DIY Craft Tutorial: Scrap Fabric Fall Autumn Leaves, Table Decorations, and Napkin Rings
The Fall months and the Thanksgiving holiday are one of my favorite seasons to decorate my home. Every year I find myself inspired by the beautiful autumn colors. This year, I grabbed a handful of scrap fabric to create some easy to sew fall leaves for a bright and cheerful table decoration. Then I added to my display by making some matching acorn napkin rings to complete my fall-inspired tablescape.
You can use almost any fabric for this project and finish your leaves with additions of beads, sequin, and buttons. I've included my pattern templates for my leaves and acorn with this tutorial, but you could use other shapes for this project, including pumpkins, apples or other leaves.
Materials for Making Scrap Fabric Fall Leaves and Cute Little Acorn
I wanted to use materials I already had on hand for this project, so the supplies are very flexible and adaptable for you to use whatever you have.
- scrap fabric - felt and fleece are great for this project, but you can use whatever little pieces of fabric you have. I used a different fabric for the front and back of my leaves, but this is optional. I also like using plastic vegetable bags (like the ones potatoes and onions come in) to add some texture to my leaves and acorns.
- templates for leaf and acorn shapes, or whatever shapes you wish to use
- embroidery floss in a few colors
- beads, buttons, and sequin to decorate your finished pieces
- fiber fill or cotton balls to stuff in your decorations (optional)
- white craft glue or fabric glue
- wooden dowels (for table decoration only)
- basic sewing supplies including sewing needle and scissors
Directions for Making Scrap Fabric Fall Leaves
I've included the directions for making and decorating three different styles of leaves. You can pick and choose which designs and decorations you want to use for your leaves. All these leaf designs follow the same basic directions below.
1. The first step in making your scrap fabric fall leaves is to print and cut out your leaf template. I have included all my pattern templates with this tutorial, but you can also use your own shapes. I sized each of my templates to be about 3 inches high, but you can adjust the size as you want.
I also chose to expose my seams and have them show on the outside of my leaf shapes, but you can also sew your pieces so the seams are on the inside. You might need to adjust the seam allowance accordingly.
2. After you've cut out your leaf template, trace it on to your piece of scrap fabric. I traced my template on the front of my fabric since I was leaving my seams exposed. If you want to hide your seams, you should trace your template on the back side of your fabric. I also sketched in my leaf detail so I could follow it with my stitch decoration.
Be sure to leave about 1/2 inch of seam allowance around your tracing. This extra seam allowance gives you some fabric to hold while doing your decorating. You can trim it closer when your leaves are sewn together and almost finished.
3. Now cut another piece of fabric about the same size to serve as your backing fabric for your leaf shape. Put this second piece of fabric to the side for now.
4. (Optional ) Next you can use some embroidery floss to stitch a vein design on your leaf. Before I started stitching, I pinned down a piece of purple vegetable netting over half my leaf for some additional color and interest. As I added my embroidery stitches, I made sure to stitch down the netting as I worked along my leaf.
5. Once you have added whatever stitch details you want, pin the front of your leaf to your backing piece of fabric. If you want your seams to show, pin your pieces together back to back. If you want to hide your seams, your fabric pieces should be pinned so that the front side of each is turned in.
6. Using your embroidery floss, stitch your pieces of fabric together following the outline of the template. Be sure to leave an opening about a 3/4 inch wide at the base of your leaf. This opening will be used to fill your leaf and inset your dowel stem.
7. Trim your excess fabric around your outline seam. I left about 3/16 of an inch of fabric around my sewn outline. I think this makes a nice finished edge.
8. (Optional) Add a little filling to your leaf using fiber fill or cotton. I just added a little bit of fill so my leaves were slightly puffy, but this is completely optional.
9. Add whatever additional details you want to your leaf including sequin, buttons, or beads. I used fabric glue to adhere my sequin to my leaf, but you can use any clear drying glue.
Creating Different Styles of Scrap Fabric Leaves
I put together and decorated my green oak leaf using the same process.
1. Here, I chose a different color of fabric, but one that complimented my other leaves. I traced my oak leaf pattern on to the front of my green fabric with the intention of leaving my seams exposed.
2. Then I used the same template again to cut out a smaller version of my leaf from a yellow vegetable bag.
3. I used a bright color of embroidery floss and some tight stitches to sew the vein pattern on my leaf. These stitches also attached my vegetable netting to the front of my leaf.
4. I pinned my decorated leaf down to my backing fabric and stitched around my leaf outline with embroidery floss, leaving about a 3/4 inch opening at the base of my leaf.
5. Once I had sewn around my leaf shape, I trimmed my fabric leaving about 3/16 of an inch of fabric around my outline.
6. Then I stuffed my leaf with some fiber fill. To finish this leaf, I glued on a splash of small colorful beads.
Making a Scrap Fabric Maple Leaf
I made my maple leaf in a slightly different way, but following the same directions.
1. I traced my maple leaf template on the front of my fabric and cut it out leaving about an inch seam allowance. I then added some details by stitching in the leaf veins using embroidery floss.
2. When I was done, I pinned my front piece of fabric to my backing fabric and stitched around my leaf outline, joining the two pieces of fabric together. I left about 3/4 of an inch opening at the base of my leaf for filling and for my stem.
3. Once I had stitched the outline of my leaf, I trimmed my front fabric leaving about a 3/16 of seam allowance around my stitches.
