Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Make a Padded Fabric Headboard

We upgraded my son's bed from a twin-sized to a queen-sized mattress set (re-purposed from the guest room) when we moved to Savannah six years ago.  I never bothered to replace the headboard or buy a bed frame at the time.  We were busy renovating an entire house, so our dollars were better spent elsewhere and, frankly, he was still too young to care one way or the other.
Padded Headboard for my son's room.
Once we moved back to Atlanta and completed painting his new room, I had a fresh slate with which to work.  It was time to address my son's bed situation.  I shopped brick-and-mortar stores, online, outlets, as well as garage- and estate sales looking for ideas.  I saw nothing that seemed the right direction.  The only input from my son was he wanted it to be LEGO or baseball.  Go figure.

My inspiration finally came from a metal magazine rack that a neighbor was selling at a garage sale - her son was moving on to college and she was clearing out his room.  I recognized the rack from a favorite retail store, loved the look and felt the it would go well in my son's room.  It even resembled LEGOS in a way.  I bought the rack, hung it up on his wall and decided to make a padded headboard and pillows that mimicked the look of the metal bins.  The headboard I opted to create was based on several padded headboards I admired online and consists of two rows of 12" x 12" padded squares - in colors matching the magazine rack.
Metal magazine rack inspired my son's new headboard.
Researching online, I read several different tutorials for making padded headboards.  Most required heavy backer boards made of plywood.  My carpenter (husband) was busy with other projects at the time so any hauling, cutting, or attaching plywood would have to wait a few weeks.  I wanted the headboard sooner than later so I decided to try alternative materials.

I used heavy-duty, single-wall corrugated cardboard and adhesive strips that claim to be damage-free.  The project required no power tools, cost very little money, could be completed within a few days and (best of all) would be easy enough to change/modify if my son's tastes changed.   Or, if I screwed things up.

I visited my local warehouse club to pick up corrugated cardboard  boxes for the project - for free!  If you look by the check-out, you'll see large bins of these boxes available for the taking.  Next, I stopped by a discount store and picked up a twin-sized foam mattress topper for under $10.00 (I happened to catch a sale) and the adhesive strips.  At the fabric store, I purchased fabric yardage in colors matching the magazine rack bins.  This project took about five total hours to complete and cost very little money.  It was absolutely worth it for a young boy's room.  

If you want to create a padded headboard like the one I made, keep reading:

How to Make a Padded Fabric Headboard:

Materials used to create the padded headboard
  • Single-walled corrugated cardboard 
  • Foam Mattress Topper (Twin-sized topper was perfect for this project)
  • Fabric to cover each square
  • Cotton Batting
  • Measuring tape, Ruler, Marking Pen, Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Stapler or Staple gun
  • Adhesive mounting strips
General How-To:
  • Measure the wall surface to determine headboard dimensions.
    Note:  Queen-sized mattresses are 60" x 80".  I wanted two rows of squares, so the total dimensions are 24" x 60".  Each completed square is 12" x 12". 
  • Measure 12" x 12" squares and cut corrugated cardboard to create backers.
    Note:  The cardboard cut like a breeze - I scored one side along my lines with scissors and then scored the other side to separate.
  • Measure and cut foam mattress pad to create squares the exact size of the backer.
    Note:  I cut twelve 12" x12" squares and had a bit left over.
  • Measure and cut cotton batting to create squares that are 2" larger on each side
    Note:  I cut each square of batting to be 14" x 14"
Cut cotton batting 14" x 14"
  • Measure and cut fabric to create squares that are same size as the batting.
Cut fabric squares 14" x 14".
  • Iron all the fabric squares to remove wrinkles.

  • On a clear surface, place a square of fabric, followed by a square of batting.  Center a foam square on the fabric and top off with a cardboard backer.
    Note:  You could use adhesive spray to adhere the foam to the cardboard if desired.  I did not bother as the squares only measured 12" x 12".
  • Fold fabric over side and pull taut.  Use staples to attach fabric to each side of the cardboard backer.  Reinforce and strengthen edges using duct tape.
    Note:  I used a regular office stapler because I knew I'd be reinforcing with duct tape.  Like I said earlier, this was very low-cost and low-tech.
Regular staples worked fine, though you can also use a staple gun.
The back of the fabric square is secured using staples and duct tape. 
  • Repeat these steps for each of the squares.
    Result:  You have 12 upholstered squares.
  • Install headboard:  Follow manufacturer's directions for using the adhesive mounting strips and adhere squares to the wall in desired pattern.
    Note:  I used four adhesive strips per square and lined them up using a level.
    Result:  The headboard is installed.
  • Step back and enjoy!

Completed headboard

It's been three months since I've installed the headboard.  It's held up beautifully - nothing has fallen down, come apart, or ripped.  My son loves it - he actually spends more time in his room reading and playing now. The additional pillows along the mural wall make his bed feel like a day bed.  He now considers his room to be his hang-out, lounging space.  

The Pillows:
I bought enough fabric to make four 18" x18" pillow covers in the same colors as the headboard.  I used all the scraps and extra yardage to make an assortment of throw pillows.  These pillows, along with the silver duvet cover, really tie the room to my original inspiration piece - the magazine rack.  I'll explain how I made all the pillows and pillow covers in a different post.

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