Autumn brings to mind crisp air, wood smoke, fruits of the harvest, hot cider, and a final glorious burst of color before winter arrives. Draw your little one’s attention to the changing leaves by crafting a soft book that highlights a variety of leaf shapes and hues.
This project lends itself to a wide array of techniques. The book shown here creates leaf outlines using a simple running stitch—this would make a great first embroidery project or collaboration for older children to make for younger. Leaf shapes could also be made through the use of appliqué (felt would be especially nice) and embroidered details. The name of each tree can also be embroidered next to its leaf if you choose.
1 ¼ yards 52” wide linen/rayon blend
Thin cotton batting
~2 pieces cut 11.5 x 22.5 inches (29.2 x 57.2 cm)
~1 piece cut 12 x 23 inches (30.5 x 58.5 cm)
10 different leaves
Tree/leaf field guide
Embroidery thread in desired leaf colors
Pencil and paper
Rotary cutter and mat
Water soluble fabric marker
From the linen, cut four pieces measuring 11.5 x 22.5 inches (29.2 x 57.2 cm) and 2 pieces measuring 12 x 23 inches (30.5 x 58.5 cm). The two larger pieces will be the front, back, and inside book cover pages. Each piece of fabric equals two pages in the finished book.
Invite your child to help you collect ten different leaves (try to make sure each leaf can fit comfortably within an 8-inch square). We tried to limit our leaves to species native to our area. Your state/local forestry center may have a field guide or other resources to help you identify native species.
After collecting your leaves, trace their outline on a sheet of paper.
Using the leaf outlines, utilize your preferred method to transfer the leaf shapes to the right side of the linen fabric. I folded each piece of linen in half and creased it with the iron to give myself a guide for centering each design in the middle of the “page”.
If you want to embroider tree names next to each leaf, make sure you leave ample room. I wanted each leaf to be its “real life” size, so as mentioned above, I made sure they didn’t exceed 8 inches in either direction. If any of your leaves are too large for your page size, use your scanner to shrink your original outline.
When you are finished transferring leaf outlines, you should have two leaves per piece of fabric on all four of the 11.5 x 22.5 inch (29.2 x 57.2 cm) pieces (the eight middle pages of the book) and two leaves on one of the 12 x 23 inch (30.5 x 58.5 cm) pieces (the inside front and back covers).
If you want to embroider a title and/or tree names for your book, print them out in your desired font. I used 55 pt font for the tree names and 150 pt for the title. On the right hand side of the remaining 12 x 23 inch (30.5 x 58.5 cm) piece, transfer and embroider your design or title for the front cover of the book.
Embroider the outline of each leaf in fall colors, using a running stitch. Then transfer and embroider tree names next to leaves as desired.
To check your book’s page order/layout, pin pairs of cover and page pieces wrong sides together and lay them together as the book will go. When you are satisfied with outcome, proceed to the next step.
Keeping your desired page pairs together, now place each pair right sides together. Lay one piece of batting on top of the wrong side of one page. Pin all three layers together.
Using a ¼” inch (0.6 cm) seam allowance, stitch layers together, leaving a five inch (12.7 cm) opening between your starting and stopping points. At each corner stitch one or two diagonal stitches, rather than turning a sharp corner; this will make turning the pages right side out easier.
Trim seam allowances (except for the opening) to 1/8” inch (0.3 cm) wherever possible without compromising your seams. Turn pages right side out through the five inch (12.7 cm) opening, using a chopstick or other pointed object to gently push out the corners of each page.
Press each page flat, turning under open edges ¼” (0.6 cm) as you go.
Pin openings shut and topstitch ¼” (0.6 cm) from each page edge around the complete circumference of the page, stitching shut the opening in the process. If you prefer not to topstitch, hand sew each page’s opening shut, and proceed to the next step.
When topstitching is complete, stack pages in order (cover on bottom with inside facing up), pin, and mark a stitching line with the water soluble marker at the “spine” (halfway point) of your book. Stitch down the middle of the stack, forming the “spine” of the book. Remember to backstitch well at the beginning and end of the seam.
Now head outside with your wee one and read your newly finished leaf book!
After working as an elementary school teacher for the past eleven years, Wendy Buss relishes the privilege of being a SAHM to her three children, ages 13, 11, and 20 months. When she comes up for air, she enjoys fiber crafts, cooking, gardening, and recording life’s ups and downs at ThimbleNest.