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~How to Make a Diamond Tufted Headboard~

November 1, 2010

I love the look of a diamond tufted headboard. 



It looks so rich and glamourous. Diamond tufting is unique as the tufts are deep, creating beautiful pleats giving upholstery a luxurious finish. Wanting to create that glamourous look for my daughter's room on a frugal budget, I was up for the challenge to make one myself. 
The drawback was that in the spring when I first started researching in how to make one I could only find one tutorial, via Apartment Therapy. Since then another great tutorial has shown up, from Addicted 2 Decorating.

Now you can add mine to the list!




This headboard has been 5 months in the making, I am very good at procrastinating and was very hesitant in using the jigsaw. I am proud to say that I can now operate a jigsaw and have managed to keep all my fingers! If you want to see the reveal you can check it out here.


Warning: This project is not for the DIY challenged or for those how lack patience. It took me several hours over the course of a few days to make this.
 You might need a strong drink, er, coffee to help you along the way.

Supplies Needed:


*plywood or MDF (about 1/2" thick)
*foam, either 2" or 3" thick, large enough to cover the wood
*hi-loft batting, , cut at least 12" larger than the wood, on all sides
*fabric, cut at least 12" larger than the wood, on all sides
*spray adhesive
*self-covering buttons, how ever many you decided to use
*upholstery thread or nylon cording
*long upholstery needle
*jigsaw
*drill with drill bit (I used a 3/8" bit)
*Sharpie
*staple gun and staples
*hammer
*meter (yard) stick
*right angle ruler
*French curve (to shape a curved headboard)

Before I go into the nitty gritty details, let me share with you a few tips I learned along the way.

#1: A curved shaped headboard is a lot harder to diamond tuft. Much easier if you use a shape with right angles, because you end up pleating along the edge and a straight edge is easier to pleat than a curved one.

#2: Use a thin sheet of plywood, 1/2" thick. I used a 3/4" thick plywood because it was laying around in the garage, but found it was harder to cut and made the headboard a lot heavier.

#3: Measure your button holes before you buy upholstery thread. I bought the thread without looking at the size of my button hole and had to run out and by thinner thread.

#4: Use upholstery thread. Don't try embroidery thread, nylon fishing type thread, etc., they will break. You need upholstery thread that won't break when you pull it taught. This will save you a lot of heartache (and tears).

#5: Use an upholstery weight fabric. By that I mean you don't want to use a fabric that has stretch or is too thin. If it's too thin it will rip and if it's stretchy you won't get a nice smooth finish. I used a faux silk fabric (made with polyester) and found it a bit challenging, I had to be careful so it wouldn't tear. A heavier weighted fabric (ie. cotton twill) would be much easier to work with.

#6: Use at least a 2" thick foam. I used a 3" thick foam as I wanted a really rich tufted look. 


How-to:

Start by deciding what shape and size of headboard you would like. There is a lot of inspiration on the web. Make sure the headboard is slightly wider than the bed, the foam, batting and fabric will add to that width as well.

I laid out the design on the wall using painting tape to get an idea of the shape and height of the headboard.

Next draw out your design on a large piece of paper. This will be your pattern.
I used ugly gift wrap I had laying around. Make sure to measure twice! 



Lay your pattern on the wall and secure it with some painters tape to double check your design against the bed. You want to be sure you are pleased with the shape and placement on the wall before you cut your wood and upholster. Make any adjustments.


Using a ruler and a right corner ruler I planned out where I wanted the buttons to be. The more buttons you have the more tufting there is involved. 

Lay your pattern on the sheet of wood, taping it down at various places. Using a sharpie trace out your pattern on the wood, button holes as well. After you have traced, re-measure making sure your measurements all line up. (Measure twice, cut once - can't stress that enough!)


Lay the sheet of wood on a work surface where you can cut freely. I am not fortunate to have a cutting table so I placed the sheet of plywood across two chairs.


Taking a jigsaw and wearing safety glasses (safety first!) slowly cut out the headboard. This is where a thinner sheet of plywood would of been nice, easier to cut through!


 

Using a drill, drill holes where the buttons will be placed.  You don't want a huge hole, just enough so the thread can get through with ease. 



Sand any really rough edges and clean off all dust from the wood. This is really important as the spray adhesive needs a clean surface in order to stick.

For this step you will want to be in a well-ventilated room or outside.


Using a spray adhesive, spray the entire surface of your wood. This is really important as you don't want the foam shifting around as you tuft.



Lay down the foam onto the board, making sure it sticks. You can use large pieces of foam fit together, it doesn't have to be one large piece.


