How to Make a Two-Dimensional Upholstered Headboard

Add two-times the style to your bedroom with a double-layer upholstered headboard.

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

©Cole Collective

DIY Upholstered Bordered Headboard

To create this headboard, you'll need plywood, paper template, scissors, permanent marker, 2”-thick soft-density foam, foam and fabric spray adhesive, foam cutter or electric carving knife, scrap burlap or fabric, Dacron batting, goggles, staple gun and 3/8”-long staples, white or yellow chalk, fabric (our white octagon fabric is Robert Allen Velvet Geo in Pearl), yardstick, measuring tape, straight pins, sewing machine, attachments and thread, 5/32” fiber-flex welt cord, cardboard tack strip, furniture leg glides and dustcover.

Draw the Shape and Transfer Onto Plywood

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.

Attach Extra Pieces

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.

Make and Attach 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.

Recut the Edge of the Plywood

Flip the headboard over and cut the scrap plywood to mimic the shape of the main headboard piece. Remove rough spots and splinters by sanding the edges.

Trace the Interior Shape of the Headboard on Foam

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 the Foam

Use a foam cutter or a meat carving knife to cut out the shape on the drawn line.

Reinforce the Seams in the Foam

Glue scrap burlap or fabric over the seams on the front side of the foam. This will keep the separate pieces from coming apart over time.

Attach the Batting to the Foam

Glue the foam to the headboard and glue a single layer of batting on top of the foam. Cut the excess batting from the edges of the foam.

Staple Foam to the Headboard

Staple through the edges of the foam and down into the headboard to help anchor the padding in place.

Attach Fabric Over the Main Section of the Headboard

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.

Mark a Line for the Border Placement

Use the excess removed from the paper template to trace the edge of the border on the fabric in chalk.

Trace the Paper Template on the Fabric

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.

Draw Fabric for Cording

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.

Sew the Border Together

If you cut your border into multiple pieces, sew them together with good sides facing.

Cut the Ends of the Cording Fabric at Complementary Angles

Line up a marked end of welt cord next to an unmarked end and cut them at complementary angles.

Position the Cording Fabric Ends for Seaming

With good sides facing, position two welt cord strips in the shape of a teepee. The ends should be slightly offset to leave a 1/2" seam allowance.

Sew the Strips of Cording Fabric Together

Sew across the ends of the fabric strips to connect them. Repeat until all of the fabric strips are seamed together.

Sew the Welt Cord

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.

Attach the Cording to the Inside Edge of the Border

Keep the tail of the welt cord aligned with the outside edge of the border while sewing the two together.

Attach the Boxing to the Outside Edge of the Border

With good sides facing, seam the boxing to the outside edge of the border.

Attach the Boxing to the Outside Edge of the Border

Once the border and boxing is complete, it's time to staple it to the headboard.

Staple the Border to the Headboard

Determine the correct placement of the border along the chalked guideline we made earlier.

Staple the Border to the Headboard

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.

Reinforce the Border with Cardboard Tack Strip

Staple cardboard tack strip over the seam allowance to strengthen the connection to the headboard.

Staple Dacron on the Border of 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.

Staple Border Fabric to 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.

Blind Tack Fabric on Top of 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.

Cover the Legs in Fabric

Pull the fabric down and neatly staple it around the leg. Fold under excess fabric to create clean edges and staple on the backside of the leg. Repeat for the second leg.

Attach Leg Glides

Hammer glides into the bottom of the legs. This helps protect the fabric on the bottom of the legs.

Staple Dustcover to the Back of the Headboard

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.

Attach Bedframe to Headboard

If you’re using a standard bed frame, line up the ends with the legs of the headboard and mark the placement of the bolts on the headboard legs.

Attach Bedframe to Headboard

Clear the fabric from the bolt locations and drill holes through the legs at the same diameter as the bolts.

Attach Bedframe to Headboard

From the back to the front, place the bolts through the legs and bed frame and secure with washers and nuts.

Close Up

The final product will be a professional looking headboard, customized to fit your style, budget and space.