Tutorial Tuesday: Turning a Canvas Tote into an Art Bag

orig sheet music photo 4

I love bags, totes, purses and all sorts of “carry alls”. In fact, I like them so much that it has become a sort of joke in our family. I have lots of purses and separate bags for each part of my life. I have a tote that holds my school work, one that holds my business correspondence, one that holds my tax information, and the list goes on. Paul teases me, but I don’t care. My bags help me stay organized. I guess you could even say that I have an obsession with bags. So, I am always looking for totes that are unusual and artsy. I have never been one to fall in love with something I can pick out of a catalogue and would much rather search for the unusual.

One day, Paul came home from school with a box full of old sheet music that someone had given him to use in his classroom.

He was very excited because there was some original “war” music from World War I and he was going to put a lesson together about music from this time period. I spent some time going through the music and was absolutely entralled by some of the gorgeous vintage covers that were on these beautiful old documents. I had to think of a way to incorporate this into the work of One Creative Couple. That is where my love of bags comes in. I could upcycle, upgrade, improve and create gorgeous art bags from this old music. I am so excited about this project and I really wanted to share it with you. Follow this tutorial and you can’t go wrong.

Step 1

Find a canvas tote bag that you like.


Don’t pay a lot for this bag. You don’t need to. As long as it is well made, it will serve the purpose.

Step 2

Apply one coat of Heritage MultiSurface Sealer to the outside of the canvas. This will stiffen the canvas a bit and make the entire bag seem more substantial.

Step 3

Pick a cover of an old piece of sheet music that you like.

Step 4

Scan the cover of this sheet music and print it out on normal paper or use a color copier to make a copy of it. Do not use photo paper. You can also use the original music but Paul wouldn’t hear of that. He wanted to use the original music in his music classes.

A good scanner or copier will do an excellent job capturing the image that you are going to use to create your art bag.

Step 5

Apply one coat of Heritage MultiSurface Sealer to both the front and the back of this scanned music cover. Make sure that one side is totally dry before you apply the sealer to the other side. This will make the paper a little stiffer and more substantial. Don’t worry if the paper wrinkles a bit as you can see in the picture above.  It won’t matter when you apply it to the bag. Put this aside to dry or force dry with a hair dryer.

Step 6

This step is optional. If you want to change the color of the bag to better match the sheet music this is the time to do it. On my bag the sheet music was close to a Medium White color and my bag was much lighter than that. I applied one coat of Medium White paint to the entire bag including the handles.


Let the bag dry or force dry with a hair dryer.

Step 7

Apply one more coat of MultiSurface Sealer to the bag.

Step 8

Follow the “Souped Up Decoupage” tutorial found by clicking here. Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong.

Step 9

Transition between the decoupaged vintage sheet music and the actual bag by painting some of the design from the sheet music in different areas. This step is optional and is only advised for someone that feels comfortable with painting and mixing their own paint colors to match an existing sample. I carried some of the very loose and impressionistic leaves from the music to the bag. I love the way it turned out.


Now, you can either stop here or go on to step 10 and really decorate this bag.

Step 10

Decorate the bag with additional elements. I added these burlap roses and a burlap ruffle but let the sky be the limit with this one. Add some pretty beading or some other lace to dress up the canvas a bit. Your only limitation is your own creativity.

Enjoy your new art bag. Chances are that no one else will have one just like you.

Thanks for visiting,


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