How to Make Personalized Tote Bags, Purses, and Beach Bags

Updated on July 17, 2018

Decorate Tote Bags and Cheap Purses!

I don’t think I know a single female who doesn’t like tote bags, purses, and handbags. My closet is full of them, and even my young granddaughters love carrying cute purses. I have a couple of designer handbags, but I’ll admit that I really like cheap purses. In fact, I like inexpensive handbags and tote bags of all kinds – but not as they come. I enjoy arts and crafts, and I use my hobby to embellish my clothing and accessories. I find it fun, relaxing, and productive. Besides, I enjoy being different, so I personalize many of my clothing accessories. By “personalize,” I don’t just mean adding your name or your initials to an item - I mean making the item in question uniquely your own. With just a little skill, a little imagination, and a few supplies, you can turn cheap purses, handbags, and totes into trendy purses, fashionable handbags, and cool beach bags!

Personalized tote bags are super easy to create.
Personalized tote bags are super easy to create.

Personalized Tote Bags

Personalized tote bags are pretty easy to do, and there are lots of options available. What sort of statement do you want your personalized tote to make? If you want your name or initials on the bag, I suggest doing it with rhinestones or slick fabric paint. For tote bags made of a slick material like plastic or vinyl, the rhinestones are a better choice because they’ll adhere to the surface better. For personalized totes constructed of canvas or other types of fabric, you could use either rhinestones or fabric paint. Acrylic paint pens will work, too.

To form your name or initials on a tote bag, you’ll need E6000 glue, a toothpick, tweezers, and rhinestones. I strongly suggest Swarovski stones. Smaller stones are a little harder to work with, but they make more defined forms. For informal tote bags, you might want to use acrylic stones, which are much cheaper than Swarovski stones.

Start with a clean, dry tote bag. Lightly write your name or initial on the bag in pencil. Place small dots of glue on the pattern. It’s best to do just five or six at the time – you don’t want the glue to dry before you place the stones. Pick up a stone with a toothpick and drop it onto a glue dot. Press the stone into place with your finger or with the closed tweezers. Remove any excess glue with a wooden toothpick. Repeat the process until your pattern is filled. Place the personalized tote in a warm, dry spot, and let it dry overnight.

Make your own beach totes from old jeans.
Make your own beach totes from old jeans.

Beach Totes and Beach Bags

I love beach bags. That’s probably because I associate a beach tote with vacations and other times when I’m having fun in the sun. I also enjoy making beach totes for friends and family members. These make great graduation gifts, especially when they’re filled with items like an insulated water bottle, suntan lotion, a beach towel, magazines, and a trendy pair of sunglasses. Want to know how to make a beach bag the super-easy way? Check this out:

How to Make a Beach Bag

I made the beach bag in the above photo in just a few minutes. I started with an old pair of hubby’s blue jeans. I cut them straight across, just above the crotch. I turned the cut-off jeans inside-out and glued the seam with E6000. I place a couple of heavy objects on the glued seam and allowed it to dry overnight. Of course, you could also stitch the seam, but E6000 has never let me down!

The next morning, I checked the glue to make sure it was completely dry, then I turned the bag right side-in. for a carrying strap, I thread a scarf through the belt loops on the blue jean bag. I’m ready to hit the beach now! The beach tote will allow me to carry my towel, water, snacks, and magazines. The inside pockets are great for keys, money, and jewelry. The outside back pockets are perfect for holding lotion and sunglasses.

If you know how to sew, you might want to make blue jeans bags like the one in this video:

You can make beach totes from all sorts of material. In addition to denim, canvas is a good fabric choice for beach totes because it’s tough and durable. Once you’ve made your new beach tote, you might want to personalize it or add some other bling. Have fun with your arts and crafts projects!

How to Make a Blue Jeans Bag:

Purses and Handbags

I love finding cheap purses and handbags and “blinging them up.” I found the handbag in the photo below at the dollar store for a dollar. I purchased it and took it home. I used acrylic slick fabric paint, acrylic stones, and an appliqué to produce a “beachy” scene. I think these make trendy purses for fun, informal occasions.

I also found some cheap purses that were very small, with an attached wrist strap. My oldest granddaughter’s favorite color is pink, my middle granddaughter’s is purple, and mine is turquoise. I lucked up and found these cute purses for $1 each. I decided they’d be great for our shopping excursions while we’re at the beach this summer on family vacations.

On Audrie’s purse, I formed an “A” with Swarovski stones and E6000 glue. Lexi’s into zebra print and funky designs, so I used acrylic slick fabric paint to create her name. On mine, I used small wooden beads, acrylic stones, and E6000 to make two palm trees.

You don’t have to go “all out” with personalized totes and purses. You might prefer to focus on just one area, with sort of a “less is more” philosophy. One day when I was shopping for purses and handbags online, I found one I just couldn’t resist. It sported an image of a Great Dane that looks exactly like my dog. The dog in the image is wearing a red bandana, and I decided to put my efforts there. I added tiny red Swarovski rhinestones to the bandana only. You can see the photo at the first of this hub. I think just this little bit of sparkle adds interest to the bag.

E6000 glue works on leather purses, too. When using it on leather purses, you might want to “rough up” the affected area first, especially if the leather has a slick finish. You can often find cheap purses at thrift shops, and even if they’re plain, you can “dress them up.” In my opinion, small wooden beads and turquoise beads go well with leather. You can also use my favorite glue for attaching suede fringe, feathers, and other embellishments to leather purses.

Handbags can be embellished, too.
Handbags can be embellished, too.
Lexi's name is done in acrylic slick paint.
Lexi's name is done in acrylic slick paint.
For this one, I used wooden beads and acrylic stones.
For this one, I used wooden beads and acrylic stones.
Use Swarovski rhinestones to personalize cheap purses.
Use Swarovski rhinestones to personalize cheap purses.

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      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        6 years ago from Georgia

        Thanks, Garnet!

        Son, so glad you stopped by!

      • profile image

        SonQuioey10 

        6 years ago

        Neat how-to. I love totes and pocketbooks. Particularly big ones with a little flair, but if I can add my own personalized touch on one that's always cool. Great Hub.

      • GarnetBird profile image

        Gloria Siess 

        6 years ago from Wrightwood, California

        you have a keen eye for design!!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        6 years ago from Georgia

        Cre8tor, no man purses, huh? lol. Thanks for reading!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        6 years ago from Georgia

        Doc, I think this format is only being used on beauty hubs for the time being. I'm not too crazy about it.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        6 years ago from Georgia

        Cardisa, free your inner child! lol

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        6 years ago from Georgia

        Teaches, aren't beach bags fun? Good to see you!

      • Cre8tor profile image

        Dan Robbins 

        6 years ago

        Okay, so I'm not a handbag guy but I had my wife read this and she's raiding my jeans right now. On her behalf, voted up and awesome.

      • randomcreative profile image

        Rose Clearfield 

        6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Great ideas, Holle! There are so many fun ways to create and/or decorate just about any kind of bag.

      • drbj profile image

        drbj and sherry 

        6 years ago from south Florida

        I like the clever old jeans beach bag, Holle. I will have to give one a try. Also like the format of this hub. Is it a format only for product reviews? Just wonderin'.

      • Cardisa profile image

        Carolee Samuda 

        6 years ago from Jamaica

        Habee, my photos wont load so I can't see the bags! But if they are anything like the shoes hub you did I am sure they look great. I love the idea of embellishment. When I was a child I loved embellishing my school bag and books. I should try this as an adult..lol

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        6 years ago

        I like all the purse designs you have shown, but I am more partial to the blue jean one for the beach. Very chic!

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