How to Make a Tufted Headboard

How to make a tufted headboard


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Learn how to make a tufted headboard…

This is a project that can take a fairly plain bedroom to a WOW bedroom, looking polished and finished.  It’s not a project that drags on for days as well.  From start to finish I would say about 4 hours (by myself).  I’ve looked at some online in preparation which was very helpful.  The blog that inspired me the first was Homemade by Carmona but I didn’t want to source an old headboard (because I didn’t have one…and no truck) so what blog I finally landed on was Thrifty Decor Chick.  It wasn’t that I did it exactly like hers (’cause I didn’t) but what I did like was attaching it to the wall, not the bed.

It was an act of love

I have wanted to make one of these for a few years, as I said before, looking at different ones online.  The reason I made one now was I wanted to “tweak” my sister’s master bedroom.  They have been away serving a mission for our church and she was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma.   Which meant they had to head home and I knew she would be spending a lot of her time in the near future in her bedroom. She has always been a great example and such a wonderful sister to me.  After I cried, I got to work. 

She had made a beautiful bedspread a few years ago and so I just did a few things that would highlight the colors already there.  A light green for the walls and changed out their 40 year old dark bedroom dressers/nightstands for some white Ikea ones.  Sometimes you just need a reason to get things done.

It changes the look of a room for a minimal cost

The biggest cost of the headboard for me was the foam.  I was going to use one of those egg carton type mattress toppers and they were out of stock.  I didn’t want to buy two of the size down so walked over to the sewing department and got some packages foam pieces instead.  The fabric was linen look so was less expensive and I got a steal of a deal at Joann’s (wait for a sale or use a coupon). I used MDF board for the frame and bought some D-rings to hang it.  Everything else I had.


  • 1 piece of 1/2″ MDF board.  I had them cut it down at Lowes to 42″ x 62″.  If you look closely at the pictures, I could have done 60″ and been fine.
  • 7-8 pieces of foam (24 x 16 x 2) In the sewing section of Walmart
  • Spray Glue ( I used Aleene’s which I had on hand but this would be great)
  • Staple gun and 1/2″ staples
  • 2 pkgs of large “D”  rings (used for hanging large pictures or mirrors)
  • 4 large deck screws
  • Stud Finder (your husband or significant other will not work in this case:))
  • Drill with bits (square and phillips; plus drill bit for holes)
  • Hand held Jig Saw and blade for wood
  • Paper (I used brown wrapping paper) for pattern
  • Heavy twine, narrow paracord or waxed string  for stringing and fastening the buttons in place (I used what I had on hand, a heavy twine)
  • 10 1.5″ shank buttons; needle and matching thread and a few scraps of batting or fleece (to add padding to the button)
  • Upholstery Needle 4″ or longer
  • Piece of chalk or marker
  • Level (if you have one)
  • Pencil and Felt tipped Marker
  • Tape measure/Scissors
  • Masking tape (to hold paper down)

NOTE:  If you are making t rectangular or have simple cuts, the paper and tape are not needed (or if you can eyeball it)

  • Old sheet to cover foam
  • Saw horses (or workmate table) to cut and do the foam on


  • Decide what shape you want your headboard to be
  • Draw out your pattern (if doing a Belgrave style just use a plate to trace the corners)  Cut and trace it onto the wood.  (I did a curve because my sister’s style is traditional)
  • Cut along the line with a jig saw.

You can see the different shapes in the photo above.  I chose the Eccleston but I still modified the shape.

  • Using your foam, cover the wood with it, like a puzzle, marking what needs to be cut off.  I would hang the foam over and mark from underneath with a black sharpie.  Then I used an electric knife (cuts the foam like butter….really) to trim the pieces
  • Using spray glue (I used Aleene’s that I got at hobby lobby) coat part of the board and lay your pieces on top, pressing firmly.  You might want to use disposable gloves as the finger you’re using to spray will get glue on it.  Don’t be afraid to use a lot, and you might have to reapply some parts.  I did.

**NOTE**  If you are using an egg carton style mattress topper, you can staple staple it to the headboard, flip the board over, pull the excess foam over the edge and staple it down.

This is what the headboard looked like before I started covering with fabric.

  • I used an old sheet to cover the foam.  I draped it over and crouched under the headboard to hold it in place with a few staples before flipping it over.  Then pull and staple the sheet around the edges.  You will have to stand it up from time to time to make sure you are getting a nice fit.   

NOTE:  If you have a staple gun with your compressor I highly recommend using it.  Your staples go in more sure (I had to pull out a few:))

  • Once this is done, I stood the headboard up and draped my linen (look) fabric over the sheet.  I then began stapling the fabric in place.  I needed to pull it snug and staple working along the back working back and forth to make sure it looks great.  I laid it down for most of it, picking it up to make sure it looked smooth as I went.

