DIY Upholstered Frames

Iris Apfel once said “More is more and less is a bore.” If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I proudly live by that maximalist mantra. So it’s no surprise that, for months, I’ve been collecting white, minimalist frames, just waiting for that perfect upcycling project. I had toyed around with the idea of creating patterns with acrylic paints but my past failures trying to achieve clean lines with stenciling had me brainstorming an alternative plan . . . fabric!!! Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner?! Upholstering frames with fabric is surprisingly easy – as long as take your time with it. And with all the gorgeous fabrics out there in the world, it’s literally impossible to make just one. I dare you.

Before we start, let’s talk about fabric and frames. You’ll want to use cotton here. I like quilting cotton because it has a tight weave and no stretch. You’ll want to use a frame that isn’t too detailed – the flatter the surface, the better. If you use a frame with some dimension, it’s best to use a busier fabric without a geometric pattern. This way, you can cut into the fabric without distorting the pattern.

Start by cutting the fabric so that its dimensions exceed those of the frame by at least 3-4 inches on each side. If the fabric has wrinkles, iron it flat before gluing. Glue the front side only with a fan brush. I like using a fan brush because it’s easier to get a very thin application. You want a very very thin and even amount of glue here. You don’t want any of the glue to seep through the fabric.

Turn the frame upside down and line the frame up against the back of the fabric. I like to use the pattern as a guide. Press the frame down firmly against the fabric.

Flip the frame over and run your fingers over each side of the frame, making sure to flatten out any air bubbles or wrinkles. Double check the alignment and work quickly before the glue dries.

Flip the frame back over and allow it to dry for a few minutes. Then, take a ruler and measure the thickness of the frame. Using the ruler, draw a square with the dimensions equal to that measurement. So if the thickness of the frame is 3/4″, then draw a square 3/4″ x 3/4″ – with the outside corner touching the outside corner of the frame. Do this on all four corners.

Then go back and draw a diagonal line through the square and extending past the square.

Repeat on all 4 sides and then cut along the lines and around the sqaures.

With the scissors, snip along the inside face of the square. You’ll make 4 cuts in the exact same position. This creates a tab to help hide the corners.

Fold up each side of the fabric, stretching it over the backside of the frame.

Now that all the edges are trimmed to size, you can finish gluing. Apply a very thin amount of glue only along one side (the side with the tab attached) of the frame.

Fold the fabric up and onto the glued side. Use your thumbs and run them up in a vertical motion (bottom up) to prevent wrinkles and bubbles. I like to start in the middle of the frame and work my way out on both sides.