 (I used camping foam - much cheaper than ordering it from a fabric or upholstery shop)



Using an exacto knife, sharp scissors or an electric carving knife; cut out the foam using the edges of your headboard as a guide. It doesn't have to be neat as you will be laying batting over top to soften the edges and give your headboard a nice smooth look.





 (This is where I did it backwards, I traced and cut the foam first and then stuck it to the board but somehow the foam ended up being smaller and I had to add bits to fill it in)

Next you will need to cut out the button placement holes in the foam. This is where ordinary tufting is different from diamond tufting. You need a hole slightly bigger than your button, as your button will fall into the hole with the fabric and create the pleat that is unique to diamond tufting.

 I used a bamboo skewer to push from the back into the front of the foam to mark the placement of the buttons. 




Double-check the placement of your buttons making sure they line up, using a ruler.




The next step is to cut out the holes, cutting a hole slightly bigger than your buttons. I used an exacto knife and scissors to cut out the hole, but you could use copper piping that is hack-sawed off to give a sharp cutting edge. This part was time consuming as I wanted to shape the hole as carefully as I could. If it isn't a perfect circle it doesn't matter, it will get "filled" in with fabric and batting.



Once the foam is shaped and button holes cut out, lay your batting over the top. You will want to use a hi-loft batting (a nice thick one, or you could double up) that is cut at least 12" bigger all around than your headboard. This is important as you will use up batting and fabric while tufting and will want to be left with some on the edges to wrap under.


Lay your piece of fabric over the batting, centering the fabric so that there is overhang on all sides. The fabric and batting lay loose over the headboard. You staple the edges after  tufting, another characteristic in diamond tufting. Tip: Make sure the fabric is ironed to ensure a smooth polished look.


Now the fun begins! 
Using a self-covering button kit, make covered buttons following the directions on the package.









Thread the first button.  
{I doubled up the thread and tied a knot at the base of the button






Starting on the button placement in the middle of the headboard, thread the button through headboard starting from the front pulling the threads through to the back. 


You start in the middle working your way to the edges.


Guide the button deep into the hole with your fingers while pulling the thread taut in the back. This is where being an octopus would come in handy:)




While pulling the threads as taut as you can, staple the thread to the back, then change the direction of the thread, staple again. Keep going until you have a zig zag pattern. This ensures that the thread won't slip out and loosen.
{I hammered the staples in as sometimes the staple gun didn't shoot the staples into the wood very well}


Next you will work horizontally. After you are finished the first row, the next row to tuft will be the one parallel and vertical to the row you just finished. After tufting with each button, smooth and arrange the fabric, being careful not to pull the fabric too tight. You need it loose in order to create the pleats once you work on the diagonal holes. Do the diagonal button holes last. 


{I worked vertically as I chose not to have many buttons - you want to work on parallel rows first, then diagonal last}



Finally tuft the diagonal holes.





 This is when you notice the pleats forming. Decide on the direction you want your pleats to lay.


 Using your fingers, manipulate the fabric to form pleats.

Once all the buttons are in and stapled securely in the back, you are ready to staple the edges. Turning the headboard over begin staples the sides, pulling the fabric tight to create a smooth finish in the front. 








This will be easier if you use a rectangular shape than a curved headboard. It took some manipulating the fabric around the curves to make the front side look smooth. You will find that there is "extra" fabric that you will simply fold and create a pleat at the edge. I re-did this step many times as I was unsatisfied with the way the fabric looked in the front. A flat screwdriver came in handy to pop put the staples when I decided to fix an edge. This is the part when patience comes in handy (along with a strong drink coffee)

At the corners I created a tidy fold and stapled down, trimming fabric in order to do so.


 I added an extra row of staples in the back to help the fabric lay flat, then trimmed any excess fabric and batting.



When finished turn it around and enjoy your hard work!


When hanging up the headboard I used  D hooks screwed into the back of the wood to hang it to the wall. Using a stud finder I located the studs in the wall and placed the hooks to line up with the studs so that the headboard was secure to the wall. The headboard will be heavy.


 Alternately, you can attach "legs" to the headboard and screw the "legs" to the boxspring bed frame if you are using one. 

Phew! Now I am making another headboard for the other daughter, this time using a heavy weight cotton fabric. 

25 comments:

  1. Oh boy, thanks for the detailed tutorial! I hope your daughter appreciates all your hard work! When can we see the whole reveal?

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  2. Great tutorial! So good in fact it makes it look easy, although I am sure it wasn't.

    Really beautiful final product, you should be proud!

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  3. Wow, this was a huge project. It looks amazing. I am so impressed.