     This is how it looked prior to marking and drilling the holes on the back.  

  • The next step is where your brain has to go to work.  Making sure the floor is clean and any drop sheets or plastic used so far is removed, lay the headboard face down on the floor.  Mark on the back of the headboard where you want your buttons placed.  I only used 10 buttons for this part and spaced them at 8″ intervals; 3 in the top row, 4 in the second and 3 in the third.
  • Using a drill with a bit (you need one that will be big enough for you upholstery needle to go through); drill each hole.  Don’t worry if you make a mistake (I did but no one, except the person helping you hang it will see it)
  • I never buy button covering kits.  I have a good button collection and so picked 10 shank buttons that were about the same size (they attach from the back of the button)  I cut out 10 circles from the linen fabric (there will be extra to use when you’ve stapled it to the headboard) and 10 smaller pieces of batting (I used fleece) that will five the buttons some body.  (See photos for clarity)
  • Thread a long string  onto your upholstery needle and tie the ends together in a knot.  You will have to stand your headboard up, leaning against a wall (I did it near the closet opening)  but be able to access the back and the front.  From the back of the headboard, push the need through the hole and the foam and fabric and pull it out the front. (That’s why an upholstery needle is needed here)  Run it through the button and push it back through the other way, having it come out the back.  Make sure you have a few inched of string between the headboard and the knot and the eye of the upholstery needle on each side.  At this point I cut the needle off and knotted the two strings together.  You will be pulling these two strings hard to make sure the button has sunk into the foam on the other side (giving it the “tufted” look) and then you will be stapling the string 3-4 times to hold in place.  (See my not-so-great-photo)

Having two people work together to do the buttons makes the task easier.  The foam I used was a bit denser so didn’t sink in as much (but this is what I was going for)  For deeper tufting I would suggest the egg carton mattress pad.  

  • This is the step where you begin to use your math skills.  You will want to measure the wall where you headboard will go, wanting it centered.  (if you don’t disregard this step)  Using your tape measure, measure the wall and divide by two.  Mark the wall with pencil.
  • Using the stud finder, mark the placement of the studs.  This can take a few minutes to do it twice, so you know your measurements are correct.
  • I measured the height of the bed, then I measured 3/4 of the way up the headboard. I marked it across the headboard and drew a line with pencil.  I took 6″ off the measurement of the headboard (to the 3/4 mark) because I wanted the headboard to be 6″ below the bed.  Then I added the height of the bed to the measurement of the headboard to  determine where the screws would go on the wall.  I measured from the ground up each stud and marked the wall.  This would be the height where the screws would go.  
  • You need to determine the center on your headboard and mark it with a vertical line.  It will line up with the center of the wall.  From this center line on the wall you will determine how far the studs are.  I drilled the screws in at this point so I could measure for the D-ring placement on the headboard.   (I had to move mine a few times. The first time I did it opposite on the headboard……ya I know) If you have the space, set your headboard against your wall where it will go and get a visual.  Sometimes it appears, I’m a measure 5 times cut 5 times kind of person. (But it is up on the wall and no one is the wiser:).  I’m being honest here!) 


  • From the center line measure to the right where the center of the first screw is.  Then from there, measure to the right where the next screw center is.  Do the same thing working from the center line to the left.  Take those measurements and mark them on the headboard back.  I put the center top of the D-ring on this mark.  I then marked the holes and predrilled them about a 1/4″  All your doing is making it easier to screw them in.  Screw the d-rings in across your headboard. (Ff you look at the photo below you can see my mistakes.  So in my case it’s not only the people who help you hang it that will see the back:))
  • With your helper, push the D-rings loops down (so they will hit the screws in the wall) and attach the headboard to the wall.  

NOTE:  I know this came out “wordy” but it is hard to explain the steps.  You might be able to read through them and do it completely different, but this is how my brain works.  If you’re the type of person who moves their furniture around all the time, you will want to attached it to your bed:) It’s sturdy and looks great!

I loved the way it turned out.  Of course I’m my worst critic and know where every mistake is but I feel like the simplicity of the headboard showcases her beautiful bedspread she made.

Send me a picture of what your’s ends up looking like.  If you like this post please pin it and share it!



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Make a Tufted Headboard


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I love to do anything creative and enjoy learning new things. Once I know how, I also love to teach it to others. Homemade by Cheryl, teaching homemade one project at a time! Have fun learning!

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Hey Cheryl, the headboard turned out great. My question about the process would be if I wanted to attach it to the bed how much length would I need to add to bring the bottom down to that part of the bed frame?

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