How To Print On Tote Bags: 2 Super Handy Method

You are going out but don’t have a bag in hand is by far the most unlikely scene. Whether it’s a business day or you have to shop for dinner, a bag is a common accessory usually carried along. Depending on the objective, size and shape of the bag varies. However, when it comes to performing a hardworking task, it’s hard to find a better alternative than a Tote bag – a large, two-handled bag.

The history of the bag suggests it has been invented to fulfill various human needs, especially for carrying goods. With the evolution of time, the idea of bags has changed a lot. As an outcome, bags have been transformed into fashion accessories, so do tote bags. This transformation proved as a blessing for the people who are concerned and closely follow the recent trends.

If you belong to that concerned group, you already know that custom printed bags are trending these days. In other words, bags designed or printed by self are the norm. You might be wondering how to make or print a bag on your own. Well, we aren’t going to tell you how to make a Tote bag. It’s a complex process and we will discuss it at some point in the future. However, read ahead to know how to print on Tote bags.

What Is A Tote Bag?

It’s a bag, indeed a large one, which is an incredibly useful accessory. Tote bag is a two-handled bag and the handles emerge from the sides of its pouch. Since it’s mostly used to perform heavy duty tasks, usually it’s made of sturdy, strong cloth. This is to ensure that the users don’t fall prey to any unwanted situation in the middle of something.

How To Print On Tote Bags

If you are a follower of recent developments, you might already know that tote bags, nowadays, are being sold as a more eco-friendly replacement for disposable plastic bags. Unlike plastic bags these accessories can be reused multiple times. A growing number of countries across the world are moving away from disposable plastic bags and leaning towards more environmentally friendly options.

A recent study conducted by the UK Environment Agency came up with a surprising conclusion. It concluded that cotton canvas bags such as tote bags match the carbon expenditure of a single disposable plastic bag after reused for at least 131 times. If the plastic bag happens to be used as a bin liner, the number rises up to 327 times.

Other factors that play a key role in its surge of demand include, lightweight materials, durable fabrics and a wide variety of colors. These mid-large sized bags are usually unfastened at the top, thus simple in use. Despite the fact that it’s a simple product, it possesses huge versatility. In addition to light weight versions, tote bags can also be made from more durable fabrics such as leather.

How To Print On Tote Bags

From the above discussion one thing is certain that tote bags are a popular choice for a range of purposes. Whenever we need to carry a load heavier than usual tote bags are there to serve. Nevertheless, the thing that plays an important role in tote bag’s rising popularity is, you can customize it as you wish. Especially in the design and color section. At professional level, printing facilities are well equipped with various modern devices.

However, printing tote bags on their own sometimes gets tricky. What’s surprising is, you don’t necessarily need to run to the printing stores each time to get your tote bag printed. If you are a DIY enthusiast, at home, with some basic elements you can easily design and print your own tote. Moreover, these methods of personalizing your tote bags are incredibly inexpensive.

Method 1: Screen Printing

It’s a popular choice for many purposes. People practice screen printing to personalize their T-shirts and other items. However, in order to print a tote bag at home screen printing is considered as the best option.

how to make custom tote bags
Lessons Go Where

Here is the items you need for this project:

¨      A tote bag of bright color.

¨      A completed, easy screen stencil.

¨      Ink of your preferred color.

¨      A thin cardboard.

¨      A Popsicle stick or a plastic knife.

¨      A small squeegee.

¨      Fabric markers of your choice. 

Before you start, make sure that the bag is wrinkle free. If not iron out all the wrinkles that it may have. That will make it much easier to print the bag. Place the bag on a hard and even surface, probably on a table or something. The first thing you need to do is to insert the cardboard into the bag. It will potentially prevent any sort of leakage of ink through the other side.

How To Print On Tote Bags

Now, place your stencil on top of the tote bag and be sure that it’s placed exactly where you want the design to be printed. To start, load ink onto the squeegee first. Hold the stencil down firmly on the hard surface and start screen printing. Move the ink loaded squeegee over the design until it covers all the required area. When you are done, before lifting the squeegee off, try to get as much excess ink off the stencil as possible.

