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DIY Upholstered Headboard With Welt Cord Trim

Yesterday, my mom and I finished the headboard for my niece’s bedroom makeover, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  I wanted something simple but pretty, in a solid fabric that wouldn’t compete with the wall mural, so we made this DIY upholstered headboard with welt cord trim around the edges.  Here’s how it turned out…

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It’s 77″wide and 34″ high.  A headboard like this would normally be quite simple to make, but the fabric that we used made this project much more challenging.  My mom had a hard time finding fabric to coordinate with the room and the striped accent fabric that we had chosen.  She finally found this fabric, which was the perfect color to coordinate with the stripes, but it’s an outdoor fabric unlike any other outdoor fabric I’ve seen.

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It’s regular fabric on the front, but it’s backed with plastic on the back, which means that it has no give to it whatsoever.  It was almost like upholstering a headboard with a really thick plastic tablecloth.  You can pull it on the bias, and it doesn’t budge at all.  So working with a fabric that had zero give to it definitely made it more challenging, and we ended up with a few more puckers along the edge of the headboard than we would have had if we had been working with a regular fabric that has some give to it.

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But I still think it turned out great!  And hopefully being outdoor fabric will make it easier to clean.  It is, after all, going in a bedroom for a very creative and crafty 10-year-old girl.  Anyway, I was thankful we had two sets of hands during the upholstering step, because this fabric very well might have driven me to tears had I been working alone.  🙂  So if you want to make a headboard like this, I highly recommend a regular fabric.  A medium weight cotton decorator fabric would work beautifully and be very easy to work with.

Here’s how we made this headboard…

I started with a piece of 3/4″ plywood cut to the length and width that I wanted the finished headboard.  Home Depot cut the plywood for us.  Ours was cut to 77″w x 34″h.

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I measured and marked the center of the plywood, and then cut a piece of paper to cover half of the headboard.  (I always have a roll of that brown or red paper from the paint section of Home Depot on hand, and it works perfectly for projects like this.)

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On the paper, I drew half of my headboard shape, and then cut it out.  Then I used it as a template to draw the shape onto the plywood.

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And then I flipped the paper and lined it up on the other half of the plywood, and traced the shape onto the plywood.

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Doing a pattern like that — making half of a pattern and flipping it to use on both sides — ensures that the shape is exactly the same on both sides.  You’ll never, ever get it the same if you try to eyeball and freehand the design and try to get both sides perfectly the same.

And then I used my jigsaw to cut out the shape in the plywood.

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With the shape cut out, I was ready to add the foam.  I used 2-inch foam for this headboard.

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I adhered the foam to the plywood using a spray adhesive.  This is the only kind of spray adhesive I ever use — Loctite Professional Performance 300.  The only place I can ever find it is at JoAnn Fabric, and the reason I like this particular one is because it sprays out as a web.  When I use the ones that spray as a mist, I end up feeling sticky all over my arms and even in my hair, and I can’t stand that.  I never have that issue with the Loctite 300 that sprays as a web.

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When I use that adhesive, I spray the plywood and the back of the foam, wait a couple of minutes, and then press the foam firmly to the plywood.  That creates a permanent bond.  If you just spray one or the other, it’s a temporary bond that will come apart, which can be challenging and frustrating when working on a headboard.

I had to use two pieces of foam in order to cover the whole headboard.  Using multiple pieces is fine, but I do recommend adhering the edges of the foam pieces together so that they’re as seamless as possible.  I just use the spray adhesive for that also.

Once the headboard was completely covered with foam, I used an electric knife to cut out the shape.  If you don’t have an electric knife, it’s well worth it to purchase one specifically for this project.  It’s makes foam cutting so quick and easy.  Any other kind of knife will take forever, and chew up the edges of the foam.

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Then I covered the foam with a layer of high-loft polyester batting.  I used the spray adhesive for this as well, but this batting will hold just fine with only a coat of adhesive on the foam.  There’s no need to spray the back of the batting.  I also sprayed the edges, wrapped the batting around the edge of the headboard, and then cut it off along the back edge.  There’s no need to wrap the batting around to the back of the headboard.

