Create Easy Fabric Leaf Decorations

As the holiday season approaches and everyone gets so busy, I have to remind myself to keep it simple. Simple gifts, simple decorations, simple fabric art projects.

For example, instead of doing all the baking and cooking for Thanksgiving plus making all the decorations and crafting personalized napkin rings and place cards, how about sending out to the bakery for pies, tying the napkins with a pretty ribbon, and spending your extra time on a simple but stunning centerpiece of fabric leaves?  

Natalya Aikens recently whipped up some easy stitched leaves that she decorates with Pigma pens to add visual texture. You can dress them up with golden thread or just keep it simple and let the kids decorate them with "thankful" sayings or guests' names. 

Natalya has a lot of simple but effective mixed-media techniques up her sleeve, and she demonstrates them in her new Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM DVD, "Texture Transformation." You'll find it and our entire series of WorkshopTM DVDs at the Interweave Store.

Stitched Pigma Pen Leaves
By Natalya Aikens

Autumn is upon us; the colors of the leaves here in the Northeast always inspire me. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought it was a good time to turn that inspiration into making fabric leaves that can be used as a decoration or place cards on the festive table.

quilted fabric art leaves
These doodled, quilted leaves by Natalya Aikens are simple to make. She uses a technique from her Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop DVD, "Texture Transformation," to add visual textures with Pigma pens and water.


  • Leaves for inspiration
  • Muslin (large scraps are fine)
  • Decorative fabric (for backing)
  • Batting
  • Pigma® pens or other permanent markers
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine and decorative thread
  • Good-quality flat paintbrush and water
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint or gel medium
  • Optional: Hand-stitching needle and threads


1. Gather autumn leaves from nature's bounty to use as stencils and for color inspiration. Choose any shape or size you like.

2. Place the muslin down and lay your leaves over the fabric. Trace the outlines with a pencil or Pigma pen. You can trace several leaves on one piece, but be sure to leave enough space around each one for stitching.

how to make leaf templates

3. Make a quilt sandwich with the muslin on top and the decorative fabric for the back. I used a gold colored silk for extra sheen.

4. Free-motion stitch the outline of your leaf in a thread your heart desires. If you wish, stitch inside the leaf to emphasize the veins. Then use a tight zigzag or buttonhole stitch to outline the outside of your leaf again. (You could also hand stitch the leaves, backstitching the veins and using a blanket or whip stitch for the edges.)

quilted fabric art leaves

5. Now, add visual texture by doodling with the Pigma pens! Use the colors and patterns in the real leaves as inspiration or just doodle fanciful shapes or patterns. Press gently with your pens, sometimes going over a line twice, and fill in the entire leaf in one or more colors.

fabric crafts painting leaves

6. Dip your paintbrush in clean water and gently brush over your doodles. Your pen marks will become vibrant with color and bleed slightly to cover the blank areas around your doodles. Some colors will bleed more than others, so experiment first on a scrap if you wish.

fall leaves fabric crafts

7. Let your fabric leaves dry and then heat set them with an iron.

8. Write names or wishes on your leaves, if you like. Heat set again.

9. Cut the leaves out with sharp scissors, being careful not to cut into your stitching.

stitched and painted fabric art leaves

10. Gently brush the edges of the leaves with acrylic paint or gel medium to prevent fraying and also to secure any thread you might have clipped. I used a bronze acrylic paint for added glitz.

Scatter on the table to enhance your festive occasion, or put one on each place setting.

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One thought on “Create Easy Fabric Leaf Decorations

  1. Definitely going to try making these leaves! Lots of leaves all around this place, perfect inspiration, and with these instructions, this should be a great project for the Thanksgiving table decor. Pokey, I’m with you – the store bought pies and the ribbon wrapped napkins are just fine. The leaves are definitely worth the time! Thanks for such an inspiring blog. Love it!