Check all four corners of the stencil to ensure whether the ink has gone all the way through or not. If there are any voids found, go over it again with your ink loaded squeegee. Check the corners again. Once you are certain that the entire design is inked accordingly and the ink has gone all the way through, lift the stencil off completely. If you wish to use the stencil in the future wash it off with water.

Let the ink air dry for at least an hour or two. If you can’t allow this time use a hair dryer or blow dryer to dry it faster. When you are done with drying, iron it with normal household iron so that the ink gets settled. This will make it machine washable. After doing all these, now it’s time to add some color on it. Use a fabric marker of your preferred color to paint the design. In order to make the bag standout, get creative with your colors.

Where You Get the Stencil

While it’s easy to screen print tote bags at home, making a stencil isn’t something similar. It involves a setup of circuit machines, computers and skilled persons. Not everyone can afford that setup, thus, buying off-the-shelf is the best option left. You can order online too. A great deal of variety of graphic or logo with varying degrees of detail are available there.

How To Print On Tote Bags

Method 2: Letter Trace

Well, it’s pretty much fun to do. All you need to practice this method is a printed design (a name or a few words) and fabric markers. There are a handful of websites available on the web where you can design and download anything for free. Besides, there are a handful of tools as well that can be come handy in crafting your own design. When you are done with the design, print it.

How To Print On Tote Bags

Now, place the bag on a table or hard surface. Put a piece of cardboard into the bag so that the ink can’t pass through the other side. Place the design or words on the bag where you want it to be printed. Now, just go over the design with a permanent marker. It will leave a track on the bag. In general, it takes a number of repetitions to have a track. Be sure to check the corners to ensure that you have a proper design on the bag.

Get a fine tip sharpie and go over the edges of the design. It will draw an outline. When you are done with the outline, it’s time to do some serious business. Indeed, this is when the fun begins. Let your imagination run wild and go get some colorful fabric markers or paint markers. Remember, your bag is going to be as unique as creative you are with the colors. Now, use those markers to get the design a life.

What Are Tote Bags Used For?

With time, tote bags have come a long way, therefore, its definition isn’t limited to “a large and strong bag” these days. Indeed, it is more than what people may think. At present, totes aren’t just flimsy, reusable shopping bags but, one of the very few bags that effortlessly manages to blend practicality with style.

Apart from a versatile, fashionable and functional handbag option, tote bags are extremely durable too. All these qualities together with its utility as a shopping bag makes it arguably the most practical accessory a woman can carry. Usually made out of cloth, tote bags are handy for a number of purposes.

how to make custom tote bags

For shopping, a tote bag is something that serves literally everyone. Tote bags are of various sizes and shapes. Its unfastened, two handled structure is the key of it’s being the go to option for the shoppers. In order to bring shop-bought items home, the effectiveness of a large size tote bag is unparalleled. Besides, this is the best alternative to the damaging plastic shopping bags.

Carrying your stuff when going to work sometimes is a problem. Standard handbags aren’t that large to hold your work materials and your personal essentials. Therefore, carrying an extra bag at times becomes necessary. But, with a tote bag you will get the perfect balance. It’s large enough to carry all your essentials. Some bags nowadays even come with laptop sleeves.

Planning for an outing? First, check whether your tote is in good shape or not. With good reasons, these are some of the most popular choices for travelling. Offer plenty of room to accommodate clothes, foods and other essentials, what else one can ask for? Other than looking stylish and professional, it’s a durable travelling partner that can withstand the sand and the sun.

If you are a mother of one or two children, you already know how important a tote bag is. Going to your parents place is more trouble-free now. Its being spacious enables you to carry all the baby food and all. Moreover, days of carrying bulky diaper bags are also over – just throw them in and leave.

Going to the gym, staying over somewhere for a night, storing your dirty laundry, giving someone a gift – a tote bag is the answer to all. These simple looking, classic bags perfectly suit one’s style and offer room for overnight supplies, workout clothes and serve as the perfect laundry companion as well. Besides, you will be remembered with joy if you choose to give someone such a gorgeous, timeless treasure.

