How to Make a Tufted Wingback Headboard

Feel like royalty with this beautiful upholstered headboard. Wings, pleating and button-tufting create a stately and cozy backdrop for your bedroom.

Diamond Tufted Headboard

This stately DIY headboard frames your bed in a cozy and elegant way. The tools and materials for this project include: plywood, a T-square, yardstick, measuring tape, goggles, electric screwdriver and attachments, 2”-thick firm density foam, foam and fabric spray adhesive, foam cutter or electric carving knife, permanent marker, hole-saw bit, fabric (we used Knoll Textiles’s Hourglass in Almond), scissors, cotton batting, stitched Dacron, white or yellow chalk, straight pins, sewing machine, attachments and thread, button kits or button machine and attachments, button twine, button needle, staple gun and 3/8” staples, regulator, Pli-Grip, bonded Dacron, rubber mallet, dustcover and furniture leg glides.

Cut the Back Panel and Make Brackets

The main piece of plywood should be the width of the bed plus two times the thickness of the padding on the wings. It’s not necessary to make and attach legs since the wings can act as legs. Brackets will be used to attach the wings to the frame. The amount of brackets you'll need will depend on the height of your headboard. You'll want a bracket every 12 to 18 inches, so probably about 8 to 10 brackets should suffice. To make the brackets, draw a curved triangular shape on a piece of scrap plywood and cut it out using a jigsaw. Use the first triangle bracket as a template to make the rest.

Attach Brackets

Cut two pieces of plywood to the desired height and width of the wings. Butt the back edge of the wing onto the side of the headboard. Glue and screw corner brackets every 12” to 18” along the right and left edges of the main headboard.

Fasten the Wings

Screw the corner brackets into the wings from the outside of the wings. Screw the back edge of the wings into the main headboard for additional stability.

Cover Corner Brackets

To create a smooth transition and solid surface between the wings and headboard, cut a piece of panelboard and staple it to the corner brackets, wings and headboard.

Draw Then Drill the Tufting Diagram

The spacing between buttons is dependent upon what you find visually appealing and what dimensions work well with the overall dimensions of your headboard. We’ve created a diamond pattern using 6”-square spacing. Use a square and yardstick to draw the diamond grid on the wood frame.

Drill All Tufting

Drill holes through the points of every diamond. The larger the holes, the easier it will be to find when pulling the button needle through the headboard, so use at least a 3/8” drill bit.

Attach Foam and Drill Holes

Pad the headboard with 2”-thick firm density foam. Since the headboard is larger than a typical slab of foam, use foam and fabric spray adhesive to glue multiple pieces of foam together. Draw the diamond grid again on the foam. Use a hole-saw drill bit to remove the foam over every hole. From the buttons on the outer edges, draw lines straight out to the edges of the foam. In the curved section between the headboard and wings, it may be necessary to reduce the spacing of the buttons since the surface area is reduced with the addition of the 2”-thick padding.

Take Padded Measurements

Extend a measuring tape from a hole in the headboard frame, up and over the foam to the opposing hole. Measure the opposite direction as well if your diamond dimensions are not square. Take additional measurements of the buttons that are more closely spaced in the curves between the wings and headboard. We’ll use these padded measurements to draw the grid on the fabric. If the seams in your foam are coming apart, reinforce with additional spray adhesive or glue scrap burlap or fabric over the seams to add stability. Be sure to clear the holes of scrap material.

Cover the Foam with Cotton Batting

Cover the front face of the foam with two layers of cotton batting. Use your fingers to clear the cotton from all of the holes.

Cover the Cotton with Stitched Dacron

Cover the front face and edges of the headboard with a single layer of stitched Dacron. Stitched Dacron has a cheesecloth backing. Carefully cut the threads and remove the cheesecloth before laying the Dacron in place. Tear away the excess Dacron so that it is even with the back edge of the headboard frame and clear the holes.

Prepare the Fabric for Diamond Tufting

Draw the grid on the backside of the fabric using the padded measurements of the diamonds. For large headboards, invisibly connect multiple pieces of fabric together by seaming along the diamond grid. This is called vandyking. Be sure to add 1/2" seam allowance on seamed edges and several extra inches of fabric at the top, bottom, and sides for pulling and stapling to the backside of the headboard.

