The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Perfect Tote Bag on Etsy

Tote bags are my absolute favorite accessory. I use them for everything – as my everyday work bag, beach and pool bags, shopping totes, you name it. I love being able to toss in all my essentials and have my hands free as I go about my day.

Over the years, I’ve amassed quite the tote bag collection, with most of my unique, handmade bags coming from Etsy. Etsy is hands down my go-to for finding beautiful, high quality tote bags that suit my style. The selection is amazing and I love supporting independent artists and small businesses.

In this blog post, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about finding the perfect tote bag on Etsy. Whether you’re looking for a durable canvas tote, a chic leather bag, a colorful embroidered style, or a reusable grocery sack, Etsy has limitless options to choose from. Read on for tips on customizing your own bag, shopping sustainably, finding deals, and more!

The Many Types of Tote Bags on Etsy

One of the best things about searching for totes on Etsy is the incredible range of styles available. You can truly find a tote bag for any taste and need.

Canvas Tote Bags

Canvas is one of the most popular tote materials on Etsy. Canvas has a casual, laidback vibe and many canvas totes feature fun prints or designs. They’re super durable and hold up well – I have canvas totes I’ve used weekly for years that are still going strong.

Leather Tote Bags

For a luxe, sophisticated look, leather totes are stunning. The leather on Etsy bags is often high quality full grain that softens beautifully over time. There are so many designs to choose from, like hobo bags, satchels, handbags, and carryalls.

Macrame and Woven Tote Bags

For boho-loving gals like me, macrame and woven totes are a must. Many have colorful pom poms or tassels for a fun flair. The patterns and textures are so cool on these bags – no wonder they’re trending!

Embroidered Cotton Tote Bags

Vintage-inspired embroidered cotton totes have a folk art feel that always grabs my attention. Many feature colorful floral patterns or whimsical scenes. The hand-stitched designs make each one unique.

Mesh Beach and Produce Bags

Reusable mesh produce and beach bags are fantastic eco-friendly options. They allow you to ditch wasteful plastic bags at the grocery store or beach. They often roll up small for easy packing.

Crocheted and Knitted Bags

For crafty totes, turn to the many crocheted and knitted bags on Etsy. Even if you don’t knit or crochet yourself, you’ll love the soft, squishy texture of these bags. Many patterns and colors are available.

Upcycled Tote Bags

Upcycled totes on Etsy are made from reused materials like burlap bags, truck tarps, vintage saris, and more. It doesn’t get much cooler than giving an unusable material new life as a tote bag!

Customizing Your Own Unique Tote Bag

One of my favorite things about Etsy is having the option to customize bags to my taste. Many sellers offer different customization options to make each bag special.

Pick Your Own Design, Color, or Fabric

Many Etsy shops allow you to select the colors, patterns, or fabrics you like to create a tote that’s all your own. Some will even let you pick the bag style. It’s so fun being able to put your own spin on a handmade tote.

Add Monogramming or Embroidery

Another popular custom option is adding your initials or a name to your tote bag. The monogram can be embroidered, painted, or added as an iron-on patch. It’s a nice personal touch.

Choose Bag Size

Totes come in sizes ranging from petite over-the-shoulder bags to massive carryalls and beach totes. Decide how much you need to carry and choose your size accordingly. Many sellers have size options for each style.

Pick Straps That Work for You

Tote straps can make or break comfort and functionality. Many Etsy sellers let you select handles based on strap length, thickness, material, and attachment style. Get the perfect straps for your needs.

Design Your Own Fabric

Some ulta-talented Etsy sellers let you design the full fabric print for your bag! Upload images or artwork to create a truly one-of-a-kind tote to show off. How cool is that?

Request Colors Outside the Listings

Don’t see that perfect shade in a particular tote bag listing? Many sellers will accommodate custom color requests if you ask. Just send them a message!

Finding Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Tote Bags

As I try to make more Earth-conscious choices, I appreciate that Etsy offers sustainable tote options. When shopping, I look for these signs of an eco-friendly bag:

  • Made from recycled, upcycled, or natural materials
  • Plastic-free, for reusable grocery/produce bags
  • Crafted from hemp, jute, organic cotton, cork, bamboo, etc.
  • Handmade locally or in small batches
  • Natural plant-based dyes used
  • Packaged without excess waste
  • Ethical/transparent production
  • Listings describe sustainability practices
  • Made from durable materials built to last

It does require some digging to find the most eco-bag options, because not all sellers promote sustainability features upfront. Reading item descriptions and shop policies pays off to find those earth-friendly gems!

