A tropical leaf pattern, like the one I found on this pillow from Nordstrom is always stylish for a late spring and summer décor. As much as I loved the pattern on that pillow for being fresh and happy, I didn’t consider buying it as I couldn’t find a place for it in my home. But I happily realized that a tropical leaf print would make a great tablecloth for the outdoors! I looked around for similar textiles to sew a tablecloth, but everything I found was either too busy, or too dark, or too colorful, nothing really like my inspiration. I decided to try my hands on fabric painting, and just like any other project that requires a brush and paint, I enjoyed every bit of the process and ended up with an amazing tablecloth.
To make a tropical leaf pattern on a fabric, you will need:
Make sure to work on a large and protected surface.
Pre-wash the fabric. With a disappearing ink pen, trace the outline of the tropical leaf on the fabric. If using a real leaf, transfer its outline onto cardboard and use the cardboard pattern.
Work on one leaf at a time. Position the quilt hoop around the design to stretch the fabric. If your hoop is smaller than the design (or if you are using an embroidery hoop), you will need to reposition the hoop later. In a small bowl, mix 1 part medium with 2 parts acrylic paint. Start painting, leaving brush strokes here and there but also creating a solid color base on most of the leaf area, so as to create darker and lighter shades of green. Let the paint dry for a few minutes. Reposition the hoop, if needed. Repeat the process until the fabric is entirely covered with the design, each time leaving about the same space around the leaves. Mine are about three inches apart (7.5 cm).
When you are completely finished, let the fabric air dry for 24 hours and then heat-set with an iron (no steam). According to the fabric medium instructions, you can launder the fabric after this process.
Note: To make this project easy, you will absolutely need to use a hoop. The hoop keeps the fabric taut so you can easily paint it. It also keeps the fabric slightly elevated from your work surface creating a mess-free working space but also preventing you from accidentally transferring paint from the work surface to unwanted parts of the fabric.
To finish the tablecloth, sew a straight seam, or simply use fabric glue to glue a grosgrain ribbon around the edge of the tablecloth (as I did for this roll up shade, here). You can also use a cotton or linen ready-made tablecloth for this project.
The best way to show you how it turned how was to hang it on a clothesline:
Oops! It’s a little breezy around here today. Here is a better shot:
Unfortunately, we will not enjoy a meal in the backyard tonight as we’re expecting a huge storm, but I wanted to see what accessories work best with this new tablecloth.
You can either set the table with simple white dishes, maybe a few rattan accessories (napkin rings and a silverware caddy), bamboo silverware and a centerpiece with fresh flowers. I might even consider going color and accessory crazy, to create a one of a kind exotic table setting!
Of course, you can use this painting technique to make placemats, pillows and more. The fabric became a little harder and rough where there is paint, but I hope it softens down after it is washed a few times.
- 18″x 27″ quilt hoop – Joann’s Fabric Stores
- Artificial tropical leaf – Michael’s Stores
- Martha Stewart Fabric Medium
- Martha Stewart Acrylic Craft Paint (color: Spring Pasture)
- Flat painting brush (flat wash brush)