Easy-Sew Reversible Padded Headboard Cover

I like options when it comes to DIY decorating. Lots of options are good since I like to change things up every now and then.  When I give myself decorating options and plan for them in advance – change is easy.

I also like furniture transformations. I hardly ever buy furniture new, as I like to be able to design items my way – how I envision they should look, not  the perspective of a designer working for a big furniture manufacturer. I know a lot of you feel this way, too.


This easy-sew padded headboard cover is one of those projects. I have a perfectly good bed frame and headboard in my guest room – I like it, but I also like upholstered headboards that are very popular now. I can sew a straight line on my very ancient Singer and knew I could fake the look of a upholstered or padded headboard by making a cover that can be slipped over the existing  headboard.  No big sheets of plywood, power tools, or tufting needed.

If you can sew  – you can make this very quickly– don’t sew ? –no problem – I have an option for you, too.  Options and alternatives – padding/no padding, sew/no sew, slipcover/tie-on. Pick and choose the style that is best for you.

At the end of  the step-by-step part of this post – I will show you how to make a no-sew version.

One side of the cover – black and white geometric pattern.


It is like a big pillowcase that slips over the existing wood headboard.

How to make an easy padded headboard

Presto Change-o – once again –it is purple.

Easy Sew Padded Headboard Instructions

How to Make a Padded Cover for A Headboard

supplies needed:

  • Fabric – two different designs.  For this double bed I needed 2 yards of each
  • Optional: an old sheet or inexpensive muslin in the same size as your fabric.  This will make it easier to sew over the quilt batting.
  • Matching thread
  • Tension Rod  – JC Penney’s has long ones.
  • Quilt batting – 1 inch thick and  stiff – Double Bed – I needed 4 yards.  If you use very stiff batting which I did, you may not need the tension rod.

No-Sew Option:  Fabric,  Tension Rod,  Heat N’ Bond Iron-On Adhesive, Iron and Ironing Board

I started with a traditional wood headboard, then placed a tension rod tightly in between the two posts.  No tension rod? – you could screw a wood pole or 1 x 2 in between the bed posts if it going to be permanent.  The rod will keep the center of the cover from dipping down.

Tension Rod Options:  1. If you use stiff 1-inch batting – no tension rod may be needed as the stiffness of the batting will help the cover hold its shape. Fitting the cover snugly also helps.        2. You can also use 22 gauge craft wire. Wrap it around one post, then stretch across expanse between posts and then wrap around the other post snugly.  To protect existing headboard, wrap strips of fabric scraps around posts before wrapping wire around.

Easy-Padded Headboard-Tension-Rod


Easy Sew Headboard Tutorial

1.  Measure your headboard height and width – make sure to add a few inches to the width to account for the side thickness of the posts – since the fabric will wrap and meet to create the seam there.  Add 3 inches to the height for top seam and bottom hem.   Cut fabric, lining, and quilt batting to size.

2.  Layer your fabrics in this order:  lining, batting, fabric face up, second fabric face down, batting, lining.

3.  Pin them together.

4.  Sew top seam.

5. Sew bottom hem on front and back pieces – through all layers on each – fabric, batting, lining.


6. Sew one side seam.  To make sure if fits  – place the cover over headboard and pin the other side seam to fit snugly.  Sew seam.

Easy-Sew Headboard_tutorial


Reversible:  One side black and white geometric – the other side solid purple.  I used two different fabrics on the pillows, too.  Lots of options!


Modern looking padded headboard # 1


Pop of Color #2


How to Make a No-Sew Headboard Cover:

The no-sew option will not be padded and will only require two layers of fabric. This is how I made the covers when I worked in display. I didn’t have a sewing machine or the budget to buy quilt batting.   I think Iron-On Adhesive Tape works better than fabric glue as it helps keep the look of the seam straighter.

1. Measure the size of your headboard and add 2 extra inches to each measurement. Remember to account for the wrap around area on the sides of the posts. This can be a small increment or large depending on the thickness of the posts.

2.  Fold and press all raw edges over on each piece of fabric 1-inch.  Make sure both front and back pieces match up in size.

