Framing Tips: An Update

More than a year ago I wrote a post about some DIY ideas I had for framing art.  Some things haven’t changed much, the first sentence in that post reads, “I woke up this morning to the sound of a torrential downpour.  The rain lasted all morning and the light was flat and gray.”  But while the weather hasn’t improved, my method for DIY framing on the cheap has.

The impetus for revisiting that tutorial came from some art I recently bought on Etsy, including this original acrylic landscape and a $2 portrait card, both from Isabella Di Sclafani (who did the Jane Eyre print in the Chamber of Secrets), and this print by Israeli artist Tali, whose Etsy store is called TushTush.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsI like all of these pieces so much, and was determined not to add them to the towering stacks of unframed art already inhabiting many corners of our house.  So I read through my old post, made some tweaks to the process, then assembled my materials.


  • Poster board
  • Fabric
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Glue, Mod Podge, or double sided tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Ruler (I highly recommend a clear acrylic one)
  • Cutting Mat
  • Frames (I used ones from the thrift store)
  • Pencil

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats
Step One:
Lay the glass pane from your frame on a piece of poster board and trace around it. Cut it out using either scissors or a utility knife.  Center your art on your cut poster board, and trace around it. You want your opening to be smaller than your art, so measure in about 1/8″ from all sides of your traced line, and use the utility knife and ruler to cut it out.

Here is a photo of two cut mats; I made the one around the piece on the left quite a bit larger than the portrait itself because I wanted to do a double mat:

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Two:

Cut a piece of fabric just slightly larger than the outer edges of your mat.  If necessary, iron it to get the wrinkles out, then lay it out on a flat surface.

Step Three:

Take your cut poster board outside (I did one at a time) and apply spray adhesive following the directions on the can.  It is really sticky, so I suggest using a hard, flat surface to spray on (last time I used a sheet and it was a mess).

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Four:

Carry your mat board back inside and lay it sticky side down on the fabric you cut and laid out.  Gently press the mat onto the fabric then flip it over and smooth out any creases.  When I did this project a year ago, I tried to do this step outside and the combination of wind and grit and stickiness was a nightmare.  I strongly recommend having the spray station outside and doing everything else inside.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Five:

When the glue has set, use scissors or a utility knife to trim the excess fabric from the edges of the board.  The outer edge will most likely be covered by your frame, so you don’t need to worry about making a perfect cut.  Use your utility knife to make an ‘x’ in the opening of your mat board (image on the right).

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Six:

Trim off the points of your triangles, then use Mod Podge, glue, or double-sided tape to adhere them to the back of your mat board.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Seven:

Reassemble your frames!  You’re done!

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsBy following the same steps listed above, but doing it twice, I made a double mat for the little lady portrait, and I really love the way it turned out.  She’s a sweet and quirky addition to our hallway.

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

close up hallwayThe landscape hangs in our living room above Norma Jean, who is still awaiting new clothes.  Looking at this photo I wonder if I may have hung it a little high relative to the chair, but the height is consistent with the rest of the art in the room so I’m not sure.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsThe colors of the painting are a nice complement for Beatrice, who is on the opposite wall.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsI decided to use a floral fabric for the other portrait, and I think the pattern and colors work well with her winsome expression.

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

The bottom of this mat is a little thicker than the top – there are more details on the thought behind this in the original post.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsShe’s hanging on the blue walls in our dining room, and is doing a good job of making the early nights feel moody rather than gloomy.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsThanks for reading along – if any of you try this project I’d love to see! Mera and I are taking next week off from posting to enjoy Thanksgiving with our families; have a wonderful week and we’ll see you back here on Monday, November 28th!


10 responses on “Framing Tips: An Update

  1. Nina

    Nice job, Katie, and very helpful.

    “Moody” was exactly the word I was going to use. All of your choices (fabric included) are intriguing: the expressions on the women’s faces really draw you in and make you wonder what’s on their minds. And the landscape (my favorite) makes me want to be there. What’s behind the tree line? It’s worth a swim to find out, I think.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

  2. Susanna-Cole King

    These look so beautiful, Katie! I especially love your pairing of the floral fabric with the portrait by Tali. (I love her work, as well, and have several of her prints, plus a tiny canvas which is darling). I have art all over my walls and am always adding more, so tips on framing are always much appreciated. ^_^

  3. Carol Bryner

    These all came out so well. It’s so clever of you to use cloth to cover mats that would otherwise just be ordinary or boring. And it seems a bold move to use a floral on the “flapper lady” (she looks like a 1920’s woman to me with that hairdo) to give her a little more interest.

    I love the landscape. It might just be a little too high. I’m always sensitive to art that’s hung too high. But it’s hard to tell without seeing the whole room. Your mat and frame really flatter it. And what is that other lady looking at? Is that a cabinet full of fabric? Napkins? She seems to be looking at it with quizzical interest.

    1. Katie Post author

      Cameron’s stipulation on the hallway lady (who is looking at the linen cabinet), was only that she not turn that gaze on him. Thanks Carol and I hope you have a great week!

  4. Gillianne

    The printed fabric was an inspired choice (and wouldn’t have occurred to me; thanks for the idea). Re: the landscape, might you have a use for a narrow ledge below that picture, to hold an interesting small rock, branch, postcard, photos, or plant?

    Happy time off to you both.

    1. Katie Post author

      I think that’s a great idea! It’s not so much that the painting is hung too high, it’s just that it’s hung high relative to that low-slung chair (new tongue-twister). I like the idea of something 3-dimensional there, too. Thanks Gillianne!

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