Upholstered Headboard with Nailhead Trim

Years ago I made my first upholstered headboard.  I was fairly new to upholstery at that time so it wasn't very ambitious.  I've always wanted to improve on it so earlier this year I did just that.

This project cost around $120 for the materials and it took me about 4-5 hours to complete.  The most expensive part was the nailhead trim because I splashed out and bought a strip of it rather than using individual pins.  This makes it much easier to get the straight (and even then it's a bit of a challenge!).

This headboard is for a double bed (see New Zealand bed sizes here).  The completed headboard measures 140cm wide by 140cm tall with its legs.  Without its legs, it measures 107cm high.  The height may vary depending on the height of your mattress.  The aim is to have the bottom of the headboard sit at the same level as the bottom of your mattress.  If your bed is larger (or smaller) simply adjust the size.

You will need:

  • 1 sheet of plywood
  • 160cm of fabric (must be 120cm wide)
  • Nailhead strip or nails to fit
  • 120cm x 100cm piece of 2-2.5cm thick foam
  • 2 pieces of pine 6.5cm x 2cm x 90cm
  • 2 pieces of pine 6.5cm x 2cm x 32cm
  • 160cm of calico (must be 120cm wide)

I'm not going to give you measurements and a pattern.  To get the size and shape I simply drew a rectangle to the size I wanted (ie 140cm x 107cm).  I folded the paper in half and drew the shape I wanted.  Once I'd cut it out I placed it on the plywood and traced around it.


My wonderful husband cut the shape out and strengthened it on the back, as you can see.

Lessons learned:  Next time I'd change the first curve so that it was not so tight.  It was quite hard to get the fabric to sit nicely. I would also choose different fabric - I used a dress weight velvet but it was not strong enough to pull tightly around the curves.  Upholstery fabric would have done the job nicely.


To add the padding, I measured 10cm from the edge and drew a line with a felt tip pen.  This is where the foam, and the nailhead detail, will sit.  

I cut the foam to an approximate size (rectangle) and drew a line up the centre.  I stapled it in place down the centre and then carefully stapled all along the lines, making sure the stables were very close together.  This will be the guide for where the nails go so it's important that it's quite straight and in the right place.  Trim the foam as close as possible to the staples using a craft knife.

Next add the batting.  I cut it into a rectangle approximately 10cm all the way around to spare.  This gives lots of room to manipulate it into the correct position.  Start by stapling one staple at the top, bottom and each side.  This will hold it in the correct position while you do the rest.  

You need to get this nice and tight (without ripping it) because it will affect the finished look.  Staple it all the way around, clipping it into the curves as necessary to get it to fit well.

Covering the headboard with fabric was the tricky bit.  You can see that I had difficulty getting this curve nice and flat - it didn't help that my fabric was too thin and kept ripping!  This was the very best I could do and I just hoped that, when I put the nails in, it would be OK.

To get the nailhead trim in the right place I measured 10cm in from the edge and drew a line with a chalk pencil, making sure it was nice and straight.  Sorry I didn't take any photos of this stage but it took quite a while to get it straight and the curves looking right.  Take your time and step back and have a look to ensure it looks right before your nail them right in.

I covered the back with a piece of calico I had lying around.  I could have done a better job at trimming it (so it's nice and flat) and I could have used a tacking strip instead of putting the upholstery tacks around it but I figured - it's the back - I'm the only one who's gonna see it.

To ensure that the headboard didn't encroach on the mattress I added this extra piece to the leg.


Voilà - all done.


Carol Karl

March 15, 2016