DIY tufted headboard tutorial

Hello all! I’m so excited to share more about how I made the new headboard in our bedroom. I shared more about the start to this room redo, the new bed and the headboard earlier this week.

I’ve made my own headboards (and for friends!) for years – even before blogging. It’s seriously one of the easiest DIY projects you can do and you will save SO MUCH money doing it on your own.

The headboard part I was used to – but I was totally intimidated by the tufting part. I’ve never tufted one because it seemed like it would be hard…but it is not a big deal! For real, it wasn’t bad at all.

So here we go – I new the shape I wanted the headboard to be for awhile, but I just found out the other day that it had a name:

different shapes of headboards

I wanted the Belgrave look, which was totally easy to DIY. First up, Dad came down and we used his truck to pick up a big piece of mdf at the hardware store – it was a big four by eight foot piece and the Lowe’s Guy cut it down for me:

DIY tufted headboard

I wish I would have taken pics of how I cut the corners out, but it was so quick. Dad and I just searched the garage for something round (and used my bird food holder). I held it up on the corner and figured out how big of a cut out I wanted, then did some quick measurements to make sure it was even on both sides. Then I traced the bottom of the can and cut one side out with the jigsaw. That first piece is all you need to make the second one – just flip it over and place it on the other corner, trace, and you’ve got a mirror image.

I hope that makes sense – it was so fast I didn’t even think to take pics.

Dad helped me take the board upstairs where I went to work! I showed you how I made the headboard in the Bub’s room and this was nearly identical till I got to the tufting part.

Like that one, I used mattress pads instead of foam from the craft store:

foam mattress for upholstered headboard

Why this instead of regular foam? One word – cheaper. ;) Foam is a petroleum based product, so it goes up with the price of gas. Which means it’s just going up and up over time. I haven’t even check the price lately but for three inches of foam for a nearly 80 inch headboard wouldn't be cheap. The size was another reason – I would have had to use numerous pieces of foam to cover this and when you use the mattress pad you can get one big piece.

I had one I had picked up on clearance years ago (look for the XL twin sizes after back to school – you can find them for cheap!) but it was too small for this headboard. So I ended up with a bigger size (queen I think?), then ended up going back to get another one to do two layers because I really wanted it super soft.

One of the things I grew to dislike about our old headboard was how hard it was. I mean, it was wood, so yeah. And it had a curve to it so our heads never fit against it. First world problems. This time I made the headboard tall and cushy that we could comfortably lean against it.

Once the foam is down, you want to secure it with a layer of batting or thin fabric. I used batting first just because, again, I wanted this super soft. And I already had some, so that helped too:

DIY tufted headboard

Then I used a piece of muslin I had in my stash too, to cover everything again. This just secures all the foam and gives you a nice base for the final fabric.

Speaking of that – after all that I was ready to finish it up – and because I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to drive the extra 15 minutes to the fabric store, I actually shopped the drapery aisle at Target:

I wasn’t sure exactly what color I wanted so I grabbed a few. ;) The two on the left were $17 for a panel – which compared to a couple yards of upholstery fabric is pretty good.

Problem was we weren’t crazy about any of them when we tried them out. One was too light, one was too blah and one was too dark.

Soooo…the next day I went to the darn fabric store. ;) I needed the stuff to tuft the headboard anyway (at first I wasn’t planning on tufting. Scared, remember?) so I took a quick look through the fabrics and found one I LOVED in the suit fabric aisle.

Before I used that I figured out where I wanted my tufts and drilled the seven holes:

DIY tufted headboard

I just wanted it to be a simple design and some of the tufting I see is just too much for me. So when I did my math I decided to just do three across the top and four under that. That’s it – anything lower would always be covered by pillows or the mattress so I didn’t even worry about the bottom.

After the holes were drilled I added the final fabric:

DIY upholstered headboard

By the way, years ago I tried the electric stapler you can find at the hardware store (about $30) and it is kind of a pain in my butt to use. It gets jammed and the staples don’t go in evenly no matter what I do. I always revert back to my regular stapler (above) – it takes more muscle but that’s good for ya. ;)

Sometimes the corners can get tricky, so I’ve always used a simple method – start with the middle, then each side, pulling tight each time:

upholstering corners of headboard

For the curved corners I just grabbed the fabric and stapled as best I could:

upholstering curved corners

Remember…no one will see this part. Seriously, the back doesn’t matter. Do what you gotta do!

