Posts Tagged ‘how to’

Finished Fabric-Covered Headboard

My husband and I aren’t especially handy, so we’re extra proud of the fabric-covered headboard we made for our bed. If we, a writer and a computer programmer, can do it, so can you. This is a cost-effective and relatively quick project; we spent around $100 for all the necessary materials, and we assembled it on a Sunday afternoon.

These instructions are for a California king-sized bed (72″ wide), but the measurements can be adjusted to fit beds of other widths. Please measure the width of your bed before you begin your project and cut the main headboard piece accordingly. Also, we have an extra-thick pillow-top mattress, so if you have a thinner mattress or don’t want such a tall headboard, you may want to adjust the measurements.

The design of this headboard is a simple rectangular shape that attaches to a metal bed frame with bolts. All of the necessary wood comes from one piece of plywood. Prices listed below are approximate.

First, here’s a list of everything you’ll need:

Headboard - fabric


3/4″ thick regular ol’ plywood (4′ x 8′) – $25
3 yards beautiful fabric – $50
Twin-size high-loft quilting batting – $10
4 each of carriage bolts, washers, and nuts (The size of these should match the holes in the bed frame where you’ll be attaching the finished headboard.) – $2
Box of nails (1 1/2″ long) – $5

A sturdy staple-gun and staples (not your lightweight crafting one)
Fabric scissors
Power sander and course-grit sandpaper
Power drill
Power saw (You can have most of the cuts made at your local home improvement store, but our local Home Depot would not make lengthwise cuts to a width under 12″.)
Safety glasses, mask, and ear protection
Saw horses
A blanket or sheet (This is handy for draping over the saw horses or on the ground to keep your beautiful fabric clean.)

1. Cut the plywood into the following pieces (see diagram):

  • A Main headboard piece: 6′ x 42″
  • B Backing piece: 6′ x 5 3/4″
  • C Gap Filler: Two 6″ x 4 1/4″ pieces (May vary depending on how high you want the top of the headboard. The width should match the width of D. The height should be whatever necessary to fill the gap between B and D.)
  • D Legs: Two 6″ x 4′ pieces

Headboard - diagram of wood pieces

The following diagrams show how the pieces will eventually fit together (But don’t start pounding nails just yet. You’ll need to drill some holes and work on the legs first.)

Back View:
Headboard - diagram, back, assembled

Front View:
Headboard - diagram, front, assembled

2. Drill two bolt holes in each leg piece (D). You’ll need to measure the height of openings in your metal bed frame where you’ll be attaching the legs and mark the corresponding places on the leg pieces. Use a drill bit 1/16″ larger than the bolts. Mark which side of each leg piece is the front/back so that you’ll know how it should attach to the headboard later on. (Otherwise, your bolt holes may not match your bed frame.)

3. Nail the backing piece (B) to back of main headboard piece (A). Put the nails in from the front, i.e., from the front of the headboard into the backing piece (A to B).

4. Nail the gap filler pieces (C) to the back of the main headboard piece (A). Again, put the nails in from the front. These gap filler pieces (C) should be snug against the backing piece (B).

Headboard - in progress

5. Sand at an angle along the top and side edges of the headboard to round the corners slightly.

6. Cover the bottom 21″ of the leg pieces (D) with fabric (no batting) and staple the fabric in place. The seam should be on the back (the side that will be against the wall when finished). Don’t worry about the raw edge of the fabric. It will eventually be hidden.

Headboard - in progress

7. Lay your batting over your headboard piece and trim it so that you have enough to cover the entire main headboard piece (A) and to also wrap around on all sides. (Make sure you have at least a few inches extra on all sides). Wrap batting around the bottom edge on the back of the main headboard piece (A) and staple in place. Do not attach the sides or top yet.

8. Repeat the trimming and stapling of the previous step, but with the fabric. Leave even more surplus fabric on all sides. You’ll want the fabric to cover all the batting.

