In the case of this second hand American Eagle tote, everything was perfect for what I needed. From the color to the shape and the size, it was just a matter of concealing the words.
Making the flowers:
*I cut circles out of contrast fabrics in varying sizes, generally ranging from 2" to 4". If you want, you can use some type of circle template to draw the circles on the fabric before cutting, but I like the look of the flowers that come out a little oblong, so I just went straight to the cutting.
After making lots and lots of flowers I just hand sewed them onto the tote in a cascading pattern, trying to conceal the stitch marks as much as possible.
By the time everything was sewn into place it seemed way too pretty for those crappy looking straps, so as a final touch I cut them off and replaced them with strips cut from this old leather belt. Huge improvement!