Use fresh leaves to print on fabric: a step-by-step tutorial

13 June 2023
Learn techniques to use a variety of fresh leaves to print from – either as a stencil or a stamp – in this stunning step-by-step tutorial

Use objects found in nature, such as leaves, to make unique and iconic prints.

You will need

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  • Assorted fresh leaves 
  • Acrylic paints (I have used leaf green, cerulean blue and naphthol crimson) 
  • Black cotton and white cotton (plain fabrics show this technique more clearly) 


  • Sponge 
  • Kitchen paper 
  • Paintbrush (I have used a flat wash brush, size 6 – a brush with soft and flexible synthetic bristles is ideal, so the leaves are not damaged) 


Using leaves as stencils 

1 To use leaves as stencils, place one, or a selection, onto your fabric. 

Leaves on white fabric


2 Using a sponge or paintbrush, gently and sparingly cover the back of the leaves with a thin coating of undiluted acrylic paint. I have used leaf green and cerulean blue. 

Paint leaves with sponge or brush


3 Remove the leaf carefully and you will have a subtle ghostly leaf shape. This is excellent for building up pattern and colour on the fabric. The veins on the back of the leaves are more pronounced, which will then make a better, finer print if you then use the leaf as a stamp. 

Leaf print

Stamping cut leaves 

1 Cut a selection of fresh leaves into shapes. Neat geometric shapes work well as they are in direct contrast to the leaves’ natural shapes. 

Cut a selection of fresh leaves


2 Lay your leaves on a sheet of kitchen paper and paint over the back of them with a thin coating of undiluted acrylic paint. Here, I have used leaf green and naphthol crimson. 

Paint leaves on kitchen paper


3 If the leaf is too heavily painted, blot a little of the paint off with some kitchen paper. If the leaf is more complex or delicate, like this fern, put it carefully onto the fabric and lay a clean piece of kitchen paper on top before you press it down, to prevent the leaf from moving about and losing definition. Alternatively, if the specimen is sturdy, you can press the leaf itself onto the fabric, as I have with the green square leaf. Here, I have printed brightly coloured acrylics onto a black cotton surface for drama and interest. 

Blot the paint off


4 Peel back your leaf or your kitchen paper to reveal your geometric leaf stamp print. 

Peel back the leaves


If you enjoy these techniques you can buy the book 'Stitched Textiles: Nature - by Stephanie Redfern', published by Searchpress from our online shop with 20% off RRP!

Buy & Save 20% off RRP


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