DIY: frame art at home

custom picture framing tutorial diy

I worked as a picture framer at a craft store the year after I graduated. It was exciting, hands-on work, and if it weren’t for the corporate environment and poor hours, I may have kept it up a bit longer.

This post was a long time coming. It’s my reply to the hundreds of Pinterest tutorials that suggest I hot glue twine to the back of my frame, use poster board as matting, or just ModPodge the heck out of everything. There is a tested and approved process for picture framing and it’s not too difficult to master the basics.

What you’ll need:

  • Ready-made frame (I thrifted mine)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Scrapbook tape gun or double sided tape
  • Pre-cut mat (I had Michael’s cut one for me out of matboard I had on hand)
  • Artwork
  • Paper backing (butcher or craft paper)
  • Staple Gun (mine is a small upholstery gun)
  • Razor blade or pocket knife
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Picture hanger
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Painter’s tape
  • Carpeted surface (this helps prevent scratching your frame or artwork)

ed1a1. Remove paper backing from frame if it has one. Use needle-nose pliers to remove staples or pegs from back of frame. Remove any previous hardware.

2. Take the glass out of the frame, spray a small amount of glass cleaner, and carefully wipe both sides. Taking the glass out of the frame ensures that particle buildup from the frame is removed before art is placed inside.

3. Remove packaging/backing from art, flip it, and place a line of painter’s tape along the top edge.

4. Extend the tape a little beyond the art to ensure that it doesn’t roll at the corners from humidity over time.

ed2a5. Turn the artwork right side up and carefully align the matting over it. Once it’s in place, press down over the tape edge to secure it.

6. Check for any lint and loose particles, then flip the matted artwork over and place it in the frame. Holding it secure, face the frame toward you and double check for debris and dust that may be stuck under the glass. Turn the frame back around.

7. Hold your staple gun at a slight angle 1/8″ to 1/4″ away from the lip of the frame and insert staples. They can be spaced 2-3″ apart depending on how secure the backing feels. Stapling at an angle ensures that the artwork and backing fit snugly against the glass.

8. Place a line of scrapbooking tape or double-sided tape along the edges of the back of the frame.

ed3a9. Roll out your craft paper over the back of the frame. Feel for the edges of the frame with your hands and press the paper securely over your tape lines. To keep it taut, secure the paper at the top, pull it down tightly and secure it to the bottom, then smooth  it out and secure it on either side.

10. Once the paper feels secure, use a razor blade or small, sharp knife to remove excess paper from around the frame. Slide blade down edge at a 45 degree angle for the cleanest line.

11. Find the top of the frame where you’d like to place your picture hanger. Measure the width of the frame and mark the center top of the frame, making sure the hard frame surface is directly beneath it (you wouldn’t want to hammer into your cardboard backing).

12. Hammer in your picture hanger. It’s sometimes useful to prepare a guide hole with an awl if you have one on hand.


framed artAdmittedly, framing at home requires quite a few tools and a little bit of patience, but once you have everything you need, you can save yourself money and stress by framing things the right way all by yourself.

Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to see your projects if you end up using my tutorial.

tutorial: digital photo film effect

Have you noticed that black and white film, especially older film, has a slight green tinge that distinguishes it from black and white digital photography? I prefer the softness film provides to the harsh gray scale of desaturating a digital image in photo processing software.

Since I use PicMonkey for most of my photo editing, I thought I’d share an easy tutorial on how to make your digital images look like black and white film prints.

1. Open your image in PicMonkey.


2. Click on the Effects button (it looks like a flask), then click on the Black and White effect located under the Basics category. Click Apply.


3. Scroll down to the Time Machine effect, select Trixi, and move the saturation tab to somewhere in the 70-80% range.


4. Go to the Basic Edits category and click Exposure. Adjust the brightness and shadows tabs to achieve desired amount of contrast. It helps to zoom in on the focal point of your image for this part.


5. If cropping is desired, click on Crop and adjust to your heart’s content. I typically set the crop tool to Original Proportions or 4×6.


6. Congratulations! Black and white film perfection.

coffee shop

Compare to a real black and white film image:


diy: velvet skirt

It took me almost 5 hours to complete this relatively simple elastic waist skirt, mostly because I’m horrible at sewing; I’m impatient and make a lot of mistakes as a result. But it’s finished! And I think I’ll actually wear it.

velvet skirt

When I saw this fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics, I recalled American Apparel’s version. Although this velvet isn’t as thick or supple, it still has a nice texture. (P.S. I have some velvet pieces for sale at Water Lily Thrift if you’d rather buy than make a piece for yourself.)

velvet skirtI didn’t follow a pattern. I purchased a yard of fabric (which I had to cut down by about a quarter or a third yard to keep the elastic waist from getting too thick), cropped it to hit at mid-thigh, and sewed a casing for the elastic. I had major trouble with the elastic waist because the knit elastic I purchased kept folding over inside the casing; I recommend buying woven elastic, as it’s a bit sturdier. I used a safety pin fastened to the end of the elastic to push it through the casing.

