salvaged denim headboard

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I finished this headboard for my little boy last week! I don't often make things that are NOT for my Etsy store these days, so it took a while. The idea was percolating on my back burner for over a year. At first I thought of making a quilt, but the little guy liked the idea of the padded headboard we made for the guest room, so the idea morphed into a headbaord. I decided to make it fancier than the guest room one by boxing out the sides and adding a back so the cover is removable for washing.
I've built up quite a hoard of denim cast-offs from family & from thrifting. What's the point of hoarding if you're never going to make anything out of it, right?

To make this project I used:
    -small hoard of cast-off denim
    -denim yardage- about 2 yards
    -1/4" plywood (I used 40" x 30" for a twin size)'
    -3" foam cut to size
    -quilt batting
    -muslin
    -piping cord
    -staple gun
    -sewing machine
    -heavy duty sewing machine needle (size 14/90)
    -pattern paper
    -flush mount hangers

If you were doing a single fabric stapled on, this would basically be your only step besides adding the hangers to the back. Layer the muslin, batting, foam and plywood to form the headboard base. Be sure to cut about 12" extra in height & with of the muslin & batting, so there is enough to wrap around the edges for stapling. You can always trim off the extra later.
To make the cover, I tried different layouts before cutting. I wanted light & dark to alternate. I debated whether to mix in some pocket-free squares and decided only to do that on the bottom row where the mattress and pillow would cover it anyway.
Since my headboard is 40" x 30", I made my pieces 10" x 10" squares (with the exception on the bottom four pieces)- just perfect for keeping pockets & details intact. The actual pieces including seam allowances measure 11" x 11" before sewing. Don't forget seam allowances! For the bottom four pieces, I added on 2" or so in height, so there would be extra to wrap underneath and meet up with the back to close the bottom. A separate band gets sewn on later to box out the top & sides.
One thing I learned is denim is THICK! Be sure you are using a heavy duty needle meant for denim. Also, most finished edges are not square. To make sewing easier and keep my pieces as close to square as possible, I fudged new edges in some places. By lapping on a trim piece that would become the seam allowance I avoided having to sew though all those extra bulky layers of a waistband with belt loops..
With the layout finalized, it's ready to sew together. At the thickest points, I found myself turning the wheel of the machine by hand rather than pressing the pedal, just to be safe. An industrial machine could plow through this, no problem, but I'm limited to my trusty Babylock.
Oh, and just to be hard on myself, I decided to pipe around the edges of the headboard. I made bias strips out of the same denim I was using for the sides and back and made my own piping. Use a zipper foot to get your stitches close to the bulge of the cord. You could certainly opt to skip this step.
I basted before sewing just to keep all this heavy fabric from slipping around. Then I sewed on the sides (a strip, 4" wide to accomodate the 3" foam + seam allowances) and back (same dimensions as the front out of denim yardage) leaving excess at the bottom to safety pin shut. If I were to do this again, I'd make reduce the width of the side piece by 1/4" since it came out a bit loose. Denim has a good deal of give. I contemplated a velco closure, but I was so worn out by the piping, that I took the easy way out. and just pinned it

Even easier would be omitting the piping and back, making a deep enough side panel to wrap around to the back for stapling.
Before slipping the cover on, I had my husband attach the flush mount hangers to the plywood back and to the wall. A level and accurate measuring come in handy for this. Then I slipped on the cover and cut holes in the back to expose the hangers.
Now my boy has a place to store his flashlights and other doodads in easy reach at night!

2 comments:

heather dougherty said...

what a clever idea Becky!

paula said...

Wow! What an inventive idea! This should go viral, in my opinion.

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