Let’s Get Leafy

It’s fall y’all. 
…or autumn y’all. 
…or pumpkin latte season at Starbucks y’all.  
Let’s embrace it.
Let’s get leafy.

If you have followed this blog for a while you might recognize this project. It’s a lot like the valentine garland I hung up last February. It was supposed to come down by March but I liked it so much I let it hang up year round. Which is really just a nice way of saying I was too lazy to take it down, so okay, you got me, my butt is a lazy one. Revelation I think not

I like this project because 1. It was 100% free, and 2. I can leave it hanging September to November, and even after that it can stay on display in my pantry window or some corner of the house that doesn’t need to look all seasonally fancified. 

I know someone is going to have a  fit because I’m promoting the use of plastic bags, so let me get this out of the way: I double dog pinky-swear to you that I own a hundred reusable bags and use them on a regular basis. They just don’t always come with me when I need them. They sit at home all day watching Sister/Sister marathons on off-network cable. If they don’t show up when and where I need them, it cannot be helped. So sometimes, just sometimes, I resort to using plastic bags. I already feel guilty about the matter so please, oh please, EASE UP ALREADY.
Now let’s get back to the pretty parts 🙂

  • 15 Plastic grocery bags (5 will get painted, 10 will remain unpainted)
  • latex paint
  • electric iron
  • parchment paper
  • tin foil
  • sewing machine (or needle and thread)
If there is a stereotype about women refusing to read directions and only looking at the pictures, I am walking confirmation. I hate following complicated directions. Hate. It. First, I have unfold the damn paper like it’s some old-timey road map to Jellystone National Park. ThenI have to find the half-way point where I can skip to because, obviously, I am superior and know all the pre-cursor steps involved. Thennnnn I get tired of that so I just skip to the pictures (that’s pretty much my life motto: skip to the pictures).
So, with that in mind, I am going to try to demo this project with just photos and captions.

To start out, take 15 plastic bags and paint the inside of 5 of them

When the paint is dry, trim of the bag handles and the bottoms.

To fuse the plastic together, sandwich the painted bags in-between the non-painted bags, then sandwich that in between parchment paper. The thickness of the plastic bags will determine the thickness of your leaves. Personally, I like 6 layers of plastic Target bags (=3 target bags total), but you could do this with twice that many if you wanted super thick leaves. Your sewing machine might not like them that thick, but we will get to that in a minute. 

Iron it flat using slow circular motions. Give it a few seconds to rest, then peel off the parchment paper. The end result should look and feel like a giant plastic potato chip.

Cut leaf shapes shapes. You can trace. I free formed. ‘Cuz I’m ballsy like that.

Cut strips of old tissue paper roughly 2″ wide and as long as you want your garland strips to hang.
Allow for 10″ of thread, then begin sewing a line down the tissue. After a few inches, insert one leaf. Sew several more inches, then randomly insert another leaf.You could follow a pattern, but if the nice thing about autumn is how lush and random everything looks. Embrace the randomness!

Note: If you do not have a sewing machine you could do this by laying your leaves out in a row and laying a glue-drenched piece of cotton string across them. It will take two days to dry, and won’t look as pretty from the back, but who cares? 

Use your fingers to tear away the tissue paper. Tip 1: The smaller the stitches the cleaner the tear. Tip 2: tear away from the thread instead of tugging side-to-side.

Use simple knots to tie it to a tension rod. 
Shazam. That’s it!

The sun filters through the layers of paint and plastic in a way that my camera cannot capture. It’s nothing less than spectacular.

Hang them behind a curtain and they make the niftiest shadows. 

Let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see these hanging in your window soon! 


  1. RNEllis says

    I can’t wait to try this! Did you only use mustard colored paint?

  2. Anonymous says

    Will any craft paint work or only latex paint? I honestly do not even know what that is

  3. Gol de Glo says

    This is really cool, and you’re a great writer, but funniness aside, please use cloth bags for your shopping. Plastic is the scourge of the earth

    • Genie says

      lol she said right up there in the post that she has cloth bags and uses them but sometimes they get forgotten and she ends up with plastic. Anyone who says they have NEVER forgotten their cloth bags is a liar. I think *someone* did the only-look-at-the-pictures thing. 😉

  4. says

    Okay, love the idea..but what I really love is the humor you put in ur blog….love , love it….thanks rock on girly;))

  5. says

    Dear Aunt Peaches, I have a question about the paint. Do you think I could use regular acrylic paint? Where did you get your latex paint from? Is there a specific reason you chose latex paint?


  6. says

    Dear Aunt Peaches, I have a question about the paint. Is there a specific reason you used latex paint? I don’t know where I could find latex paint. Do you think using acrylic paint would make a difference?

  7. PeachesFreund says

    Acrylic is great. Anything water based that will stick to plastic is great!

  8. says

    What a crazy cool idea! I’ve seen various felt leaf garlands on Pinterest, but never a plastic bag repurpose project. Fantastic! I’ll be featuring this in my weekend post for sure.

  9. Mina says

    Love this idea, your writing and your photos, too. For the sewing machine challenged among us, is there any reason you couldn’t just hand stitch through the leaves? Do hand sewing needles rip the plastic?


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