How to make your own photo mats

Happy Monday, y’all! I’m going to take a little breather this week, and share my blog with some talented guest posters. First up is Jessica.

Hello Shabby Chic Cottage readers! I’m Jessica from Decor Adventures, a professional by day and project addict by night, decorating my new 111 year old house. Today I want to share with you how to cut your own picture mats.  It’s so simple and affordable and the best part is you can customize your own wall hangings to fit your style.

Framing photos and art is one of the most common projects I do. There is a really easy way to cut your own mats, without expensive mat cutter tools. All it takes is a few supplies, some art or a photo to frame and you’ll be creating your own decor in no time! Here’s how to cut your own picture mats.

The supplies you’ll need are:
Picture frames
Mat board
Cutting mat
Exacto knife
Tape or hardware for holding the art in the frame

Of course you also need art or photos you’ll put in the frame and the tape is for taping the art inside the frame if you don’t have another way to hold it in.

All of these can be found at craft or art supply stores. I typically get frames at thrift stores and paint them to the color I want. Mat boards will run about $8 for a large piece that you can use many times. I used scraps for this project.

I used a regular exacto knife, found at craft or art supply stores.

You can prepare the frames any way you wish. These were frames I had which I painted white.


First, measure the size your mat will be which is typically the size of the glass in the frame, and the size frame you buy 8×10, 11×14, etc.

Cut the mat size using your exacto knife.  You can score the mat and cut again if that’s easier for you, sometimes the mat boards are thick.

To measure the size of the inside of the mat which will frame your art/photo, get the piece you are framing and place it on top of the mat. For this project I’m using an old calendar which had quotes I liked. They fit well with these frames because they and the frames were both square.

Here you’ll measure the width you’ll want the mat to be around the entire photo/art. For the most part this will be even, for example, you’ll have an inch (or a few) wide mat on all sides. Sometimes it can be different on the top and sides, but that depends on the piece you are framing.

This is the beauty of this project, you can cut the mat to any size!

As you can see above, I needed this mat to be once inch wide on all sides.  Once you have the measurement of the width of the mat, measure the size onto the back of your mat. The lines you draw will be where you cut the mat out.

Cut out your mat using the ruler and exacto being careful not to cut past the lines you have drawn. If you angle the blade it will give you a beveled look like a mat cutter would. Then you’ll be left with this. Cut mats! {That heart shape was the old art inside one of the frames, I just reused the mat.}


After that you can paint or decorate your mats if you’d like. I painted mine blue for this project.

Then you tape your art/photo to the back of the mat, making sure your piece is centered in the mat as you want it. I used masking tape for this. Something with a medium tack works well and you can always switch out the art.


Voila! You have some art, all cut and matted by you! This blue was spray painted, it worked well on the mat boards.


Lastly, simply put the mats inside your frame, securing them in as the frame allows. Some have metal pieces you twist or bend down.


If your frame doesn’t have either, you can always tape the piece in like I’ve done here. I’ve found this is the case in art you’ve purchased that is sealed on the back, you have to tape the piece in because there are no metal parts to hold it.


And you are finished!



Find a place to display your handiwork, step back and admire 🙂



Making your own art is simple and easy. Let me and Gina know if you try this out, we’d love to see your creations!

Thanks to Gina for having me, please come visit Decor Adventures I’d love to *meet* you!

If you like what you see, please follow me!
Decor Adventures is on Facebook, Twitter and FeedBurner.
Thanks, Jessica! I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that 🙂
See ya tomorrow with another great guest post!
About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. I always wondered how to do that!! Thanks!!

  2. Hi there,

    Is your cutting mat self healing or a glass? I’ve tried cutting mats myself but never tried doing it inside on a mat. My problems stem from where and how. I’ll be cutting my own mats soon!

  3. I never thought about painting them. Thanks for the tip!

  4. so pretty!!

  5. Thanks for that great tutorial. I love the idea of painting the mat. ~~Sherry~~

  6. Great tutorial!

  7. Hey! I think I used to have a picture with that same heart mat and frame. It was kind of a gold colored frame, wasn’t it???? Got it at one of those decorating parties that used to be so popular. I might still have it in storage somewhere!

  8. Hi all,

    Jenny – My cutting mat is a plastic type material, definitely not glass.

    Loribeth – Yes, the frame was gold and yes it was from one of those decorating parties! My mom had one and I found a matching one at a thrift store, can you believe that?

    Thanks all for the sweet comments 🙂 And thanks again to Gina for having me!

    -Jessica @ Decor Adventures

  9. Danielle says:

    Hello — Where do you buy mat board that’s not precut?

    • Gina Luker says:

      Here you can get it at Hobby Lobby – but I’m sure you could find it in almost any craft store

  10. What kind of paint do you use to paint your mats?


  1. […] is Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage. I also guest posted for her on How to Cut Your Own Photo Mats and she told me it’s one of her top 10 posts of all time. […]

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