Tote Bag Price Ranges on Etsy

In my experience, Etsy offers excellent value for truly unique, quality handmade tote bags. Here’s what I’ve found in terms of general price ranges:

  • $15 – $30: Most basic canvas totes, simple cotton bags, small crocheted bags
  • $30 – $60: High-quality canvas bags, printed cotton totes, macrame bags, small leather bags/purses
  • $60 – $100: Intricate patterns and designs, wool felted bags, custom monogramming, leather hobo bags
  • $100 – $200: Large or extra thick leather bags, extensive embroidery and beadwork, bags from exotic materials
  • $200+: Above average sized leather bags, very intricate designs, bags made from luxe/rare materials

Of course, prices vary quite a bit by shop and can sometimes exceed these ranges for rare or couture pieces. But in general, those price ranges help give an idea of what to budget for different tote types and detailing levels.

Putting Your Own Design onto a Tote Bag

As a creative type, I get so excited by the prospect of making a bag completely my own. Many Etsy sellers offer digital printing services that allow you to customize a tote with your own design, text, photo collage, or unique pattern.

The process is usually pretty simple:

  1. Contact the seller with your design concept to make sure they can accommodate it.
  2. Send your image and specifications like size and placement.
  3. The seller digitally prints your design directly onto fabric.
  4. They sew up your freshly printed custom tote and mail it your way!

It’s so fun seeing my own creative vision brought to life in tote form. Some things I’ve put on my custom printed tote bags include:

  • My photography and abstract art
  • Collages made from vintage magazine clippings
  • Favorite inspirational quotes
  • Inside jokes/phrases among friends
  • Lyrics from my favorite songs
  • Vintage botanical drawings

Let your creativity run wild and make a tote bag that’s distinctly YOU!

Tote Bag Materials: Pros and Cons

When picking out that perfect tote, consider what materials might work best for your needs. Some pros and cons of popular tote bag materials:

Canvas

PROS:

  • Very durable
  • Typically washable
  • Colors don’t fade too quickly
  • Breathable natural fiber
  • Usually made from organic cotton

CONS:

  • Can rip or tear when overloaded
  • Shows dirt easily
  • Can feel stiff if very thick

Leather

PROS:

  • Luxurious look and feel
  • Ages beautifully over time
  • Water resistant
  • Easy to clean

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Not as breathable

Macrame/Woven

PROS:

  • Airy, breathable
  • Bohemian vibe
  • Packs down small

CONS:

  • Delicate – snags easily
  • Harder to clean
  • May stretch out over time

Cotton

PROS:

  • Soft against skin
  • Machine washable
  • Breathable
  • Often very colorful

CONS:

  • Can stain
  • Loses shape when overloaded
  • Wears out faster than canvas/leather

While there’s no universally “best” material, consider your personal preferences and needs. With some research on Etsy, you can find your ideal tote!

Top Etsy Shops for Fab Tote Bags

Over the years, I’ve discovered so many amazing Etsy shops that offer gorgeous, creative tote bags not found elsewhere. Here are some of my favorite top tote shops on Etsy:

1. MadeEveryDay – Beautiful modern embroidered and printed cotton totes. So many great patterns and colors!

2. AT CreativeGoods – Incredible hand-painted leather totes in every style imaginable. Stunning quality.

3. TheMountainArtShop – Cute macrame bag patterns in rainbow brights and naturals. Perfect summer vibes!

4. TheJuteBagCo – Cool woven jute bags with boho tassels and embroidery. Excellent reviews.

5. DesertHippies – Bohemian embroidered tapestry bags. The vivid colors make me smile!

6. SunshineTotes – Bright, happy, hand-painted canvas totes. Customization available.

7. Cuyana – Sophisticated Italian leather totes in classic silhouettes and colors. Luxe!

8. AilaHandmade – Crocheted straw bags that work for beach and beyond. So textured and chic!

9. EJLEATHER – 100% full grain leather totes handmade in Texas. Rave reviews on quality.

10. THEBAGLADYSTORE – Fun printed canvas bags with witty phrases and sayings.

With so many options, you’ll find your perfect tote bag match on Etsy!