Seam the Fabric Pieces Together

With good sides facing and the cut edges aligned, sew the fabric pieces together to make one large piece of fabric for the entire headboard.

Make and String the Buttons

If you don’t have or don’t want to spend $200+ on an industrial button machine like this one, contact an upholstery shop to make fabric-covered buttons for you. Use regular buttons, or purchase button kits from a craft store, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making the buttons. This headboard has 130, size-30 buttons. Button size is primarily based on your preference. When all of the buttons are made, string one end of a 20”-long piece of button twine through the loop on the back of the button. Then string both ends of twine through the eye of the button needle.

Pull the Buttons Through the Headboard

Start at the center-most hole and place the needle through the fabric at the same point. Use the grid drawn on the back of the fabric to determine where to place the needle. Stick the needle through the corresponding hole in the headboard and pull through the button twine.

Pull the Buttons Through the Headboard

Pro tip: If you can afford it, buy multiple tufting needles and string through several buttons at once to save time and energy.

Pull the Buttons Through the Headboard

Pull the button twine as tightly as possible and secure the ends on the backside of the headboard with two staples. To get the buttons deep into the padding, try pushing the buttons down into the holes while you or a helper pulls the slack out of the button twine.

Staple the Button Twine to the Backside of the Headboard

To keep the twine from slipping through the staples, pull the ends towards the opposite direction and staple again.

Neatly Pleat the Fabric Between Buttons

After the first few buttons are tightly stapled in the center of the headboard, use the regulator to tuck under the excess fabric between the buttons. Fold all pleats under towards the floor so crumbs and dirt are not easily caught in the pleats of the fabric. Working from the center out, continue pulling through buttons and pleating the excess fabric until all buttons are secured.

Pleat Fabric Around the Edges of the Headboard

From the outermost buttons, make straight pleats and neatly staple fabric to the backside of the wings and headboard.

Pleat Fabric Around the Edges of the Headboard

Pleat excess fabric at the bottom corners of the legs and around the top curves of the wings.

Make Release Cuts Between the Wings and Headboard

To get the fabric to lay flat and smooth at the top and bottom of the curve, make small release cuts and staple the excess fabric to the corner brackets attached at the top and bottom of the headboard.

Attach Pli-Grip to the Top and Bottom Corners

Staple Pli-Grip along the inside of the corner brackets. Place one staple prong through every hole in the feet of the Pli-Grip. Close the Pli-Grip towards the inside of the headboard.

Pad the Top and Bottom Corners

Staple bonded Dacron to the top and bottom corners and trim excess even with the outside edges of the frame and the Pli-Grip.

Cover the Top and Bottom Corners with Fabric

Staple a small piece of fabric around the corners to the back edges of the frame. Smooth the fabric over the Pli-Grip and remove the excess fabric 1/2" beyond the teeth of the Pli-Grip.

Tuck the Excess Fabric into the Pli-Grip

Use the flat end of the metal regulator to tuck the excess fabric into the teeth of the Pli-Grip.

Hammer Down the Pli-Grip

Hammer down the Pli-Grip all the way with a rubber mallet.

Attach Pli-Grip on the Outside Wings

Staple the Pli-Grip around the top and front sides of the outside wings. If your wings have sharp corners, cut the Pli-Grip at corners and start a new piece for the adjacent side. Press the teeth down firmly.

Attach Fabric to the Outside Wings

Cut a piece of fabric to cover the entire outside wing plus a few inches for pulling and stapling. Staple the back and bottom edges of the fabric to the back and bottom edges of the wings. Smooth the fabric over the front and top of the wings and trim the excess fabric 1/2" beyond the outside edge of the Pli-Grip. Use the regulator to tuck the excess fabric into the teeth and hammer down the Pli-Grip tightly with a rubber mallet.

Attach Furniture Glides to the Bottom of the Legs

To protect the fabric, hammer in furniture glides or stick felt pads to the bottom of the legs.

Lean Your Head Back

Place the completed headboard in your bedroom for an elegant look.

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