Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fall Leaf Rubbing Pillow - a twist on a classic fall activity

This leaf rubbing pillow takes a favorite fall activity and turns it into pretty and easy fall decor.

Did you ever do leaf rubbing as a kid? I vaguely remember doing it. When trying to come up with a project for this month's challenge (leaves), I remembered doing leaf rubbing art. But I wanted a new twist. I came up with the idea to do the leaf rubbing on fabric and then creating a pillow.

leaf rubbing

Fall Leaf Rubbing Pillow - a twist on a classic fall activity

You guys, these were so fun and so easy! I used my basic envelope pillow pattern {remember the fun spring pillows?}, gathered some leaves, and created some fun leaf rubbed pillows.

My 8 and 11 year old's were in the thick of things as they helped gather leaves and do the rubbing.

fall leaf rubbing pillow collage

Supplies needed for a leaf rubbed pillow

sewing machine/thread/scissors
a pillow to cover

leaves collected for leaf rubbing art

Before we get into the leaf rubbing, we need to get our fabric ready. I suggest cutting the fabric to the right size. The pillows I was covering were 16" X 16", so I cut the fabric to 16" X 38". Then I folded and sewed the short ends. We'll sew it into a pillow after we add the leaf details.

Please refer back to my easy envelope pillow cover post for the details of how to create a custom sized pillow cover. 

prep for leaf rubbing

Let's talk about the leaves for a minute. They need to be fresh leaves. Not ones you find on the ground and are dry and brittle. Not ones that you picked two days ago, but haven't done your project yet {pointing at myself}. The leaves need to be soft and pliable.

For the best results, place the leaves upside down. That way you are  rubbing the "veins" of the leaves and will ensure the best result.

how to do leaf rubbing

Add your fabric on top of the leaves. Hold it firmly in place while you rub over the leaf with the side of a crayon. This was the part that was the most frustrating. The fabric easily moves and if you're not finished with that leaf, it is impossible to line it up right again.

leaf rubbing art

The best tip I can give is to press firmly as you rub, to avoid having to go over the leaf again.

We found that when using a whole crayon, it was too long and created extra drawing outside the leaf. We broke the crayons in half and that helped a ton.

leaf rubbings
If I were to do these again, I would not use yellow or green, they were just too light and it's hard to see the detail unless you're very close.

The best leaves to rub are the ones with thick "veins". Grape leaves and maple leaves were some of our favorites.

Once the rubbing is done, finish sewing together your pillow cover. {See envelope pillow post for details}

leaf rubbing pillow - easy fun, fall diy

Tips for Leaf Rubbing Crafts

  1. Use fresh leaves - old leaves are dry and brittle
  2. Make sure leaf is upside down, for the best results
  3. Hold the fabric firmly as you rub to prevent the fabric from moving
  4. Press firmly as you rub - that way you won't have to go over it again and possibly mess it up
  5. Use darker colored crayons - the yellow and green were too light and hard to see from a distance.
  6. Use half of a crayon to prevent excess markings outside the leaf

fall leaf rubbing pillow cover
This project has been featured at Fave Crafts and the DIY Idea Center! They have tons of fall projects.

You may also like these pillow covers made with decorative dish towels or a DIY embroidered pillow.

leaf rubbing pillow

More Fall Crafts:

More Throw Pillow Ideas:

Leaf Rubbing Pillow Cover

Yield: 1
Author: Rachel
Estimated cost: $10
prep time: 5 Mperform time: 30 Mtotal time: 35 M
A favorite fall activity turned into pretty and easy fall decor.


  • freshly picked leaves
  • 1/2 yard fabric, cut to 16" X 38" 
  • crayons
  • pillow form 16" X 16"
  • thread


  • sewing machine
  • scissors


  1. On the short end of the fabric, fold over the end 1/4 inch, fold over again 1/4 inch.  
  2. Sew in place. Repeat with other short end.
  3. Place leaves upside down on your work surface.
  4. Set the fabric on top of the leaves.
  5. Hold the fabric firmly in place as you rub the leaf with the side of a crayon.
  6. Once you have rubbed as many leaves as you desire, it's time to sew the pillow cover.
  7. Lay out the fabric with the right side up.
  8. Fold over each end towards the center, overlapping each other.
  9. Adjust until the "pillow" is 16 inches.
  10. Sew along the top and the bottom.
  11. Turn right side out.
  12. Insert pillow.


1. Use fresh leaves - old leaves are dry and brittle
2. Make sure the leaf is upside down for best results.
3. Hold the fabric firmly as you rub to prevent the fabric from moving.
4. Press firmly as you rub to avoid having to go over it again.
5. Use darker colored crayons for best results.
6. Use a half of a crayon to prevent excess markings outside of leaf area.
leaf rubbing, leaf pillow, leaf rubbing art, leaf rubbings, how to do leaf rubbings
Created using Craft Card Maker


  1. Wow! I never thought of doing this classic on fabric. Great Idea, I love the look!!

  2. Very fun and great activity for kids to try. Visiting from Inspire My Creativity.

  3. These are BEAUTIFUL!! What a great idea!

  4. I remember leaf rubbing as a kid and this is a great way to do leaf rubbing and create a keepsake. Adorable!

  5. I need to try leaf rubbing with my kiddos. What a fun fall project! Your pillows turned out so cute!

  6. The pillow cover turned out sooo pretty!!

  7. This is so pretty and unique! Thanks so much for sharing at this week's Project Inspire{d}.

  8. These came out so cute!! I remember doing that as a kid, how fun!

  9. I do remember doing this as a child. The pillow turned out so fantastic.

  10. I remember doing this with paper when I was a kid. I never tried it with fabric. but it's a great idea.
    Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty link Party. Pinned.

  11. What a creative idea! I love how these turned out. I want to make some too!

  12. Such a pretty pillow! My boys and I have done leaf rubbings a few times but I would never have thought to try it with fabric. That's genius! Pinned.

  13. No way! I used to love doing leaf rubbings when I was a child. I would have never thought to do it on fabric!