Upholstered Headboard How-To

Wake up your bedroom with a hip upholstered headboard prized by high-end designers and boutiques. The project takes just a weekend and costs about $215 (beats the $1,300 price tag we've seen for a similar design online).


What You Need:
  • Kraft paper or newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Two sheets of 4'8-foot medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
  • Two sheets of 4'8-foot, 1-1¿2-inch-thick insulating foam board
  • Two packages of mending braces
  • Foam board adhesive
  • 6 yards decorative fabric
  • 4 yards muslin
  • Piping cord
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Scissors
  • Jigsaw
  • Sewing machine

1. Piece kraft paper to the finished headboard's size. Ours measured 63×63 inches to fit a queen-size bed.

2. Mark the headboard's center, drawing a vertical line to divide the paper in half. Draw the desired profile on one side of the center line. Fold the paper in half vertically at the center mark, and cut along the design's edge.

3. Tape the pattern on top of one piece of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or plywood, aligning one side edge of the pattern with the MDF's side edge; trace the pattern.

4. Using a jigsaw, cut out the headboard. Tip: To make cuts at tight curves and corners, drill a small hole large enough to fit your jigsaw blade. This hole gives you room to move the jigsaw blade and should be right beside the point where you need to make a turn.

5. To create the extended height of your headboard, mark and cut out of the second sheet of MDF a rectangular piece the same length as the top portion and tall enough to create your desired finished height. (Our board was 16 inches tall by 63 inches long.) From insulating foam board, repeat steps 4 and 5.

6. Align the top MDF panel with the long bottom board. Apply four mending braces to span the seam where the two boards meet. Turn the headboard over and install the remaining braces on the opposite side.

7. Using adhesive designed for insulating foam board, attach the foam board to the MDF. Let dry according to product directions.

8. To cover the headboard, cut one headboard shape from decorator fabric and another from muslin, adding 3/4 inch all around for seam allowances. For the boxing strip, cut and piece a 4-inch-wide length of decorator fabric to follow the perimeter of your headboard shape. For piping, cut 1-inch-wide strips on the bias.

9. Create piping, following the directions below.

10. With right sides together and starting at an end, pin the piping to the headboard front fabric. Clip the curves to ease the sewing. Using 1/2-inch seam allowances, a zipper foot, and easing the piping as you go, sew the piping to the front fabric piece. Cut off remaining piping. Repeat with the headboard back fabric.

11. With right sides together, pin the boxing strip to the headboard front piece, clipping the curves. Sew, using 1/2-inch seam allowances, as with the piping above. Repeat for the headboard back.

12. Hem the bottom edges of the headboard cover (press the fabric under 1/2 inch, then an additional 1/2 inch, and sew).

13. Turn right side out, then ease the slipcover over the base.

Tip: Insulating foam board gives our headboard visual heft without physical weight. You can choose to fill out the MDF headboard with foam or batting from a fabrics store.

Tip: Secure your headboard to the bed frame using bolts, with the foam facing the wall. With a utility knife, carve out two small foam rectangles to secure the bolts firmly to the headboard and bed frame.

Create Piping: Give your projects dressmaker detail with decorative piping, following these four steps.

1. Cut the fabric on the bias into 1-inch strips with scissors or a rotary cutter.

2. With right sides together and using a 1/2-inch seam allowance, sew short sides of the piping together, sewing at an angle as shown.

3. Unfold pieces, press, and trim excess fabric.

4. Center piping cord on the wrong side of the fabric strip, fold over, and sew close to the edge of the piping using the zipper foot.

Tip: Buy an extra yard of fabric to yield enough piping to create this project. Piping cord is available by the yard and in various sizes at fabrics stores. Look in the home decorating section.


Watch this Bedroom Transformation!
Watch this Bedroom Transformation!

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