Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Making Our Very Own Headboard

I've been wanting to make my own headboard for about a year now. I saw a few posts on Pinterest that sparked my curiosity and my creativity and so I decided a headboard would be one of my first projects when we eventually moved into our own home. 

Jordan's dad is a really talented wood worker and so I decided to talk to him about different headboard designs and the like. Apparently my desire and drive to make a headboard gushed out when I spoke with him because for Christmas Jordan's parents so generously gave us the gift of a headboard...well more specifically, they offered to pay for the materials to make a headboard!! I was over the moon excited and could not WAIT to get started, but first I had to do all the research, all the math, cost analysis, and everything like that. Now, I am in no way, shape, or form a professional or even an amateur at re-upholstery. Yes, I do work at JoAnn's and have consulted on many projects, but this was my first big project and it really was a group effort to get it done. **Shout out to my patient husband and fantastic father-in-law.** In my opinion, there isn't a right or wrong way to do a project like this, as long as you like the end product.

These are the steps we took to achieve our beautiful headboard:

Step 1: Planning, planning, planning!

This was the step that honestly took me the longest (when it comes to "big and important" projects..I'm kind of indecisive).  The most basic starting step is to figure out what you want your headboard to look like, see figure below.

Theses are just a few examples of what you could do. Originally I loved the Portman style, but ended up nixing that and going with the Cleveland shape.

Once you have your shape picked out, the real planning begins. I researched the process of making a headboard from scratch for hours upon hours and could not for the life of me find any measurements for a king-sized mattress, so I had to come up with them on my own. I'm not going to post a picture of what my "plans" looked like because looking back at them, I can hardly make sense of them...I blame it on my pregnancy mind then!

Anyways, measurements for my headboard for my king-size bed: 79" long by 57" tall (at the tallest point, which was the middle hump). These measurements allowed for the actual headboard to be about 79" long by 42". On each side of the mattress there is a 3" overhang. More on the details and construction later.

If you don't have a king-sized bed or you think this might be too big for what you are wanting to do, then you'll need to do a little math and figure out the measurements you'd prefer. This is a good launching point for you though! After you figure out your measurements, you'll need to plan out materials and how much of each material you'll need. While researching I came across several tutorials (I'll post the ones I found most helpful at the end of this post) with lots of different materials you could use. You just have to find what you're willing to spend and work around that.

The materials I used were:
- 2 sheets of plywood (4' X 8') - ~$15
- 2 metal brackets - $1.00
- a box of screws - $5.00
- a staple gun (if you don't already have one you can pick one up and a box of a bazillion staples for no more than $30)
- 4 yards foam padding - $30.00
- 2 yards batting - already had on hand
- 2 yards 90" muslin - $6.00
- 3 yards fabric - $60.00
- 1 spool nail head trim - $10.00
- spray adhesive - already had on hand

Now, when I purchased this stuff it was either on sale or I used a coupon to discount it. I also work at JoAnn's and so I had my employee discount, but you can keep a look out for transaction discounts that would give you the same discount or even a little bit better discount on the entire transaction (assuming you are shopping at JoAnn's!). If you aren't in any type of rush, you can slowly gather the items you need based on when the best coupons come out...just an idea!

Step 2: Construction

Jordan and my father-in-law did a ton of this work...I was mostly just the "foreman" overlooking the project and making sure there was no slacking off! ;)

Once you have figured out the shape and size you want your headboard to be you will want to make a template for the top.

Take a big piece of cardboard and draw the left half of your top. As you can tell, I had to go at it a few times to get it how I wanted it. When you are happy with the shape, cut out your template.

After your template is cut out you will find the middle point of your plywood (or middle point of your headboard measurement), lay down your template, draw your shape, then flip your piece of cardboard over and draw the right side of your headboard. Doing this insures that you have the exact same shape on the left and the right side of your headboard. I don't know about you, but if I free handed the entire length of the template I would have one severely wonky looking top curve!

If you squint, you can see where we traced our template onto our plywood. It's there, I promise! After you have traced your template on, cut the wood!

Once we cut out the main body of our headboard we needed to add the border (for the nail head trim to nail into) and the legs.

To make the legs, we cut pieces of wood, 4" wide, and set them up flush against the bottom of the headboard, took our metal brackets, and screwed the main body and the short little legs together on the back. We knew that those little leggies would not hold the heavy body of the headboard so we used another set of boards, again cut 4" wide, to reinforce the legs AND also create the frame for the trim to eventually go in.

We used a boatload of screws...can ya tell?

The tops of the reinforcing wood needed to be shaved down to size.

I didn't get a ton of pictures of us creating the frame because believe you me...it was an ordeal. Between Jordan's dad, Jordan, and myself we were able to create the rest of the frame for the body of the headboard. It didn't turn out perfectly symmetrical in some spots, but it didn't need to be because we still had to cover it and I knew that all the layers of fabric would muffle the small mistakes in the wood. Really the only important thing here is that our frame was 4" wide all the way around the headboard. Why did you put a frame on the headboard? Well, I knew I wanted trim. In my opinion it really makes a headboard look polished and nicely finishes it off. If you don't think you want to bother with nail head trim then there is no need to bother with a frame. Why a 4" frame? I planned on nailing in trim 3" in and wanted to give myself plenty of wiggle room.

