Over the past three years I’ve been slowly in the process of turning my old bedroom [at my parents' house] into a beautiful guest room. This has been a long process due to the fact that I live 5 hours away and each project we work on takes the whole weekend. We painted the walls a rich olive green, hung some art, and rearranged the furniture. The summer after I graduated from college we decided to tackle a button tufted headboard using this method, and silk fabric. And no I don’t have a photo of it, it was that bad.
Some things I learned:
- silk doesn’t work well with button tufting
- it needed more tufts
- the tufts weren’t very tufty using said method
So I conjured up a new method and decided to completely redo the whole thing this past weekend. Since we already had a frame built I didn’t have to worry about that part, but if you’re looking to tackle this project here is what you’ll need:
- pegboard [the height of your desire x the width of your bed]
- 2×2 pine [to frame out the headboard]
- 2-3″ poly foam [I used 3"]
- upholstery button kit [I used 5/8"]
- upholstery thread [almost looks like twine]
- extra long giant needle
- spray adhesive
- measuring tape
- nut driver [optional]
- staple gun + staples
- calculator [HIGHLY recommended]
- sawhorses [optional, but highly recommended]
- one other person
Because my frame was already built I don’t have progress photos of that part, but once you decide on how large you want your headboard to be, you just get a sheet of pegboard and cut it down to that size. My process was a little backwards but you’ll want to save the framing part until after you’ve mapped out your tufts. Once mapped, you’ll screw the 2×2 pine pieces all around the perimeter of the back of the pegboard, with a few support pieces like so:
We added some nails every few inches or so around the frame for some extra stability. Okay now that your frame is ready to go you need to map out where your tufts will go. It takes a bit of math and you want everything to be centered, so go ahead and play with a few arrangements before committing. As someone who majored in colors and not math, mine looked a little like this:
I wanted it to be super tufted with a diamond pattern so I ended up having four rows of six tufts alternating with 3 rows of seven tufts, which cam out to a whopping 45 tufts! Mark the back of your pegboard with a white pencil where each tuft will go.
I picked up some 3″ thick polyfoam at Joann’s and had it cut to the width of my headboard. It’s sold by the yard there so be sure to have your 40% off coupon [or Joann's app] because this junk is expensive! In my case I had to use two pieces to get the overall height I wanted and I used my spray adhesive to attach all of the foam pieces together so that they became a solid piece, it will make everything SO much easier trust me!
Now that your foam is the exact size of your pegboard, lay it down with the pegboard on top and your tuft marks facing up. Be sure to mark on the foam and the pegboard which is the top so that you won’t have any troubling lining them up later. Remember you shouldn’t have your frame on yet, so ignore mine.
Take your sharpie and mark onto the foam where each tuft will be.
With your knife cut a circle around each mark [about the size of your buttons] all the way through to the pegboard and then pull the foam out through the back. Cutting out these holes is what allows for those deep tufts we all love so much.
Once you’ve cut around every tuft mark, you’re ready to add your wood frame around the back of your pegboard. Then take everything outside [by yourself because it's too cold for anyone else to help you] and flip your foam onto the front of the pegboard and line up each hole. Be sure that the top of the foam is lined up with the top of your pegboard.
Once every hole is lined up, glue your foam to the front of the pegboard using your spray adhesive.
While waiting for your glue to cure, go ahead and start making your buttons. This part is a pain in the butt. Cut out your circles using the template on your button kit package. Rather than using the pusher that the kit came with [which we destroyed pretty fast] my dad suggested using a nut driver instead, due to the fact that it’s metal, has a handle, and won’t kill your fingers.
SO much easier! Now all of your buttons are ready to go and your glue has had time to off gas, bring your headboard back inside and lay a layer of batting over the foam, followed by your fabric. I chose 2.5 yards of a natural colored linen, because my headboard would only be for a full size bed. You should have at least 2ft of extra fabric that what would normally cover your headboard, the tufting takes up a lot of fabric.
DO NOT staple down your sides yet, that is the very last step. You’re going to do every tuft before you even think about stapling. This is very important. Using your upholstery thread, double it up and cut it at about 1ft. Tie three knots around your button eye for extra strength, then take your needle and thread it through the other end of your string.
Your first tuft will be in the very center of the top row. Using your fingers find the hole you carved out and stick your needle through the fabric, batting, foam hole, and pegboard hole and grab it through the underside of your pegboard with pliers. Trust me you’ll want to use the pliers.. grabbing a metal needle 45 times with your bare hands starts to hurt real quick.
NOTE: the photo below shows only one string, but you should have two because you doubled up your thread. I only have one here because I learned real fast that just having one would immediately snap and the button will pop off and hit you in the face. No lie. So double up!
Okay this is why your headboard should be on sawhorses. From underneath one person is going to pull the button down using the string while another person pushes the button down from the top using that handy dandy nut driver. Having a pusher takes a lot of the stress off of the button, and helps it squeeze through the foam hole you’ve cut.
The person on the floor should pull the string so that there isn’t any slack and staple it to your wood frame [because they'll go in much deeper than they would on the pegboard] in a zig-zag pattern. This helps to secure the thread over time keeping your buttons nicely tufted. I also tied a knot at the end of each thread so that it couldn’t pass through the last staple. I usually averaged about four staples per button.
You’re going to want to start from the center of the top of the headboard, and then work your way left and right before moving onto the next row. This helps to keep the fabric evenly distributed.
You’ll want to help the fabric fold in diagonals each time you add another button so that you’re keeping the diamond pattern you want. For the most part the fabric is pretty good about doing this step all by itself. It’s magic!
Continue to tuft each row, until you’ve
given up because your fingers are rubbed raw and/or bleeding finished every tuft.
Once all of your tufts are complete, turn your headboard face down and pull your batting and fabric tight over the frame and staple it securely.
Hang your frame on the wall and you’re done!
This project took me a total of 2 days, 3 helpers, 2 chihuahuas, 1 sprained ankle, 1 power outage, 10 sore fingers, and 1 emergency late night trip to a Hobby Lobby that was 45min away. All in all though, I’m very pleased with how it turned out! I’m already getting the materials to make one for my own bed using velvet! If you’d like me to make you a button tufted headboard, let me know!