Embroidered Autumn Leaf Garland

  • 01 of 06

    Embroider Painted Fall Leaf Decor

    Embroidered Autumn Leaf Garland
    Embroidered Autumn Leaf Garland. © Mollie Johanson

    When Autumn is in full swing, there is so much beauty outside, but it's nice to bring some of that inside too. Painting and embroidering your own colorful leaf garland will brighten your home and last for years to come!

    The leaves are quick to make because they use simple stitches and a fill of watercolor paints. And don't let the idea of painting scare you off. The process is easy enough for children to do, but the results are beautiful.

    This garland uses the individual leaves from the free Autumn Leaves Wreath pattern, but you can use any leaf patterns that you want. You can even make this with other items such as pine cones, pumpkins, apples, or more.

    For that matter, this doesn't have to be an autumn garland. Embroidering Christmas motifs would be perfect for the holidays and making flowers in the same way would create a fun and fresh spring garland.

    What makes this mini garland especially versatile is that the leaves are attached to a twist of wire so you can shape it however you want. Need a longer swag of leaves? Just connect several pieces together!

    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Garland Materials and Getting Started

    Paint the Leaves
    Paint the Leaves. © Mollie Johanson

    Tools and Materials

    100% cotton muslin fabric
    Fusible interfacing
    Watercolor paints and a brush
    Embroidery floss
    Floral wire or DMC Memory Thread
    Embroidery hoop

    Trace and Paint the Leaves

    Print the leaf patterns at any size you choose. The leaves in the example above range from 2-1/4in to 3-1/2in tall.

    Use a finely sharpened regular pencil to trace the leaf patterns onto the muslin fabric. It's important that the markings remain on the fabric when they get wet, but the lines should also be thin enough to cover with stitches.

    Place the fabric in an embroidery hoop and begin painting the leaves with watercolor paints. Use enough water to soak the paint into the fabric. You can keep the color within the lines or let it extend a bit as shown.

    To give your leaves some natural variation of color, add a second color of paint along the veins or the outside edge of the leaf.

    For more ideas on filling in the leaves with color, read about how to color tint your embroidery.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Embroidering the Leaves

    Embroider the Leaves
    Embroider the Leaves. © Mollie Johanson

    Prepare the Fabric

    Let the painted fabric dry. Speed this along by using a hair dryer or ironing it on a towel.

    To keep your embroidered leaves looking smooth, iron midweight fusible stabilizer to the back of the fabric. 

    Embroider the Leaves

    Embroider the leaves with a simple back stitch or your favorite outlining stitch. The example uses six strands for the main leaf outline and three strands for the veins. If the traced pattern lines are thick, you may wish to use six strands throughout.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Stitching the Leaves Together

    Stitch the Embroidery to Felt
    Stitch the Embroidery to Felt. © Mollie Johanson

    Cut the Leaf Shapes

    Cut out around the embroidered leaves, following the shape loosely and leaving at least 1/4in of fabric margin. 

    If you painted outside the lines, you can either trim the leaves on the painted area or with a bit of the plain fabric showing. Leaving the edge of the paint showing has a soft and slightly rustic look to it.

    Place the pieces on felt and cut around the shape so the felt leaves are just a little larger than the embroidered fabric leaves.

    Stitch the Layers Together

    Use three strands of embroidery floss and running stitch to sew the fabric to the felt. Follow along the outside, stitching about 1/8in from the edge.

    Hide the knots between the layers of fabric and felt.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Twisting the Wire Base

    Twist the Wire
    Twist the Wire. © Mollie Johanson

    Make the Garland Base

    To form the wire to which the leaves will attach, cut a 3-yard piece of floral wire and fold it in thirds. Twist the wire enough that it comes together as a single 1-yard length of wire.

    If you are using DMC Memory Wire or another thick, covered wire, use a single 1-yard piece.

    To add some shape and character to the base, wrap the wire around a finger or two to form curls that are reminiscent of a vine. Leave plain spaces between these twists so you have areas to attach the leaves.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Finishing the Garland

    Stitch the Leaves to the Wire
    Stitch the Leaves to the Wire. © Mollie Johanson

    Attach the Leaves

    Thread the needle with three strands of floss and tie a knot in the end. Hold the first leave onto the wire and stitch it in place with whip stitch, catching only the felt. The stitches don't need to be too close and you only need to take five to ten stitches, depending on the width of the leaf. Secure the end with a knot.

    Repeat with the rest of the leaves.

    Display the Garland

    Make a hanging loop at each end of the garland or leave it plain.

    Use the wire to your advantage as you bend and shape it to fit where you want to display some fall color. A small garland like this looks beautiful hung over a mirror, tucking it behind the corners and positioning as you like.

    If you want a longer garland, make several lengths and then twist the ends together. You could even make the leaves in a variety of sizes for more visual interest.

    These leaves can hang around September through November, then stow them away for a fix of autumn color next year!