I've been talking about making an upholstered headboard since 2006. I used to lust after the ones in Urban Outfitters catalogs, but was always too cheap to spend $350 + shipping on one of their headboards, which frankly look pretty cheap. If I was going to have a cheap-looking headboard, I would make it myself, dammit!
I've read so many DIY upholstered headboard tutorials that I felt really confident going into this project. I relied most heavily on Jenny's AMAZING tutorial at Little Green Notebook and Carrie's at Brick City Love. Jenny has a way of making everything look easy. Here is what I learned: while I don't doubt it was pretty easy for her, it was NOT easy for me.
I want to give the most honest, but helpful tutorial I can, so bear with me because it might be on the long side. I'm going to walk you through the steps I took. At the bottom, however, I'm going to put a full shopping list and the steps I would take if I did it again, so you are welcome to skip ahead.
Day 1: Button Making and Pegboard Prepping
Basically, you use a circle pattern that's printed on the back of the package to cut out circles of fabric. You then center the circles over the white rubber piece, stick a button top into the center of the fabric, push into the white part and then tuck the fabric into the back of the button. Place the button back over the fabric, and using the blue button, push it down until the back wedges under the button top, thus creating the button.
Ultimately, I had to use a hammer...my wimpy fingers just couldn't apply enough pressure to get the buttons to stay together. It was agonizing and some of the buttons looked truly horrible, but I didn't care.
I played around with several button layouts, but settled on five rows of buttons, alternating between seven buttons and six buttons. I separated the buttons by counting seven dots in the pegboard between each horizontally, and four dots vertically. You can always do more or less.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get an amazingly huge upholstery needle...this one was 10 inches long.
Sean and I convinced ourselves the answer to our prayers would be an electric stapler, which we bought with a gift card from Lowe's. It was not the answer to our prayers. It will be returned.
Another tip: Your fingers will be throbbing and your hand muscles will be so sore from stapling. Split this project over two days, or even three, just to keep yourself from weeping.
Day 2: Tufting and Stapling, Rinse, Repeat
I was at a low place....I had already threatened once I just give up and throw the whole project in the dumpster in a fit of existentialism. And that's when I remembered Carrie of Brick City Love's tutorial and thought, "Wait a second! She used buttons on the back to secure her tufts!"
So, I picked up a ridiculous package of big white buttons from Michael's and attached each button to two of the three strands, using the third strand to tie a tight knot. I retied the knot several times over until the buttons were firmly in place on the backside. This method does not get tufts as deep as the stapling method, but it totally worked and although it sounds tedious, it took less than an hour to finish the tufts.
After that, I gathered the excess fabric into folds at the top and on the sides...this was easier said than done, honestly, but that was mainly because my fabric had shifted and was no longer perfectly centered. Staple the folds, and in between, pulling tightly as you go.
But look! This is how it ends up!
Pretty good! I will tell you that I look at it and immediately get worked up about the folds that fell out in the button-tying process, so I can't recommend having a second person to help enough.
We haven't even hung it yet, so I don't have those glowing after pictures, but now you have a working knowledge of how to do the damn thing.
So, let's review:
Materials for Queen Headboard
- 2 yards of fabric
- 5/8 size buttons with button cover kit (I bought 36 buttons at Joann's)
- A 10-inch upholstery needle
- Heavy-duty staple gun and staples
- Large two-hole buttons (optional for tufting)
- Hi-Loft Batting
- Upholstery thread
- Spray adhesive
- Fabric glue (just in case!!)
- 5-foot-wide foam, 3-inches thick from Joann's
- 5-foot-wide, 3-foot (or 4-foot) tall pegboard (we bought at Home Depot). You can also use plywood and drill the holes yourself.
- Flush mounts to hang the headboard
- Cut a strip of fabric to make buttons and make fabric-covered buttons.
- Lay out buttons on the pegboard and circle where you'd like them to go with a sharpie or pencil.
- Place the pegboard on top of foam and mark the holes with a Sharpie.
- Attach the foam to the board with spray adhesive.
- Carve circles out where the buttons will go in the foam with a paring knife.
- Place batting over the pegboard and foam, trimming as necessary. Leave enough to wrap around the sides.
- Place fabric over the batting.
- Tie 3-4 strands of upholstery thread, all of equal length, around the back of a button. Thread the loose ends through upholstery needle.
- Starting in the middle of the first row, push the fabric into the foam hole and arrange the folds to form a diamond shape. Stick the needle through the hole, ensuring the button sinks into the foam and the thread comes out on the back side.
- Pulling the thread taut, either staple it down and yank in different directions, stapling as you go OR attach to another button and tie in a tight knot. Repeat process, arranging folds as you move down the rows.
- Once all the buttons are secured, gather the fabric at the top and sides into folds that meet the outermost buttons and staple to secure on the back. This helps make sure the fabric stays neat.
- Pull batting tight and staple all around the headboard. Repeat with fabric, stapling under the foam, then wrapping under the bottom of the pegboard.
- If using flush mounts, attach one side of each flush mount (use 2-3) on the back of the headboard and the other side on the wall so they'll fit together like puzzle pieces. Make sure your mattress slides into the nook formed by fabric stapled under the foam.
YAY! It's over!