Free Whimsical Photo Mats

I love decorating with photographs but I am not willing to pay more for a paper mat than a frame. There are times when your photo is not big enough to fill the frame, or you may want to tie it in to a theme or a color, or you may simply want to a jazz up a plain picture in a frame. Here's an easy way I found to give pictures some extra character. Best of all, it's free!

I keep a rag bag of clothes of all types that are stained or ripped. When I have a photo I need a mat for, I find some fabric that matches the colors or the mood of the photograph (or the frame or area it's going in). I cut strips slightly wider than the area I need to cover and I lay them directly onto the glass inside the frame, overlapping the outside of the frame just a bit. I put the two lengthwise ones down, then the horizontal ones, and carefully lay the photograph right on top. Then I double-check that it's all straight in front and secure it in place. The extra bulk of the fabric helps keep the photo snug in the frame.

I don't bother trimming the edges on some fabric. The picture above was made with strips of a denim shirt and the edges helped give it the right look. However, if you don't want raw edges you can simply turn under the edges and secure them with a few dabs of glue.

You can also trim the fabric with pinking shears for another look (that would look cute with a gingham fabric on a baby picture). Or you can cut creatively and use sections that are already hemmed on the piece you're cutting (for instance, cut your strips from the hemmed bottom of a skirt).

Another option is to use lace or ribbon scraps. It's really lovely if you use some ribbon to decorate in a room and then incorporate the same ribbon in your art. Along those same lines, if you make your own window valences, throw pillows or other accessories, use strips of that material to mat your art and photographs. It will really pull everything together!

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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
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