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How to Make Leaf Prints on Fabric

Roses, ferns, boxwood, sage, pear, mandevilla…isn’t that a beautiful sounding list? Those are the leaves printed on this tea towel, and they’re from this year’s garden.

Not only is this a pretty little tea towel, it’s also a keepsake, reminding me of my favorite plants.


I’m relishing that reminder, because it’s cold now, and I’m spending most of my time inside. I visit the greenhouse and walk around the garden briefly, but my attention is turning towards my indoor plants and planning a cozy season of painting, embroidery, and creating.


I thought this was a perfect project to start off with, and once you see how easy it is, I bet you’ll be digging through your closet looking for fun things to print on.


Yes, it’s a little messy, but it cleans up super easy and it stays contained in a small space. The beautiful results are totally worth a little mess.


I love these types of prints because they look great with just about every decor style. Let your mind wander for a minute, thinking about the possibilities of where you can put this type of print: pillows, tapestries and wall hangings, quilts, cloth napkins, t-shirts, tote bags, curtains, and more.


These also make beautiful handmade gifts!


By using leaves you collect, this project creates a keepsake of a special location - your garden, a park, or a vacation. You may even want to use a fabric pen to write the plant names, the year, or other little notes on your project.


Now that you’ve got all those ideas, let’s get started!

The first step is to go on a fun walk around your yard and collect different types of leaves. You could also go to the park or a neighbor’s yard (with permission of course.) Be sure you can identify which leaves you are picking so you don’t accidentally pick something poisonous or something that will irritate your skin. You’ll want to use leaves while they are fresh, within a few days of picking.


As for the paints, inexpensive fabric paints will work just fine. However, don’t use puff paint. I used black for the print color and then used a variety of colors for accents. As for the disappearing ink pen, you’ll find that in the sewing and embroidery section of the craft store.


I recommend practicing on a scrap piece of fabric to get the feel for painting and pressing the leaves. I also recommend practicing so you can see which leaves create a nice print.


Materials

Cotton or linen tea towel

Leaves

Black fabric paint

Cardboard

Disappearing ink sewing pen (look for one that has an air soluble tip)

Paintbrushes

Assorted colors of fabric paint

Instructions

  1. Using the air soluble tip of the disappearing ink pen, draw a circle or other shape that will be a guide for where you place your leaves. (The ink will disappear in 1-2 days.)

  2. Place the cardboard under the area of the tea towel that you’ll be painting, to protect that surface.

  3. Paint the back of the leaves with black paint, covering all edges and the stem. The back of the leaves will give a better print since it’s features are more pronounced. (This is where it gets messy. I get black paint all over my fingers when I do this. You could wear gloves, but my paints also washed off very easily.)

  4. Press the leaves onto the fabric, gently pressing all edges. Carefully lift it up.

  5. Continue until you fill the circle!

  6. Once the black paint is dry, add little dabs of color to the leaves. You’ll notice in mine that I don’t paint the entire leaf, I just dab color here and there.


That’s it!


I’ve always enjoyed creating and making things (the greenhouse was my ultimate craft project, lol), and this printed leaf project is included in my book, Garden Style.


Garden Style is a book of painted, embroidered, and mixed media handmade projects that incorporate items from nature or that have a floral theme.

Take a closer look at the book here. A print version and an ebook version are available.



2 Comments


Guest
Dec 01, 2022

This looks like the best kind of fun!

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Replying to

It is! And now I want to make more!

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