Leaf Printing on Fabric– How To Make Wearable Art!

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Isn’t it wonderful that “earth” has the word “art” in the middle? Nature is certainly one of our go-to sources for creative projects, and it’s a bonus when the results are something we can wear.

We love the clothes we created with leaf printing on fabric, plus it inspired more artful projects ideas.

I’ve been intrigued by leaf printing on fabric ever since I read Lotta Jansdotter’s printing book a few years ago.

It’s an easy project that brings nature and art together in such a lovely way — and it’s hard to take your eyes off of the beautiful results. Luckily, you get to wear them.

For our first project, Maia and I worked with a heavy cotton fabric about a half-yard long. The initial idea was to involve Maia in making some of her own clothes, and I told her I’d sew her a dress or skirt from the fabric that we decorated.

On another day, we tried leaf printing on t-shirts. There are so many options, but each leaf print project involves the same process.

Here’s how we made the leaf prints, and then the skirt and shirts.

Leaf Printing on Fabric

 

MATERIALS Affiliate link

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1: We put fabric paint on an acrylic box frame (but you could also use a plate) and rolled our mini paint roller (ours was from a hardware store) on it a few times. When it was soaked with the fabric paint, we then rolled it over a leaf. You can do this on top of newsprint or scrap paper to protect your work surface.

Step 2: We then placed the leaf paint-side down on our fabric, laid a sheet of newsprint over the leaf, and then rolled over the leaf a few times with the hard rubber brayer.

Step 3: The best part, of course, was lifting up the leaf to see the print. Carefully lift the paper, then the leaf. Some turned out better than others, but for the most part they were all beautiful.

WEARABLE ART: SKIRT, SHIRTS, AND POSSIBILITIES!

1) A NEW OUTFIT FOR MAIA

I used our first large piece of leaf print fabric to sew a skirt for Maia, with a gathered waist and a brown ribbon along the bottom edge.

And I used some of the remaining fabric to make a matching leaf print applique to cover a stain on one of Maia’s t-shirts.

2) LEAF & FERN PRINTED T-SHIRTS

Next, the mamas of our toddler’s art group got together to try the technique. We love our toddler art group for weekly get-togethers of kiddo finger-painting, etc. But we’ve also found it’s necessary to meet for mamas’ art nights, including a  little wine, chocolate, and chat time. So we gathered at my friend Meg’s studio to experiment with printing on various fabrics with leaves and ferns.

I made fern printed t-shirts for myself, Maia, and Daphne.

3) MORE POSSIBILITIES!

I also made leaf prints on muslin to turn into napkins by sewing them onto a fabric backing. At that time, any free sewing time had been hijacked by Maia’s birthday (making rainbow bunting and dress-up play fabrics), so that had to wait a little longer. But it was inspiring to know the fabric was ready to go.

I really love the detail in these leaf prints and especially like the ones that have more than one color of fabric paint. Leaves are just so beautiful, and leaf printing on fabric is now one of my all-time favorite artful activities.

There are so many options for what you can create — a table runner, a doll blanket, a pillow, even curtains. And leaf printing on paper opens up another realm of possibilities!

How about you? Have you tried leaf printing on fabric, or paper?

I would love to hear about how it worked for you and what you created!

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Heartful blogger
    May 11, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I love Lotta’s book and have been waiting for ages to try one of her projects too! Yours turned out beautifully!

  • Reply
    Glittering Shards - Concetta
    May 11, 2010 at 9:22 am

    That’s lovely. You can try this quick and easy technique too that I discovered last year: http://glitteringshards.blogspot.com/2009/08/eco-dying-your-own-fabric-in-5-minutes.html

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 11, 2010 at 10:25 am

    LOVELY! I especially love the intense look of total immersion in Maia’s face.
    Love,
    S

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    May 11, 2010 at 11:06 am

    That turned out really well! Nice job!

  • Reply
    Jaimie
    May 11, 2010 at 9:20 am

    This is such a great idea. I love that she “made” her own fabric for her own clothes.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I love that idea! So beautiful. Maybe we’ll try that next…

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Working on it right now…

  • Reply
    StickFiggy
    May 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    So cool! I like the fabric result! It reminds me of my FAVORITE craft project that my mom did with my brothers and me. We would go outside in the fall, pick up colored leaves, place them between two simple sheets of wax paper.
    Then, she would lightly iron over them with us watching. When cool, we would tape our own leaves (sandwiched in the paper which now was stuck together) in the big kitchen window.
    The light coming through was beautiful! It looked like we had just made totally natural, quick, stained glass windows!
    *note, as an adult it might not look awesome, but I can tell you that I remember being a thrilled 3-5 year old!
    Cheers,
    Jane & StickFiggy

  • Reply
    branflakes
    May 11, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    That would make a beautiful table cloth too.

  • Reply
    Maria
    May 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I can’t wait to see the skirt!

  • Reply
    rae
    May 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    i am in love with this!!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    May 11, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    This fabric turned out beautifully. I love the colors you chose.

  • Reply
    C.F.
    May 12, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Stunning fabric, great colour choice.

  • Reply
    Michele de Jesus
    May 12, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Ooh, these prints turned out beautifully! Love the soft delicate detail and depth! Congratulations!

  • Reply
    frivolitea
    May 12, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Fabulous project. By the way, where do you get your plain newsprint paper?
    I have put the book on my wishlist and will plan to do this project with my children this summer. yeah! Summer is almost here!

  • Reply
    Becky
    May 12, 2010 at 11:30 am

    LOVE IT! Totally want to borrow your idea…I’m thinking about making reusable grocery bags with the fabric as end of the year gifts for our preschool teachers:) Thanks for never failing to inspire!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I have some that my mom left with me from her visit last summer (she was doing grave rubbings, of all things, as part of her genealogy research). But they sell it at the art supply stores, of course.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Great idea!

  • Reply
    amy
    May 12, 2010 at 10:28 am

    The printed fabrics turned out so great! I love the colors together too.

  • Reply
    Dawn
    May 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Are you using the newsprint so that it can also be a piece of art? Can I just use anything piece of paper to transfer the image onto fabric? We collected great leaves on our camping trip at the Davidson River and I am excited to try this. I can’t sew, but I could at least sew a square patch onto a shirt…

  • Reply
    TreseyWoo
    February 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Hi, love this project, the colours and leaves look great. Did you make a skirt? I would love to see :)

  • Reply
    Digital printing on garments
    August 18, 2018 at 1:19 am

    This is a really amazing piece of work. I am very impressed with the way that you have explained everything. This post is both entertaining as well as motivating. I would sincerely express my thanks to you for such a wonderful article :)

  • Reply
    Carrie
    October 19, 2018 at 6:19 am

    What fun! Love all the colors and details of the leaves and ferns!
    Question: how did the paint and fabric hold up to multiple washes? Did you wash the clothing different than regular clothes?
    Thanks for sharing. I know my daughter would love to do this!

  • Reply
    waze or google maps
    October 14, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Great and interesting information you have shared

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