4. Then I trimmed my backing fabric with about 3/16 seam allowance beyond my front fabric. This allowed my backing fabric to show around the edges of my front fabric, adding more color to the design.
5. Finally, I stuffed my leaf with a little bit of fiber fill and glued on some small buttons to decorate my fabric leaf.
Adding Standing Stems to Your Scrap Fabric Leaves
You can add dowels or sticks to the base of your leaves so you can display them.
I used a piece of 1/4 inch wooden dowel for my stems. I cut my dowel into 9 inch lengths, but you may want to adjust your length depending on how you plan to display your leaves. To adhere my stems to my leaves, I added a few drops of glue just inside the bottom opening of my leaf. I stuck my dowel through the opening and pushed it into my leaf all the way to the top seam. I then applied a little pressure so the glue would stick to the dowel and seal the opening. You can hold your fabric and glue to your dowel while it dries by using paper or binder clips.
You can use your dowel in its natural state, paint it a different color (which I would do before your cut it into pieces), or wrap your dowel with washi tape to add some additional color.
Displaying Your Scrap Fabric Fall Leaves
Once you've made a bunch of scrap fabric leaves, there are many ways to display them and use them around your home as decoration.
1. Take a clean, empty jar (I used a relish jar) and a handful of straight twigs or sticks. Trim your sticks so that are about the same length as the height of your jar. With a hot glue gun, glue the sticks on the side of your jar, working about an inch at a time. Use thinner twigs to fill in any spaces or gaps between your sticks. When the glue is dry, add a twine or ribbon bow to your container.
To help your scrap fabric leaves stand up, fill your jar with cotton balls, glass pebbles, or small rocks, then arrange the stems of your leaves in your container.
2. Decorate a small ceramic pot with some wrapping paper and ribbon to create an arrangement for your scrap fabric leaves. To make my stems stand up in this pot, I wrapped one of my husband's brown socks into a roll and put it inside my container. I then stuck my stems in between the folds of the sock to make them stay in place.
3. You can also add your fabric leaves to any potted plant you already have. These leaves placed into a lovely potted mum, marigold, or rosemary plant would make a festive table centerpiece or decoration.
4. You can also use a small pumpkin (real or foam) as a display stand for your fabric leaves. These would make festive decorations for a Thanksgiving table or at a Halloween party.
Take a screwdriver and make a small starter hole in your pumpkin for where you want to stick your leaf stem. Using just your hand, take a drill bit that is the same width as your stem and work it through your pumpkin to create a hole. I placed a few of my leaf stems on an angle in my pumpkin to make a more interesting display.
5. You can also use these scrap fabric leaves to add a fall look to a floral bouquet. Your fabric leaves can add a touch of autumn color to any vase of cut flowers.
How to Make a Scrap Fabric Napkin Ring
These scrap fabric napkin rings are a great accessory for your scrap fabric fall leaf decoration and to continue the autumn theme at your table. I used an acorn for my napkin ring decoration, but your can use any of the leaf templates or other shapes to make your napkin rings.
I sized and printed out my acorn template so it was about 2 inches high, but you can adjust your template to the size you need. I also created and stitched my acorn so the seams were not showing, but you can leave your seams exposed as I did with my leaves above. You may want to make your template slightly smaller if you plan to expose your seams.
1. Trace your template on the back of your fabric. Cut out your shape leaving about 1 inch of seam allowance on all sides.
2. Working on the front of your fabric, add whatever decorative details you choose. I cut out a piece of plastic netting for the cap of my acorn and stitched it in place on my fabric.
3. Choose a backing fabric for your acorn and pin the front of your shape face to face with your backing fabric. The back side of your fabric should now be showing on both sides. Sew around your outline, leaving a one inch opening on the side or bottom of your shape. Trim your excess fabric so you only have about 1/4 inch of seam allowance around your outline.
4. Turn your acorn so that the right side is showing and stuff it with a little bit of fiber fill. Sew your opening closed with a few hand stitches.
I omitted the stem from my original acorn template, so once my shape was complete, I glued a small piece of twig on to serve as a stem.
Adding Your Scrap Fabric Shape to Your Napkin Ring
Now that your acorn or other shape is complete, you can adhere it to your napkin ring. There are a couple ways to do this:
1. Buy a pre-made napkin ring in a style you like and hot glue your scrap fabric shape to the front of it. This is quick, easy, and a great way to add a handmade touch to inexpensive napkin rings.
2. Or you can make your own rings using recycled toilet paper or paper towel rolls. I cut a toilet paper roll into 3/4 inch rings. Then I wrapped each cardboard ring with yarn, but you could also use twine.
To do this:
- Cut about a 4 foot length of yarn or twine and roll it into a ball so it will fit through the center of your cardboard ring.
- Add a drop of hot glue to the inside of your ring. While it is still hot, stick the end of your yarn or twine in your glue. Let the glue dry.
- Start to cover your ring with your yarn or twine in even wraps. When your ring is completely wrapped, cut the end of your yarn. Then use another drop of hot glue to stick the end to the inside of your ring.
Now you can either:
1. Glue your acorn or other decoration to the front of your wrapped ring using hot glue.
2. Glue or sew a jewelry pin back to the back side of your scrap fabric shape. Open the pin back and slide the pin through a few wraps of your yarn so your decoration is held firmly to your napkin ring. Then close your pin back safely.
Using pin backs is a fun because it allows your guests to keep your scrap fabric decorations to wear as a pin or brooch.
Copyright © 2015 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.