Monday, November 21, 2016

DIY "no sew" tufted headboard

I haven't had a headboard in years. As a poor college student that grew up to be a poor graduate student, spending money on something like a headboard always seemed so frivolous. I meant to get one, but it never seemed like the right time to spend that kind of dough. Besides, me and my mattress were doing just fine with a simple bed frame thank you very much. But when I moved into my new grad school apartment, I decided it was time. Adults have headboards and I was finally ready to join the club. 
In my complete naiveness, I budgeted $200 for the endeavor, only to find that I hated everything in my price range. Metal and wooden headboards weren't even a consideration. No, I wanted one of those nice plush fabric ones instead. You know the $600+ ones. All I wanted was to be able to sit up in bed comfortably without having to drop half a grand or more in the process. Is that so much to ask? Well apparently it is. 
And I couldn't bring myself to settle for any of the $200 options unless I loved it because do you know what I could do with that kind of money? I could pull off a long weekend in Chicago, or go air ballooning in Napa, or camping in Vermont for $200, so there was no way I was spending that on some crappy headboard that I didn't like. It was starting to look like I was going to be without again. And then I realized that there was another option. Why not make one myself, it can't be that hard right? 
And you guys, it really isn't. I've never done anything like this before. I don't have a garage full of power tools or any sewing skills. But I built (with the help of husband of course) this free standing headboard and it's perfect! So here's a little tutorial on my easy no skill no sewing required headboard. 

First thing's first. You have to do a little math to determine the amount of wood needed. Measure the width of your bed-mine was 54 inches. Next determine the height you want your headboard to be above the mattress-the standard is 30inches (I went with 32inches), but this all depends on personal preference. So my headboard frame measures 54 inches wide and 32 inches high.

Home Depot/Lowe's/etc. will cut your wood for free to the measurements you specify when you purchase it, so show up prepared. We bought 1x4x8 pieces and had them cut so that we ended up with 2 pieces of wood matching the bed's width (54 inches) and 3 pieces of wood matching the bed's height minus 8 inches (24 inches long). If this seems a little confusing, don't worry it will all make sense soon. 

Headboard Frame: 
-3-4 1x4x8 
(cut into the following pieces: 2x width, 3x height minus 8inches)
-2 2x6x8 (for the legs)
-Pocket Hole Drill Bit OR 2 T-plates and 4 L-corners 
-Pegboard (cut to match the width x height)
-Assortment of Screws & Nails 

-3 inch Foam
pro tip:  DO NOT buy your foam from the fabric store, they will overcharge you. I picked mine up at Home Depot for a fraction of the cost.
-Fabric of your choice
-Button Cover Kit
-Upholstery weight thread
-Large upholstery needle
-Adhesive Spray
-Scotch Guard (optional)

-Staple Gun
-Steak Knife 
-2 very willing helpers 

Step 1: Building the Frame
This is pretty simple. The hardest part was figuring out the dimensions. Once that was done, we simply attached everything. If you have a pocket hole drill bit, that would be ideal to use. We didn't at the time, but the L-corners and the T-plates we used worked fine for us. Just ensure that your frame is sturdy. 

One last thing: place a 2x6x8 perpendicular to each side of the frame. These will eventually become your the legs that support the frame. Now is a good time to place pilot holes, before you get fabric involved. 

Step 2: Layout your Tufting Pattern
Decide if you want lots of tufting (like mine) or minimal tufting because you have to layout where your buttons will hit. The hard part is figuring out how far apart you want your buttons and how many rows of buttons you want. Using the pegboard is ideal for visually mapping this out. For reference, we ended up marking every 7th hole across. Then the second row, we moved down to the 4th pegboard hole and began that row at the middle point of the first row. The  thrid row mimics the first exactly and so on and so forth. Thus, all your odd numbered rows will be the same, and all the even numbered rows with be the same. This creates a diamond pattern for your tufting. Count along with my markings in the picture below and this will make total sense. 
Now transfer your pattern onto the foam by placing the pegboard on top of the foam. Simply stick a Sharpie through the pegboard holes that you've already marked. 
Take the pegboard off the foam and use a steak knife to cut holes around the spots you just marked on the foam. Cut down to the full depth of the foam, this will ensure deep tufting. 
Now, you can attach everything. Secure the pegboard to the frame with screws. Then use the adhesive spray to attach the foam to the pegboard. 

Pro Tips:
-Remember that your buttons will be threaded through the holes of the pegboard so be cognizant of where the wood hits the pegboard. You can generally avoid the outer frame, but in our case we had to drill pilot holes through the center piece of wood that's used for stabilization. 
-Mark the pegboard holes on both sides of the board. Trust me on this! 

Step 3: Covering the Buttons 
Have you ever covered buttons before? Yea, me either. But the button cover kit you picked up will be pretty self explanatory. If you have a lot of buttons (I had 39 buttons), then get help with this step because it is tedious. 

Step 4: Time to Tuft! 

This is the easy and fun part, but also nerve racking too. I think it's easiest to tuft with a helper. Prop the frame up on the floor and have one person sit on either side. Drape the fabric (iron it first to get the wrinkles out) over the frame and start your tufting in the middle row. Loop your upholstery thread/button through your needle. Then locate one of the holes in the foam and push the needle through. On the other side, have your helper catch the needle and confirm that it came through the right pegboard hole (this is why you should mark both sides). Then the helper should pull the needle and thread tight, while you fold/arrange the fabric in front. Once I was ok with how my tuft looked, I'd give husband the OK to staple the thread down in back. Do each row this way. Once you've tufted the entire frame, simply secure the loose fabric to the back with a staple gun. 

Step 5: The Legs
Finally, it's time for the very last step. You've already drilled the pilot holes for the legs to be attached to the frame. Wrap fabric halfway (the inner side) around a 2x6x8. Then screw the 2x6x8 into the frame. Once the leg is properly attached you can wrap fabric around the other side and staple it to secure it. And if you're anything like me (and like to eat in bed), then a layer of scotch guard would prove helpful. 
In case you're wondering about whether or not I was able to stay in $200 price range, the answer is yes. Far below it actually. Here's my number breakdown: 

Wood: $12
Fabric (3 yards): $11
Foam: $25 
Hardwear: $6
Buttons & Button Cover Kit: $24 
Pegboard: $16 
Total: $94

Now, I can join the big kids club because I finally have a headboard. And it's so much more loved and appreciated knowing that I made it myself. 


  1. This looks awesome! I'm still not convinced I could pull it off - I have neither the fine motor skills nor the patience for projects like this. But you've given me hope!

    1. You could totally pull it off. Really the hardest part is determining your dimensions, making it goes pretty fast

  2. I think I need you, your husband and your adorable helper to come over and help me make mine! We have a king sized bed and I don't have enough patience. I absolutely love how yours came out!!

    1. Ha! Thanks Liz. I think the bigger the bed, the more valuable this is because you can get what you want on a budget

  3. This looks awesome! I have so many house projects on my list that my husband might run away if I add another but this is a blogger must for cute photos ;) great job!

    1. I was telling husband we gave ourselves a good skill because this would be a great way to furnish multiple rooms in our future house inexpensively, I mostly just love the idea of completely customizing the fabric (and even the shape of you wanted) to your taste. And believe it or not, we did the majority of this in a single day so totally add it to your list

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