How to make an upholstered panel for a DIY headboard or banquette bench

When I built my banquette seating for my dining room, I made an upholstered tufted wall panel for the back. I really love this project because it could also be easily modified to make a tufted headboard by making the panel larger and adding legs and it’s really easy and inexpensive to do! The video below shows how I made it but I’ll also outline the main steps in this post.

Materials: for this project I used pegboard (2 ft x 4 ft), a furring strip (1 ft x 10 ft), foam (1” thick x 2ft x 3 ft), batting, and fabric (canvas drop cloth). You can use your own buttons or you can make your own. 

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Step 1: On the pegboard, mark the location of where you want the buttons to go. It’s fine if they don’t all match up to existing holes, you can drill extra holes if needed.

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Step 2: Spray a light coat of spray adhesive to the front of the pegboard. Make sure you put down something to protect your work surface because the spray will go through the holes. Then attach 1 inch foam to the pegboard.

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Step 3: To make the panel thicker and sturdier I screwed furring strips on the back along the edges.

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Step 4:  I used canvas drop cloth to cover the panel to keep costs down and you’ll want to cut your fabric 3 1/2 inches wider than the panel and the batting cut 2 inches wider. Staple the fabric to the furring strips, starting from the middle and making sure to pull tightly as you go.

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Step 5: For the corners, cut away the excess fabric and batting and then tuck it in, stapling the fabric for a nice crease.

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I decided to use vintage buttons that I spray painted a nice champagne gold color. However it is really simple to make your own buttons with the fabric you have using a button cover kit. You can find one at your local craft store and they come with everything you need. Here’s how:

Step 6 (optional) Making buttons:

Use the template to draw out the size of the fabric circle that you need and then cut it out.

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Place the circle of fabric inside the form with the button front on top of the fabric.

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Tuck the fabric into the button and place the back of the button on top of that.

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Place the cap centered on the button and press down using something hard until the back pops into place.

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Remove the button from the form and there you go!
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Step 7: Whichever route you go, to thread the buttons, double up on a strong nylon or wax thread so that it’s about 8 inches long. Pull the end through the button loop and then pass it back through the loop thread. Pull tight.

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Step 8: To mark the location of the button on the front of the fabric I use a long upholstery needle to pierce through the fabric from the back. Where the needle goes through the fabric I place a pin in the front to mark the spot.

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Step 9: To put the buttons in I use the long upholstery needle to pierce the spot where the pin is in the front, making sure to remove the pin before pulling the thread all the way through.

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Step 10: Pull very tightly on the thread from the back to push the button all the way in. Make sure to keep tension on the thread and then staple it in a zig zag pattern. I tied a knot in the end as well to make sure it stays taut. If the staples don’t go in all the way in, you can use a hammer to make them tighter. Repeat this process for all the buttons.

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Step 11: To hang my panel to the wall I used a french cleat. You’ll want to secure it to a stud or use anchors appropriate for your wall.

And there you have it! A gorgeous upholstered panel which makes my banquette bench the the most comfortable place to sit in my dining room  and that could also be easily turned into a  DIY headboard!

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