them to the red mouth.
12. Add a name by tracing letters, or just draw them like I did. I also used a ship’s wheel for the O. You can print clip art pictures of many nautical designs to personalize your letters (oar, anchor, compass rose, etc.)
13. Cut two red straps the same length as the bag handles. I found this cotton belt strap by the yard. It was the perfect width for the bag handles. Hot glue the straps onto the bag handles. (Hot glue the edges to prevent fraying.)
14. Add some shark books. These are terrific choices for preschoolers and elementary age kids.
Fun with Shark Stencils, by Paul E. Kennedy, is a book of shark stencils that young children can use to create their own art. The stencils could also be used to decorate a tote bag! That might be my next project!
Shark vs Train, by Chris Barton is just the funniest picture book about sharks ever! You can also write and illustrate your own episode of Shark vs Train. I mean, Nana’s are certainly better at reading books to little kids. Sharks might get the pages all wet! And sharks don’t have cozy laps! Just sayin’.
Surprising Sharks: Read and Wonder, by Nicola Davies, has amazing shark facts without all the scary shark pictures.
15. Grab your little shark lovers (and book lovers) and take a trip to the library or book store to search for treasures.
Many of the stories of our home involve shared book time, and these book totes really come in handy. I’ll be back with more ways to personalize kids’ canvas tote bags designs as I create them. (I have three more grandchildren who need their own!)
Update: Find more kids’ canvas totes in part II of this post.