Lovely Leaves: How to do leaf printing and painting
Autumn is here and with it means lots of leaves, muddy woodland walks and crisp evenings. I remember a few years ago having the idea to do some leaf printing on bodysuits with the boys in anticipation of the arrival of their new baby sister. Now she’s here, and I think it’s only right that she gets to make her own leaf print clothes too!
Leaf printing is so much fun, it’s one of those things that I think is really easy and diverse – you can leaf print onto most things, from clothing to pottery, canvas to paper. It’s quintessentially Autumnal though, and done right can make a whole day activity on a weekend. I think that this, in particular, is the best way to leaf print and is one of the best autumn crafts for kids that you can keep or gift.
I usually start by giving each of the children a basket and asking them to collect as many beautiful leaves (emphasis on beautiful here, we don’t want any gnarly leaves) as possible on a morning stroll through the woods. If it’s warm enough then we can take a picnic, if not we can do it in the garden – totally adaptable. Once we’re home, the real fun begins. As mentioned, we've previously done bodysuits for Edith, but you can do t-shirts, towels, blankets, dresses… anything fabric.
I chose Dylon fabric paint which you can pick up at any hobby/crafting store, and I chose to use red, yellow and gold to fit in with the autumnal vibe.
What you need:
- Dylon fabric paints or similar (Dylon are recommended for children, as they aren’t toxic – you can use other brands but do be careful with little fingers!)
- A paintbrush to paint the leaves
- An old cloth to stop hands getting paint on them when you flatten the leaves.
- A few dry leaves - damp leaves don’t actually work very well for this, they smudge and quite often they just don’t work. I would recommend drying your leaves either on the top of a hot oven (away from flames, obvs) or on the top of a radiator.
- White/cream/pastel bodysuits, t-shirts, vests, blankets etc. You can, of course, use any colour you like but the paints don’t show up quite so well.
- Pick a leaf, any leaf. Don’t pick ones that are too frayed or beaten up, you want mostly whole (unless you are wanting to go for a slightly more leaf skeleton-like look). The only problem with doing the beaten up leaves is that it often looks like the paint has accidentally splodged in places.
- Grab a tshirt/bodysuit/whatever and lay completely flat.
- Paint your leaf in your chosen colour. I recommend having a washable cover for your surface (like the one I have in the picture) as the fabric paint does stain rather badly!
- Make sure you get all of the leaf, from the top to the bottom (even the stalk!)
- Carefully pick up your leaf and place on the t-shirt – be careful not to move it around as it will smudge and once it’s on, it’s on!
- Place a cloth (or paper towel if you prefer – this seeps through slightly) over the leaf and push down. Hold for a few seconds.
- Lift off the towel and peel the leaf backwards to reveal your print!
- Leave to dry.
Insider tip: When you have allowed your leaf design to dry, cover with a piece of paper and hold a hot iron over the design for 20-30 seconds. This “seals” the paint in and stops it from running in the wash!
I hope you give it a go and enjoy as much as we did! I always suggest having a bath ready for post-painting or crafting, it makes life easier and the fun can continue in the tub!
Have you created any fun leaf-themed crafts this autumn? Let us know in a comment below!