Tufted Headboard

Making my own upholstered headboard is something that has been on my fairly expansive ‘Projects I’d like to do someday’ list for quite a while. Our bedroom set that we’ve had since we got married is straight out of a 1987 Ethan Allen catalog and while I don’t terribly mind the dressers and nightstands, the bed…well, it’s pretty boring and the headboard is so short that you can’t even see it when the bed is made and the pillows are propped up. I’ve always wanted something taller and upholstered so we could lean against it and not get jabbed in the back by the wood railing.

After skimming through just about every headboard tutorial I could find on Pinterest, I knew exactly what I wanted…rectangular, tufted, sturdy, wood legs and trim. I mainly used these two tutorials for reference on the tufting part, Little Green Notebook and Addicted 2 Decorating. Now, there are a bazillion tutorials out there but none of them had the exact wood detail that I kept picturing in my mind so I just went for it and customized what I wanted.

Here’s the whole process with pictures:

The backing is 5/8″ particle board, cut to 63×30 inches {which Lowe’s supposedly won’t cut for you but I talked someone into doing it anyway}. I measured out where each button would go and marked it with sharpie. There are three rows with 7 buttons and two rows with 6 staggered in between; each button on a row is 9 inches from the next and the end ones are 4.5 inches from the edge. I left some extra space at the bottom but that will be covered by the mattress anyway.


Then I drilled all 33 holes…they look like little gopher mounds, haha.


Now here’s where I start to do things differently…I added eight of these little “L” brackets around the top edge and two sides and bolted them to the particle board. These brackets will hold my 2×4 framing and legs after all the upholstering is done.


Two brackets near a top corner where two of the 2×4 pieces will come together.


Here’s the layout of the 2×4’s. The top board is the width of the headboard and the two side boards measure 50 inches.


After a light sanding the boards got a quick stain in a dark walnut.


About the foam…I wanted the upholstered part of the headboard to be 30 inches tall and the foam sold at Joann’s was only 24 inches wide {not to mention insanely expensive}; not wanting to deal with piecing together bits of foam I ordered a twin sized, 3 inch thick mattress pad on Amazon and it worked perfectly.

I marked on the foam through my drilled holes and then used a paring knife to cut out a little hole for each button. This is supposed to help with making deeper tufts by allowing the button to sit deeper in the foam.


At this point I moved into the living room so I could watch countless episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix while I worked :) Next was to add the batting over the foam and staple it to the back. I didn’t worry about getting a ton of staples in the batting because I knew I’d be going right back over it all when I stapled the fabric anyway.


I propped the whole thing up on two five gallon buckets so I could reach underneath then draped my fabric over the top. I ended up using a suit fabric and I love the look, it’s solid while still having a nice texture to it.


The button making kit I ordered on Amazon. It’s a pretty simple process; tedious but simple.


Time to start the tufting! Starting on the top row and in the center I used a 6 inch long upholstery needle to thread up through the hole, through a button and back down through the hole. I would push down on the button with one hand while holding the thread tight with the other. Then I would lie on the floor and staple the thread to the particle board from underneath all while holding it taut. To anyone watching this probably would have been a hilarious sight, me lying underneath this headboard like a mechanic trying to get enough leverage to make the staples go in deep enough.

First row done. As I started on the other rows I would press down on the foam and fabric where a button would go and play with the amount of loose fabric until I got the wrinkles that I wanted.


All the buttons done but the edges are still loose.


Again starting in the middle I made a small crease that aligned with each button and carried it over the edge of the headboard then stapled it to the back. I went around the whole thing the laid it on the floor face down, trimmed the extra fabric and added a bunch of reinforcing staples.


Next was attaching the wood trim. I screwed in the top board first then the side boards.




And here’s the finished product!



Here’s a closeup of the wood trim detail. It turned out exactly as I had imagined :)


The next step will be attaching it to a bed frame and getting our guest room set up!



One Response to “Tufted Headboard”

  1. Mark W. Rand Says:

    You did it again, Britney. That is incredible and deserving of real Black Walnut rather than Spruce 2 by. Your choice of fabric, from all appearances, is perfect and the button work was very cleverly carried out. A video of that operation would be fun and deserving of a You Tube appearance. Thanks so much for sharing the photos and the details. Jan and I really are impressed, again. Love, Grandpa


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