3.  Press Iron-On-Adhesive tape on the top of the folded 1-inch on front piece of fabric. Don’t add any along the bottom hem – only do this on the top and sides.   Remove paper backing and then lay second fabric over top. Make sure edges line up. Press to adhere the front and back pieces of fabric and let cool.

4.  Place the cover over the headboard. Since the seam is fused – unlike a sewn seam where you can press it flat – make sure the fused seam is laying  the same way all around the headboard so it looks smooth.   I make sure it lays to the back.

No-Sew Option # 2:  Instead of sewing sides together –  attach 3 or 4 grommets along each side and use ribbon to tie the cover on.

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  1. Suzie Zim says:

    I was looking to make a cover for my padded headboard. Bought a reversible twin quilt (big sale). Was thinking about the seams to make it reversible. Then saw your post with the reversible on each side i stead of inside out. I will just cut the the quilt and turn it around. What a great easy idea. Thank you!! I am 80, so never too late to learn/try something new.

  2. i like this, maybe i won make one :)

  3. Gloria Gawa says:

    Woke up this morning and was thinking what I could do to fix an old antique beds headboard that I don’t want to destroy the value. I new painting it would totally destroy value and then I thought why not cover it with fabric . Went to pinterest site and there you were. I didn’t think about making it reversable and you helped me figure out what I needed to do. Thank you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gloria – Thanks for taking the time to tell me. So happy that my post helped you solve a decorating dilemma in your home.

  4. Inspiration for a new bedroom look hit me, however I could not justify buying a whole new bed… Your instruction is PERFECT!
    On my first run I cheated and cut up an old doona (quilt/duvet). The fabric had a nice pattern, but the satin edges were a nightmare.
    I had been holding onto it for just this project. :-)

  5. Hi Diane,
    Have you ever thought of just making the quilt batting by itself and then the pattern fabric to slip over it? That way you can have multiple covers for different seasons!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Haley – That is a very good idea – making the batting a cover all by itself that you could then make lots of fabric covers to go over. Very smart. Thanks for sharing your idea. I know many readers will benefit from it.

      1. sara bellum says:

        make the first per your instructions or using muslin to cover and stabilize and then make your multiple covers. using just the batting by itself will stretch and breakdown.

  6. Nancy Tobin says:

    This looks great BUT I have a camelback unfinished headboard so am wondering if you have a plan to make a slipcover for such curved pieces. Thanks much.

  7. I love this idea! We don’t really like our headboard, but it’s part of the bedframe, so I’m not comfortable completely remaking one like the DIYs all over Pinterest right now. I saw Martha Stewart’s directions for a slip cover, but they didn’t make sense without pictures so I’m glad I found your site! The only problem I’m running into is that the headboard is sort of opposite of yours (middle higher than the posts) so I’m not sure what would support the corners/sides. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? I’m not really a DIY-er so I don’t have much experience tailoring directions to my own projects. I appreciate any help!

  8. I have been looking for this exact how to headboard cover for 2 days. I can’t thank you enough for posting this. So excited to make this for my granddaughter.

  9. i came here looking for this exact how-to sewing project and found it! super easy and creative. i’m covering the headboards of two (ugly) twin ikea beds … think i’ll even do the footboards as well ;)
    thanks Diane!

  10. I absolutely love it! I was looking all over the internet for a budget solution to cover my victorian style headboard and this method is perfect and on budget!

  11. Julie Jamison says:

    Absolutely brilliant Diane! Such an easy to follow tutorial!

  12. how to make your own headboard says:

    Create your own designer headboard by painting a large canvas to hang behind the bed.
    Remember you measured enough to wrap the stuffing in the fabric.
    But in reality, unless you’re a skilled carpenter, you’re probably not going to be able to make one yourself.