Here is is in it’s (almost) finished state:

DIY upholstered headboard

Getting there! The suit fabric is like a gray linen and looked so good. Way better than the drapes I picked out – I returned those.

Now the part I dreaded…the (shiver) tufting. So not hard. At all. All the stuff I needed was in the same section at Joann’s. I picked up this waxed thread and it rocked:

wax thread for tufting

It made this SO easy. More on that in a minute.

I grabbed some buttons too – it’s so easy to make your own fabric-covered buttons:

DIY buttons

I just used scrap fabric to make them all. Making buttons is fun.

So the tufting was a breeze – I couldn’t believe I had put it off all this time! I did poke myself a couple times, but overall, easy. :) First up, I threaded one of my long upholstery needles and made a little knot at one end, then stapled it to the back of the headboard:

how to tuft a headboard

Then I pushed the needle through the headboard, threaded the button on, and pushed it back through to the back. This is where the waxed thread comes in super handy – it kind of held the button where it was while I secured it to the back. Regular thread would slip and be hard to keep where you want it. This worked GREAT.

I would just put a staple in the back of the headboard, but wouldn’t push super hard on the stapler, so it didn’t go all the way into the wood. Then I was able to wrap that thread around it a few times, then hammer it down to secure it. (Pic on the right.)

I didn’t pull each button super tight – I didn’t want it to be a deep tuft. Just a little bit of tuft. And there is an easier way to do this by the way – you can just thread both ends of the thread on the needle with the button already on it, then put it through from front to back and then secure. But that method didn’t work for me because the waxed thread was so thick.

I was THRILLED with how it looked! I finished it up with some nailhead trim along the sides:

The particle board I used to make the headboard was 1/2 an inch thick and I went that size on purpose – so these would have something to grab onto. Any thinner and it would have been hard to get them in well.

I’ve never used the connected nailhead trim (I usually just do them individually) but wow, this made it so simple! The nailhead stuff is $21 for five yards, but I had two coupons so I got it for about $10. :)

I hung this up the same way I did in the Bub’s room – I just used picture hanging jobbies:

hanging a headboard

I figured out where the studs were and screwed into those in first, then that determined where I put the hangers on the back of the headboard.

When we got it hung I was so dang happy with how it turned out!: diy tufted headboard

You can see the nailhead trim better in that pic. From the front you don’t see it as much, but it’s a great little detail when you get up closer. I love it!

You can see there why I didn’t add any buttons any lower too – they’d just be covered.

Many of you have asked about the new bedding – I found it at HomeGoods earlier this year:

It’s by Hillcrest and it was a duvet cover and shams for $40. I had been looking for new bedding for months and just happened to find this, new sheets (they aren’t on now – they are darker and I’ll put them back on later in the fall) and the small pillow on the bed all in one trip. None of them are supposed to go together but I think they work well!

So far with what I made on the old bed, I’ve still got about $300+ to spend – I think I may make money on this redo! That’s what I’m talking about.

You can find upholstered and tufted headboards all over the place, but I promise you they are not hard to make on your own! It does take some time so just be patient with it. But you will save tons if you DIY this one -- the Pottery Barn bed on the left is $1000 for a king (gulp), the Ballard Designs on the right is $500+:

 Pottery barn upholstered headboard ballard designs camden headboard

I think mine looks pretty darn good for less than $100:

DIY tufted headboard

Here’s the break down on cost:

Wood: $15
Foam: $45
Fabric: $8
Buttons, nailheads, etc: $25

Total was $93! Aww yeah. And I have wood, foam, nailheads, buttons and thread left over to use on future projects.

If you went with one layer of foam/egg crate that will go down about $20. I had the batting and muslin but only one of those is really needed and they are both cheap. Of course of you skip the tufting that will help too!

Overall I’m so happy with how it turned out. And it is SO much more comfortable than our old headboard. Have you ever made your own? Did you find it easy to do? Have you ever attempted the tufting? Are ya sceered? 


**I’m getting more and more done in this room! To see how I updated old nightstands for the room, go here. And see what color I spray painted the brass lamps in this post!

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