Jordan screwing in the final screws...mainly because I couldn't get all the way down on the ground in my pregnant condition. ;)

The headboard body complete, just some minor sanding to make the shape nice and smooth.

Step 3: Covering the darn thing with fabric

Alright, deep breath! We've got the "construction" of the headboard complete! Yahoo! Now we need to get it covered and looking good.

The first step is to go fabric shopping! For us, this was much easier said than done...if you know what I mean ladies... **A quick note: when you are shopping for the fabric and there is a pattern on it, you want to make sure the pattern is railroaded. Railroaded means the pattern repeats horizontally not vertically. If the pattern repeats vertically you will most likely not be able to use it for your headboard. See below.**

When you go to the fabric store you will need to get more than just the pretty fabric...you'll need to get the guts of it all, aka the foam padding, the batting, and the muslin (optional).

Here are the guts.

When shopping for your foam padding I have a couple words to the wise. More than likely you will have a couple options as to the product you'll buy. Option one is a high density foam, as seen here. This foam comes in varying thicknesses, is very cushy, and tends to be on the expensive side. Option two is a product called NuFoam. It looks like really really thick batting but it is considered a foam/ It also comes in varying thicknesses, and is cushy, but it is a much cheaper alternative to the high density stuff. I didn't feel like our headboard needed the ultra cushy high density foam so Jordan and I went with the NuFoam. I would encourage you to go to your local craft/fabric store and feel the difference for yourself.

Next on your list is the batting and the muslin. The purpose of the batting is 1) to give your headboard just a teensy bit more cushion, 2) to put a layer in between your pretty fabric and the wood of the headboard, and 3) to smooth or blur your foam so you don't have any hard lines in the finished product. I had all my batting on hand so I didn't need to purchase any, but I do have some suggestions. In my opinion the prepackaged batting is the best/cheapest way to go. Take the measurements of your headboard and add about 4"-6" to the width and the length (this ensures that you have enough to wrap around the bottom/sides/top and still have plenty of room to staple the material to the back) and you'll have the measurements you need to get close to in your prepackaged batting. I would recommend something like this or this...again people, personal preference! Or if you really want to, you can purchase it by the yard if none of the prepackaged stuff fits your measurements. (No need to overbuy anything!) Another item you need is muslin. Muslin is just a basic cotton fabric. The muslin is going to go right over top of your batting. Why muslin? We chose to use the muslin because we were really able to smooth everything out and staple and unstaple the batting and the muslin to make sure we didn't have any bubbles or lumps before we put on the expensive fabric. It is like putting primer on before you actually paint the walls. 

Alright, so now that you have your materials, now it is time to get your staple gun out and go. to town.

Cut your foam to fit inside your frame. Lift your foam out of the frame, grab your can of spray adhesive, and spray, spray, spray where your foam was. Reposition foam inside the frame. Now your foam should be secured to the wood and ready to be covered.

Put your batting on. We found it easiest to lay your batting on the floor and place your headboard on top of it. Staple the sides and stand up. If you are doing anything other than a square you'll need to stand your headboard up so you can get a good look at the way the fabric is laying around the curves. Make sure your batting is nice and tight!

In order to avoid puckering, bumps, and bubbles, we mangled the batting and muslin on the back. Cutting the strips like that really helped...there is no way we could have gotten as smooth of a look as we did without manhandling that stuff! Meh...no one sees it and at the end you cut all those tails off anyway.

Put your muslin on using the same process as before. Make sure your muslin is nice and tight!

Now for the important part...the pretty fabric!

As you can see here, we fut a few staples in the sides, but not the top and bottom to make sure when we pulled the fabric nice and tight on the top and bottom that it wouldn't jack with the straightness (is that a word?) of the pattern. You'll want to be vigilant of this throughout the tugging and pulling and stapling process!

Almost done! Only trim left to put on!!

If you like the look of trim there are two ways to do it: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is by purchasing a spool of nailhead trim. The hard way is by purchasing 5 gazillion individual tacks and hammering them in one by stinking one. I said phoowee to the individual tacks and went with the spool of nailhead trim. With the spool you're only nailing in one tack every five spots or so and the finished product looks just as great as individual tacks taking up only a fraction of the time. Plus, when using individual tacks there is a higher margin of crookedness. At any rate, you'll want to pull your ruler out and really make sure that you are consistent with the width you are using. Since my wooden frame was 4" thick, I put my trim 3" in from the side. If you really want to, and I did do this because I'm so anal, you can use tailor's chalk to mark on your fabric where your nails need to go.


And there you have it people! Our finished and quite beautiful product!

My parting words would be these, as with any project big or small, make sure to do your research, plan, but most of all have fun creating!

As promised, here are a few sites that I found helpful and informative.