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Easy-Sew Reversible Padded Headboard Cover

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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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.