Start with a full sheet of 3/4”-thick plywood. Have the hardware store cut it two inches wider than the width of your bed. The height of the headboard can be adjusted by cutting legs to size. Be sure to save any plywood scraps for later use. If you’re upholstering an organically-shaped headboard, freehand the shape on a large piece of paper. Then trace the paper pattern onto the plywood. If the shape is symmetrical, draw half of the shape on paper and trace it onto the plywood and then flip the paper pattern over to trace the other half.
Add the second layer by attaching scraps of plywood on the backside of the headboard frame around the edges. (Having the double-thick headboard frame makes it easy to conceal the mounting brackets and the attachment points of the legs.) As you screw pieces into the main headboard shape, it may be necessary to cut them so they fit end to end. Leave a 4”-square space at the bottom of the sides to attach the legs.
Determine the desired height of the headboard. Assuming your headboard shape is shorter than the desired height, cut two pieces of scrap plywood to construct each leg. One piece should be the exact height needed to achieve the desired overall headboard height, and the second piece should be that same height plus 4”. Both pieces should be 4” wide. Glue and screw the two leg pieces together so the bottom edges are flush. Then glue and screw the longer end to the bottom of the headboard on the backside.
Determine the thickness of your border and neatly remove that amount from the edge of your paper template. Glue multiple pieces of foam together to create a piece that is large enough to cover the headboard. Use the remaining shape to trace the interior shape of the headboard on foam.
Cut out a piece of fabric large enough cover the padded portion of the headboard. Center the fabric over the main section of the headboard, smooth out wrinkles and staple in place. Be sure the fabric pattern is centered and straight on the headboard and use sub staples (see photo) to temporarily attach the fabric to the headboard. Try to staple the fabric just beyond the padding to minimize air pockets under the fabric. At the bottom of the headboard, wrap the fabric around the bottom edge and staple to the backside of the plywood. When the fabric is in the desired location, staple permanently and remove the sub staples.
Trace the paper template border on the backside of the fabric, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance on all sides. If you have a large amount of fabric, feel free to trace the border as one whole piece, or cut the template into pieces if you’re working with limited fabric. Draw lengths of boxing long enough to go around the perimeter of the headboard plus a few inches for stapling. The boxing height should be 2” wider that the thickness of the headboard frame (approximately 3-1/2"). As you draw your fabric pieces, be conscious of pattern placement and direction. Cut out all pieces.
If you plan on using welt cord, draw long strips on the bias (at a 45-degree angle) that are 1-1/2" wide. We’ll connect these pieces end to end, but we’ll need enough total length to go around the perimeter of the headboard. Mark the bottom ends of all of the strips and cut them out.
Wrap the fabric around the cording and stitch along the right side. If you don’t have a single welt cord foot attachment for your sewing machine, you can use a zipper foot attachment. Open up and lay the seams flat as you sew across connections in the welt cord fabric.
While holding the border in place, raise up the fabric and staple the seam allowance to the headboard. This is call blind tacking since the staples are hidden from sight behind the fabric. Continue stapling to border all the way around the headboard.
Cut and attach Dacron to the border of the headboard. Split the sheet of Dacron in half and staple only the bottom layer to the wood. The top layer will cover the indentations made by the staples. Cut off the excess Dacron even with the back edge of the headboard.
Pull the border fabric tightly around the edge of the headboard and staple to the backside. If you’re having trouble getting the fabric to lay flat around turns and in corners, it may be necessary to make cuts in the excess fabric to release it. Continue stapling until the fabric is secured all the way around the headboard. Staple excess fabric straight down and on top of the legs where the border meets the legs.
Cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the entire leg and blind tack the top edge to the top of the leg. Reinforce the staple line with cardboard tack strip. Repeat for the second leg.
Conceal the raw frame on the backside of the headboard with dustcover. Sew two lengths of dustcover together to cover large headboards, fold under excess and staple around the perimeter of the backside.