Old headboard frame & salvaged boards
Egg crate foam mattress topper (Twin sized. Even for a King headboard)
Fabric of choice
Button covering kit (5 buttons) or Button covering kit (18 buttons) (3/4″ buttons) (I used a total of 37 buttons)
Upholstery twine / hemp cord / waxed button thread
Next you are going to use scrap wood (any type will do) cut to the length of the headboard frame. I had two MDF doors from an old broken wardrobe that I cut to length and nailed onto the frame. Nothing fancy or pretty, just nail through the boards to the frame to secure it…screws will do if you prefer.
DRILL HOLES FOR TUFTING
Next it’s time to mark drill holes for tufting. There is nothing I hate more than measuring, so I did a quick search on Pinterest for “DIY tufted headboards” and noticed that at least a few geniuses simply used pegboard as the backing for their headboards and foot boards. Such mart DIY’ers! Granted pegboard that width would cost extra and be less sturdy. So I borrowed the pegboard off my craft room wall and used it only as a template to mark the wood on my headboard.
Here’s what you do:
1. Measure and mark the center of the headboard. 2. Center the pegboard on the center of the headboard. 3. Start from the marked center, but three holes down, and work your way across that row. 4. Use a sharpie to dot the headboard beneath, it helps to circle the outside of the dotted peg hole so you don’t forget which has been done.
Once you have finished dotting the surface of the headboard, take a moment to double check that you haven’t missed any spots. Having circled the hole you just dotted will help you with this! Nothing is worst than removing the pegboard only to discover you forgot a hole and having to line up again. TIP: Don’t create dots right up to the edges of the headboard, stop several inches short and give yourself a small perimeter. Now get to work drilling holes through all those dots! The holes don’t have to be very big, just wide enough for a needle to poke through. Brush off all that sawdust. TIP: If there are any holes blocked off in the back by the frame, drill all the way through the frame itself so you have full tufting access.
Take two twin pieces of egg carton mattress foam, which is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than buying upholstery foam (this smart idea brought to you by yours truly, the queen of cheap). I had one old one I never really used, and one I bought from Walmart for $11. Place it on top of the headboard, egg carton side down. Line it up with the top and sides of the headboard and trim any excess not needed. Next staple the sides and bottom (not the top).
COVER THE BUTTONS
Time to start covering your buttons. Boy, this is the hardest part of the project. I HATE this part of the project!! Maybe I just got a cheap button cover set, I have no idea, but my fingers were seriously aching by the time I got through only 7 buttons. You’ll follow the instructions on the back of your button covering kit, but once you read the instructions come back here and read this. There are a couple tricks I learned to make the process easier. Oh, and be sure to use my Gorilla glue tip, you do not want button covers popping off…ever.
Not all kits are created equal, I bought two of the same brand, but the rubber mold was a better fit from one kit than the other. You will need to buy more than one kit anyway, just try all the rubber molds until you discover which you like best.
Cut the fabric slightly bigger than the template that comes with the kit. It is better to trim off excess fabric once you get the button inside the rubber mold than struggle to get the fabric centered.
Slide the button shell and fabric into the rubber mold on it’s side, then slowly work the rest of it in. It just doesn’t pop in otherwise.
You don’t want to ever have to do this again, so before you insert the back with shank, lift up the fabric and add a little bit of Gorilla glue around the inside edges. Put the fabric back down, and add a small dab of glue to the center, THEN add the button back with shank. Just so you know, if you add too much glue it will foam out the shank a little, that is ok as long as you don’t add too much. If you see too much glue coming out just sop it up with a napkin. See the image above? You will see a little Gorilla glue that dried in bubbles outside the shank…which I prefer because it dries hard and fortifies the button. Just be sure you allow the glue to dry overnight before using your buttons.
Holding the pusher over the back to hammer it in place is very hard! It slides out, you have to hammer it sideways trying to avoid your finger tip, then hammer the other side…ugh! My super smart tip to you that I didn’t figure out until I was halfway through; hot glue the pusher to a wooden paint stir stick so you don’t catch your fingers while trying to hammer it in place! My poor blue finger.
You will need a long upholstery needle with a fat eye, regular buttons, and upholstery twine. This smooth twine unravels easily, but it is the best for pulling through the foam and fabric. Just be sure you knot it well (and many times) so it won’t unravel or loosen over time.
Start by threading a long piece of twine through your needle, then threading a button through to the ends. You’ll want to really make that button stay securely at the bottom. Go ahead and thread it through all 4 holes securely (as if you were sewing on a button) and tie several knots.
1. Thread the needle through the shank of the covered button (the hole). 2. Loop it around and through the shank again. 3. Pull the button down the thread and tight, as deeply into the foam as you can. The loop should cause it to hold in place for a bit, if not just pull it tight again. 4. Cut the thread end and pull the needle off. 5. Tie (like you would shoelaces) the two pieces of twine tightly into the underside of the button. 6. Pull the two twine strings to the opposite side of the button and tie off again. Do this several times alternating between the two button sides so it is secure. 7. Cut off the excess string and tuck it under the button. 8. Pinch the fabric to create a pleat.Before you move to the second row, there is a bit of information you need to know about the first row. The one thing I messed up was the first row, so sadly not every tuck in my headboard is flawless, but yours can be!
THE CRITICAL FIRST ROW
Through trial and error I began to realize that I didn’t do one important little step at the beginning, but in my defense when you are creating the tutorial rather than following one you don’t always get it right the first time. 😉 So be sure you do this step correctly so that every single diamond is perfect. Some of my diamonds lack that perfect tuck.
Right after you do your first button, stop and pinch tuck to create a little fold-over lip that goes up to the top. Now add the next button, then create the pleat again… this ensures you have exactly the right amount of “give” needed between each button moving forward. It allows that perfect little pleat tuck between each button in the top row, and affects the rest of the rows as well.
SECURING THE FABRIC
Once you have completely tufted your headboard it is time to secure the fabric all around. Lay the headboard face down on the ground for this step. You have already completed the top, but it doesn’t hurt to add a few extra staples. To get a nice nice corners on your headboard, fold and tuck the top sides down and pull across to create a perfect top-to-side seam, then staple in place. Continue down both sides, pulling the fabric taught as you go. It just needs to be straight and look good from the front, not the back.
Before you staple the bottom, lift the headboard upright again and trim any excess around the legs. Tuck under, pull tight, and staple from the back. No need to staple the front of the leg, it is pulled tight from the back.
ADD OPTIONAL BACKING
Now you can add a backing if desired. I used an old sheet and a few upholstery tacks. I space them pretty far apart so I can easily get back in if needed. TIP: If one of your buttons starts to look a bit loose (or you didn’t tighten it enough in the first place), go into the back and pull the string with the button tight and staple it a little further down. Now the staples are holding the string with the button so it is pulling tight…no need to restring that button.