A DIY headboard

Editor Mary Jane Harris discovers that when pushed for time you can make a slipcovered headboard in a weekend

Isn’t it amazing that when you’re expecting guests how quickly you can get things done? My guest room had lacked a headboard for ages, but when a friend confirmed that she was arriving the next week, I realised I couldn’t put this off any longer. No upholsterers could accommodate me at such short notice, so I had to be creative.

I went off to the local timber merchant and asked them to cut a piece of chipboard the width of a single bed with a height of 85cm (I wanted to be able to see the headboard above the pillows) plus two pieces 10cm wide and 35cm long to make the legs. As squared off headboards are very fashionable now, I could have kept it as is but just to make life more difficult I felt it should have a curved top to add a bit of interest to what is quite a small room.

Fortunately there’s a carpenters workshop right opposite our offices. I drew them a rough shape and they cut it out accordingly. I then laid the board on brown paper and drew around it to make a pattern for the slipcover.

I had some offcuts of quilted fabric (wadding for quilts works just as well) which I folded over the front of the headboard (see pic below) and secured at the back using upholstery tacks (see pic below). I’ve since realised that using a staple gun would have made this much easier.

I then attached the legs 25cm in from the edge (they’re not pretty so you don’t want to see them) using two metal brackets and screws for stability (see pic below).

Then I tackled the slipcover. Using the pattern I cut out two pieces of fabric adding 2cm all around for seams and to accommodate the thickness of the wadding. I have a cupboard full of fabric so I chose two different patterns; one with a coral motif and one with a check pattern, but both in blue and white to go with the room (see pic below).

I placed the wrong sides together and sewed along the sides and top. I turned the cover to the right side, pushed the corners out and ironed the seams flat. Then I hemmed the bottom edge.

Slipcovers are easy to remove and launder so you can make sure your guests always have a clean headboard. If you’re going to wash them, preshrink the fabric before cutting it out. Different patterns on either side let you change the look to suit the seasons and your guests.

Happy DIYing,
Mary Jane