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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