Easy DIY tufted headboard tutorial

Another DIY project, you ask? We didn't get enough when we tufted a coffee table? Or used chalk-paint on a giant sideboard? Hell no. There are never enough DIY projects when you are a cheap bastard psuedo-crafty.

This time we opted to horn in on a friend's project: a sweet ass  DIY tufted  headboard.

Let's start with your supply list:

- plywood - Home Depot will cut it to your specs
- fishing line
- buttons for the back. Use these to help anchor your tufts
- upholstery button kit - just like 6th grade home-ec. Use the same fabric you are using for the headboard, or jazz it up with something complimentary
- fabric. Make sure to extra for buttons and keep it around in case you need to repair a button at a later date
- foam. Stores like JoAnn Fabrics carry this and will cut it to your specs. BRING A COUPON - it's a little pricey
- upholstery needle aka the biggest needle the world has ever seen
- quilt batting
- spray adhesive
- heavy duty staple gun and staples.
- hand-held jigsaw (if you are making fancypants cuts)
- X-acto knife
- Apple corer
- hammer
- 2 french cleat picture hangers (available at Home Depot)
- protective eye wear. You don't want OSHA creeping up on you...or a lost eyeball
- old sheet
- horses or something stable on which to rest the headboard
- 90s jams

Got everything? Let's do this.

First, I am going to tell you what to AVOID

screw you pegboard

screw you pegboard

1. Don't use pegboard. At least not the one pictured. We couldn't staple it worth a damn, which led to a lot of frustration, extra costs, and general fist-shaking. Plus it's uber flimsy.

2.  Don't use too much sugar when making mojitos. I mean, that's sort of universal no-no, right?

Game on (Tutorial)

Look at those curves

Look at those curves

1. Decide if you want to fancy up your headboard with a saw. Check out various options here. My friend went with the Belgrade style. She used the first corner piece cut as a stencil for the second. Symmetry = happy

2. Decide on the number and location of all holes. Mark and then drill baby, drill.

3. Place the foam on top of the wood. If you want a cleaner look, cut the foam at the edge of the wood. We left enough of the squishy stuff to roll over the edge and give the headboard an overstuffed look.

An X-Acto knife or electric  carving knife come in handy during this step.

4. If you want a deep tuft, I suggest using an apple corer or scissors to remove the foam over the holes. Push the needle through the back side and pull up through the foam; use the needle as a guide to remove the foam.

5. Spray the foam with adhesive and quickly lay the batting on top. My friend opted to fold over the batting, thus doubling its thickness.

6. Lay your old sheet on the ground and cover it with your fabric, backside up. Now flip your entire headboard skeleton on top of the fabric and place per your discretion.

IMG_39587. Pulling the batting tight and onto the back of the headboard, staple it around the entire piece of plywood. An extra set or two of hands comes in helpful as one can pull the batting, one can staple and the third can follow with a hammer if need be.

NOTE: There exists two modes of thought on when you should staple the actual fabric: Before tufting vs. after.

For this project we stapled first.

8. We began on the top of the headboard and stapled the fabric along the straight edge. We then cut darts along the Belgrade corners to minimize puckering. Again, 3-4 people are helpful during this phase to ensure the sides are symmetrical and assist with the pulling, stapling, hammering.

9. Once the fabric is completely attached to the board, it's time to tuft.

Thread and secure  your backside buttons onto one side of the fishing wire;  these buttons will help your tuft from slipping out. Push the other end of the wire through the eye of the upholstery needle.

10.  Now it's time to move the headboard up to the horses.  With the headboard standing up, push the upholstery needle through the foam and fabric from the backside of the headboard, thread your upholstered button onto it, and push the needle back through to the unfinished side of plywood. Pull INCREDIBLY TIGHT, knot and staple the fishing wire in a zig-zag pattern to help the tuft stay in place.

TIP:  You can make the most consistent looking tufts if your friend pushes on the upholstered button from the front while you pull and tie the fishing wire off.

team tuft

team tuft

And repeat until all buttons are attached.

11. Drill french cleat picture hangers to the back and on your wall,  mount this bad boy and thank us later

Total cost: less than $300.


If you are looking for additional tufted headboard ideas and/or directions, Thrifty Decor Chic has super money saving suggestions and Love, Pomegranate House also has excellent tips (she tufts first and staples after).

And if you have done this or similar projects, please share pictures and what worked/didn't work. Thanks!

No one ever accused me of being rational. Follow Swirleytime on twitter @swirleytime and Facebook for interesting stories, links and a lot of self-deprecating humor.

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    Annie Swingen

    Chicago-based hyperbole enthusiast. Mom to a kid and sometimes my mom. Overboard (1987) obsessed weirdo. I like the funnies in life.

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