I decided it was about time for me to share some patterns for 3D leafy trees. Last winter I shared some patterns for 3D evergreen trees, which look great for winterscapes, but I like to use leafy trees for spring and summer villages. Trees add interest to your village, and 3D trees add depth. I like to glue them onto my bases, or scatter them around between my houses. While many people like to use pre-made sisal trees, and you can get them in various sizes, every tree looks the same to me. I want more variety. For my evergreen trees I made 3D trees by taking 2D tree cutting dies, cutting them multiple times, and then folding and gluing them together. They work great for me as I have to glue two aluminum cans together anyway to get color on both sides.
Recently, though, I decided I wanted to add a 3D tree in with one of my kits. Knowing that somewhere I had seen a pattern for 3D trees where you slide parts of the trees together using slots, I went searching on Google and came across this post from Lia Griffith. Make sure you file it away for when you want to make spooky trees for Halloween!
I tried experimenting with her slot method with leafy trees, and for the most part it works well. What I discovered is that the tree does not need to be perfectly symmetrical, but if you start with a tree that is very obviously lopsided, your finished 3D tree will look a bit weird too.
I also designed my trees with slots that fit Cricut Kraftboard, as that is what I make my kits out of. Be aware that if you are going to use heavier chipboard, you may have to widen the slots a little with scissors or a craft knife. Of course, you can also use any of these patterns to make 3D trees where you need to glue fronts and backs together too. Just weld a little solid rectangle over the slot, and then add a score line down the tree before you cut it.
I used several different construction materials to make my trees. The ones below were made with just white Cricut Kraftboard, ready to paint. For my finished models I used natural colored Kraftboard, cardstock, holographic vinyl, decorative papers, and even a little glitter.
How You Make 3D Leafy Trees
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Materials to Make 3D Leafy Trees
- My free pattern for 3D Leafy Trees from the A Cottage in the Forest Library – get the password for free by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.
- Green Cardstock, Patterned Cardstock, Cricut Kraftboard or aluminum cans – your choice! If you use patterned cardstock, I love tiny green patterns. Buy solid core cardstock if possible. Otherwise you will need to color your edges with a green sharpie.
- Decorative Papers, Holographic Green Sparkle Vinyl or Shimmer Vinyl for the leaves.
- Natural Colored Cricut Kraftboard. At first I cut all of my trees out of just green. Then one time I made the trunk brown. It is so much more realistic. I’ve designed 3 of my trees so that you can make the trunk brown and then glue on green adhesive vinyl or patterned paper for the leaves. I am suggesting the Kraftboard sampler pack as it is very versatile and you can use it for many future patterns – including spooky Halloween trees, gingerbread houses and any of my cottages. Use Ranger Distress Inks to give the natural Kraftboard more variations in color.
- Various colors of glitter and Modge Podge (optional – for cardboard.) Use if you want to glitter the leaves of your cardboard trees.
- Glue – If using cardstock, I suggest Art Glitter Glue. If using Cardboard, I like Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue. For aluminum cans, I use Aleene’s The Ultimate Glue.
- A Cutting Machine like a Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore or X-Acto knife or Cricut TrueControl Knife. I know the Cricut TrueControl knife looks expensive next to an X-Acto knife. I have both on my work desk, the X-Acto for aluminum cans and the TrueControl Knife for cardstock and cardboard. I really like the TrueControl knife because the blade doesn’t twist loose while you are working. I am constantly having to tighten my X-Acto knife.
- An Embossing Machine and folders. Embossing your tree can give it more depth, but with leafy trees I find it isn’t as important as when I make evergreen trees.. Look for embossing folders with tight swirling patterns like the Kwan Crafts Leaves Embossing folder, or my always favorite Crackle folder by Darice.
- Folkart Multi-surface satin finish acrylic paints in green (optional, if painting cardboard.)
Steps to Make the 3D Leafy Trees
- Download the 3D Leafy Trees pattern from A Cottage in the Forest library
- Import the 3D Leafy Trees pattern into your design software and cut. Emboss if desired.
- Follow the cutting line diagram to slide your tree pieces together. Glue if desired.
How To Make 3D Leafy Trees
Download the 3D Leafy Trees Pattern
Download the 3D Leafy Trees pattern from A Cottage in the Forest Library. Don’t forget to unzip it. The pattern is available in multiple formats – as a SVG (scalable vector graphics) or DXF (drawing eXchange format). Currently, I do not have a Silhouette or Brother Machine to test the corresponding files. If you have problems using those files please let me know so I can troubleshoot what might be going wrong.
Import the 3D Leafy Trees Pattern into Design Software and Cut
Decide how many pieces of trees you want to glue together. If you use all 4 pieces, your trees will look leafier. If you want it to look more sparse, only use pieces. B, C & D.
Vary the height or width of the tree patterns to make even more trees that look different from the ones you already have. Be aware that if you vary the width of the patterns, you may have to widen the slots with scissors or a craft knife.
Cut out all of your cardstock, cardboard or aluminum can pieces using my pattern. Emboss as desired.
How To Make the Trees
Cutting Line Guide …
Lay your tree pieces out, matching the cutting lines on your pieces to the red cutting lines in the picture above. Your trees may look different than those in the picture. It is the cutting lines that are important.
It is easiest to add the holographic sparkle vinyl, decorative paper, or glitter to leaves while the pieces are flat. From left to right I used: green cardstock, brown cardstock with shimmer vinyl, natural colored Kraftboard with glitter glued on with Modge Podge, natural colored Kraftboard with holographic sparkle vinyl, and natural colored Kraftboard with decorative paper.
Constructing the Tree
Slide piece B into the bottom of piece A until the bottom of the two trees align.
Slide the bottom of piece C onto the combined A & B from the top, making sure there are two pieces on each side. Many of my trees are not symmetrical, so you will either want to ensure that all matching sides are next to each other, OR, that you alternate each side. Each option will give a different look to your tree. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.
Slide the bottom of piece D onto the combined A, B and C from the top, making sure you slide it into the slot in Piece C.
Adjust the branches and the trunks so they are spaced evenly around the tree. If you want the ability to later fold your tree flat for storage, stop here. Otherwise, I find it helpful to glue the bottom pieces of the trunk together so that they maintain their star shape for added stability. As you make more trees, you may want to pause between each step to glue the trunks of the trees together. For some trees, you may also want to glue the top of the tree together.
That’s it! Enjoy adding your 3D Leafy Trees to your Holiday Village! I would love to see pictures of your village using the trees. Please share a photo of it with me by emailing me at Jackie@acottageintheforest.com.
FREE CUT FILES & PATTERN FOR THE 3D LEAFY TREES
Get the password for the library with the free 3D Leafy Trees pattern and SVG/DXF files here by filling out this form:
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