I recently designed a large wall of picture frames in my dining room (Pinterest-inspired of course). Having picked up several of the frames at flea markets and yard sales, a few of them lacked mats. As an interim fix, I used the white back of some wrapping paper – how is that for frugal? I walked past the wall a few days ago and realized that the design as a whole lacked dimension and color. I love the contrast of my more colorful photos with their plain-colored mats, but some of the other prints just lay a little flat.
I devised this easy DIY fix to add personality to a previously lackluster picture frame. I love the outcome, and will use it in the future when my rooms need a quick design spruce up (before I am ready to undertake a complete redecorating overhaul). Out with the boring, in with the fabulous!
- The fabric will add depth to any picture.
- A picture that is detail-heavy might benefit from a plain textured muslin or canvas.
- Use your own fabric collection or bring your pictures with you to the store to get a feel for what will make an interesting background without taking away from the picture content.
- Get creative with your fabric choices, pick an underused color in the photograph and go crazy with it in your fabric choice.
- The possibilities are endless – get your creative juices flowing!
- Cardboard (I recycled a few shipping boxes for this project. If your fabric is graphic heavy or colored, you can probably get away with cardboard boxes with logos on it. If your fabric is light colored or thin, make sure you use plain cardboard with no graphics – they will show through)
- Box cutter
- Picture frame(s)
- Hot glue gun
- Fabric glue (I used Aleene’s Fabric Fusion)
- Lint-free cloth (optional, not pictured)
- Foam paintbrush (optional, not pictured)
DIY Fabric Picture Frame Mats
Difficulty Level: Easy
1. Plug in the hot glue gun.
2. Remove the back of the picture frame. Lay it on your cardboard piece and trace around it with pencil or pen.
3. Lay the traced cardboard piece on top of another piece of cardboard or cutting mat if you have one. (This is to avoid cutting through and ruining your tabletop)
4. Using your box cutter, carefully cut along your traced lines and remove the resulting piece. Discard the remains. Important: Make sure cardboard piece fits into your frame before going to next step. Trim any extra if necessary.
5. Lay the cut cardboard piece over your fabric. This does not need to be a perfect shape, cut the fabric approximately 1/2″-1″ larger than the cardboard on each side. Note: If using cardboard with logos, place the side with the most color face up on the backside of the fabric (see below).
6. Using the hot glue gun, dispense the glue along one entire side of the cardboard. Firmly pull the fabric over the side and affix it to the wet glue. Press firmly along the length of cardboard. Pick up the cardboard piece and look at the front side – if there is any bunching, take each end of the fabric in your hands and pull to straighten it out. Allow the glue to dry for about 1 minute.
7. Repeat step 6, on the opposite side you just glued. Important: this time, make sure you pull the fabric taut when affixing the fabric for a smooth surface.
8. Glue fabric to the cardboard on the remaining two sides.
9. Eye or measure the placement of your photograph on the newly fabric-covered cardboard.
10. Using your fabric glue, apply thin lines around the edges of the back of your photograph and throughout the middle OR use a foam paintbrush to apply the glue. Use sparingly with a thin layer or the paper will bubble & photograph ruined.
11. Attach to the fabric. Press firmly across the whole photograph. Use a lint-free cloth (I used my shirt sleeve) to “wipe” the photograph firmly to make sure the whole picture is attached. Let dry for at least 30 minutes.
12. Re-assemble the frame. It will be a snug fit. Depending on how thick your cardboard, fabric or dried hot glue is, all the pieces of the frame may not fit. If this happens, just replace the original cardboard/wood frame back with the newly fabric-covered cardboard.
Tada! You now have a finished product. Here are a few other frames that I completed earlier in the day – not quite as colorful but I love the texture of the fabrics in contrast to my photos.
I would love to see your finished products! Send me a link to pictures of your project in the comments section below.
Have a blessed day and thanks for reading!
*Shout out to Etoile-du-nord for the stellar custom Photoshop shapes – get yours for free here!