It is done.
After many hours of stitching, stapling, folding and general toiling, our new headboard is finally (mostly) done! We still need to attach it to our bed frame and I’d like to make a cover for the back, but no matter. It’s in our bedroom and we’re using it, so it’s done enough.
Kindly pretend you can’t tell how wrinkled my bedding is, will ya?
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: the tutorial. For the most part, I followed this post from Little Green Notebook, but I did a few things differently, so hopefully, some information about my process will still be valuable to the blogosphere.
- Fabric: For my king-sized headboard, I used 5 yards, but I had quite a bit left over. 4 yards would have been OK, I think. My fabric is Como 170 Cyan from The Fabric Co.
- Covered buttons: There are a number of ways to procure these. Check out this post to see how I made mine.
- For the frame (optional if you’re hanging the headboard on the wall): Wood (we used 1x3s), screws and a drill, plus anything you need to stain or paint it.
- Electric carving knife
- Small sharp knife: I used a paring knife.
- Spray adhesive
- Foam: I used a 3″ queen-sized mattress pad from Amazon
- High-loft batting: I used twin-sized. It just needs to be a little larger than the dimensions of your headboard.
- Long needles: I used the 6″ needle from this pack of decorator’s needles by Dritz Home.
- Waxed button thread: I went through 4 packages.
- Staple gun and staples: I used this pneumatic stapler with this air compressor and Arrow T50 staples in both 3/8″ and 5/8″ lengths. (The longer ones were for stapling into the wood frame, and the shorter ones were for stapling into the pegboard.)
- Fasteners for attaching the bed to the wall or your bed frame
I’m breaking this down into a few categories: preparing the buttons, preparing the frame and foam, and tufting.
PREPARING THE BUTTONS:
Step 1: Figure out how many buttons you need. Look at pictures of headboards you like, and see if you can count the number of buttons in each row. The more buttons you use, the smaller your diamond tufts will be. I wanted small, close-together tufts, so I determined that I’d want 12 or 13 buttons in my rows. This meant that they’d be about 6″ apart horizontally, and in order to form general diamonds, I’d need to space the rows 4″ apart vertically. I wanted our headboard to be 26″ tall but didn’t need the tufts to go all the way to the bottom, so I decided that 5 rows would be enough.
I mapped everything out in Adobe Illustrator to make sure I was on the right track:
Three rows of 12 + two rows of 13 = 62 buttons.
Step 2: Cover your buttons with your fabric. I used this method.
CONSTRUCTING THE FRAME AND PREPARING THE FOAM:
Step 1: Cut your 1×3 boards down to size, or ask someone at Lowe’s or Home Depot to cut them for you. You’ll need two long pieces to go from the floor to the top of the headboard, two long pieces to go across the top and bottom of the headboard, and two short pieces to support the center of the headboard. Keep in mind that 1×3 boards aren’t exactly 3″ wide – ours were 2.5″. You can see our measurements here:
Step 2: Attach the 4 long pieces. Brad used his Kreg jig to attach ours, but regular screws would probably be OK. Don’t attach the center support boards yet.
Step 4: Cut your pegboard down to size, or ask someone at the store to do it for you. It should be the dimensions that you want your headboard to be (in our case, 77.5″x26″).
Step 5: Mark where your buttons will go on both sides of your pegboard with white chalk.
Step 6: Cut your foam to the same dimensions as the pegboard with an electric carving knife. (Tip: We laid our pegboard over the foam and traced it, then cut on our traced lines.) I don’t have any photos of this step because I was holding the foam while Brad cut, but it’s easy, trust me!
Step 7: Lay the pegboard over the foam and use your Sharpie to poke through the holes and mark where the buttons will go. I’d recommend labeling the front and back of both your pegboard and your foam, in case your button placements aren’t perfectly symmetrical. You don’t want to accidentally flip over your pegboard and then have your holes not line up!
Step 8: Use the paring knife to carve out the foam where the buttons will be placed. The hole should be slightly wider than your buttons. I had a lot of trouble with this when I was making my bench, but I got the hang of it this time around. The trick is to cut your circle about halfway through the foam first to get the shape right, and then go back in to cut all the way through.
When you’ve cut all the way through, reach your fingers down and poke through any spots you missed, then pull the foam cylinder out.
When you’re done, your foam will look like this (and your living room floor will be a mess):
Step 9: Attach your pegboard to your frame. Brad used pegboard screws.
Step 10: Attach your center supports, making sure not to block a hole where a button needs to go. Again, Brad used his Kreg jig for this.
Now, your basic frame is done! Woohoo! The back looks like this:
And the front looks like this:
Step 11: Using the spray adhesive, attach your foam to your pegboard. Make sure you’re placing the front of the pegboard against the back of the foam so that your holes line up.
If any holes don’t line up perfectly because you didn’t cut straight through, that’s OK – I ended up reaching down and scraping out some extra foam to make sure I could get to the right hole.
Step 12: Wrap your batting around the front of the pegboard, then staple it to your frame in back. This is a good opportunity to practice wrapping the corners! I just stapled down the sides first, then folded down the top like I was wrapping a present.
Step 13: Make holes in the batting over the holes in the foam. I started off using the paring knife, but ended up just using with my fingers. Batting rips really easily.
Now you’re ready to tuft!
