How to Make a Foam Padded Headboard

This lovely headboard gives the look of wood and quilted fabrics without the need for a hammer, saw, nails or thread. Lightweight yet durable, it can be crafted in an afternoon. Follow these step-by-step instructions.

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plastic foam in three 2" thick x 12" wide x 36" long sheets
fabric: 3 yds. of 45" fabric with small print or a solid for shirred border and back
1 yd. of 45" fabric with large print for center panel
1 yd. of 45" fabric with small print in contrasting color for cording
3 yds. of medium white cotton cording, (3 yds. of ready-made cording or braid can be used instead)
batting - 2 yds. of 10-oz. thick flame retardant quilt batting
tools: 1"-1 1/2" putty knife
low melt glue gun and clear glue sticks
serrated kitchen or steak knife
used candle
U-pins or fern pins
2 1/2" green or white wood picks (available in floral department)
several T-pins
scissors, black marker, blunt pencil


  1. Joining foam: Sand edges of foam to be joined by rubbing pieces together lightly. Insert three wood picks into edge of one piece to be joined. Working on a flat surface, move edge of other board slightly onto the wood picks. Using low-melt glue, cover picks and edges with glue and slowly push pieces together. Hold in place snugly for a few seconds. Any number of pieces can be joined in this manner to make headboard as large as desired.
  2. Cutting Foam: Mark area to be cut with felt-tip pen. Lay board onto flat table top, with longest end on flat surface, and side to be cut resting just beyond end of table. Use serrated knife waxed with candle. Holding foam portion on table, cut away excess. Use even, smooth strokes and keep knife perpendicular to table top. Sand away ragged edges by rubbing back and forth with a scrap of foam. This also enhances the fit with other pieces.

  • Tucking Technique: Draw a line where you wish the fabric or trim to be tucked into the foam. Score this line with a blunt pencil so that you can feel the line with your fingertip when a piece of fabric is laid on top. Cut fabric piece at least 1/2" larger than the area to be covered to allow for tucking into foam. Lay fabric so that seam allowance rests over the score line. Using putty knife, punch fabric straight down into foam at score line (figure A). Note: A bead of glue may be run along the scored line before tucking. This ensures a permanent bond in the seam. When tucking the second fabric into the same score, always run a bead of glue for a good hold.

  • Making Cording to Match: Note: Ready-made cording can be purchased in a number of colors at any fabric store. Braids, cords, and ribbons can also be used as finishing trims. To make matching cording, cut fabric into 1-1/2" bias strips. Sew these strips together to make one long piece. Fold in half over the cotton cording and, with a zipper foot on the machine, sew close to the cording (see diagram).

    Constructing the Headboard:

    • Foam Base (finished base before cutting point will be 30" x 40")
    1. Cut away 6" from each piece of foam (see above directions for "Cutting Foam").
    2. From these scraps, cut 2 pieces 4" x 12" and 1 piece 4" x 6".
    3. Join all pieces (see directions given above for "Joining Foam") to make a base 30" x 40" (see diagram).
    4. Following diagram and using serrated knife, cut away the pieces at each side of top to make peaked headboard.
    5. Using a scrap of foam to sand, slightly round all edges of base.
    6. Measure a 4" border around all edges of base except the bottom. Draw line with black marker and score with blunt pencil. This will be the tucking line for the shirred border (see diagram).
    • Fabric and Batting
    1. Cut batting as follows: one piece to fit center section of base (32" x 26"), two pieces 7" x 21" to wrap lower sides, two pieces 7" x 22" to wrap each side of top.
    2. Run a bead of glue along side, just inside of tucking line and adhere batting. Fold over edges and pull to back. Glue in place. Do this for the top section as well. When folding over ends, cut away some excess before folding and gluing. This will make a smooth finish.
    3. Cut center piece of batting so that it will fit about 1/4" inside tucking lines. Remove and set aside while tucking the shirred edges.
    4. Cut fabric as follows: border fabric (small print), 6 pieces 11" x width of fabric; backing fabric (small print), 1 piece 30" x 40"; center panel (large print), 1 piece 34" x 30"; cording (companion print) as in directions above

    Tucking Headboard:

    1. Read instructions above on tucking before beginning. A bead of glue should be run along the score as you tuck. it is best to tuck only about 3" at a time as glue dries quickly.
    2. Lay base on a flat surface. Begin at top point of headboard. Fold under a small seam allowance. Place edge of fabric over tucking line and tuck into score with putty knife. Gather fabric as you tuck (see picture). This piece should cover about 3/4's of the top border. When end of fabric piece is reached, turn under a small seam allowance and tuck into foam.
    3. Turn board to back. Bring fabric piece snugly over edge and batting and tuck into foam in back, keeping as straight a line as possible, and arranging gathers so that it looks attractive from the front. Check often to be sure the front shirring looks attractive.
    4. Continue with next piece, overlapping first piece slightly. Allow extra fabric gathers when turning corner. When tucking back, be sure corner does not look smooth but has gathers when finished. The fabric that is pulled over corner may need to be glued at back rather than tucked. When end of shirred side is reached, fabric is folded over bottom, excess is cut away to allow for a smooth fold to back (see diagram).
    5. Complete other side of headboard in same manner.
    6. Return batting to center panel. lay large print fabric over center. Trim to fit panel, being sure to leave at least 1/2" around all edges. Begin tucking at one side, adding glue in tucking seam as you go. Tuck opposite side, pulling snugly and then top, smoothing any wrinkles that appear. Pull fabric to back at bottom, and hold in place with "U" pins. Glue edges in place.
    7. Make cording as directed above. Cut away most of seam allowance. Begin at bottom; leave enough cording to bring around to back. Glue cording into tucking trench, being sure the seam allowance goes into the trench and the cording rests on top.
    8. Turn headboard to back, glue cording ends in place. cover back with extra fabric piece by folding under a seam allowance and gluing in place, approximately 1" from edge, all the way around. This will cover the tucked back and add an attractive finish.

    Hanging Headboard:

    There are several methods of hanging this headboard. Measure as if hanging a picture, and mark two spots behind the bed about 24 inches apart. The headboard should sit just at the top of the mattress. Use long nails or screws that will protrude from the wall at least 1-1/2 inches. Mark corresponding spot on back of headboard and pierce fabric. Push headboard onto screws, flush with wall. Headboard may also be hung like a picture using U-pins placed in foam upside-down, and adding wire between. Once headboard is hung, it is quite firm and can be leaned against to read or watch television.

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