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And finally, it was time for fabric.  We brought the headboard inside and placed it on the fabric with the plywood side down, allowing a few extra inches at the bottom.  Then I used a pencil and traced around the headboard, transferring the shape onto the fabric.  The reason we placed the plywood side down is so that I would have the hard, definite edge to trace around.  Tracing around the foam/batting side would have resulted in a not-very-precise outline.

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While I was working on the headboard outside, my mom was making covering welt cord in the headboard fabric.  She made a total of 24 feet of covered welt cord for the headboard.  (If you want a tip for making continuous bias for welt cord, see my tutorial here.  We actually did not do bias strips for the cord on this headboard since the plastic backing on the fabric didn’t allow for any give on the bias, and it wouldn’t have made any difference.)

When the welt cord was finished, I measured the lip on the welt cord…

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…and then transferred that measurement to the outline of the headboard on the fabric.

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Marking to the outside of the traced headboard line, we measured and marked a new line all the way around the traced headboard line.  I used this new line as the cut line to cut out the fabric, and this extra amount provided enough fabric for a seam allowance.

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With the headboard face fabric cut out, I pinned the welt cord along the edge of the fabric along the top and sides.  I pinned this to the face (i.e., the front, or the top) of the fabric.  I had to make several relief cuts in the welt cord lip so that the fabric would bend around the curves.

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And then using a zipper foot on the sewing machine, I sewed the welt cord to the fabric.

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Next I cut out a long stripe of fabric that was 5.5-inches wide, and long enough to go around the sides and top of the headboard…

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…and I pinned that to the fabric, with the welt cord sandwiched in between.

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Still using the zipper foot, I sewed all of those layers together around the sides and top of the headboard fabric.  (No need to put welt cord along the bottom.)

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Then we were ready to attach the fabric to the headboard.  We carefully lined up the fabric so that the welt cord lined up with the edges all the way around the headboard.  Then while my mom held the fabric in place along the edges (making sure I didn’t pull it too tightly), I wrapped the edge fabric around to the back and stapled it in place.  I had to make several relief cuts in this as well to make it around the curves.  And again, this particular fabric puckered.  Most fabric will have at least a little bit of give to it, so you can pull out those puckers before stapling the fabric in place.

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We stapled the fabric along the edges and the top first, making sure that the welt cord lined up perfectly around the edges.  And then we flipped the headboard over, pulled the fabric along the bottom as tightly as possible, pulling out any wrinkles or puckers on the front of the headboard, and wrapped that fabric around to the back and stapled in place.

And finally, we added one more row of welt cord along the back edge.  There was no need to sew this welt cord to the fabric.  It’s much easier to staple it in place afterwards.

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And that’s it!  The only thing left to do was attach the Ook Hangman hardware.  This French cleat hardware is the only way I ever hang headboards.  One piece goes on the back of the headboard…

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…and the other piece, which comes with a nifty little level, goes on the wall.

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The best thing about Ook Hangman hardware is that they come with Walldog screws and don’t need to be hung on a stud.  No stud finder necessary.  You just screw them right into the drywall, and they hold just perfectly.

And voila!  There she is!

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Now on to the built-ins.  🙂

And FYI…in case you’re wondering why we made the headboard first, it’s because I wanted to know exactly how thick the finished headboard would be before cutting out plywood for the bed.  The bed and shelves will all be built in, and I didn’t want to take the chance of making the bed the wrong depth (i.e., not allowing enough depth for the upholstered headboard).  Now, with the headboard finished and in place, there will be no guesswork.  I know exactly how much allowance is needed for the headboard.

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  1. You make it looks so easy! I am thinking about giving this a try in my master because it really need some new life.

  2. That’s a gorgeous color choice and all your tutorials are so well thought out and presented. I am your biggest fan.

  3. “And FYI…in case you’re wondering why we made the headboard first…” This is why I love your tutorials!!! Because, yes my crazy, plan every single detail in advance mind was wondering why you did the headboard first. I love that you explain every step, every decision and any ‘fails’ you may have had before getting to the end result. Thank you 🙂 And it looks awesome so far… I’m excited for your niece.