Step 1: Put your frame in a raised position so you can access both the top and bottom of the headboard. I laid mine across two saw horses. Lay your fabric across the top, attempting to center it. Grab a partner – tufting is a two-person job.
Step 2: Starting in the center of the top row, make your first tuft. Work your way from the center out to the sides. Then, start the next row from the center and repeat.
For each tuft, thread your needle with a generous arm-length of waxed button thread and push it all the way from underneath the pegboard up through the fabric over the hole. Once it’s through, thread your button. Then, push the needle back down through the fabric, batting, foam and pegboard. Cut the thread to remove your needle.
Pull all four ends of the thread tightly. I found that I couldn’t pull the button all the way down to the pegboard – it looked silly. I think I ended up pulling each button 2/3 of the way through the foam. Once you’ve gotten the button where you want it, use your staple gun to staple the thread to the pegboard. Pull in different directions so the thread can’t just slip through the staples.
Our method went like this: I got underneath to poke the needle up and through everything, then threaded the button and pushed the needle back down again. While I was adjusting the folds and pushing the button down into the foam, Brad lay on the floor to pull and staple the threads to the pegboard. This is why a pneumatic stapler is helpful – it’s really difficult to staple while you’re lying on your back!
I had some trouble getting the tension right for the first row, but each row after that was easier, since I just had to make sure I was creating my diagonal folds. My trick was to create the folds and push the fabric into the holes before I poked my needle through. This way, the needle ended up in the right spot, and my fabric didn’t bunch up awkwardly.
You may not need to pre-fold with thinner fabric, but with mine, if I just crammed the fabric into each hole, I ended up with a bunch of folds coming out from the button, instead of four clean ones. I wish I had figured that out before the third row, but oh, well.
The folds between all the center buttons should be diagonal, but for all of the buttons along the top, sides and bottom, you’ll want to create straight folds out to the edge of the frame. Try to fold them all in the same direction, if you can.
BE CAREFUL not to let the fabric move around too much while you’re tufting – it needs to stay centered. I majorly screwed up my first row and ended up with my fabric so crooked that I had to rip out all the tufts and start over again. It was really sad, because the holes didn’t go back into the same spots, so I have a few visible holes in my fabric. They’re not super noticeable unless you’re up close, but still – sad.
Step 3: When you’re done tufting, it’s time to staple the fabric around the edges of your frame. Starting from the center of each side, make sure your straight folds look right, then pull tight and staple the fabric down. Stop before you get within a few inches of the corners – you’ll want to leave those for last.
We tackled the bottom corners first, because I was intimidated by the legs and wanted to get them over with. I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I started by pushing the stapler up under the foam along the bottom of the pegboard and stapling it there. Then, I took some of the excess fabric from the side, wrapped it around the bottom, and stapled that to the bottom of the pegboard, too.
Finally, I cut off the excess as close to the staples as I could. It doesn’t look perfect, but I knew it wouldn’t be visible once the mattress was directly underneath it.
For the top corners, we folded back the sides and stapled them tightly, then wrapped the top over and stapled again.
When we were done stapling and the fabric was secure all the way around, I cut off all my excess fabric. I left about an inch past the staples just in case the staples started to tear through the fabric (hopefully, they won’t!).
The final step will be to attach the headboard to our bed frame with carriage bolts, but for now, it’s just wedged between the bed and the wall, and it’s standing up on its own (though not very securely).
I’d also like to create a fabric cover to go over the back. I’ll attach it with velcro so I can remove it and tighten buttons if necessary.
For now, though, we’re just enjoying having the headboard in our bedroom!
Here’s a photo with no pillows on our bed so you can see how the bottom ended up:
There are definitely some imperfect aspects of this headboard. For example, why are there horizontal folds across the top row of buttons, and diagonal folds coming down from the bottom row? I don’t know, but I couldn’t get rid of them.
But overall, we absolutely love it. It makes our room feel more finished, and homey, and perhaps even a little bit fancy?
Here’s the cost breakdown (keep in mind that everything I purchased at Joann was bought with either a coupon or when it was on sale – patience pays off!):
Fabric: $154.95 (5 yards at $30.99 a yard)
Half ball button covers: $30.24 (16 packages of 4 at $1.89 each)
Fabri-Tac glue for buttons: $5.50
High-loft batting: $16.19
Wood for frame: $14.32
Waxed button thread: $10.76 (4 packages at $2.69 each)
Spray adhesive: $7.98
I didn’t count the supplies I already had (screws, drill, chalk, Sharpie, knives, needles, stapler, etc). Our bed frame cost about $250 to make, bringing the grand total to $593.09. I know that sounds like a lot, but for comparison, let’s look at similar products from West Elm:
Boerum King Bed Frame: $499 + $50 delivery surcharge
King-Sized Tall Grid Tufted Headboard in Lagoon Velvet: $649 + $60 delivery surcharge
Shipping & Processing: $114.80
Considering that our bed and headboard are probably made from higher-quality products and I like them better, I’m feeling pretty good.
Anyway, I hope this crazy-long post was helpful (and that all the photos didn’t crash your computer)! You can see a little more information about my tufting process in this post about tufting a storage bench. See how I chose the fabric here, see how I covered the buttons here, and see how we made our bed frame here.
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments!