DIY Tote Bag with Printable Heat Transfer Paper

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Want to make a fun tote bag but don’t have a cutting machine? You can! Learn to make this fun tote bag with printable heat transfer paper. No cutting machine or vinyl needed.

I have been making projects with heat transfer vinyl for YEARS. I got my first Silhouette machine in 2012 and vinyl was the very first material that I cut. Although I love the way all my projects with heat transfer vinyl turn out, I have found something that I think I may love even more… printable heat transfer paper. Today I’m going to show you how to make a DIY tote bag with printable heat transfer paper. One of the main advantages of this is that you don’t need a cutting machine…just an inkjet printer and you’re good to go.

tote with printable heat transfer


As I mentioned above, you don’t need a cutting machine for this project. Most of these items you probably already have.


  1. Prepare your design to print

    When choosing a design that you want to place onto your bag, you’ll want to use a JPEG or PNG file. The file I used is from a site called Love SVG. Open up the file in editing software like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Canva. Next, flip (mirror) the file horizontally. This is the same process that you would do if you were using heat transfer vinyl. Your file needs to be flipped because it eventually gets flipped back over when you adhere it to the tote bag.

  2. Print your design onto heat transfer paper

    It is very important that you use an inkjet printer for this step. Laser printers will not work. Follow the printing instructions on your specific heat transfer paper. On the paper that I used, I printed the design onto the side of the paper that did not have the two red lines on it.

  3. Cut out your design

    Once the design is printed, cut around the design to remove any excess white paper. Don’t worry about getting into every nook and cranny. Cut as much away as you can but don’t worry if you don’t get all the excess off.

  4. Adhere design onto the tote bag.

    Flip the design over and use an iron or Cricut EasyPress to adhere it to the tote bag. Follow the instructions for your specific transfer paper for temperature settings and pressing time. The transfer paper that I am using recommends the highest heat setting on an iron and a pressing time of 90 seconds. I set my Cricut EasyPress to 320 degrees, pressed for 90 seconds and my tote bag came out pretty perfect.

  5. Peel away the transfer paper

    Once you have completed pressing your design, peel up the transfer paper to reveal the final product. Be very careful because the transfer paper is super hot.

What I really love about using printed designs on a tote bag instead of using heat transfer vinyl is that since you are transferring ink onto a surface, the ink becomes part of the fabric instead of just sitting on top of it as heat transfer vinyl does. Heat transfer vinyl has a tendency to peel off in the wash but since this is ink, it will not peel off. Some fading is probably likely after numerous washes, however, nothing is going to peel.

tote bag with printable heat transfer
tote bag with printable heat transfer
tote bag with printable heat transfer
tote bag with printable heat transfer

I hope you love this new tote bag as much as I do!




tote with printable heat transfer

One Comment

  1. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for this article! I think it will be very helpful to me because I want to sell my art on tote bags. I only get very little profit when I rely on a third party printing company. What kind of blank tote bags do you recommend? Is there any I should avoid? Do you know if the design on the tote bags will lasts long?


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