DIY Simple Tufted Headboard

January 18, 2010

Greetings all, how was your weekend ?  It was rainy and wet here in Northern California, but I say that’s perfect weather for watching football and a good DIY project.

You’ve seen tufted headboards in boutique hotels, everywhere in interior decor and in designer bedrooms. Fabric covered headboards are a great way to add an elegant touch to a bedroom with all kinds of different fabrics.  Last weekend I decided to tackle a simple tufted headboard for my teenage daughter’s bedroom.  We didn’t want anything too fancy or formal, just some soft curves, a few buttons, and a little tufting for some sophistication. It took about five hours from start to finish, with the tufting taking up most of the time, but I’m really liking the final headboard in her room.

diy tufted headboard

There are plenty of tutorials to be found online for fabric covered headboards, and for tufting, including my own how-to from this bench project, but here’s the step by step on how I created this this casual look for a fabric covered headboard.

How to Make a Simple Tufted Headboard

Supplies: 1/2 inch plywood, cut at the home improvement store to your bed’s specifications for width and height; 2 inch foam to cover plywood; batting; 1.5 inch finish nails; ‘D’ ring hooks; button cover kits; embroidery or upholstery thread; decorator needles.

Tools:  Jigsaw (if your design is not square); drill and drill bit; staple gun and staples; sawhorses (if available, for convenience).

Step One (optional): If you want to add curvature to your headboard, create a template and mark it on your plywood.  I used simple paper, then marked it with a pen.

paper template

mark with pen

Cut out your design with a jig saw.

cut with jigsaw

Step Two: Mark your holes where you want your buttons to go.  I spaced mine ten inches apart.   For more drama, mark for buttons spaced closer together.

measure and mark holes

Use a drill and drill bit (between 7/32 to 5/16) to drill holes where indicated.  Make sure you have a clean hole all the way through on both sides.

drill holes for tufting

Step Three: Cut your foam to the size of your plywood.  I chose to use 2” foam squares since it was more cost effective than paying for 2” foam by the yard.   You can use 1” foam too, but I wanted a really thick headboard so I went with 2” thickness.

two inch foam

Result using 2 inch thick foam instead of 1 inch:

two inch thickness tufted headboard

Here are my new sawhorses that hub bought me for Christmas.  Isn’t that romantic ?   How did I ever ever ever live without them ?

trim foam

If using squares like I did, I think it helps to turn your foam flat side out to guarantee a smoother edge around the sides.

turn flat side out

Thicker foam and the flat side out gave me a very smooth edge.

thickness from side

Step Four: Use your batting to secure your foam to your plywood with a staple gun.  I didn’t use any spray adhesive to secure the foam to the wood.  In my opinion, it’s not necessary if you use good batting.

batting duo

Step Five: Attach your fabric to your headboard using a staple gun.   For this smaller degree of curvature, I was able to get away without sewing a slipcover with seams.  For these specific cutouts, start in the middle of the curve, secure with single staple, then slowly work your way out.  Then secure your fabric on all four sides.

start in center of cutout

Use the natural corners to pinch fabric and create and attractive edge by overlapping the fabric.  Secure with staples.

wrap edges


The gray/blue fabric I used is an upholstery grade fabric called ‘Bedouin’ in Blue Smoke from Calico Corners.

Step Six – Tufting: Use button cover kits to create fabric covered buttons.  Thread your decorator needle with embroidery or upholstery thread.

button cover kits

I do not recommend these metal ones for thick fabric – they just don’t work.  I found that out too late.  I’ve used the plastic ones from Joann’s before, and they work much better.

These ones are better:

tufting supplies_thumb[5]

Because the metal button cover kits were too flimsy for my upholstery fabric, I had to hand stitch my fabric to each of the buttons – bummer.   That little setback added an entire hour to this project.

hand sew buttons

Push your threaded needle up through the pre-drilled hole, leaving plenty of thread underneath.  Then attach your button to your thread.  I recommend running your thread through the button twice to get a really secure button.

needle up

needle through

Push your needle back down through your fabric and foam and pull needle out on other side of pre-drilled hole.  Pull your thread taught, then twist it around a finish nail to hold it in place against the plywood.  Staple thread to plywood, and criss cross across several times and staple again.   Sorry no photo, I forgot !

Repeat for all buttons and holes in headboard.

tufting complete

Locate the wall studs on your wall, then determine placement of ‘D’ ring hooks.  Drive nails into studs, secure ‘D’ ring hooks to back of headboard, then hang on wall.

D ring hooks


Enjoy your headboard in your bedroom space !





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133 Responses to “DIY Simple Tufted Headboard”

  1. […] we lusted over this DIY project with the hope that maybe, someday we could have a lovely tufted headboard of our very own. […]

  2. Stacey says:

    You are crazy talented!!Your directions are so clear cut also. Thank you!


  3. Gale says:

    What is best way to add curves at top of head board made out of thrift store hollow core door for king size bed? I have door and chocolate paisley velvet material but want a curve – help.

  4. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Gale, the best tool I can think of is perhaps a jig saw but the blade might be too short, so you may need a Sawzall instead.

  5. C. S. says:

    Made this headboard myself with these instructions! It looks great! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

  6. Sara Kemple says:

    How much did this cost? Any ways of making it cheaper?

  7. Heather says:

    Thank you for this tutorial! I made it today and I am absolutely thrilled! I’ve always wanted one and making it was so much more economical!