9. Nail the leg pieces (D) to the main headboard piece (A), again from the front, making sure the pieces are snug. (Refer to the “Back View” and “Front View” diagrams if necessary.) Before nailing, make sure to check the marks you made in step 2, which indicate the front/back of the leg pieces.

10. Lay the batting over the entire face of the main headboard piece (A), making sure that it lies flat. Wrap surplus batting to the back of the main headboard piece (A) and staple along the top and then the sides.

11. Repeat the previous step, but with the fabric. Make sure the fabric lies flat, but don’t stretch it excessively. This step is best done with a helper who can hold the fabric in place while you staple. You can trim excess fabric and batting from the back if necessary. When you’re done with this step, you should have a finished-looking headboard that looks like this from the back:

Completed Headboard - back

And like this from the front:

Completed Headboard - front

12. Find the holes you drilled into the leg pieces (D) in step 2. With fabric scissors, cut a small piece of fabric around each hole and both on the front and back.


13. Bolt the headboard legs to the bed frame. That’s it! Congratulations! Hopefully you’ll enjoy your headboard as much as we love ours.

Finished Fabric-Covered Headboard

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I love French memo boards. I think they look nicer than plain cork board, and as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about push pins tragically becoming cat toys. Not that it’s ever happened, but you never know with those fuzzy-headed members of our household–specifically, this one:

this fuzzy cat

and this one:

this other fuzzy one

I’ve also discovered that I love making French memo boards. Have you made any? They’re super easy and quick to make. I was a bit under the weather today, but I rallied and made this one:

French memo board


  • an old art canvas
  • fabric
  • ribbon
  • sewing pins
  • backing fabric or board +fabric tacks (or alternately, buttons + thread)
  • a hammer
  • a staple gun


1.¬† Cut your fabric so that it’s large enough to wrap around to the back of the canvas.

2. With the fabric placed face-down on a smooth surface and the canvas situated face-down on the fabric, staple the fabric to the back edge of the canvas. Make sure the fabric is taut. You’ll want to staple along one edge first then pull the fabric taut (but not so tight as to stretch it out of shape) and staple the opposite edge. Repeat on the remaining two edges.

3. Cut the ribbon. You’ll need two pieces that are long enough to reach diagonally across the board from one corner to the other. You’ll also need four shorter pieces that are long enough to reach diagonally from the center of the top edge to the center of the side edge. All of these ribbon pieces should be long enough to wrap around to the back of the canvas.

4. Starting with the longer pieces, position the ribbons and pin them in place.

5. Staple the ribbons on the back of the board. Start by stapling one end of a ribbon in place. Remove the pins holding that ribbon in place, stretch the ribbon tightly across the front of the board, and staple it in place. Repeat with the remaining ribbons.

6. If you’re using fabric tacks, you’ll now nail through the spots where the ribbons cross. Turn the board over and hammer the tacks to the side so that they’ll hold in place and won’t pose any risk of injury. If you’re using buttons, sew them into place where the ribbons cross, making sure to catch the ribbons with your thread.

7. If you’re using fabric tacks, you’ll cut a piece of backing fabric or board that is slightly smaller than the canvas itself. It should be large enough to be attached to the back of the canvas frame but small enough that it will not be visible from the front of the board. If you’re using buttons, this step is optional. Staple or nail the backing piece to the back of the canvas frame.

8. Trim any excess fabric or ribbon, especially if you are not using a backing piece.

9. To be able to hang your French memo board for display, you may want to attach a ribbon to the back of the board. Simply staple a piece of ribbon to the left and right edges of the frame on the back. Position it about 1/3 from the top.

You’re done!

Gift Ideas 

French memo boards have endless potential for customization. Experiment with colors and background pattens. Try a friend’s favorite color combination for a birthday gift, pink or blue gingham and a lacy ribbon for a baby shower, or shades of ivory and white for a wedding gift. To further personalize these gifts, add photos and thematic quotes or poems.

There are a couple more photos of my memo boards on Flickr, if you want to see.

Have a blissful weekend, everyone!

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