My friend Hannah and I recently made some reusable organic canvas tote bags for my craft shop, Home Ec. They turned out great (entirely due to Hannah’s awesome design and silkscreening skills) but I managed to smudge some ink on one of the bags — specifically on the straps. So I kept that one for myself, intending to replace the strap with some colorful fabric. Like a lot of folks I know, I have a ton of natural-colored canvas bags laying around to carry groceries and whatnot, and this is a fun way to revamp them and give them a personalized look. Here’s how I did it.

Cotton fabric
Fusible interfacing
Seam ripper
Note: All seam allowances are 1/4" unless otherwise specified.
Step 1: Using a seam ripper, pick away the stitches to remove the straps on your canvas tote bag.
Step 2: Once the straps are removed, measure their length and width. Cut out 2 pieces of fabric and 2 pieces of interfacing the same length, and double the width (plus 1/2"). For example, my original straps were 24" long and 1" wide, so I cut my fabric and interfacing to be 24" long and 2 1/2" wide. Iron the fusible interfacing strips to the wrong side of the fabric strips according to the manufacturers instructions.
Step 3: Fold the straps in half lengthwise and pin. Sew along the long, open edge, leaving the ends open. Turn the ends inside out using a safety pin or wooden dowel, and press flat. Finally, topstitch each strap about 1/8" from each long edge. I used red thread to match the fabric I chose.
Step 4: Place your straps in the spaces where you removed the original straps and pin into place. Stitch in place using thread that matches the bag, following the pattern left by the original stitch holes.
Step 5: Hand-stitch a few buttons to the front of the bag, near the straps. That’s it!

Jenny Ryan

Jenny Ryan is an artist, crafter, and maker of things. She lives in Los Angeles with a pack of various animals (including her husband) and writes about her adventures in creating at Exit Through the Thrift Shop.

View more articles by Jenny Ryan