May Arts Ribbon Blog

Burlap Ribbon Ruffled Tote & Penholder



May Arts ribbon and Helmar adhesives transform a plain canvas bag from the craft store into a fabulous tote with rustic ruffles and a matching penholder! Here’s how you can make one too:




The penholder is so quick and easy to make! These would make fun gifts or favors, and could be made with a variety of colors and ribbon styles. Simply cut an 24” length of May Arts Natural Burlap ribbon, measure 6” from the top and then fold in half. Apply Helmar Premium Craft Glue on each side of the ribbon, leaving an open space in the middle for your favorite journaling pen. Fold over about ¼” of the top portion of the ribbon to create a finished edge, then fold in half and add Helmar Glue to secure. This will create a flap for the penholder.



Since the ribbon is wired, the penholder flap will remain closed, but I wanted to add a binder clip to the top so I could attach the penholder to the tote. And of course I had to add some bling! Any charms or embellishments that you like will do, but I used 7 Gypsies Crystal Dangles, and a small glass bottle filled with silver vintage glass glitter. I used sheer ruffle edge ribbon to tie the penholder to the tote.



For the burlap ruffle, I cut a 48” length of Natural Burlap Ribbon. This gorgeous ribbon is wired, so it’s simple to gather it into a ruffle. Fold the left side of the ribbon over ¼” and use Helmar Premium Craft Glue to secure. At the other end of the ribbon, gently pull out the top wire and start gathering the ribbon. I like to wrap the wire around a pencil or the end of a paintbrush as I go. This helps to create a tighter ruffle. When the ruffle is complete fold the edge of the ribbon over ¼” and secure with Helmar glue. You can adjust the length of ribbon required to fit the tote size you are using. Use the Helmar glue to attach the ruffle around the top of the tote.



Create a collage for the front of the tote using your favorite papers, paints, and embellishments. I layered vintage book paper and new patterned paper over kraft cardstock and tore around the edges for the desired size. White gesso and Twinkling H₂Os add texture and color. When the collage is dry, crumple it carefully for even more texture. I cut a bird shape out of corrugated cardboard and painted it as well. Helmar Liquid Scrap Dots are perfect for gluing heavier items like the cardboard bird and for attaching the collage to the canvas tote. Be sure to allow plenty of drying time and flatten the collage down with some books if necessary. This tote is perfect for carrying your art journal or a library book or two. Or use it for an extra special gift bag! Thanks to May Arts and Helmar for sponsoring this tutorial! Be sure to visit both companies’ blogs for incredible inspiration and fun prizes!


Blog post: Kimberly Jones


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  1. Sue D

    Very creative!

  2. Kristie Maynard

    How cute is that?!?! Love it!

  3. Kathy P

    What a cute idea!

  4. Ange


  5. Christina

    Wow! This little tote is gorgeous! What a great project! I’m pinning this bad boy!

  6. Melinda Wilson

    I love how you ruffled the ribbon! I am going to have to give this a try to my red ribbon like this!

  7. Monika/buzsy

    Neat! Love the burlap penholder… the whole project is fabulous! Shabby! :o)

  8. JenMarie

    LOOOVE this!!!

  9. Michelle Mathey - POMI

    Fabulous!! The no-sew feature makes it even more impressive! LOVE the pen holder!

  10. Christine Dring

    This is such a fantastic tote bag! Love it!

  11. Larissa Heskett

    I LOVE this idea!! What BEAUTIFUL MAY ARTS RIBBONS too!! THANKS for sharing and have a FABULOUS WEEK!! =)

  12. Laura Cox

    Well….I just think I NEED this burlap ribbon! Absolutely gorgeous!!

  13. Tiffany Leola

    I really like the idea for turning a plain canvas bag into something so AMAZING! The best part…NO SEWING! I can’t sew! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Jennifer H.

    This is really, really nice! And I agree, I love no sew projects! 🙂

  15. {vicki}

    I really like this!

  16. Donna O'Neil

    That is fantastic!!

  17. Jeyatha

    JUST love this one.. This is really inspiring.. Thanks..

  18. Me-Ma Kim

    OH MY! This is just STUNNING!!! I have already been to the Helmar blog today! THANKS for the chance to win some YUMMIES!! Have a GREAT Day,
    Me-Ma Kim
    kimnsammy at gmail dot com

  19. Holly Tolman

    wow-this is stunning!

  20. Karen K

    Very nice!

  21. Kim Boken

    How awesome! I love no sew projects!

  22. Miriam Prantner

    So fun, just LOVE that ribbon!

  23. Amanda Coleman

    Fantastic! I love everything about this tote, the burlap ribbon, corrugated bird, everything!

  24. DeeDee Catron

    Wowza! This is super inspirational! just fabulous 🙂


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