Bad ass women play with power tools too. Makeia Carrier left her Corporate America gig to pursue her passion in furniture making, building her business around creating and curating pieces for the home. Each piece has a story! Join her on her journey, the making of a craftswoman at MakingCarrière.com and follow her adventures @makingcarriere.
Let me tell you, the story of my first piece.
I’d been living in LA for almost a year and had been in a temporary apartment sharing situation. That came to an end and I decided to get a spot with one of my close girl friends. We found a cute two bedroom two bath. I now had a brand new apartment in LA, with nothing but a mattress and bed-frame. Luckily, my then-roomie was merging from her one bedroom so all of our common areas were taken care of! I only needed to focus my efforts on my personal spaces.
I’m feeling grown with a good job, decent budget and clean slate to bring my space to life. I wanted something unique, something plush, something that could turn my little boudoir into my own little sanctuary.
Like I said, I’m feeling real grown-ish here so I don’t have time for the Ikea basics. I was ready to invest in something that could stand the test of time, something that I would love. Starting with my bed, what could I do for a statement piece? The best part of getting a new place is pulling your vision together… wandering around chic furniture stores, flipping thru trendy magazines, getting inspo from your favorite designers. But you know how it is… somehow, everything my little eyes spied had price tags that had me in sticker shock. $1000 for what?? I’m not THAT grown.
Either it was perfect and way out of my price range or right color and wrong size. Right size, right price but something was missing or it felt plain.
So I took my search to that dream place that is Pinterest; the wormhole of DIYs. Coming across so many women who’d taken this on and shared their tutorials; creating some super cute headboards. I can do this myself, right?! Why not? The steps have been laid out right in front of me. I begun to mix and match tutorials, stealing an idea from here, another from there… BOOM, I had a Frankenstein of something that fit my vision.
But of course, my first step: Called my daddy for a little confidence booster and to make sure I wasn’t biting off more than I chew. Immediately he began to ramble off everything I needed to get from Home Depot to make this happen.
Once you have the idea in mind, you then need to determine all the materials you need and where to source them.
With all my materials in hand and a few pre-steps out of the way, it only took me: $100, one full day, and a bottle of wine to assemble the headboard. (no sewing, no big tools required).
Here’s how I built my tufted Queen-Sized headboard.
- 1/4- to 3/4-inch-thick plywood
- Staple gun (and staples)
- Adhesive spray
- Durable fabric
- Upholstery Needles
- Upholstery Thread (make sure its durable thread)
- Craft Button Kit ($9 from Joann’s or Michael’s)
- Upholstery Nailhead Trim
- Exacto Knife/electric knife (to cut foam)
- Mounting Brackets (and screws)
- Dust Cover Fabric (Optional)
Where to Shop:
1) I NEEDED WOOD: Your girl lived in an apartment with no tools beyond a hot glue gun and electric screwdriver and drill. NO PROBLEM. Off to a home improvement store for that. Did you know Home Depot (and Lowes) have a section where they will cut the wood for you. As long as it’s straight cuts (90 degree angles, no curves) you can pick your wood out, take it to the back and they’ll cut the dimensions you need. A Queen headboard standard size is 60 inches wide. The height of your board is all up to you. Medium to tall headboards can start at 36+ inches in height. My dimensions were 60″w x36″h.
Your girl is resourceful, and my little bitty drop top came in handy! Pop the top load it up and let’s go!
2) For Fabric, if you live in a metropolitan city with a downtown fashion market, hit up some fabric vendors for your best deals. In LA I went to the Fabric District and negotiated $15 bucks for 3 yards of a rich linen turquoise fabric. If that’s not an option for you, Joann’s has tons of coupons and great prices or shop online.
NOTE: Because in tufting, you’re building shapes and adding depth to your headboard it will take more fabric than other styles. Plus you’ll likely want to cover the buttons in the same fabric – so this make sure there is enough to work with. You always want more, coming up short is definitely the L and means starting over. So a trick could be to add 12 inches to each side of the headboard’s measurements. For a 60-inch-wide queen bed, you’ll need 84 inches of fabric across and 60 inches for the height of the headboard. Also, make sure to choose durable fabric that won’t tear easily when stretched.
I was also able to negotiate for batting fabric and foam in the Fabric District! Foam will be your most expensive piece. Note: The thicker the foam, the deeper and more pillowy your headboard will look. So if that’s what you’re going for, don’t skimp here.
I spent about $30 for the foam alone., purchasing 3″ thick foam. This will be cut to the same size as your plywood. The batting should also be the length and width of your headboard plus an additional 8 inches of batting on each side.
3) The rest: Staple Gun, Craft buttons, etc… hit your local craft store, home depot or amazon!
Now, Let’s get to work:
1) Pre Work: Sourcing materials and covering your buttons. Once my fabric was picked and I had my button kit I spent my nights after work in front of the TV covering my buttons in the fabric and chatting it up with my roomie.
