Heather loves crafting and photography. She enjoys sharing her favorite DIY projects with her friends and readers.
DIY Collage Projects With Photos
This fun project has been 2+ years in the making and finally made it to fruition. You can customize this project for any holiday, celebration, or event. My favorite thing about this collage frame is that you can swap out the photos any time you want, making this piece of décor very versatile. This tutorial covers how I edited and printed my photos as well as how I put my framed collage together. While this project is pretty straightforward, I've included tips and tricks that helped me complete this project.
The project I created this article around is specifically for a wedding collage, but, as I already mentioned, this project works well for a large variety of holidays and events.
What Is Instagram and How Do I Use it?
I've been happily using Instagram for two years now. If you're unfamiliar, Instagram is a free app for smartphone users. It allows you to take square photos, apply decorative filters, blurs, and borders, and post them to your Instagram account for your friends and followers to see. If desired, you can also set your account to private, limiting visibility to only those you allow.
What Are Hashtags?
Instagram also uses hashtags, enabling you to "tag" your photos with certain keywords or phrases. This process is very similar to Twitter. The hashtag system allows you to find photos and people with similar interests. For example, whenever I post a cute picture of my dog, I always hashtag her photo with the following hashtags: #mydog #alaskanhusky #myhusky.
Once posted, my hashtags become links, and clicking on them will show me all the recent photos with the same hashtags. I can then browse photos of other huskies and, many times, I gain new followers or people to follow who also have a pet husky.
How to Use Instagram Without Posting?
It's important to think of Instagram more in terms of a social media application than photo-editing software because it was designed with the former idea in mind. I've used a ton of photo apps over the years, and Instagram remains my favorite and the easiest to use.
The application is very straight forward and there aren't a lot of bells, whistles, or options. If you hate using confusing apps like I do, I'd urge you to try Instagram. After all, it's free and I promise it's not overwhelming. For this project, I applied the filter "earlybird" because I love its vintage glow and charming border.
For the longest time, I thought it was impossible to play around with pictures without posting them to my account. Deciding which wedding photos to use for this project was definitely a process. I wanted to be able to apply filters without posting a bunch of random wedding photos to my Instagram feed. It turns out there's a trick to this and it's actually quite simple.
First, be sure the photos you want are located on your phone. If you emailed them to yourself (from your desktop computer to your iPhone, like I did), make sure they are saved to your phone before activating airplane mode since you can't access your email in airplane mode.
- Put your phone in "Airplane Mode."
- Open Instagram and apply borders and or filters.
- Click share.
Your photo should have a failure message next to it but it will be saved on your phone images. If you're having difficulty locating your photo, check all of your photo folders on your phone, especially your Instagram file. Your failed Instagram upload should have a circular arrow and an "x" next to it. Tapping the first button will "retry" posting your photo (although it won't as long as it's in airplane mode). Tapping the "x" will remove the new photo from your upload queue. Leaving it there, it will most likely post as soon as airplane mode is turned off and you're connected to the internet again. If you don't want it to post and show up in your feed, be sure to tap "x" to delete it as soon as you see it has been saved to your photo collection on your phone.
Where Can I Get Instagram Photos Printed?
Once I was happy with my photos, I connected my iPhone to my computer and copied and pasted the files to a flash drive. (You can even order photos online by uploading them to the Walgreens Digital Photo Printing Website. Simply pick up your finished photos at your neighborhood Walgreens.) I then took my flash drive to my local Walgreens and printed them out using the photo kiosk at the photo counter.
If you can do simple functions on a personal computer or smartphone, you shouldn't have any issues using the photo kiosk. If you've never used one of the photo machines before and you're nervous or intimidated, don't be afraid to ask for help. The girl who regularly works in the photo processing department is always so happy to help me out if I have a problem.
Walgreens offers photo finishing in square photo print sizes 4X4 and 8X8-- perfect for Instagram photos. My Instagrams are printed in 4x4, in case you were wondering. I spent less than $4.00 to print my Instagram photos for this project. Who knew printing Instagrams was so easy? Once your Instagram photos are printed and picked up, you're ready to make this collage frame.
DIY an Old Frame
After you have your printed instagram photos, the next most important component is your frame. I picked up my frame at a local antique store over two years ago. I fell in love with this frame the minute I saw it and it was only $7.00! It didn't have glass or a backing but I bought it knowing I was going to use it in some kind of DIY project. Thankfully, my frame was already painted and the paint job is one of my favorite things about it.
How to Paint a Frame to Look Shabby Chic
You can achieve a look similar to mine by using three shades of paint. This frame is painted in a Tiffany blue color and details are highlighted using white and brownish red paint. Paint your entire frame a solid color. When dry, use a rag and rub tiny amounts of white paint over scroll work or carvings on your frame. This simulates wear and distress. Using a Q-tip and brownish red paint, you can messily paint random globs and streaks along the edges of your frame. This simulates chipping paint and gives a fake peek-a-boo effect of darker wood showing through. If you need inspiration, surf the web (especially Pinterest boards) and take a trip to your local paint counter.
