How to do leaf printing and painting | Day Out With The Kids

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Lovely Leaves: How to do leaf printing and painting

Harriet Shearsmith

03 October 2017

Time to Read

4 minutes

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.

Leaf printing is a great autumn craft to do with the kids

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.

Leaf printing autumn craft idea for kids

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.

Leaf printing autumn craft idea for kids


  1. 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.
  2. Grab a tshirt/bodysuit/whatever and lay completely flat.
  3. 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!
  4. Make sure you get all of the leaf, from the top to the bottom (even the stalk!)
  5. 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!
  6. Place a cloth (or paper towel if you prefer – this seeps through slightly) over the leaf and push down. Hold for a few seconds.
  7. Lift off the towel and peel the leaf backwards to reveal your print!
  8. Leave to dry.

Leaf printing autumn craft idea for kids

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!



Harriet Shearsmith

03 October 2017

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Harriet is a multi-award nominated blogger and instagrammer, avid mum-bun wearer and self confessed coffee addict. Frequently found on Instagram talking about her children and family life. Harriet is one of our much loved Trusted Explorers, which means all content has been written exclusively for in exchange for a contribution to their family piggy bank. All posts are first hand, honest and based on real experiences.

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