Creating a Gallery Heirloom Wall

How old frames + old baby clothes = something truly breathtaking

For some reason I tend to accumulate things.

As one who aspires to remove as many things from my life as possible, this is often a problem!

But there are a few things that have survived my constant de-cluttering efforts,

and a collection of those surviving things are baby clothes. I am the proud owner of one special newborn outfit from my daughter, myself, my husband, my father-in-law, and my mother. My sister even donated my mom’s first pair of tiny leather crib shoes to my heirloom-gathering efforts!

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My Mom’s first pair of shoes

I’ve always loved the idea of framing clothes. I did it for the first time when I framed my daughter’s dedication dress in her room

I realized that there is something just so precious about this simple (and cheap) wall art. So, I decided to do a gallery wall in our new nursery to display all the precious outfits that I’ve managed to gather along the way. (See the whole nursery here!)

How to make a gallery wall

I’ve had a little bit of experience creating gallery walls in both of my stairwells. I created a mini quilt gallery wall leading to my studio and a gallery wall of architectural prints connecting my first and second floors (a little nod to my interior design days…and architectural prints are just fascinating!). So, I know a thing or two about how to arrange frames and get them just so.

Collect your Frames

The first (and most daunting) task is to collect the frames for your project. Don’t just limit yourself to frames either – I found a gorgeous little wall-hanging vase to add to my collection and I just love it!

Image by <a href="">Alison Updyke</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>

Antique and thrift stores are great places to search for interesting old frames. Don’t let the colors, prints, or even functions deter you either (I mean, check out that old mirror!).

Paint covers a multitude of sins. Focus on the design of the frame and a size that will work for your pieces.

Choosing a Layout

Clear a spot on the floor in front of where your intended gallery wall is. Mark out how wide and how tall you want this gallery to be.

Then start playing!

This part took me the longest! I had to arrange, re-arrange, go out searching for more frames, and so-on and so-forth, but take your time and enjoy the process…it’s a treasure hunt!

Once you have an arrangement you like TAKE A PICTURE! Trust me, you’ll never remember the exact layout when you go to hang these puppies.

Creating a Cohesive Look

You can go a few different directions to get all of your various frames to mesh. I chose to add different fabrics from the same fabric collection to the background of each frame. Once that decision was made, I chose to paint all the frames the same color. But maybe you’ll choose something different! Do the same fabric in the background and keep all of the original character of the frames as-is. Or do nothing in the background and let your frames float on the wall – the choice is up to you!

It nearly killed me to cover up the character of these frames with spray paint, but alas, I chose to do it and am very happy with the result!

As I said, I chose to paint my frames (ehem…have my hubby paint my frames, since I’m pregnant and spray paint is nasty).

Filling the Frames

Now that the hard part is over, it’s time for the fun of filling your frames! You’ll need a few simple supplies:

Creating Fabric Backgrounds

Cut the Cardboard Templates

To fill the frame background with fabric, you’ll need a template to work with. I traced the frame opening onto my cardboard, flipped it over, and then added 1/4″ or 3/8″(whatever my frame measured at) to ensure that it sat in the frame nicely.

Cut carefully with a box cutter! (I used my acrylic ruler for this part)

Once your cardboard is cut, make sure that it fits in your frame. I ended up doing a surprising amount of trimming because it turns out that wonky and frames aren’t always square. So, make sure you dry fit before moving onto the next step!

Cut out the Heat-n-Bond

I chose to use Heat-n-Bond UltraHOLD for this project because normally, I’d use spray adhesive, but being pregnant, I didn’t want to expose myself to those chemicals. Additionally, I really don’t love the whole aerosol thing and would have looked for an alternative anyway. Turns out that Heat-n-Bond UltraHOLD is permanent and can work on cardboard!

Trace the cardboard template onto the paper side of your Heat-n-Bond sheet. Cut out.

Iron onto the wrong side of your fabric,

Cut out your shape, leaving about 1″ of fabric all the way around (we’ll wrap this around the back next)

Line up the cardboard template on the shiny square left by the Heat-n-Bond, flip, and dry iron, starting in the middle.

I’ve found that the faster I move with the ironing, the better. Cardboard has a tendency to curl when heated too long.

Now flip your piece over, and secure the back edges using the Heat-n-Bond UltraHOLD tape to iron in place!

I liked the result better when I trimmed corners before folding over the back.

I didn’t choose to do this, but you can add a black piece of fabric to the back of the piece for a really clean, professional look!

Mount Clothes

I’d just like to state that I’m no expert in this area. I know that there are professionals who can safely frame wedding dresses and all sorts of things, so this is definitely a DIY version…if you have something truly priceless, take it to a professional to be framed and mounted!

Place your background in the frame and flip so that it’s right side up. Arrange your clothes until they are just right and then start pinning things into place.

For most things, I started pinning in the shoulders and did at least three pins in each side. As you work, mirror what you did on one side on the other.

You may run into pins that stick out the back of your cardboard. Simply put some hot glue dots on top to ensure that no one gets poked!

Pin until everything is secure, hang, and enjoy!

My finished Nursery Gallery Wall! <3

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and are well on your way to creating your own gallery wall! I’m excited to share some more nursery details as we get closer to the arrival of our little lady!

Got Baby Fever?

Create something that can be passed down from generation to generation for your little one! Create a quilt!


  1. The Nursery Gallery Wall is such a great idea. Looks like I have the ingredients. Let’s see if I can put it together. Thanks for a great article!

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