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Leaf Print Tote Bag

Some of the best tools for making crafts may be right in your own backyard. Undamaged leaves, when covered with a coat of fabric paint in a favorite color, will make unusual and varied imprints on absorbent textiles, such as canvas, cotton, or linen.

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television


Martha uses a bay leaf in a diamond pattern to embellish a plain canvas tote bag. Consider decorating other surfaces as well, such as pillow shams, tablecloths, and book covers. When collecting leaves, look for green, pliant, sturdy ones, such as magnolia and eucalyptus. Before you begin applying the paint, you may want to make a template of your leaf and use it to trace your pattern in pencil on the tote bag. That way you'll avoid misprinting the painted leaf.


  • 1 to 3 bay leaves

  • Fabric paint

  • Sponge brush

  • Undyed canvas tote bag

  • Paper towel

  • Waxed paper

  • Brayer

  • Scrap of fabric

  • Iron


  1. Lightly brush the underside of the leaf with the fabric paint. The underside shows the veins more clearly; you can use both sides for variety. The thinner the layer of paint, the more detailed the print will be.

  2. Place the leaf, paint side down, on the bag where you want the design to appear. Cover the leaf with a piece of paper towel, then a piece of waxed paper. Roll the brayer over the waxed paper a few times, firmly pressing the leaf onto the fabric.

  3. Lift the waxed paper, paper towel, and leaf. Continue this process, using a new piece of paper towel for each print, until you've finished the desired pattern. You can change paint colors by simply rinsing the leaf with water and drying it.

  4. Let the paint dry overnight. Then heat-set it with an iron. Lay the bag on your ironing board, cover it with a scrap of fabric, and iron on a low setting. The bag will be washable and colorfast.

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