Byala Designs

All images © Alan B. Harshman

Site by

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google Bookmarks

How to Put a Design on a Tote Bag

Go from How to Put a Design on a Tote Bag to Designs to download.

Go from How to Put a Design on a Tote Bag to Affordable art.

Materials list:

Item to decorate, such as a tote bag

Decorations, such as a Byala printable design


Ironing board

Iron on transfer sheets with directions

Tip: Regardless of what brand of iron-on transfer fabric you use, working from the center of the design out to the edges works best. This helps to prevent wrinkles and shifting.

Do you have a bag that would be great to use, if it weren’t for that nasty or outdated design on the side?

No problem!

Just cover it with a Byala design. Then you save the bag from the landfill... or the dark recesses of your closet... or a trip to the donation bin.

It wants to be used, so let it.

Whether you are starting with a tote bag you made yourself, or a previously made bag that you purchased or found, the process of adding a design is the same: start with a prewashed bag, add the design, and then add any further decorations you desire.

You might want to add fringe, fabric paint or glitter. Create a frame around the edges of your Byala design, or embellish the design itself. Yes, we welcome you to customize even the design that you’re using to customize your bag. Make it your own.

There are several ways to get a Byala design onto your tote bag or other item. Here, we’re going to iron on the design.

You’ll need to get the Byala design you’ve chosen onto a transfer sheet - be sure to use the correct kind for your fabric. Light transfer sheets are good for fabrics that are no darker than light blue denim. If your tote is made of a red, navy, or other dark fabric, use the transfer sheets designed for dark fabrics.

Putting a design on a tote bag

Follow the instructions on the iron-on transfer package, preheating your iron to the heat level it suggests. If you’re using a tough fabric such as denim or canvas, it can take any setting on your iron, so don’t worry. Some fabrics can’t take much heat, though, so be sure that whatever fabric you’re using can tolerate the temperature needed to fuse the transfer sheet to the fabric.

If in doubt, try a scrap piece of the transfer sheet on a scrap of your fabric to see if it’s going to work well on the material you’re using. You’re using a premade bag, you say, and you don’t know what it’s made of? You could try ironing a scrap of the transfer sheet to the inside of the bag, where it won’t show.

Just a suggestion: make that piece your initials, to customize your tote even more. If it works, you have your initials inside your bag. If it doesn’t, you won’t waste time, ink or the transfer sheet trying to iron the design on that particular bag.

Tip: Take your time. It might seem like it’s taking forever to transfer a design onto fabric, but it is worth the time it takes. Rushing means your design might peel off, and although you can reprint your design as many times as you want, it would still be a waste of a transfer sheet and t-shirt. Work slowly and you’ll get better results.

Like this design? Get it!

Iron on a design

What you need for ironing on a design:  t-shirt, iron-on transfer sheet, iron, and heat-resistant surface

Ready? Find your printable design!

Don’t have a bag? Click here for directions on how to make a tote bag.

Print mirror image

If direction matters, be sure to print your design mirror image so that it will iron on correctly. Follow package instructions for ironing designs onto fabric.

Some computers/printers will print the design mirror image automatically for transfers, so be sure to check. I once flipped an image that had text on it, only to find out that my computer flipped it for me when I told it that I was printing an iron-on transfer. It ended up printing backward anyway. Lesson learned. I made the mistake so you won’t have to.

Put a design on a tote bag for personalized gear

Put a design on a tote bag, t-shirt, or other item of your choice. With a few supplies and a little patience, you’ll be able to make wearable art. Iron on transfer sheets make it easy to put a design on a tote in just minutes.


Transfer medium lets you print on paper, then transfer the design to fabric. Options unlimited!