Friday, January 17, 2014

make it: diy slipcovered headboard (with piping!)

My little one turned three this past fall, so I've been slowly working on transforming his nursery into a big-boy room. Out went the toddler bed, in went the twin. And of course, I had to make him a headboard. (Of course!)

There are other elements in his room that are busy (rug, roman shade, book wall, bedding...) and I'm not ready to change them just yet, so I wanted his headboard to be something neutral. I found some old curtains in my stash that I had cut up to make roman shades for my bedroom (I have finally found the best way to make them! Can't wait to share!), and had just enough fabric left over to make a headboard.

Since the fabric is so light, I wanted something that I could throw in the washing machine if I need to. Because really, white + three-year-old does not stay clean. So I decided to try and sew a slipcovered headboard. I tried to find a tutorial or something to follow but couldn't find what I was looking for, especially since I wanted to add some crisp, black piping to it. So I made it up as I went and am so, so happy with how it turned out!

I didn't take pictures along the way since I didn't know if it would even work and look the way I wanted (and it was super late at night!), so I made some sketches of what I did, hopefully they'll do. 

I'm sure I'm going to over-explain and make it look way harder than it is, so if it doesn't make sense just ask and I'll do my best to clarify! goes!

First, you need a headboard to cover. If you already have one, great! Move right along to the next step. If you don't have a premade headboard, you can make one with just a few extra steps: 

+ Cut plywood or MDF to the size you want your headboard to be.

+ Cut foam to the same dimension as the wood, and adhere it with spray adhesive. I've found that buying foam mattress pads is much less expensive than buying foam at the fabric or craft store. Just fold the pad in half to double the thickness, and it usually works great. I've also had great luck getting foam at Fred Meyer, in the tool/home section. So if you have one of those (or Kroger? Is it the same thing?) you might want to check it out. 

+ Cover the headboard with batting, securing in the back with staples. Make sure everything is nice and smooth, and that corners are tight and secure. 

There are tons of tutorials that are way better than that (with pictures, too, I'm sure!) so if you need more explanation just google or look on Pinterest for diy headboards and you will find hundreds of ways to do it.

Now we can move on to the slipcover...

You need to cut five pieces of fabric, A, B, C, and D:

A:  Front panel = width + 1 inch x height + 1 inch (cut TWO of these, one for the front, one for the back, or see the *note at the bottom)
B:  Side panel =  width of side + 1 inch x height + 1 inch 
C: Side panel, same as B
D: Top panel = length + 1 inch x width + 1 inch 

The "+ 1 inch" allows you to have 1/2 inch seam allowances, so keep that in mind when piecing your fabric together.

You also need to get some piping (if you don't want piping you can omit this step, I promise it's not that hard, though!) Measure the perimeter of the sides and top of the headboard to determine how much piping you need. I just buy my piping pre-made. The pink below is where your piping will be, so this is what you measure.
Sew the piping to panel A. Here is a good tutorial about sewing piping. The piping gets sewn to the right side of the fabric.
I don't have a piping foot so I just used my zipper foot and it worked just fine. Start at the bottom of one side and sew all the way up and around to the bottom of the other side. 

Sew panels C, D, and B together, making a long strip (yellow marks where the seams will be). I pinned my fabric together on top of my headboard (like you would use a dress form to make clothes) to make sure I got the right fit. I don't always trust my measurements :) I think that made it so much easier, nothing had to be measured perfectly, I just pinned everything wrong-side-out and made sure the seams were in just the right spot. 

Picture 1 shows what it looks like if you pin it on the headboard, picture 2 shows what it looks like laid out in a long strip.

I'm calling that last step, the big long strip, panel B.

Sew B to panel A, making sure the seams are in the right spots, and right sides are facing each other. This will sandwich the piping between A and B, so make sure corners are snipped, seams line up, and you sew nice and straight. I didn't clip my corners (oops), and one turned out a little bunchy, you can see it in one of the photos at the top. Refer back to that tutorial if you need help with the piping. 

The most important part of this step is making sure the seams are in the top corners. It's probably most helpful to pin each corner in place, then pin the top, and then the sides. 

Don't forget, pinning it while it lays on your headboard makes it so much easier. Drape panel B over the headboard, exactly how you want it placed, with right-sides down, and then pin it to panel A. There will be no surprises with the fit or where seams end up if you do it this way.

Now sew the whole thing, starting at the bottom of one side, going up and around, and ending at the bottom of the opposite side. 

Next, attach the back panel to panel B just like you did with panel A. 

*Note: You can add more width to the sides and just wrap them around the back of the headboard, rather than attaching the back panel. Secure it with a few staples, and you will still have the slipcovered look without the back panel.

Now you can either hem around the bottom of the whole thing, or simply tuck it under the headboard like I did. 

Turn everything right-side-out and slip it over your headboard. It should all line up and be everything you've ever dreamed. Angels will sing, and happy tears will flow. You have been warned.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!


  1. My little one just turned three as well. This turned out great to bad my sowing skills are so bad or else I would give it a try.

    1. Thank you! You should try it! It really wasn't too hard, you just have to be careful about lining things up.


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