Creating realistic felt foliage can be tricky. Here are five tips that will teach you how to create more realistic felt leaves. Even if your faux felt plant game is strong these tips make help improve any felt leaf and take your fuzzy green thumb to the next level.
*Most of these suggestions don’t work well or at all with synthetics, all the felt used was wool blend felt from American Felt and Craft.
#1 Beautiful at every size
The tricky part of recreating anything that occurs in nature is that while we have a tendency to seek perfection it does not. If your felt leaves look great but just don’t pop in your projects your perfection may be to blame. Stop cutting your leaves from the same exact template in the same exact size. add a curve, trim it down or create some bumpy cuts. Even if you are using a cutting machine such as a cricut there’s no reason you can’t get artistic with the precut leaves. No two leaves in nature are the exact same size or even shape. Get crazy with those scissors and mix it up.
#2 Just add bleach
This technique is a real show stopper and super easy to achieve. Mix 1/2 tbs bleach into 4 tbs of water and using a paint brush or toothbrush brush the mix lightly over your pre-cut leaves. This will only work on DIY leaves made from wool or wool blend felt. Synthetics like acrylic and polyester will not change tone.
Do not oversaturate the leaves, the fade will develop over the course of 5-10 minutes and allow them to air dry fully. You may rinse them out after they dry without color loss if desired.
Different color felts and varying bleach/ water concentrations will create different color effects it’s best to do a test run on scrap felt.
Scraping your brush will create small lines, flicking the bristles will create dots and painting along the spine of the felt leaves will create a more natural looking leaf center.
#3 Create some crisp lines and natural curves
Felt wants to lay flat but adding a crease or even a bend to a leaf can easily be accomplished with the help of a flat iron. Irons are great but they are too big and bulky for tiny things like felt. Flat irons are perfect because they are compact, portable and small enough to allow you some control.
Try folding the leaf in half and pressing for a few seconds to create a center line or curving the felt leaf along the edge for a fun curl.
#4 Using Sharpie markers on felt
Another fun way to alter your felt leaves is to add depth with sharpie or other water proof marker.
Choose colors that compliment your leaves like yellows, greens and even blues. Lighter colors will not show up on the darker greens so you will want to do a test swatch to decide which colors compliment your felt leaves the best.
Once you have selected a color try drawing lines along the center and branching out like the veins of a real leaf. Don’t touch the felt after marking for at least 10 minutes to avoid transferring the color. Again this won’t work well on synthetics like acrylic or polyester.
#5 Bend and pull the felt
Felt lacks the demention that natural foliage has but thanks to its composition of interlocking fibers it can easily be bent and twisted into more realistic shapes. You need to tug quite hard until you can feel the fibers star to release.
Try folding the leaf in half and then pulling the two ends together to create a curl. Or pinch and pull areas along the sides to thin it out and add some life to your leaves. This wont work well with synthetics.
#6 Shrink felt to add thickness and depth
When working with leaves you want to have more of a puffy or fuzzy look to try throwing the cut felt leaves into the wash with some jeans. No need to throw in the dryer the wool in the wool blend will shrink but the rayon will not leaving the piece looking a bit more lumpy and realistic looking. Using 100% wool will result in much more “bubbling” and shrinkage and using acrylic or synthetic wont work at all so wool blend felt works best for this technique.
Know any great felt tips I may have missed? Drop us a line and let us know.