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  4. Wow, judging from this post, you weren't kidding when you said blood sweat and tears!! This was tough, but your final product is crazy amazing and I want to attempt it! I'm definitely going to be bookmarking your tutorial for later :) Your tips at the beginning are great as well!
    Nancy

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  5. Fantastic! Definitely worth the wait! I LOVE the way this headboard turned out. I had no idea you had to cut holes for the buttons, such a great idea! You put a lot of work into this, and it really shows. Love the fabric, tufting and shape. It's just so glam!

    xo Linda

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  6. Oh, and thanks so much for this great tutorial, bookmarked for future reference ;)

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  7. WOW!! Thank you for this...so amazing. I will be doing this someday.

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  8. This is simply amazing Barbara! I've never used a jigsaw either - you made me want to try. I'm glad you had a few strong drinks, I mean coffee, to help you through the project! Lucky daughter to have this in her room!

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  9. I LOVE this project!! It's fabulous and I love the colour!! I hope to make something like this one day...I just need an extra bedroom to decorate! LOL! I can't wait to see your daughter's room! Angie xo

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  10. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have found this!! I have been upholstering for myself and clients for years, but have never taken on the tuft! I just never took the time to figure it out. I don't do much of it anymore as my hands bother me, but with your tutorial, I'll be back at it. This is fantastic. I'm on it! Thanks.

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  11. I love it! I am going to try this for my guest room.

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  12. Holy crap, that's quite the process! Although I'm not sure which was harder to do - making the headboard or writing about making the headboard!

    Great tutorial. One of these days I'm going to make something that's diamond tufted. Just not sure what....

    Awesome job, Barbara! :-)

    Kelly

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  13. This is gorgeous! I am seriously considering making a fabric headboard for my Master Bedroom re-do. Thanks for your comments on my blog. It's nice that we both did a very similar feature for Christine's blog, Bijou and Boheme. She's a dear friend of mine, and it's so cool to see her blog take off!

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  14. Your daughter is one lucky girl!

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  15. Gorgeous headboard. Best tutorial I've ever seen on this subject (I've been researching this sort of project for months). You solved many mysteries (yay!) & want to wish you a congrads on a job well done. You rock!

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  16. This is absolutely gorgeous. I'd like to try it myself, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough yet.

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  17. Amazing! I am totally doing this! I have made two headboards before but I am totally up for this challenge! The work is hard but the result is really breathtaking! Thanks for sharing. Mylène (fellow-blogger (well...just starting) from www.asistershome.blogspot.com)

    Thanks again!

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  18. Great job Barbara! I love tufted headboards too. I'm hoping to make one sooner rather than later :)

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  19. This is fabulous! I'm working on a nonexistent budget in my new home and want to try this. I've been researching for awhile as well and your tutorial is great. Can you tell me how much you spent overall on the project, some links to the resources you used,or whether you went to the neighborhood hardware store for your goods? Your daughter is lucky & being wealth challenged helps us embrace our crafty side! :-)

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  20. @Kenya. I tried to respond to you via email but your profile and email was inaccessible.

    The headboard cost very little, except for my time. The wood I had free BUT you can buy plywood sheets for not much at Home Depot, Rona or Lowes. As for the foam, I used camping foam that I bought at Canadian Tire {here in Canada} but Walmart carries it too. If you get custom foam it can cost twice as much!

    Where your costs can vary is with fabric. Mine was on sale for $4/meter {Fabricland - Canada} BUT some fabric can run you up to $250/meter. It is all in the fabric you choose. Ikea is a great resource for good quality fabric and inexpensive about $7/meter.
    All the other bits were purchased at Fabricland.

    Hope that helps. If you have any other questions email me you email and I can respond to you directly!

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  21. Amazing Barbara; this turned out just beautifully!! Are you going to make one with straight edges? I would love to see an example of one finished and tutorial!!

    You are a wonder woman!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

    Be sure to enter my exciting Giveaway from the Artisans at Novica!

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  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  23. Hey Barb,
    I just stumbled on your blog - finally! I've been hearing tons about it - and I love that you posted a tutorial on a tufted headboard... I have been wanting to make one for years for our bed, but I hadn't gotten up the gumption to go for it. The tutorial definitely helps me see that it's not so daunting a job. Very great blog... love your stuff!

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  24. Oh my gosh! You did a great job. Thanks for doing the tutorial. I am also trying to work up the nerve to do this for my daughters room.

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  25. I used your info last summer and made my own tufted headboard...I was so happy with how it turned out...your detailed instructions were a HUGE blessing to have! Take a look at my room...I even put a link to your tutorial on my blog! :-)

    http://aleciashannon.blogspot.com/2011/08/my-long-awaited-over-due-bedroom.html

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