Falling Leaves

Can you believe it's nearly Thanksgiving already.  While I generally don't do much of the actual heavy duty Thanksgiving Day cooking, I do tackle dessert preparations (as well as cleanup duties for that matter). 

This year, I'll be adding something new to the dessert table with these easy decorative napkins.  

Blog leaves open

This is another project that requires a minimum of supplies including solid colored dinner napkins, foam brushes and a rubber brayer-which is like a miniature paint roller.  You'll also need assorted fabric paint. 

(Note: I used acrylic paint for this project because that's what I had on hand.  Fabric paints are more permanent and can be found at most crafts stores).

Blog leaf supplies 

You'll also need a handful of leaves which will serve as the stencil.  Of course, you can find this particular supply in abundance just about everywhere. 

Blog leaves hands4

I was inspired to create this project after taking in the beautiful sights of fall.  The trees this time of year are such a glorious mix of yellow, red, orange and brown. 

There is so much beauty in an Autumn landscape with all the varied and brilliant tree color.  This is absolutely my favorite season. 

 Blog leaves7

When gathering your leaves for this project, you'll want to use a few freshly fallen leaves that haven't completely dried out.  If the leaves are too dry they will be too crispy and will likely crumble before you even get started on the project. 

You can always tap a few pint-size leaf spotters to help find the perfect pile.

      Blog leaves cameron4

Be sure to select several different leaf shapes to give the project some variety.  

Few leaves are completely damage-free but I think the small imperfections found throughout the leaf help add interest, texture and a more natural look to the finished project. 

    Blog leaves4

Once you've gathered all your leaves, you may want to place them under a stack of heavy books overnight so they can flatten out.  The flatter the leaf surface, the more even the paint will cover the leaf.


Blog leaves books 

Start by painting the back of the leaf with the acrylic paint.  The backside makes a better paint impression because the wonderful leaf veins are much more prominent on the back.

Blog leaves paint

For a more natural looking appearance, consider mixing up the acrylic paint color a bit.  Try brushing a contrasting paint color around the edges of your leaf as an extra touch. 

Learn from my mistake tip:  If your contrasting paint color around the edges is the same color as the napkins, (yellow in this case) remember to paint the contrasting edges first and then add the overall paint.  Otherwise the contrasting paint edging will simply blend in with the napkin, since that color touches the fabric first.)

Blog leaves multi paint

Place the leaf paint-side down on the napkin.  Put a sheet of paper over the leaf and then roll the rubber brayer over the leaf outline.  The brayer will press the image of the painted leaf onto the napkin.  How many of you remember doing this as a kid?

Lift carefully to see the painted impression.  As you can see in the photo below, the yellow paint edging is lost in the color of the napkin, but I'll remember my own advice next time.

Blog leaves lift

Add even more variety and interest to the project by alternating the colors you choose for your leaf arrangement.

Repeat the process along the bottom of the napkin until you have the desired look.

Blog leaves red

As you can see in the photo below, you can achieve a wonderful variation by using several different leaf shapes. 

While I painted a single row of  leaves along the bottom of this project, you could certainly mix up the arrangement with a leaf border all the way around or even scatter the impression throughout the entire napkin for an overall look.


     Blog leaves row

This is the kind of project that could be applied to a number of items for a fun seasonal look. 

Consider a tablecloth border, totes, t-shirts, canvas aprons or perhaps even a plain lampshade-if you're in the mood for additional quick and easy holiday decor. 

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This year, instead of raking those falling leaves, why not consider something more fun? 

In the meantime, here's hoping you have a delightful (and creative) Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Pearl Maple

    Well done! Your fall crafting project is looking like great fun. I posted something on a similar theme. Fall nesting is a great excuse to be playing all kinds of creative games.

  • malphi

    Happy holidays Lisa to you and your family and happy new year,
    Susannah x

  • Paint & Ink Chick

    OMG, I’m luving your blog. And your space is wonderful.

  • Paint & Ink Chick

    OMG, I’m luving your blog. And your space is wonderful.

  • Jeanne

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I am so glad that you did because I have had the BEST time looking through your creative and beautiful posts. I will be back for more!

  • Lovlee Tang

    Very cool project! My hubby, son and I will be going to TX for Christmas… and I am trying to come up with creative gift ideas and art projects. I love the leaf idea. I guess you can use it on any cloth surface? Thanks for the project idea/lesson. Have a great Christmas! Lovlee

  • Amanda

    Hi Lisa, your napkins are stunning, thanks for sharing your creative ideas, Amanda

  • Dena Rooney-Berg

    Such a great idea as always! Can’t wait to see what you are working on next!

  • Bobbie Lynn

    You have a beautiful Blog and thank you for stopping by mine. I will be sure to visit soon. Happy Thanksgiving too!

