How to: Make a leaf printed zippered pencil case

Finished pouch

Finished pencil case

I did this project with my two 5 year old boys, but if you have no children around: do it yourself!
Last year, we did leaf prints on paper as a seasonal craft, to celebrate autumn and the change of season. We hung the papers onto the mantle piece for the whole season, it was beautiful. This time, I wanted to do something they could keep and since they needed a pencil case, it was the perfect match.

Things you will need:

  • fresh leaves (not dry leaves, they aren’t supple enough and will crumble when you press them flat)
  • fabric paint & paintbrushes (if you don’t have fabric paint, I think acrylic paint will work just as well, for a pencil case anyway, not on clothes as plain acrylic paint will be stiffer I believe – I’ve read somewhere that fabric paint is basically acrylic paint with some kind of fabric softener, I don’t know how true that is mind you)
  • precut rectangles of unbleached medium weight cotton fabric (you can rip the fabric instead of cutting it); the width of the fabric should be the width of the desired pencil case + ease and seam allowances and the height should be double the height of the desired pencil case (it will be folded in half) + seam allowances
  • lining fabric for the inside of the pouch (same dimensions, only you need it to be in two pieces, it will not be folded in half height-wise but sewed in the middle, as opposed to the outside fabric) and a zipper (length should be the same as the width of the fabric) and all your sewing equipment.

Here is the step by step of what we did:

We went outside to gather some fresh leaves. We got small leaves because we are working on a small project, but you could use bigger leaves just as well. I guess some flowers could be used also, I have just never tried it. Use what you find.

An idea to spread the activity throughout the day would be to go for a walk around the block in search of different looking leaves in the morning and continue later on with the leaf prints (just don’t wait more than one day as the leaves will dry and wither).

Gathered leaves

Gathered leaves

When we got back in, I got the rectangles of fabric and the fabric paint out, and we quickly discussed color choice (what are autumn colors?). We mainly chose brown, red and yellow, but do as you like. I just recommend not using too many different colors.

Then it was time to get our hands dirty! I loaded the paintbrushes of each child and they painted away at their leaves (one at a time, on the vein side). We mixed and matched the colors on each leaf (a bit of red here and yellow there, brown in the middle… you get the idea).
As a side note: I only have small pots of fabric paint so I don’t want to pour them out in saucers nor do I let the children dip their paintbrushes in themselves (it’s the best way to turn the pot of yellow into orange or muck brown!); instead, they ask me for a color and I rinse, dry and dip their paintbrush in for them.

Painting the leaves

Painting the leaves

We delicately laid the leaves down on the fabric, without smudging them around.

Laying the painted leaf down

Laying the painted leaf down

At first I helped them lay it down, press it firmly, evenly and everywhere and lift up the leaf without smudging it everywhere.

Pressing the painted leaf down

Pressing the painted leaf down

Then they got the hang of it and were left to fly alone.

Lifting the painted leaf up

Lifting the painted leaf up

When the entire fabric was covered in leaves, we cleaned up and put the fabric aside to dry.

I took up alone from there : after the paint had dried, I ironed the wrong side of the rectangles to set in the paint permanently (follow instructions from the fabric paint you have).

I cut out a lining fabric and got matching zippers, then I assembled the pencil cases. I don’t have any tutorial for that, but there are loads throughout the web. Just look up « zippered pouch with lining tutorial » and you’ll find more than you need.

Material for sewing the pouch

Material for sewing the pouch

Finished pouch

Finished pouch

Have fun!

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