  4. Beautiful and I just love the mural. Just how does the headboard hook onto the wall piece? I am having a senior moment.

    1. Maggie, if you look closely at the picture showing the hanger on back of the headboard you can see that the bottom edge of the hanger is bent out away from the wood. The TOP part of the hanger strip on the wall is bent out. So when the headboard is put against the wall and the hanger pieces are pretty well lined up, you just let the headboard slide down until the lip on the headboard piece catches in the lip on the wall piece. You can slide it to either side a little to get it centered. We got the Ook Hangman hardware at Home Depot in the section with picture hanging supplies. This one is 12 inches and is supposed to hold up to 100 pounds.

      1. Thank you! I have never heard of or seen these. Pretty darn clever. I can see many uses for different sizes. You’re the best!!!

  5. That wall mural is something else! And the headboard, do I dare say is perfect with the combination! The word manifique! comes to mind, but I don’t know how to spell it (that’s a classy broad for ya!!) Terrific, terrific. This young lady is going to be thrilled.

  6. Beautiful work, a usual! What kind of a ruler is that? I have been sewing since taking 4H in the 70’s and have never seen such a handy looking ruler!

    1. Brenda Pawloski,

      That is a Dritz seam gauge. You can find them at JoAnne’s. They are very inexpensive and so useful.


  7. Thank you Jesus and thank you Kristi! Have been holding off on two pillows because I wanted piping. I think this is one of those things that’s like riding a bike. Once you do it, you will never forget! The headboard and wall look good. I have something to tell you. I know I have been vocal about you choice of prints for the head chairs in your dining room. Yesterday, I figured out why. I was at my pain managment Docs for my spinal injections and the front office staff were all wearing scrubs in that pattern. I knew I had seen it elsewhere, but could not put my finger on it since I only go in every four months. I am sorry to say they looked hideous. I am still crossing my fingers that you change your mind, LOL. Blessings

    1. LOL…Hopefully that fabric will look better on a chair than it does on a human. 🙂 I love the pattern and colors, but I don’t think I’d actually wear it on my body. 😀

  8. Beautiful headboard. What a good idea to attach the second row of cording with a stapler. It’s hard enough to line up one row; I was wondering how in the world you managed two. Now I know.

    Also, thank you so much for your advice on the wall cleats. I have a headboard project coming up and have been a bit mystified by that step.

    ALSO! I want to give you a shout out about the Locite 300 spray adhesive. It is indeed awesome to work with. I just mounted three laminated maps to foam core (for pinning purposes) and used the 300 product on your recommendation. It worked flawlessly, but the level of adhesion is no joke, man: you only get one shot and then it is stuck forever. Thank you for your recommendation!

  9. I’ve been sewing all sorts of things for more decades than I will tell you. As I read your description of trying to deal with the non-stretchable fabric and the puckers. You may have thought of this and discarded it for some reason. But, I think I would have been strongly tempted to making that edge fabric much longer and gather it, hoping the gathers would work better going around those curves. Just an idea……….

  10. The headboard looks great! I too would like a recommendation for a sewing machine for an intermediate skills level person. Thank you!

  11. Beautiful job there, Kristi! My gdaughter has been wanting me to make her a turquoise headboard too, and this is EXACTLY what she wants. Thanks for the tutorial!

    Also, what thread did you use on that outdoor fabric? I have some patio chairs that need recovering and I’ve been hesitant to do them because I am concerned about the thread not being strong enough and able to last outside in our Louisiana humidity.

    That room is looking fab-you-lus!

    1. Alta, I’m a Louisiana native so I know what you’re talking about. I made some sunbrella-type cushions for my children who live in the sandhills of North Carolina, a climate not too different from Louisiana. I used 100% polyester thread and it seems to be fine.

  12. I love this…I want to do a cornice board in my living room and am thinking something like this on a smaller and wider scale might work..it would have to be lighter tho..just for my husband and I to lift it up there and keep it up there….thanks for the tutorial..u are as always..amazing!!