I left the hem unfinished, as the fabric curls under naturally, but I may finish it off when I get the energy to work on it again.

The total cost for this project was about $10.00. Not super cheap but less than American Apparel’s $38.00 price tag.

Sources: American Apparel skirt, Outfit

diy: studded pullover

I bought a plain pullover on clearance originally intending to embellish it like this one. But when I got to the craft store, the only iron-on animal applique that caught my eye was the same one used in the tutorial and I really didn’t want a shiny fox. I wanted something cool, like a deer or an un-shiny fox.

I brainstormed for entirely too long while walking up and down the aisles of Jo-Ann Fabrics, then found myself back in the applique aisle, considering studded shoulders. I took the plunge, buying two sheets of iron-on studs. The next evening, The Clothes Horse was wearing an ASOS studded-shoulder pullover and I knew I’d made the right decision.

the clothes horse studsstudded pullover diySupplies: Plain pullover, Iron-on studs, Iron

studded shoulder pulloverI caution you against buying a mini iron for, although it was invented specifically for use with iron-on appliques, it doesn’t get hot enough to achieve satisfactory results. It took far too long to convince the glue to melt and the studs to stick. Some are still loose. I should have purchased a regular iron.

spiced chocolate cafe au lait

A simple way to (literally) spice up your morning coffee.

If I had a milk steamer, this whole process would be legit, but since I don’t have one (yet), I have to get creative to make foamy, steamy drinks at home. I also don’t own an espresso machine. Becoming a barista has shown me the error of my ways: I can’t call a blended coffee beverage a latte or mocha because those terms apply to espresso only. Therefore, today I bring you a simple recipe for Spiced Chocolate Cafe Au Lait (coffee and steamed milk) instead.

What you’ll need:

  • Ground medium or dark roast coffee
  • Ground Nutmeg
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • A blender or Magic Bullet
  • Milk
  • Whipped Cream or Marshmallows (optional – clearly, I didn’t add any)


  1. Brew enough coffee for one mug.
  2. Pour desired amount of milk into microwave safe container and heat for 1 or 2 minutes until hot.
  3. Blend coffee, heated milk, 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup, 2 shakes nutmeg, and 3 shakes cinnamon in a blender or Magic Bullet for 15 seconds or until desired amount of foam is created.
  4. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.

home tour: The Dining Room

I finally finished the dining room decor and layout this afternoon. We had makeshift curtains up for the past month and a half, but they weren’t working for me. I lightened a queen-sized tapestry we already owned, then cut it into curtains. I was hesitant to go with the yellow-beige tone in the main room, but it seems I can’t stray far from a retro ’60s/’70s vibe; I guess the house has inspired me.

We’ve been making due with only one lamp in the living/dining area, but when night fell, I couldn’t really see anything while working at my computer from the table. I needed something extremely economical that wouldn’t look too tacky. When World Market sent me a 15% off coupon for my birthday, I decided on a paper lantern. Of course, whenever we settle into a real house someday, we’ll find something more permanent, but this works well for the time being.

Moose carving from antique store, frame made by Indiana artisan, thrifted owl print

We happened upon this Sally Gregory piece from the 1970s at an antique store in Ruckersville about a month ago. Since we knew nothing about the artist, we decided to do some research before purchasing the piece. It turns out that she was best known for her children’s book illustrations; pieces like this rarely ended up in the U.S. since she was known, for the most part, only throughout Britain. I was overjoyed when I walked into the store this morning and found it right where we saw it last! Each section represents a season of the year. The women are bedecked in pretty, flowing garments and the curving black stems and branches recall the style of art nouveau, which is what drew me to the piece initially.

Rose scented candle, ceramic dish handmade by my sister

to do (updated):

(image source)

I have a lot of decorating ideas and very little motivation at the moment. I thought that making a (public) list of my aspirations would help me get started.


  • Make 2 16×20 photo transfers on canvas.
  • Stretch bird fabric on 16×20 canvas.
  • Make 3-4 pillow cases from butterfly and chevron fabrics.
  • Paint plastic toiletry trays yellow and gray-blue.
  • Hang artwork/mirror.

Living room: 

  • Locate inexpensive 3×5 area rug.


  • Finish assembling bookshelves.
  • Paint all furniture a uniform shade.
  • Find inexpensive ottoman.
  • Organize books by subject.

Craft room:

  • Unpack it.


  • Remove dye from towels and re-dye charcoal gray. – oops! they turned out gray-blue
  • Assemble trinkets on window sill.