Last Updated on October 8, 2017 by Kristi Linauer
I love…LOVE…a diamond-tufted upholstered headboard. I like them in just about any shape and size. I’m just a sucker for diamond tufting.
But that deep tufting can be quite intimidating for some DIYers. But it shouldn’t be! Once you learn the process, you’ll wonder who in their right mind would ever pay such an extravagant price for a headboard. So let me show you how to save a small fortune.
First of all, you’ll need to determine the size of your headboard. The one I made for Gwen was a king size, so I made it 80″ wide x 34″ high. This allowed for a couple of inches to tuck behind the mattress at the bottom.
Once you’ve determined the finished size you want, go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and purchase a piece of 1/2″ MDF, and have them cut it to size for you.
You’ll also need:
- a bowl or small plate (optional);
- a Sharpie marker;
- a jigsaw (optional);
- an electric meat carving knife;
- a tape measure;
- a yard stick or other long straight edge for marking lines;
- staple gun and staples;
- your choice of fabric, large enough to cover the headboard size, plus about 18 inches on each side;
- 2″ foam, large enough to cover the MDF (this can be pieced together, if necessary);
- hi-loft polyester batting, enough for at least two layers to cover the MDF;
- adhesive for the foam (I prefer spray adhesive, although the fumes are quite noxious, so it has to be used outside, or you need to wear a protective mask);
- buttons…lots and lots of buttons (Gwen’s king size headboard required 57 buttons, and I used half ball cover buttons and covered them in the same fabric as the headboard. It’s a pain, but just go ahead and prepare these in advance, according to the instructions on the package.)
- one package of thin nylon or polyester upholstery/roman shade cord (can be found in the upholstery section at JoAnn Fabrics or other fabric stores);
- a large-eye upholstery or embroidery needle; and
- an electric drill with 3/8″ drill bit.
Don’t be frightened by the list! I promise…you can do this!!
To start, you will need to place your MDF on some support where both the top and the bottom can be accessed. Workhorses would be preferable. I used two chairs.
Now adhere the 2″ foam to the MDF using your choice of adhesive. I prefer spray adhesive, but if you use it indoors, be sure that you use a protective mask, and that all furry and feathered creatures are in another room protected from the fumes.
You may need to piece the foam to cover the entire piece of MDF. That’s not a problem at all. Just be sure to get the pieces butted against each other as smoothly and evenly as possible. Trim any excess foam with your electric meat carving knife.
Starting from the top of the headboard, place a mark at 8″, 16″, and 24″. Do this in several places so that you can use those marks as guides to draw horizontal lines. Then use your yardstick or straight edge to create horizontal straight lines all the way across the width of the headboard.
Next, use your drill to drill a hole through the foam and the MDF. Warning!! DO NOT go slowly on this. If you begin to drill slowly, the drill bit will grab the foam and rip it to shreds. You want to place the drill bit on the button mark, press down all the way so that you can feel the MDF, and then at FULL SPEED, drill very quickly through the foam and the MDF.
This next step is the one I dread the most, but it’s necessary. Professionals have a nifty little tool they use for this, but since I’m not a professional upholsterer, I have to make do with substitutes.
The goal here is to make holes in the foam for every single button that’s large enough for the button to rest at the bottom of the hole. Make sense? In order to do this, I use a combo of this little “tool” and my fingers to pinch out the extra foam. This tool is nothing more than two different pieces I found in the plumbing section at Home Depot. I place the pipe onto the button hole area, and begin twisting.
Now you’re ready for batting. I always use two layers of hi-loft batting (it’ll say hi-loft on the package). The more layers you use, the deeper the tufting will appear…but of course, the more you use, the more your project will cost, and this stuff ain’t cheap!!
To begin the tufting, you’ll start in the center of the headboard, working your way down on the main lines you drew at 8″, 16″, and 24″. As you work from one button to the next, be sure that the fabric is not pulled too tight. If you pull it too tight, you’ll lose the look of the deep tufting.
If you need guidance on how to string the buttons, and how to secure them on the back with your staple gun, you can refer to step #23 through step #25 of this upholstered headboard DIY for details.
After you finish all of the buttons on the horizontal lines, you’ll start on the diagonals. This is where the magic happens! When you press down on the diagonal, the tufts and folds should pretty much form by themselves. You may want to work with them a bit to create neater and cleaner folds, but you shouldn’t have to do too much.
The only thing left to do to finish the front is to secure the edges of the fabric and batting. Begin at one of the buttons, and create a nice, neat fold. Wrap around to the back and secure with your staple gun. You will do this around the entire headboard, creating a fold from each button to take up the slack in the fabric.
It doesn’t have to look perfect, or even pretty, but you do want it to be flat so that your headboard can rest flat against the wall. Also, give all of your staples one last inspection, and hammer in any that aren’t all the way in.
Now don’t forget…if you try this project, I’d love to see your results!!! Also, once you understand the process, you can easily modify the plans the create any shape you want. If you want a curvy headboard, like the one in the first picture, then start by drawing your shape, cut it out with your jigsaw, glue the foam and trim to the shape using an electric meat knife, and then start at the center line to mark your buttons. The process is the same.
Have fun!! Get creative!!
Edit: Here is a photo of this headboard in the room for which it was created…
Want to see the whole “before and after” of this bedroom?Click here!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I hope you’ll join me on my DIY and decorating journey! If you want to follow my projects and progress, you can subscribe below and have each new post delivered to your email inbox. That way you’ll never miss a thing!