Bringing Some Fall Colours Inside : Making a Garland with Real Maple Leaves

simple garland made from real maple leaves and twine decoration

After I saw that the brightly coloured leaves of one of the maple trees in our neighbourhood had begun to fall, I went out and gathered up a bunch and stuck them between the pages of a magazine. I actually did this more than once, because every time I passed the spot I noticed just one more leaf that was so pretty that I had to have it. And then there was another, and another and so on.

It was only when I opened the magazine on the weekend and took the leaves out, that I realized that I had collected over 85 leaves. Here is how I made a garland with them. You certainly don't need as many leaves to make one too!

leaves and twine garland decoration for fall coloured maple leaves

handmade maple leaf and twine fall garland decoration

diy maple leaf garland fall decoration

Supplies : Twine, a crochet hook - size 5 (optional ... the chain is easy enough to make by hand), some maple leaves.

Steps :

(1) To prepare the leaves, gather when they are very fresh and pliable. Make sure to select leaves that have the entire stem still attached, including the bit at the end where the stem is wider where it was attached to the tree. This part should be intact if the leaves fell off the tree naturally, but if it has been broken off it won't work for this particular project.

Place them between the pages of a magazine or newspaper, and then put a weight on top such as a pile of books. Leave them to dry out completely; it takes at least a week.

Alternatively : if you want a decoration for a party, that you don't need to last, you could make this with fresh leaves a few hours before your event. The leaves will eventually curl up but it would look good long enough for your gathering. This would be great for a Halloween party decoration.

pressed maple leaf with part that attaches to branch intact

(2) To prepare the the cord onto which the leaves will be attached, you have to make a chain, either by using a crochet hook, or by hand as described in this post. You want the stitches to be fairly loose because you'll be hanging the leaves by passing that wider end part of the stem through the holes, but if the stitches are too loose the leaves won't stay. Make it as long as you'd like with the understanding that it will stretch a bit, and that a more lovely garland will dip down in the centre. My chain was 350 links long, for a garland that will hang on a wall that is 7 1/2 feet wide.

crocheted twine chain cord to make garland decoration

(3) Hang the cord. I have two small nails in the walls but you can use hooks or tape. The garland will be relatively fragile, so consider this when you choose your location. Also, as dried leaves will burn, make sure it won't be hanging near candles.

twine chain cord to make leaf garland crocheted or created by hand

(4) Begin attaching your dried leaves, by passing the wide end of the stem through the holes in the chain. They stay in there very well. I started by sticking in the largest leaves and filled in the garland with smaller ones, spacing out the various colours and natural patterns.

making a leaf garland with real leaves

how to attach leaves to twine chain to make fall garland

(5) The number of leaves you use is up to you. I wanted mine to be very full so I used 85 leaves, but it also looked cute at the beginning after I'd only put in about 10.

(6) Optional : find the best helper in all the land to assist ...

eddie helping

eddie helping 02

Note : The leaves will probably curl up a little, as you can see in these pictures, no matter how long they have stayed within the pages of the magazine. That is unavoidable for most kinds of maple leaves, (although there is one around here that will drop bright crimson leaves sometime in November, that I used to make this display last year ... those leaves stayed completely flat after drying).

There is a way of avoiding having them curl, by soaking them in a glycerin and water solution but that adds what seems like a lot of extra work for what is meant to be a temporary decoration, and I don't mind the natural look of some curling. I would advise that you leave them between the pages right until you're ready to put them in the garland. I found that they curled up within a few of hours after I'd removed them and made the garland, but then they settled ... what you see in these pictures is what they look like a few days later. I expect the leaves to look like this until I take the garland down after Canadian Thanksgiving, which is this weekend.

That said, if you do plan to display your garland for longer than a couple of days you do want to go through the process of pressing them while they dry as described, otherwise they will become unattractively curled as they dry out, as shown in the photo below. Both these leaves are from the same tree and were brought inside at the same time.

pressed leaf versus unpressed leaf

As this is a temporary decoration I'll be throwing the leaves into the compost after taking it down and saving the cord to use for another purpose or to make a leaf garland again next fall. Or, since it's only a chain, you can unravel easily and reuse the twine.

close up of handmade maple leaf garland

fall decorative garland made with crocheted twine chain and maple leaves

diy fall maple leaf garland using real leaves and twine

handmade fall maple leaf garland using real leaves and twine

handmade garland with colored fall maple leaves and twine diy

Thanks a lot for taking a look. Please let me know if you make a leaf garland too!
xo loulou

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24 Responses to Bringing Some Fall Colours Inside : Making a Garland with Real Maple Leaves

  1. Julie says:

    this is SO beautiful, and I especially love that it is entirely compostable, once you are done with the garland, and it looks so incredibly beautiful! what a fabulous idea for a thanksgiving decoration.

    • Loulou says:

      Thank you Julie. With minimal space for storing decorations, I like the idea of just composting it after the season is over and saving the cord to reuse. I’m happy you like it!

  2. Vix says:

    Goodness me, that is beautiful even if Eddie doesn’t look quite so impressed. I’d want to keep that up all year long. I love the table cloth too, make a fab dress! xxx

    • Loulou says:

      I know, it is so hard to impress Eddie! I’m glad you like the garland. The tablecloth fabric would make a cool dress. I could see you wearing it.

  3. Gaia says:

    This is so beautiful !!

  4. Vanessa says:

    Wow, such a beautiful decoration. *__*
    Lovely greets Nessa

  5. Hollie says:

    WOW!!! Looks awesome!!! And the photos are stunning!

    • Loulou says:

      Thanks Hollie. I guess there aren’t an abundance of coloured maple leaves where you are, so on this one you can live vicariously through me, just as I do for the nice weather you guys get to enjoy all winter long!

  6. Corinn says:

    really beautiful! It inspired me to go outside and pick up all the lovely leaves I could find. I don’t know if we have enough, but we will keep looking…

  7. Kaisa says:

    This looks so awesome!

  8. This garland is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for sharing! I think it would be great for my new linky party starting this Saturday at 8pm called “Found & Foraged” Can’t wait to party with you at

  9. I love your fall garland. I was also very inspired by the leaves this year, so I painted leaves in Christmas colors to make garland for my Christmas tree. I also tried braiding some dried out leaves from one of my shrubs for the cord. It didn’t work so well. For now, I am re-purposing some plastic rope. I love your ideas!!

  10. Nadya says:

    What an awesome idea! Simple and impressive!
    I collect leaves every fall to make bouquets, but the bouquets look too regular. Now I know what I will do next time!
    thanks for sharing

  11. Pingback: 26 DIY Leaf Garland Ideas | Guide Patterns

  12. Tay says:

    This looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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