What Is A Tote Bag Made Of?

Cotton or linen remain the most popular choices when it comes to making a tote bag, while historically hemp has also been an alternative. Canvas tote bags are also trending these days. The fun part is, people often get confused and think canvas itself to be a material, when they hear about canvas tote bags. In reality, however, canvas refers to the style of the fabric’s weave, not the fabric.

how to print on bags at home

Canvas has a rich history of being used for sails, tents and painting. This fabric becomes impermeable in rain or shine, when they are coated with waterproof coating. That is why we are seeing a rise in use of canvas fabrics in tote bags. Tote bags are mostly for regular use regardless of weather conditions. Thus, being able to withstand adversity is necessary.

Another reason behind the rising popularity of canvas fabric is it’s flexibility. A blessing for those, who love to customize their belongings. Besides, canvas is light in weight and keeps hold on the ink superbly. There are some other sturdy alternatives such as denim, twill, drapery fabric, upholstery fabric, leather and outdoor fabric.

A tote bag is a long term investment and sometimes requires cleaning. Thus, it would be wise to choose a fabric that is easy to wash, for example, drapery and upholstery fabrics. When durability is the concern, go for faux leather vinyl or nylon. Just don’t forget the handle. You can make it out of the same fabric or can try something different. But, make sure that it’s able to hold on the weight you usually carry along.

Reason It’s Called Tote Bag

It’s highly likely that you have already benefited from a tote bag at any stage of your life. If you happen to be a working woman, whether you are aware or not, you have come across tote bags on many occasions, one thing for sure. However, ever wondered why it is called a tote bag? Well, the trajectory tracks back to the 17th century.

How To Print On Tote Bags

Back then people used to use the term “tate”, sometimes “tote”. Those words stand for ‘to carry’ or ‘to bear’, but that wasn’t directly referred to a bag up until the 19th century. On the other, tote bags are a kind of rarity in which the description pretty much matches the name of the product. In the beginning it wasn’t a fashionable handbag, rather a household bag that is easily accessible, convenient, and an easy way to transport multiple items.

In 1944, LL Bean released a boat bag – a bag made out of canvas. Besides boaters, that was the most convenient option for the working people too. Soon people, especially women started to notice how simple, but durable and functional these bags are. Consequently, the tote bag design was everywhere in a short span of time.

Since then it was a growing market, however, the inauguration of leather tote bags was a major breakthrough. For its sturdiness and style, demand skyrocketed. By 1950, tote bags were everywhere. The evolution continued and till date we are witnessing innovation in design and manufacturing of tote bags.

How To Clean A Tote Bag

A tote bag is among those accessories that will serve you for quite a long time. If kept clean and maintained properly these bags last for years. Now, the question is how to clean a tote bag? It’s not those regular household items that can be thrown in the washing machine. You need to wash it, but without damaging the shape and print. Follow the following methods to wash your tote bag without harming the shape and brightness.

How To Print On Tote Bags

Hand washing – the erstwhile method of cleaning, however, by far the most effective way, in terms of tote bags. Apply a gentle scrub on it with your regular washing powder and lukewarm water. Avoid going too hard, especially in the printed area. It could result in faded colors and damaged design.

If the marks are recent and nothing too harsh, a simple wipe clean can get the job done. All you need is some hot water and a soap. With other methods, there are chances that the product loses its stiff structure and becomes floppy. But, with wipe cleaning you can’t just harm the product.

How To Print On Tote Bags

If the bag sustained a huge workload and you couldn’t manage to wash it for quite some time now, steaming is the last hope. It effectively removes creases, stubborn stains and long term discoloration. With time, uncleaned cotton tote bags develop a bad odor. Inclusion of some essential oil or scented antibacterial liquid to the steamer will remove those bad odors and make life easy for you.

Also Read: What is the Difference Between Ink and Paint


Alice covers platforms, policy and big tech at Printer Reviews. Prior to rejoining here, Alice was Senior Technology Editor of the TechDen. Alice first joined PrinterReviews in 2021. Before joining, he was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWeb.

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