Specific Themes and Patterns

Beyond basic colors and materials, Etsy allows you to shop for totes featuring your favorite themes, prints, and patterns. I’ve purchased beautiful tote bags with all sorts of designs, including:

  • Floral patterns – from vintage botanical drawings to boho watercolors to bright neon prints
  • Animal prints – especially fun leopard and zebra canvas totes!
  • Abstract designs – super cool geometric patterns and shapes
  • Scenic bags – some of my faves feature mountain ranges, night skies, beaches, etc.
  • Foodie bags – totes with fruits, baked goods, coffee, and more – great for grocery shopping!
  • Pop culture bags – for fandoms of bands, movies, books and more
  • Funny/sassy sayings – totes with cheeky phrases or quotes add a wink of humor

Part of the magic of Etsy is stumbling upon a bag with a pattern or theme that just perfectly matches your personality. Take time browsing and that perfect tote will pop up!

Ensuring Durability and Quality

While looks are important, I also rely heavily on my tote bags to last. When shopping on Etsy, I use these tips to assess durability:

  • Read item details – look for specifics on materials, construction, stitching, reinforcements, etc.
  • Study product photos – zoom in to examine straps, seams, hardware, edging, and stitching closely
  • Read shop reviews – check for feedback on quality and longevity of that shop’s bags
  • Examine return policies – generous policies often signal durable products that shops stand behind
  • Ask questions – message the shop owner with any specific durability questions before purchasing
  • Buy from experienced sellers – they often have perfected their construction for maximum durability

Taking time to evaluate quality means your Etsy tote bag will withstand daily use and last for many years to come!

Totes Designed for Specific Activities

Beyond basic everyday totes, Etsy sellers create bags designed for certain hobbies, tasks, and activities. It’s great being able to find a tote suited specifically for how you’ll be using it, like:

  • Beach bags – oversized, mesh, and waterproof bags for pool, ocean or lake
  • Grocery totes – foldable nylon bags or sturdy canvas totes for produce and shopping
  • Crafting totes – lots of pockets and compartments for organizing art supplies on-the-go
  • Sports bags – lightweight cinch sacks for gym shoes and clothes
  • Diaper bags – bags with wipe pockets, bottle holders, and other mom-friendly features
  • Travel bags – compact bags that pack down small and resist wear and tear
  • Bike bags – crossbody bags with anti-bounce stabilization for cycling
  • Hiking bags – water-resistant bags that clip around your waist or shoulders
  • And more! First aid bags, picnic bags, makeup bags, book bags, etc. The options are endless!

Consider how you’ll use your tote most when shopping for the most suitable features and functionality.

Reading Reviews and Seeing Photos

When evaluating potential Etsy tote bag purchases, customer reviews and photos are incredibly helpful. Here are some tips:

  • Read a wide range of reviews – sort by recent, critical, most relevant, etc.
  • Look for photos showing bags being worn/used instead of flat product shots.
  • Pay attention to text and consistency in 5 star reviews – generic or flowery language is a red flag.
  • Check reviews discussing quality, construction, accuracy to listings, customer service.
  • Browse reviews mentioning relevant details – size, materials, customization, etc.
  • Watch for recent negativity possibly indicating a drop in quality or service.
  • Message reviewers with questions! Many happily provide additional info.

Taking time to comb through reviews and photos helps ensure the tote you’ll receive matches the product description and your expectations. You’ll avoid disappointment and find true bag gems!

Shipping Costs and Options for Tote Bags

One of the biggest advantages to shopping small businesses on Etsy is that many sellers offer free standard shipping to buyers. This keeps costs down, especially when purchasing heavier items like tote bags.

Many Etsy sellers also provide expedited shipping upgrades:

  • USPS Priority Mail and Priority Express (2-3 day average shipping)
  • UPS and FedEx options for faster business day delivery
  • International shipping, calculated at checkout

When purchasing multiple items from a seller, many will combine shipping instead of charging for each item. This is another great way to save on larger orders.

Always pay attention to processing and production times as well. Custom or made-to-order items often take 1-2 weeks to create before shipping.

Overall, Etsy offers very reasonable shipping costs, especially on larger items like totes. Multiple bag purchases can ship together for one flat fee!

Communicating with Sellers

The creators behind Etsy tote bag shops are often passionate artists and entrepreneurs excited to share their work. Whenever I have questions or customization requests, I always reach out directly by:

  • Using Etsy conversations to ask questions, request photos/colors/custom options
  • Reading shop announcements and profiles for policies and lead times
  • Sending quick messages if I don’t hear back within 48 hours
  • Being very clear on my customization needs and vision
  • Providing additional details if requested by the seller
  • Expressing appreciation for great customer service!
  • Leaving 5 star reviews when I love my purchases!

Direct communication with Etsy sellers ensures you’ll get exactly the product you want. Don’t be shy – good sellers are excited to bring your dream tote bag vision to life!

