I had a grand plan that I was going to make my mom a huge set of leaf printed napkins for Thanksgiving dinner this year. But then….my three kids got croup….and then one of them got pneumonia….and then it took me a week to recover from the chaos of illness.
So, I made a few leaf printed napkins. Enough for our family of 5 and a guest or two. And, I love them.
Not only were there extremely fast to make, but the bronze fabric paint I used gives them a sheen and a touch shimmer than photos do not do justice. Maybe next year, I will make a big batch for Thanksgiving. But this year, I am just going to enjoy them while it is still Fall and cross my fingers that everyone stays healthy for a while.
In case you are interested in making your own set, here is a tutorial:
- Leaves with distinct veining on the backs, like oak or maple leaves
- Fabric paint. I used Jacquart Lumiere Metallic Fabric Paint (bronze) for this project
- Paint tray and brayer (or a paint brush)
- 1 1/4 yards of cotton or linen fabric for 4 dinner sized napkins.
- Alternatively — solid colored cloth napkins – to make things really easy!
- An old towel or a couple layers of felt to print on
Time and Location:
This project can be divided into two parts, the printing and the sewing. The printing process takes under an hour and should be done on any table you can spread out on. Sewing and heat setting takes about an hour also.
The skill level needed for the printing is very low. Even my 2 year old got in on the action! The sewing of the napkins is also pretty basic. A beginner or advanced beginner could easily hem and miter these napkins. Full tutorial on mitering corners can be found here.
Cut your fabric into 4 19 x19 inch squares for dinner napkins. I also cut 3 14 x 14 inch square to make small napkins for my kids. Or, if you are using solid color napkins, move along the the next step.
Set up your printing area: Lay out your towel or felt and place your fabric square on top. The towel gives your printing surface a bit of give so that you can get a full print of the leaves. Pour your paint in the painting tray and place your brayer and tray on a couple sheets of newspaper right next to the fabric. Have a stack of loose newspaper sheets nearby as well.
Apply paint to the back of the leaf. Be sure to fully cover the leaf with paint.
Place the leaf on the fabric, paint side down. Cover with a newspaper sheet and press/smooth over the leaf to make the impression on the fabric.
Peel the leaf off the fabric right away.
Repeat until all of your napkins or fabric squares are covered with leaf patterns. Be sure to let any nearby “helpers” have a try.
Heat set your paint according to the manufacturer’s directions. For the Lumiere paint, I let it dry for 24 hours and then ironed it.
Double fold and iron the edges of the napkins
Miter your corners and stitch around the edge of your napkin. For exhaustive information about your corner mitering options, this post covers 3 ways to finish corners when doing a double fold hem.
Iron your napkins to give them extra crispness!
Hope you get a chance to try printing some napkins. Such an easy way to add some handmade touches to your table and a fun way to try a printing technique!