  8. Janna says:

    Awesome tutorial!! I was wondering where the white duvet cover and pillow cases are from – they are so cute and exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks!! And thanks for sharing – I am dying to make a tufted headboard :)

  9. NanaDoll says:

    The shams and bedspread look like the matelasse available at JC Penney–I have a similar set–love them–get the larger size coverlet–it shrinks.

    I love this headboard! I did one a few years ago, but it is really bulky and awkward. I am ready to redo it and will follow your tutorial this time. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Sara says:

    I just finished my headboard following your instructions. The buttons were the biggest pain in the butt, but I think it turned out really great. Thank you for posting this!

  11. tiffini says:

    Still confused on how to secure the thread for the buttons, finishing nail?????

  12. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Tiffini, wrap the thread around a 2″ nail and lay it flat against the plywood to hold the “tuft” in place!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! I was curious what size button covers you used. Thanks!

  14. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Elizabeth, I’m pretty sure mine were 1 inch… maybe 1 1/4″ ? They were not the 3/4″ I can tell you that!

  15. Meike says:

    Hi! I just found this tutorial and am going to attempt to do it in the next few weeks. One question I have is, does the headboard go all the way to the floor?

  16. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Meike, the headboard is hanging on the wall, it doesn’t go down to the floor, just past the top of the mattress.

  17. Christy says:

    Great tutorial. We are going to try it this weekend. I was wondering how much fabric it takes.

  18. CentsationalGirl says:

    Depends on the height and width of your board Christy, I’d add an extra 4 inches on all sides to that plywood measurement.

  19. Katie T says:

    Does it mater what type of fabric that you use on the headboard? It’s for my 4 year old bed and I don’t see any upholstery grade that works ( I don’t want white). I found a pink duck cloth that would match her room. Is that okay do you think?

  20. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Katie, any solid fabric will do, that pink duck cloth will work!

  21. Heather says:

    Great tutorial! Your headboard looks fantastic. I had similar problems with making fabric covered buttons. The buttons not only took forever but they started to come apart after I attached them to my headboard. I decided to call a local upholsterer and ask how much they’d charge for making fabric covered buttons for me. It was under $1 per button and so worth the few dollars it cost to have them made by a professional! (It only cost about $9 for 10 plus he made 2 extra for me in case they ever came apart – which they haven’t!) Then I attached them to my headboard again and have had no more problems! Also, when I attached them the second time around I found it much easier to thread the button first, put both ends of the thread through the needle and then pushed the needle in through the front of the headboard. I then had the two ends of the tread in the back and was able to staple it to the plywood. Another tip – when I was pricing out foam it was much cheaper for me to buy the foam through an upholsterer than at the fabric store. I called a few different upholstery places to find the best price and was able to purchase it all in one piece.

  22. CentsationalGirl says:

    Great tips Heather, thanks for sharing!

  23. Yvearl says:

    Gorgeous! And you make it look SO easy! Very good tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Kaitlyn says:

    How much (about) dose this project cost, planning on making it this weekend and would like to know.

  25. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Katilyn, it really depends on your fabric but plywood is typically about $20, batting varies from $10 to $15 and the button covers are about $3 a package, so I’ll estimate $45 to $50 before fabric.

  26. MammaVintage says:

    Hallo from Italy!

    Following your instructions I realized my masterpiece, (but I’m not able to upload here…)

    Thanks a lot

  27. Kim Mueller says:

    Great job! Thank you for sharing! I am going to use your instructions to make my own headboard. Love what you did!

  28. Avi B says:

    Love the tutorial, but I have 1 helpful tip for those of us with out drills. Use peg board! It already has holes drilled with perfect spacing. All you have to do is use the same amount of holes between each tuft. Thanks for the tutorial. I hope to get creative and apply it towards other things.

  29. Emily says:

    Amateur DIY-er here. Do you see any reason why I couldn’t use 2″ memory foam for this project? I’m looking to make a full bed headboard here, and it looks like a twin size will perfectly cover the dimensions.

  30. CentsationalGirl says:

    Sure Emily that should work fine!

  31. CentsationalGirl says:

    That is a great tip Avi, thanks so much!

  32. carol says:

    ooh! my husband says he will try to make this! i’m so happy because we have a weird size bed (olympic queen by beautyrest which they don’t make anymore and i don’t think they ever made beds to fit them. if they did, they don’t anymore!). kings are way too wide and queens too narrow. so i think we have to make our own. so excited. thanks for the tutorial. just wondering how you secured the fabric to the buttons so smoothly?


  33. Christina says:

    Thank you so much for this! I followed it and with a few hiccups, I got a great result! Mine was quite a bit more money than I anticipated however. I went to Hancock Fabrics and my bill there for Fabric (I went with a $24 a yard choice that was 50% off (so $12), Foam, Batting, Thread, Needle, Staples and Button Cover kit cost me $112. My plywood was 70% off at Home Depot, but I bought a Flush Mounting Kit so it would hang snug against the wall and not move, so my total there was $26. So at the end of the day I spent $138 + tax.
    If I had known I could pay a professional $1 a button to make them for me, I would have!! Also, I bought upholstery thread the first time and had to go back, you definitely need embroidery thread. And you are right, the metal button kit does NOT work! I had to make a separate trip to JoAnnes Fabric and get the plastic kind.
    For me, it worked better to use a plain button the back side, to secure the embroidery thread and tighten the tuft. The hardest part for me was finding the darn hole coming back through with the needle, that took several minutes and choice words for each tuft. All in all, it looks great. Thanks so much for your help and inspiration!! :)

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