  • kelly henderson

    Lovely idea Lisa. And i love the pictures of your daughter in the leaves– so sweet. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  • Nicole Stark

    sooo cool! i would have never thought of using leaves as a stamp. thanks for the inspiration Lisa!:)

  • Charlotte

    Simple and sweet thanks for sharing. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  • Heidi Woodruff

    Lovely project! Your photos are beautiful, too! Thanks for visiting me today (well, on my blog!)! I’ll add you to my blog list, as I love your blog!

  • [email protected] Peas

    What a neat project. It would be great for the kids to help! Thanks so much for posting this!

  • [email protected] Picture is worth....

    This is a wonderful idea. Thanks for posting!

  • melissa @ the inspired room

    Lisa! How did I miss this great post?!! I guess I had a busy week. Lovely!!! And your post is so well done. Love the photos of your kids!
    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Nance

    What a neat idea!
    I’ve never use fabric paints before … are they machine washable?

  • Jeannette

    Hi there! What a great idea; I love that you mixed up the leaves. The best part besides having your kids help is easy clean-up; no stamps to clean!!!lol Must try this! Sincerely, Jeannette

  • tea time and roses

    Hello Lisa!
    I just love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial with us! Your leaf gatherer is quite cute!:o) Have lovely weekend!

  • tea time and roses

    Hello Lisa!
    I just love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial with us! Your leaf gatherer is quite cute!:o) Have lovely weekend!

  • Sabina

    What a wonderful post and a great project!!

  • Stephanie

    Your Thanksgiving table is going to be beautiful with painted napkins. Looks like you had some great helpers!

  • Aina

    Hi Lisa,
    What a fantastic and beautiful Idea!
    Simple, natural and very pretty. This is a project that is perfect for the children too. And together it will make a band between you. Create good memories!!
    I hope everything went well with the move and that you are settling in just fine. I have been thinking about you, but as always this time of the year, quite busy.
    So where did you move and do you like it there? Just curious…
    Can`t believe that it is almost Christmas. The scandinavian girls are totally nuts about this season and have already started decorating. Crazy!
    Take care blogfriend,
    Friendly hug,

  • Deana

    What a cute idea! I am hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time in my new home. I think these napkins will look great on my table!!

  • Cora

    Those napkins are cute. They make a great project for the little ones. I know they’ll be so proud to see the napkins on the Thanksgiving table. Hope you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!!!!

  • Swell Stitches

    Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog, Lisa! I really appreciate you taking a moment to stop by and check things out! I absolutely looove your blog. It’s so beautiful! Your kids are adorable, too! And oh, yeah.. there’s this little thing where you are just incredibly talented and creative! I love this tutorial on the napkins.. so cute!
    ~Amy Rose~

  • Joan

    Great idea.

  • kritta22

    Wow your header if gorgeous!!
    I’m coming over from Freda’s hive.
    Your projects are wonderful. I’m adding you to my blogroll!

  • Gayle

    These are beautiful…but your daughter’s photo makes this all post sing! 🙂

  • Elaine Tutman

    I never heard of a rubber brayer before reading this post. You teach me something new with each project. The holiday napkins are beautiful and will enhance your dessert table. Best wishes, Your Mother Woman

  • Judy

    This is a great project for the holidays! I love your ideas.

  • Candace

    Lisa – this is so great! I can be an “artist” without having to worry about talent – and we have so many leaves in our yard! Thank you for a wonderful project and my best to you and your family for Thanksgiving! Cheers!

  • Tara

    So sweet and simple! Thanks for sharing and Happy Turkey to you and your family!
    ~ Tara~

  • Mosaic Queen

    Just an idea…..why not write a book? I’m serious. I’m pretty sure you could find a publisher. You know, until you get your show. 🙂

  • traci

    hi lisa –
    yeah!!! i can do this project. i know i can. easy, peasy – which is what i am good at. plus, it’s beautiful!!! i am going out to look for leaves now!! thanks.

  • Hannah Shaw

    What a wonderful idea. I will definitely be making these for our thanksgiving dinner. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful idea! Have a great day.

  • Debbie

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your family. Your daughter has a beautiful smile! I just love the ideas you come up with – the only thing better would be more frequent posts! (Hint, hint)

  • sue b

    Those will definitely add charm to the holiday table – great idea!

  • sheree

    Such a fun project…and beautiful pictures of Fall!
    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Janis

    These napkins are so festive! I was thinking I might need a brayer, now I KNOW I do. I wonder how well acrylic paints wash? Not that you’d wash these that often, but I’m thinking of other projects . . .
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Karla

    You have the best ideas! This is a great fall idea.

  • Terriaw

    What a great project idea! I love how the painted leaves look on the gold colored napkins. I bet your table looks very festive and elegant with these adorning it.

  • Shell

    Such a great idea. So easy to do. I love do leaf patterns on an old t-short shirt or my old pair of jeans. Your leaf spotter is adorable.

  • adrienne

    LISA! This is so simple but sooooooo pretty! I love it!

  • Francine

    This is awesome! You just solved my dilemma of what to make for my mil for Christmas 🙂 Thank you!

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