Following in the footsteps of some great bloggers, I made by very own button tufted headboard!
If you're looking for a tutorial to follow, I highly recommend the ones over at Little Green Notebook and Brick City Love. My headboard took elements from both of those tutorials, and I must say that they were very helpful. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I thought I'd just share some photos of my process and a few notes on things I learned as I went along.
I'm not sure where the idea for this headboard first happened. I must have seen something similar and got it stuck in my head. I spent months combing the internet for tutorials and inspiration images (many of my favorites I added to my pinterest board), until I finally gathered up the supplies and the courage to tackle this project myself.
For my California King mattress, I ended up making the headboard two feet tall and six feet wide. I found this size made a big enough impact, while still being able to fit all the materials in my car! Upholstery foam also happens to be about two feet wide, which is another reason this size was so convenient.
While other people have simply hung their headboards on the wall, I didn't really trust myself to be able to hang it securely enough to stand up to regular use. Instead, I made a simple frame using 1x3 and 1x2 boards. I was originally going to use plywood, but I'm really happy that I chose to use pegboard instead. It kept the headboard very lightweight, so that it was no trouble for me to flip around on my own. It also saved me a ton of time since I didn't have to drill 43 button holes. The frame helped keep the pegboard from flexing and gave me a nice surface to staple the fabric to.
For my 6ft long headboard, I only purchased 2.5 yards of dark gray upholstery weight chenille fabric. As soon as I came home from the store, I got this sinking feeling that I had seriously miscalculated. Consequently, I decided not to try to cover the legs with fabric, and instead just painted them white to match the sheets. In hindsight, painting them with the wall color paint would also have been a smart idea. I'll save you the suspense and tell you that I had *just* enough fabric to cover the headboard, but I would have preferred a bit more just to be safe!
I charted out the button spacing so that there were 5 long rows (3 of 9 buttons, 2 of 8 buttons). The spacing worked on a 4" unit in either direction. I happened to have a metal broom handle that was the perfect diameter for punching out 1/2" tunnels through the foam for my covered buttons to fall into.
I used some fiberfill from an old pillow between the batting and the upholstery foam--though I'm not sure if it made a big difference in the end result.
I have to say, my least favorite part of this process was making the covered buttons. They simply don't want to come together around such thick fabric! I eventually came up with a system involving a rubber mallet and a whole bunch of glue, but managed to break two of the little assembly tools in the process. If you choose a thicker pile fabric like I did, you might be wise to ask a local upholstery shop to cover buttons for you. It would cost a little extra, but would save some trouble.
Every tutorial I read suggested starting in the middle, and working row by row. I started out this way, but quickly ran into trouble when I started on the next row. Having never done this before, and being too lazy to figure out how to mark the appropriate spacing on the fabric, I found that I wasn't getting the right amount of tension on the fabric. When I started the second row, I wasn't always able to make nice diamond folds in the fabric. So, I decided to start over. The nice thing is that there was no damage to the fabric, so starting over isn't a big deal.
I did start in the middle, but ended up working in every which direction from that middle point. This let me really play with the folds in the fabric so that I didn't use too much of the slack in any one direction. Once I started doing it this way, it was pretty easy to figure out the rest.
I ended up using a package of waxed button thread I found in the upholstery section of Joann Fabric. I really liked working with it because the wax kind of holds your knots in place with friction as you work, so the buttons don't fight against you the whole time. I originally was going to staple the thread to the back of the pegboard, but the density of the pegboard made stapling impossible, so I ended up using all the random little buttons I could find. They worked perfectly to secure the thread.
One note on buying supplies: if you have a smart phone, you must download the free app from Joann. It gives you a bunch of great coupons each week, and then you can join me on my quest to never buy anything there for less than 50% off ;).
I propped my headboard up on four chairs, allowing me to work over and under the board with ease. here I've worked from the center to one end, and have started working the other direction.
Finished and attached to the bed frame with carriage bolts.
I worked on putting this together in bits and pieces over the course of a week. If you were really determined, you could finish this in a weekend. It's not a terribly difficult thing to make, though you will need to work smartly and thoughtfully to ensure a professional-looking end product. I hope I've inspired a few more people to try it out! Oh, and if a headboard isn't your thing, this technique could also make a lovely bench--I'm thinking of making one of those in the future!