Return and Exchange Policies

One of the best parts of purchasing handmade items from real people is that many Etsy sellers bend over backwards for their customers. If I ever have an issue with a bag, like a defect or damage in shipping, most sellers happily accommodate returns, repairs, and exchanges.

When reviewing listings, always check return and exchange policies. Many Etsy shops:

  • Offer returns of damaged or defective items
  • Allow exchanges if you simply don’t love the item
  • Will repair minor issues like loose stitching for free
  • Provide return labels or partial refunds to cover return shipping
  • Have generous 30, 60 or 90 day return timeframes
  • Will work with you to find the best solution

Of course, take care not to abuse these policies out of respect for small business owners. But quality sellers stand behind their products and will ensure you’re satisfied.

Matching Your Tote Bag to Other Accessories

Once I find the perfect tote bag, I love hunting down matching accessories from that same Etsy seller. It’s so fun curating complementary items like:

  • Wallets, wristlets, makeup bags, and organizers that coordinate with my totes.
  • Complementary patterns between my beach tote and towel/swim coverup.
  • Earrings, scarves, masks, hats, or other goodies in the same fabric prints/materials.
  • Matching zipper pouches, key chains, eyeglass cases, etc.
  • Pet accessories like collars and leashes that pick up my bag’s colors

Mixing and matching accessories creates a pulled-together look. And it supports those creative Etsy artisans by purchasing multiple coordinating pieces from their shop!

Bulk and Multi-Pack Deals

If you’re anything like me, once you start browsing beautiful Etsy totes, it’s hard to choose just one! Many sellers offer deals when you purchase multiple bags at once.

Some ways to save:

  • Multi-packs of 3, 5 or even 10 matching totes
  • Discounts off the total when buying 2+ bags
  • Bundled sets of different bag styles

-Tiered pricing – the more you buy, the more you save

-BOGO (buy one get one free) deals

Bulk purchases are also great for group gifts! Buy matching bridesmaid totes, team bags for sports, or teacher gifts.

Just don’t forget to take advantage of combined shipping rates when ordering multiples!

Packaging and Shipping Protection

After obsessing over finding my perfect Etsy tote, I want it to arrive safely! Top Etsy sellers take great care packaging handmade items like tote bags to prevent damage. Look for:

  • Sturdy boxes, padding, air packs, and tissue paper inside
  • Waterproofing and stain-proofing the bags
  • Tying straps to prevent tangling and pulling
  • Taping small parts like tassels in place
  • Repacking bags into plastic to retain shape
  • Providing dust bags for storage
  • Offering gift options – wrapping paper, notes, bows!
  • Care instructions on how to clean and store bags

Knowing sellers carefully pack and ship my Etsy purchases gives me peace of mind my treasured new tote bag will arrive ready to style and show off!

Supporting Local Artists Around the World

An amazing benefit of shopping handmade totes on Etsy is that the site allows you to discover and support independent artists around the world. When browsing, I love finding beautiful bags from sellers in places like:

  • Small towns across the USA and Canada
  • Fair trade co-ops in Latin America, Africa and Asia
  • Local artisan workshops in Europe and the UK
  • Aboriginal artists in Australia and New Zealand
  • Cottage industries in India and the Middle East
  • Individual artists and makers from literally every corner of the globe!

Knowing my purchase allows these artisans to continue their craft and livelihood means so much. Etsy truly connects creators and shoppers worldwide.

Comparing Different Totes Before You Purchase

With so many gorgeous totes to pick from, it’s tough making a decision! Using Etsy tools helps compare options:

  • Use the filters to refine your search by price, color, styles, locations, etc.
  • Save your favorites to a Treasury list to compare similarities and differences.
  • Create boards of your short list picks to compare them side-by-side.
  • Keep notes on price, dimensions, colors, and features in a spreadsheet.
  • Arrange windows with multiple listings for an at-a-glance visual comparison.
  • Study shop reviews across sellers you’re considering.

Taking the time to thoroughly compare different bags will ensure you select your absolute favorite!

Finding Your Perfect Tote – Just Like Cinderella!

I hope these tips help you discover your dream Etsy tote bag – one that suits your style, budget, and needs perfectly. For me, when I find that special bag that seems made just for me, it’s a magical feeling!

Happy tote bag hunting, and may you find the one that fits you like a glass slipper! Let me know in the comments if you discover any fabulous tote bag creators on Etsy I should check out. I’m always expanding my wish list!

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