Why Use 3/16″ Mats on Your Handmade Cards?

I often get asked, “Why do you use 3/16″ mats on your handmade cards?”  If you’re like many of my students, you don’t like measuring 16ths of an inch.  Using 1/4″ mats is just quicker and easier for you.  Here’s a cardmaking design tip which will show you why I use 3/16″ mats on many of my paper crafting projects.

In case you missed it, you can see more about mats in this post:  Using Mats Effectively in Cardmaking and Paper Crafting.

My newsletter subscribers received the tutorial for this Painted Petals Card last week, and it’s a good example that uses 3/16″ mats.

Painted Petals Card with 3/16" mats from Stamping Madly
The two mats behind the art piece are each 3/16″ of an inch larger in each direction than the layer on top of it.

I made a second version of the card using 1/4″ mats so you could see the difference.  You’ll notice that 1/4″ mats are the same width as the mat formed by the Blackberry Bliss card base with the Soft Sky background on top. (I hope that makes sense, it was hard to find the right words–pointing is soooo much easier!!)

Painted Petals Card with 1/4" mats from Stamping Madly

When you look at the overall design, how does the second version look and feel different to you than the first?  What words would you use to describe the difference?

Two Painted Petals Cards with different sized mats from Stamping Madly

Here’s what some of my students have said about them.

The second version:

  • It feels heavier.
  • The mats are more distracting.
  • The mats accentuate the focal point.

The first version:

  • It’s more delicate.
  • I see the artwork more than I see the mat.
  • it fits with the dainty feel of the doily and the embossed hearts.

What do you think?  If measuring and cutting 16ths of an inch weren’t an issue, which would you choose?  There’s no right answer here, only preferences.  I prefer the more delicate, smaller mats on most of my handmade cards, but you may like the bolder 1/4″ mats.

I think it’s important to make these design decisions based on the effect you want, not just what’s easiest!  Cutting 1/16ths of an inch is a learnable skill, and in fact I’ve made it really easy for you in this video, “How to read 16ths of an Inch on Rulers and Paper Cutters.”

If you want to download the drawings I referred to in the video, plus a little cheat sheet for reading 16ths on your rulers, use this button:

Making-Friends-with-16ths

Leave a comment with your impressions of the two versions, which mats you prefer, and why!

If you’re used to seeing 3/16″ mats in my handmade card tutorials, now you know why I use them.

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4 Responses to Why Use 3/16″ Mats on Your Handmade Cards?

  1. Jackie February 3, 2015 at 6:36 am #

    The 3/16″ allows the focal point to pop. Have been using this measurement since you mentioned in one of your posts.
    Thanks for the drawings.

    • Sage February 3, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you’ve been using this size mat. It really does complement the focal point! You’re welcome for the drawings.

  2. MARYSCHUBERT February 8, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    WOW! IT TOOK ME A FEW SECONDS AND THEN WOW AGAIN DID 1 SEE BIG DIFFERENCE.
    NOW A FAN .
    ESPECIALLY WHEN USING DARK MATS AS BLACKBERRY AND EXPRESS O FOR EG JUST OVERPOWERING INDEED
    MARY

    • Sage February 10, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

      I’m glad you see it, and will try it in your own cards!

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