Hanging Frames Versus Tabletop Frames
If you plan to hang your finished frame, check to see if your frame already has hardware on the back. If not, you will also need to pick up a picture hanger from the hardware store. They're very inexpensive and you usually get two or more in a package. This frame can also sit on a tabletop or mantle and lean against the wall behind it, negating the need for hanging hardware. Both looks are lovely.
How to Save Money on This Project
The frame is probably going to be the most expensive component for this project. To save money, you can explore Goodwill, yard sales, craft stores, Craigslist, etc. Clearance sections are also a great place to look since dings and defects will be easily hidden if not welcomed. Decide if you want to purchase a frame or make your own. Depending on what is available in your area, one option may be more expensive than the other. Consider making your frame out of reclaimed or recycled wood (i.e. using the lumber from a wooden pallet or lumber pieces that a neighbor might be throwing away).
You Will Need:
- Instagram Prints
- A Large Picture Frame
- Wire Cutters
- Wire (I used floral wire)
- Staple Gun
Ideas for Decorating Clothespins:
- Old Book or Dictionary Pages
- Scrapbook Paper
- Old Greeting Cards or Postcards
- Playing Cards
- Contact Paper
DIY Decorative Clothespins
The light turquoise clothespins in this project were purchased long ago at Michael's on clearance. I purchased them because they were only $1.00 and were too cute to pass up. I never planned on using them in conjunction with my favorite frame and it just so happened that the colors matched almost perfectly. I didn't have enough blue clothespins for this project so I gave some of my plain Jane clothespins some scrapbook paper makeovers.
This is a perfect way to use up scraps of scrapbooking paper that one might otherwise throw away. Simply place three glue dots on a plain wooden clothespin (top, middle near spring coil, and bottom). Position your clothespin onto paper (glue dot side down) and press to adhere. Use scissors or an Exacto knife to trim. If working with new or large pieces of paper, start by placing a clothespin at the corner edge of the paper and simply trim the other side(s). See diagrams below. This makes the whole process quick and easy while reducing cutting/trimming and helping to keep your cuts straight.
Step 1: Arrange Photos
This is a great time to figure out how you want your collage to look. Will there be a theme? Will the pictures tell a story? Keep in mind that you can change the sequence of photos at any time. I mostly did this to help me vertically space my rows of photos.
My photos tell the story of my wedding day and are mostly in chronological order although that wasn't entirely planned. The first photos were taken while my husband and I were getting ready. We hadn't seen each other at this point and our photographer also snapped a closeup pic of the vintage typewriter on our guestbook table. I decided it was aesthetically pleasing to have our faces turned towards one another (as opposed to away from each other). What a happy little accident that on a qwerty keyboard, H and J are right next to one another (my husband's name is Jason). This photo worked perfectly between our singular portraits. Taking a minute to arrange your photos may help you discover nuances like these that will enhance your finished project.
Step 2: Thread Clothespins onto Wires
Flip your frame over to expose the backside. My collage has three rows, so I used three pieces of wire. Make sure your wire is long enough to attach to each side of the back of your frame before cutting with wire cutters. It's better to cut your wire longer and trim excess later than to have wire that barely reaches and possibly sags. You can use a ruler for exact spacing however, I just "eyeballed it." I attached a photo to each clothespin and strung three photos on each wire. When each row contained a wire with three photos and three clothespins, I adjusted the vertical spacing before stapling.
Step 3: Staple Wires to Frame
To ensure even vertical spacing without using a ruler, I stapled my center row first. Then I vertically centered my first row, using the top inside of the frame and my middle row as guides. I stapled my third row last, using the middle row and inner bottom of the frame as guides for centering. Trim excess wire if necessary.
Tips for Stapling
- Use a staple gun, not an office stapler.
- Staple with your dominant (strongest) hand, and use your free hand to apply downward pressure to the top of the staple gun. My free hand was taking this photo, but my staple gun has a black comfort grip which makes it easy to see exactly where I mean to place your other hand. This pressure really helps to sink your staple into your wood frame and leaves no wiggle room for your wire.
- Staple one side, pull wire taut to other side, and staple. This will get rid of slack and eliminate sagging displays.
Framed Instagram Prints Sitting on my China Cabinet
I had a lot of fun making this collage. I finally found the perfect use for my favorite old frame and turned some of my favorite wedding pictures into art. This project is so easy and inexpensive—I probably spent less than $12.00 altogether! This collage is a great way to display wedding photos and family photos. Best of all, it's easy to change out photos as your family grows. This collage frame would also be a great gift to make for someone. You could include your own photos or leave it blank for your favorite Instagrammer or phone photographer in your life. If you make this project and post it online, let me know—I'd love to see it!
© 2014 Heather
Marlene Bertrand from USA on January 30, 2016:
This is a very clever way to capture special moments. I can see why you fell in love with that frame. It is gorgeous! This is a wonderful project and you have provided perfect instructions.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 30, 2016:
Congratulations for HOTD!
Your frame looks awesome and so creative! I loved going through your hub This idea is suitable for customization as well in so many different ways. It will make a great gift item as well .
Thanks for sharing!
Jack Franz from Sweden on November 15, 2014:
Lovely! I know someone who´s gonna love it so I´m definitely sharing your article:-) Thanks a lot!
