Saturday, April 30, 2011

Patterned photo mats

I've had this idea floating around in my head for months for a patterned photo mat and finally made time to try it.  I really love patterned paper and photo mats and I thought the two should get together. It is a great way to add some interest to otherwise plain frames. I used it to frame my Mothers' Day Text Art projects that I made for the many mothers in my life.  You can read how to make them here or here.

 You may wonder why one needs to attach patterned paper to a photo mat when one could just use the paper in place of the mat? To that question, I have three answers:

1.  The photo mat provides structure
2.  The photo mat provides depth and interest
3.  I've tried it without the photo mat and it just looks less spectacular

On the easy meter, this project rates somewhere between ridiculously simple and surprisingly fast,  so gather some supplies and give it a go.

Patterned Photo Mat Supplies
  • Scissors
  • Picture frame with a mat (if you find yourself with a matless frame, you can pick up a 2-pack of 5x7 mats at Dollar Tree or buy just about any conceivable size of mat at a craft store like Robert's or Michael's)
  • Spray adhesive
  • The most fabulous 12 x 12 patterend paper you can find ( one sheet for a 5x7 mat, two sheets with the same pattern for an 8 x10 mat, more sheets if you are getting crazy with a big frame)

Patterned Photo Mat Tutorial

1. Lay your mat on the back of your paper and trace it ( if you lay it on the two outer edges, you save yourself a little effort).

2. Cut out the mat shape from your patterned paper.  If you are doing a mat with a center opening larger than  5x7, you'll need to trace the mat on two pieces of paper and then cut and piece them together, trying to match up the pattern if possible the way you would with a wall paper seam

3. Spray a thin coat of spray adhesive on the front of the mat, quickly lay the paper cutout on top of the mat, position it and smooth it out.

4. Let it dry for a few minutes

5.  Assemble your artwork or photo in the frame with your pretty patterned mat.

6.  Hang your frame, stand back and say, "Sweet Sister Frances, I am brilliant!"

A Few Tips
  •  8x10 frames with the 5x7 mat inside  are the easiest and fastest to make
  • If you decide to do a larger frame and mat, choose your paper pattern wisely.  If you are trying to piece together two or three sheets of pin-striped paper or other very symmetrical pattern, and make them line up perfectly, you'll drive yourself batty and your seams will be more visible.  Random patterns are your friend.
  • If you are piecing paper together, don't overlap, take the time to measure and cut it so you have smooth seams.
  • The gray frame in the first photo used to be this Wal-Mart wonder in a former life

  • Be careful where you store use your spray adhesive.  That fine mist of glue sticks to everything in a 12-foot radius.  Also, spray adhesive doesn't perform well if stored in a cold garage, so keep it at room temperature and shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture before using.


  1. I absolutely love, love, love your blog! I just started blogging about a month ago and have been so inspired by your ideas! Your crafts are always so classy and chic and it sorta makes me want to throw everything I do in the trash and start all over!:) ha ha! Just wanted to let you know I gave your blog an award over at my blog-thanks for inspiring me!

  2. Thanks for linking!! are over 400!! Great job! :)

  3. Hi, friend! I'm admiring all your creative posts here so can you please share them with us at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop? Hope to see you there at the party :)

  4. I love this idea! I totally copied it!!! :)
    Love your blog! Keep the good ideas coming! :)