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  • Writer's pictureSusie

Why buy when they're so easy to make?

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

AND, then you can change the fabric as often as you like, which is especially useful for kids rooms!

(Edit: Aug 2020, I've now made 2, so have added to these photos)

Have you seen how crazy-expensive headboards are in the shops? I refused to spend a huge amount of money on something that's got to be possible to DIY - and I was right, here's two we made recently:

Basic supplies are: staple gun, fabric (& sewing machine if needing to widen the pattern), sheet of plywood, a few options for padding, wood for legs if needed, tools for cutting ply to size & fixing

So, 3 weeks into New Zealand's Level 4 lockdown we were faced with no presents in the house for our daughter who was turning 9, and no way to get her any as even online shopping stopped here. Having a birthday in lockdown sucked anyway, but to have nothing to unwrap, well, we couldn't imagine how that would go!

So this seemed like a present we could make out of stuff we already had around the house, and it worked like a charm. In fact, it was so easy I definitely cannot understand why even the most basic store-bought headboard is so $$.

1) First up, cut the ply to size. The beauty is you can choose the shape and the width you want. As this bed is under the eaves and the ceiling comes down sharply, we went for a simple rectangle shape. We plan on doing a more ornate shape with the guest room headboard, but remember if you do, it will make adding your fabric a little trickier.

To decide if you want the exact width of the mattress width, or extend beyond, tape painter's tape to the wall to see which look you prefer.

2) Next, think about how the headboard will attach. Your choices are the wall, the bed itself, or free-standing. If it's a divan base, look at the ends - there usually have built-in slots for attaching headboards, and sometimes the screws are already there waiting. For young kids, please always secure to the wall or the bed.

We went with free-standing as my daughter likes to change the layout of her room often (quite the interior designer!), so we designed the backboard to extend below the mattress height to prevent it ever falling forward, and added legs to the backboard so it can support itself. If worried, we could have added a small L-angle to bracket it to the wall. The legs are new floorboards we had stored away - you can use anything.

3) Pad out the backboard. Foam is probably your first thought, but all the options I found were really thick and hard. And by the time I started this, the shops were shut. So we used yoga mats. Yes, yoga mats. We had a few cheap ones lying around and realised the padding was just right if we used two together and cut them to size with scissors. (Much cheaper to replace than buying foam).

4) Pad the padding. To soften the rubber feel, I then looked around for something else with a little bit of extra padding and used a cheap single bed mattress protector. A good alternative would be quilting fabric. I stretched this over all the edges and stapled it onto the back.

(I had to work around the legs for this part which wasn't tricky, but I advise to put the legs on after this stage)

5) Prepare your fabric. Probably best to pre-wash and dry first, but I confess I didn't...

Seriously, the hardest part of this whole project was having to sew two pieces of the fabric together to get the right width, but keeping the pattern matched up, and trying for a hidden seam.

I decided to put the seam as far to the right as I could because in this room that would put it mostly out of sight, but you may prefer to have it running down the middle.

After watching (a lot of) online tutorials, I finally understood how to do this:

a) Match up the pattern on your two pieces and iron a crease in one.

b) Turn over fabric and put right sides together. Using your closed crease on the top side, match up again. (You might skip to this but I found it easier adding in the first step.)

c) Open the crease and exactly along that crease, pin in lots of pins, leaving a good gap on the line because your machine will be going over them.

d) Add sideways pins often - this stops the fabric slipping when machining.

e) Mark the crease on the wrong side to help guide you.

f) Machine sew carefully, sewing over the pins. Remove them later.

Tip 1: Choose a fabric with an

any-which-way pattern so you don't have to do this part!

Tip 2: Don't skip marking the crease with a pencil or similar because it's not as easy to stay straight when sewing as you think! I learnt this.

So here's my final join. It's not perfect & perhaps I should have unpicked and tried again, but I decided the pattern is busy enough to disguise it. Plus, the effort...

6) Attach your fabric by simply stretching it over the edges and stapling it onto the back. If you have enough spare fabric, double over the last couple of centimetres to create a seam. Don't pull so hard it wrinkles your fabric on the front side. It's often useful to have another pair of hands to pull the fabric tight as you work around the sides.

8) I had then enough fabric leftover to re-upholster her desk chair (already painted). This literally took minutes, the longest time was spent finding the screwdriver!

9) It was pretty special to see my daughter's face light up in delight in the middle of lockdown! Stay safe.


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