Heather (author) from Arizona on March 18, 2014:
@Glimmer Twin Fan-- That sounds wonderful! I love taking instagram photos of my husky, Bowie. You're sure to find the perfect frame when you guys go thrifting. If you post pictures of your finished project online, let me know. I'd love to see it! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting :)
@K Kiss-- Thanks for stopping by! Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding! I've seen boards like this used at weddings for seating arrangements or to display photos of the happy couple when they were younger/dating etc. Enjoy your big day! If you happen to create one of these with your own wedding photos, I'd love to see it. Thanks again :)
@twoseven-- Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by. I'm so addicted to instagram. It's such a great app and working with squares can make spacing easy and almost eliminate the need for math when crafting. I'd love to see one if you make it. Thanks again :)
@Claudia Tello-- Thanks so much for all of the kind words! I definitely enjoyed making this craft since it was a little nearer and dearer to my heart than some of my other projects. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks again for stopping by and voting up :)
@Jeannieinabottle-- Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! This idea is so versatile for engagement parties, bridal showers, weddings, etc. I'd love to see your finished project. Thanks again :)
@rebeccamealey-- Thanks for reading and commenting! I love your baby's first birthday idea! What a perfect way to show a pic from each month leading up to their first year! I love it and will have to keep it in mind. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks again :)
Claudia Mitchell on February 27, 2014:
Hi Heather - Trying to catch up on commenting and wanted to stop by. I love this idea and my daughter went gaga over it. She wants to do one with our 2 dogs being the main focus. There is a certain frame in our house that she wants, but that would mean taking out the painting. She'll have to wait until we hit a second hand store. Nice hub!
K Kiss from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK on February 12, 2014:
those are some great tips. I got engaged last september..wedding's coming soon. I guess I'll revisit this hub again soon then :D. Voted up
twoseven from Madison, Wisconsin on February 12, 2014:
Super cute idea! I'm new to Instagram and I had not even thought about the many possibilities for printing Instagram pictures. This is awesome and I will definitely try to make one myself!
Claudia Tello from Mexico on February 11, 2014:
I loved this new hub, there wasn´t a better, more beautiful, attractive and fun way to edit and present this hub. Still a fan of your work. Definitely worth sharing and voting up.
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on February 10, 2014:
This is such a great idea! I want to give it a try. I will be getting married next year, so I will be looking for creative ideas like this. Thanks for sharing!
P.S. Your flowered shirt is super cute!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on February 10, 2014:
Great looking project, and I can see all sorts of possibilities for this, like baby's first birthday, first day of school, and on and on! Thanks for sharing this awesome idea. Pinned and shared, of course!
Heather (author) from Arizona on February 09, 2014:
@tillsontitan-- Thanks so much for the great comments. It sounds like this WOULD be a perfect project for you! I do hope you have a chance to make one to display your lovely photographs. Let me know if you share it online as I'd love to see how yours comes out. Thanks again :)
@randomcreative-- Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this tutorial. Thanks for the pin, too :)
@purl3agony-- Thanks for stopping by. You brought up some great occasions too! Good ideas. I'm glad you enjoyed this tutorial and thanks for the pin :)
@Eiddwen-- Thanks so much. I'm glad you stopped by and enjoyed this Hub :)
@ForLoveofCupcakes-- Thanks so much. I can't wait to maybe make another for some of my favorite instagrams. Thanks again :)
@roseeka-- Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I know what you mean... it can sometimes be hard to find the perfect frame for a project. I hope you find it! I would suggest always looking, no matter what store you're at and to try your best to imagine what it could look like if you gave it a makeover. I have passed up many good bargains in the past because I never considered fixing them or painting them myself. One last idea... if you have social media, try posting to your local friends and family that you are looking for a frame and give the dimensions. Someone might have one they don't need or are willing to part with. Thanks again :)
Mary Craig from New York on February 09, 2014:
I can only echo the comments before me! How original, creative and beautiful!
I'm always taking pictures and looking for different ways to display them. This is perfect for me.
Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and pinned.
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 08, 2014:
Your frame is too awesome, Heather! I love everything about it. This concept is so easy to customize in so many ways. It makes a great gift or home décor piece. Thanks for sharing. Pinning!
Donna Herron from USA on February 08, 2014:
What a great idea! Your wedding photos are lovely, but this project would also be a fun way to display special photos from any event - a vacation, family reunion, children's party. I love the options that the clothes pins offer for quickly and easily changing the photos - it's like a revolving gallery. And those scrap paper clothes pins are super cute! Love it, pinning now :)
Eiddwen from Wales on February 08, 2014:
Interesting and very useful .
Thanks for sharing Heather and voted up.
Jamie Jensen from Chicago on February 08, 2014:
Seriously beautiful!! And I love instagram picture projects!! Voted up.
Rosangela Frita from Lisbon on February 08, 2014:
Nice work! I love what you did with your frame :) I've been looking for a nice frame for ages, to do a similar work but I haven't been very lucky... I guess I should really try antique shops, and keep my eyes open! I normally don't have a good eye for this sort of thing.