Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Project - Photo Fabric Leaves

One of the parts of fall I miss living in Phoenix is collecting fall leaves.  We do have trees that change color, but not until around Thanksgiving and they generally don't have the vibrant colors of northern leaves.  I bought some photo fabric paper to put through my printer hoping I could get some nice fabric leaves - I'm really happy with how these turned out!  They're super easy and it doesn't take a lot of time to churn out a small leaf pile.

Materials List:
*sheet of fabric prepared for the printer or a ready-made sheet
*sheet of fabric leaves printed on fabric printer paper
*embroidery thread - I used DMC variegated thread number 51
*embroidery or beading needle
*sewing machine
*optional:  small transparent seed beads

1.  First you need to find leaves to print!  I did an image search on the internet and made a Word file of non-copyrighted leaf photos.  I'm thinking you could also collect actual leaves and make copies of them on a color copier or try scanning them, but I haven't tried either of these yet.

2.  Put the photo paper in your printer.  If you have a single feed printer, it will probably need to go in fabric up.  Tray loaded printers usually take it fabric side down.  I used this brand from Joann's.  Spendy stuff - $12.99 for 6 sheets!  Joann's always has 40% off coupons, so I used one to bring it down a bit.  If you don't have a Joann's where you live, they have a web site and if you sign up for their mailing list they'll send you coupons that can be used online.

3.  Once you've printed your leaves, let the ink dry.  I just let mine sit for about an hour while I cleaned the house.  Peel off the paper backing.  Don't worry if it doesn't all come off - it will in the next step.

4.  Rinse under running water for 30 seconds.  The instructions say to do this for 30 seconds or until excess dye quits rinsing off.  I didn't have any color wash off - I think this has to do with what type of printer and ink you have.  Put on a towel until dry.

5.  With a small zigzag stitch (on my Brother 6000i I used a 0.7 length and 2.0 width), stitch around the leaves just inside the edges.

6.  Switch to a straight stitch.  Use a long stitch (I used a length of 4) and stitch along the main leaf rib lines.  You're going to gather these lines slightly, so don't backstitch.  You're also going to want to tie these on the back, so keep the ends long.  I do the machine sewing on all the leaves before I go onto the next step.

7.  Cut leaves out along the outside of zigzag stitching.

8.  From the back, lightly gather the straight stitch lines to give a little bit of a 3-D look.

9.  On the leaf back, pull the back thread to bring up the front thread loop.  Pull front thread to back and tie threads.

10.  Using one strand of embroidery thread, sew a running line along each side of the straight machine lines.  If you want to add beads, do the embroidery with a beading needle and add a bead occasionally.  I used clear, but you can use any color.

I'm using these in a fabric collage and could see them also looking great on purses, blouses, wreaths, table runners, ....

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Oh wow. These are stunning! I came across them on Flickr and would love to link to your tute if you didn't mind.

  2. this is awesome tutorial...such a nice it!!!!

  3. I've been admiring your leaves since they first went up in your banner. Thank you so much for sharing your method.