  13. Tricia Sherry says:

    I had some trouble pulling this off but had success in the end. I could not sew both panels of batting so I decided to sew two layers of fabric with one panel of batting. I ran and put it on with the fabric covered batting on the front. Since I tried to make it taller and rectangular, it was too tall for my shorter, arched headboard, so I folded the top of it down to the back and it looked great! I handstitched it to the backing fabric which made the batting on the front of the headboard puff out. It gave the appearance of an upholstered headboard and I am really happy with it! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tricia – Thanks for sharing how you made your headboard cover.I am so happy it worked out and that you found a way that worked for you – truly doing it in your own style. No one way is the right way – many paths lead to success. I hope you will enjoy it for many years.

  14. This solves my daughter’s headboard problem completely, and so easy! Since she is 8, I will use a soft fleece on one side and cotton on the other. Thank you for posting this.

  15. ROSHNI RD says:

    Really love to read it. Seems like it can be useful for everyone who love to do room decoration. Thanks for sharing such things…

  16. Bimala Raut says:

    Wow..It’s really amazing. Really love your post. I am sure that it really can help me. Thank you for sharing..:)

  17. Rosemarie says:

    I have the steel Svelvik bed from IKEA and was going to sell it and make a new one but this is a much better option especially since I am a renter. I can easily switch up the fabric whenever I want!

    I am going to cut the footboard rails off and add a split-corner bedskirt to hide the black frame. I think I’ll opt for using a piece of plywood in front of the headboard in case the batting isn’t thick enough and secure it with conduit straps to secure it to the headboard.

  18. This is a super idea. In this way, you can change the look of the room, with just one padded headboard cover. I also like the colors, for both sides. Lovely

  19. tinnitus miracle by thomas coleman free download says:

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  20. What has anti aging got to do with headboards?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marinah – Not sure what you are talking about in the comment you left on my blog- anti-aging?

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Again Marinah – I just saw the spam comment about anti -aging. Sometimes my blog spam filter does not catch the pam and I have to delete them myself. It is so annoying!

  21. TQ Fabulous says:

    Another great idea! I’ve been needing to do this in our daughter’s room for a long time. Thank you for the excellent instructions.

  22. Thanks for the suggestion. I will have to think how to make the foam-core box first! Meantime, what I did was to turn the headboard upside down by removing the screws and putting them back after turning it over. However, the headboard is a bit short as the screw positions are low. Anyhow, this will have to do for the time being until I find time to make a better one. The cover I made looks great although the padding is somewhat uneven underneath.

  23. This is great! Could you tell me how to change the shape of my old padded headboard? The top is curvy but I would prefer it to be straight so its much easier to make removable covers. Thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marinah –

      If you are going to keep the existing padding on. You could make a big fom-core box over it and then make your covers to go over the box. Use duct tape to attach the pieces of fom-core together to form the box.

  24. Patricia Lapidus/Brooks says:

    All I can is, Thank You for the Great Ideas!!!

  25. Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips says:

    What a great way to update or freshen a headboard. I’m pinning this!

  26. Adventures in Dressmaking says:

    Fun idea! I planned to do the same (not the reversible part, just the easy on/off slipcover part) for the padded headboard my dad made me, but when it came time to buy the upholstery fabric I decided just to do the front and staple around the back. =( I recovered that headboard 3 times, and then again with extreme tufting!! See them all here… http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/search/label/headboard

  27. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Hi Diane,

    How did I miss this from you for over a week? Another perfect tutorial. And I still so love your guest room. Reminded me of so many of your ideas that are on my bucket list, the mirror, that beautiful dresser, the three dimensional wall mirrors. Come to think of it, 99.9% of my bucket list is from you. I have one from one of your blog friends. Now wishing I had some material. And I don’t have a head board YET, but I have one planned and you just gave me some ideas that I am now considering a change that will make it much less expensive to buy supplies. Since I can cover it with this slipcover and all.

  28. Rose Myrtle says:

    Like I said earlier, you seriously should write your own book!

  29. I so love this!! I wanted to do something different with my headboard but don’t want to paint it or anything permanent! Can’t wait to try this :)

  30. That is fabulous, Diane. Thanks for sharing at Wow. It will be featured at Wow this week.

  31. Great idea! Thank you for the great tutorial. I have a headboard that I’d love to try this on.

    I like the bedding colors you chose. Very fun together. Can I ask where you got the lavender pillow shams?

