Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

DIY text tote bag gym bag

This is one of those projects that I think of, purchase supplies for, and make in a 48-hour period. I was really excited about this one, guys.

I recently got a Silhouette machine to try out. It's pretty fabulous. (Thanks to Melissa for the connection!) Since taking the plunge of opening the box and plugging it in, I've been on a roll! and am really into simple text heat transfers! Concurrently, I've been wishing for a new gym bag, since I use the same old one all the time and while it's fine, I figure I should really love it if I'm carrying it and looking at it 4 times/week! But what is a cute gym bag, really? I like canvas bags but hadn't made the connection until I saw this tote, which seemed motivational and gym-ey.

I'm sure you've seen the tons of cute tote bags out there with simple text phrases or silhouette images. Why not make one a gym bag?!

DIY Lettering Gym Tote Bag

You will need:

  • Cotton tote bag 
  • Silhouette machine
  • Heat transfer material (Silhouette is offering my readers 30% off on it through July 24! Use code DRESS at
  • Or, buy the pre-cut letters in the appliqué section of the craft store

I had an easier time than I expected finding the tote bag; they had a bunch at JoAnn in medium or large, in white, canvas, navy, black, denim, or pink. I paid about $2 for this one after coupons.


1. Pre-wash tote bag. Cotton shrinks, and I don't know what would happen if the fabric shrunk under the heat transfer letters, but I don't want to find out.

2. Design text! I used a basic font in the Silhouette Design Studio and played around with phrases and fonts, spacing, etc.

I thought "go me" and "I rock!" were motivational, but they're kind of hard to read with so few letters. I wanted them to symbolize "Yay, gym! I get to go to the gym! Yay!" so I went with "yay gym."

3. Flip design so it will print backwards and transfer correctly. Load the heat transfer material and hit "Cut"!

I decided to scrunch my lines of text up to save some of the heat transfer sheet for another project; I added the spacing between the lines manually, which actually worked out really well to let me space them evenly on the bag.

4. Peel the negative space out of the design. I cut between the lines of text so I had two separate words to line up on the bag.

5. Find the center of the bag and mark with pins. Line up the center of each word with the center. Use a straight edge to make sure the letters are straight horizontally. The plastic side of the heat transfer material is light a heavy sticker, so it will stay in place once you line it up.

6. At the ironing board, with a press cloth, iron the letters down hard and for a long time (hot work! Do it in the morning if your sewing room is on the second floor like mine is!).

7. Let the plastic cool a tiny bit and slowly peel off the backing.


Wear/carry proudly!

Maybe I should make a set, eh? "Yay books" and "yay food" and such for other reasons to carry a tote! ;)

Check out the heat transfer material here and use your 30% discount on it at until July 24! Use code DRESS at checkout!

Try it yourself!


  1. I live off of my Silhouette. It was a life changer when I got it.
    I think you should carry "Yay Food" to the gym. Haha. Because really...we go to the gym because we love food, right?

  2. Such a cute idea! I'm about to start cycling to work so I might make one with a bike silhouette on it! Maybe I could make panniers with bikes on them? Super cute!

  3. I've very recently got a silhouette too, I've been making cards so far, that's been the theme of my last few posts, but I have lots of ideas bubbling around.


  4. Haha! That would be a good reminder because it's always hard for me to eat enough high quality food in the day or so after an intense lifting workout!

  5. Cool! I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can do with it!

  6. this is awesome! I may have to invest in a silhouette. Great idea!


  7. I love this, so many possibilities!

  8. Me 2! I'm always looking for new ideas :)




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