Note: My linen fabric was a durable but not too thick. If you pick an uber thick material, your fingers may fall off trying to cover the buttons. So if you’ve fallen love with that leather or suede fabric… two cheat codes to make to make this step easier:
- Pick a thinner material for the buttons in the same color or complementary color. The buttons on deep tufts are barely visible so some you may barely see them. If your fabric is a close match, you’ll likely barely notice it the difference.
- Take your fabric to a local upholstery shop and get them to cover the buttons for you. Pretty inexpensive to do (prices will vary by location).
2) Plan your tufts. Lay your Plywood on a flat surface and use props (buttons or coins) to layout your button pattern. If you’re wanting to do a nailhead trim border like mine, save about 4 inches from the top and each side. I started my first row 4 1/2 inches down from the top of the board and spaced the buttons 9 inches apart. For the diamond-shaped tufts you’ll stagger the buttons on each row. Next row of buttons started 4 1/2 inches below the side of the first button. I had three rows of buttons, 6 across top, 5 in the middle, 6 on the bottom. 17 buttons in total. Once you’ve locked in your layout, use a pencil to mark on the plywood on where to drill holes later. (Holes need to be large enough for upholstery needle to pass thru).
3) Cut your foam to size and use the spray adhesive and/or staples to secure it to the top of your plywood. NOTE. I wanted a nailhead trim so I cut my foam just 2 inches from the boarder of my plywood. The my buttons would be another 2 inches from the foam edge! (remember the 4 inches per side mentioned above).
4) Mark the foam with a sharpie to match your drilled holes in your plywood. On the foam, use your buttons to trace the size of the hole you’ll want to cut your foam. The idea is to cut circular holes into the foam so that the buttons will eventually lay flush to the board. (Trick: In order to make sure your holes are in the right place, pass the upholstery needle thru the back of the board to stick through the top and then place buttons/circle and cut out)
5) Wrap batting around the front of the foam and staple to the back of the plywood.
6) Now its time to make the tufts! Drape your fabric over the headboard and find a comfortable place to work. It’s best if you’re elevated above the floor. I pulled two bar stools and set them at each end of my headboard. This way I could easily work from the front and back of the headboard.
7) START IN THE MIDDLE and work your way out (as the fabric pulls this will ensure you have enough on each end when you’re done).
8) Thread your upholstery needle thru the back of the covered buttons and push the needle (from the top) thru the center hole. I used my left pointer finger to feel for the hole and right hand to push the needle through beside (no injuries!). Pull the needle and thread through and the button should be flush, touching the plywood. Once you’ve pulled the needle through, go under your plywood and staple gun the thread to the back to the board.
Zig-zag the thread as your staple so that the thread doesn’t slip thru the staples.
9) Move on to your next horizontal button. As you pull the thread and needle thru front to back, before you secure the button with staples, start to work with the fabric on the front to get your folding and pleating in place for the diamond tufted look. You’ll need to tuck and fold the fabric to make sure it looks neat and minimal wrinkling. Then go beneath and staple (zig zags.)
10) From here, I like to work vertically. Once you have secured two buttons side by side, go to the next row and work on the button in that window. Here is when you’ll start to see the diamond form. Keep repeating steps 8 & 9. Repeat this process working your way out from center.
11) Once all my tufts were in, I smoothed my fabric around the edges to begin my nailhead trim. I decided to use a trim vs individual nail studs because the trim comes in a long string and make it super easy to keep a straight line. With these you’ll see, every couple of studs there is an open ring for you to hammer in the each nail to tack it to the board. I cut three pieces for the two sides and top. (The trim is not over the foam but directly on the fabric and wood around the border you left for yourself.)
12) Now that my trim is on, the fabric sits flush to the plywood but left like this would look flat. I wanted to give the border area a soft plush look too, so I took leftover batting and I begun stuffing and padding the border. Once it looked smooth and thick enough, staple the fabric to the back of your board.
13) Voila, now we’re done!
I used one wall mount, drilled it to the back of the plywood and placed it’s mate mount on my wall to hook he headboard on! (ACTUALLY, I had the service who mounted my TV come in and do this.. because rookie mistake: I picked a very thick plywood which my headboard was too heavy* for me to lift alone. LESSON LEARNED).
*Plywood, Foam and Fabric can tend to make tufted headboards pretty heavy. If you’re going to mount the finished headboard you’ll want to keep it light, so choose a thinner plywood. I’ve created headboards using pegboards (which means no drill required).
14) OPTIONAL: If you’re not mounting to the wall and the back may be visible, or you just want a very clean look without showing the zig zags stapling, you can purchase Cambric Dust Cover fabric (from Joann’s or other local fabric stores) to neatly staple to the back of your piece.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN! Please comment with any questions or for additional tips.