  32. Love your idea and easy tutorial. What if you don’t have a headboard? Is there a good material to use to make your own head board?

  33. Thank you for the detailed tutorial. It’s a wonderful project.

  34. I truly love your blog, You seem to know just what I’m wanting to do because before long there is one of your great ideas or something very close to what I have been wanting to do. you truly do inspire. I have just begun to decorate my bedroom and was looking at different ways to cover my headboard. So here you are today with the best solution to my problem. Your the best thanks so much.
    ps I love your room

  35. Debra @ Bungalow says:

    I have been thinking of doing this for my granddaughter. Great tute and a really pretty room!

  36. You posted the headboard project at the perfect time! My daughter has a new full size bed and didn’t want a headboard. That was fine while she was home for the summer, but she’s back at college now and that made the wheels start turning in my head. I bought a $30 3-in-1 crib (a safety recalled one so this was practically a public service!) so I could use the curved portion for the headboard and saved the other pieces for a future project. I bought a Pottery Barn-ish linen/burlap upholstery fabric, foam, batting, and made a pattern with plans to upholster the headboard. I got scared that my skill sets were not at the level to produce the desired results and the project has been stalled for a couple of weeks. After reading your post, I am re-energized, I will make a slipcover instead of upholstering! Thanks, Diane for your inspiration!

  37. Love this idea! I was just thinking of how I could upholster my metal headboard. It sounds like I could get away with just using stiff batting. I’m excited to try it out! Thanks Diane!

  38. JaneEllen says:

    Oh thank you, thank you.The reversible idea and curtains on wall are excellent. Oh boy I can hardly wait to get started now , love your blog.
    You’ve inspired me to make a cover for our metal curved headboard. Actually it’s the footboard but headboard. We had taken the footboard off end of bed so it would be easier for me to make bed, especially in winter when I used alot of quilts on the bed. Then one day I got the wild hair to paint the footboard while it was off then use it for the headboard for awhile. Had only enough spray paint for the footboard so headboard is still out in shed. Original color of head/footboard is black and I was really sick of it.
    Been wanting to make something for head of bed for winter as it gets really cold. I love the idea of the curtains first of all and because of shape of headboard might just do the curtains thing on wall over the bed. We even turned our bed this summer so it won’t be on cold outside wall in the winter.
    Thanks Diane for the great idea and inspiration.

  39. Linda Southworth says:

    Diane! A marvelous idea for decorating options. I have a taller headboard but it is squared at the top. I can do this and change anytime I want too! Love it…
    I enjoy you and your blog. You have so many good ideas and love seeing what you and the girls do. I have two as well. Mine are a little older and married now. I even have a grandson as of this year. Just wait as your family grows!
    Really one of my favorite blogs. Thank you!

  40. What an amazing but simple idea! I’ve wanted to make a bigger headboard forever since our mattress dwarfs the headboard we have and it essentially disappears. Does the tension rod ever fall off? Do you have to be very careful not to lean up against it so it won’t?

    1. Hi Mary – I have the rod in very tight so I think it should stay. I tested it out and most of my back hit the solid part of the existing headboard. The tension rod is much higher. If your bed posts are lower – it may come off. If you really like the look – you can drill holes into the sides of the posts and create a permanent rail with a 1 x 2. I also should note in the post – if you add stiff batting – which I did – the cover stays up on it’s own – the tension rod doesn’t even need to be used. The tension rod is a must if not using the batting.

  41. Ashlyn@Pinecone says:

    For those of us that like changing things often – what a perfect idea – and what a time saver. We did the padded headboards for the girls’ room – this would have saved a ton of work…Diane where are you when I need you?! ha!

    Love it!

  42. cathy@home says:

    I love this idea .

  43. Jessica @ Decor Adventures says:

    Great idea! I was just looking at our headboard wondering what I could do to snaz it up. Thanks for the how to.

  44. I LOVE this! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. I’ve shared this on Pinterest. You have sooo many great ideas on your blog. I’m going to be spending some time here looking around for more inspiration.