Tufting turns a plain fabric headboard into a more stylish decor piece.

How to Put Buttons on a Fabric Headboard

by Kathy Adams

A fabric headboard offers a softer, cushier backing for your bed than its wood or metal counterparts. While fabric provides a comfort level that's important if you enjoy sitting up or reading in bed, the headboard shape on its own may seem a bit uninteresting. Adding buttons turns that boring headboard into a tufted headboard, giving it a boost of elegance and style without breaking the bank. A fabric or upholstered headboard is merely foam or batting covered by a durable fabric and wrapped around a sturdy object such as a piece of plywood; adding buttons requires drilling through the backing board to attach them securely

Move the bed and headboard away from the wall. Remove the headboard from the bed using an adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts holding the bolts in place. Set the nuts and bolts aside.

Flip the headboard around so the back faces you. Determine how many buttons and tufts you'd like on the headboard; for instance, three buttons in a row creates four tufted or pillowed sections.

Measure the width of the headboard to determine placement of the buttons. If using three buttons, for example, find the middle of the headboard by dividing the width by two. Make a dot in the middle with a pencil or permanent marker, placing the dot at your preferred height along the headboard. Measure the distance from the dot to an edge of the headboard, then divide that by two to mark the position of another button. Do the same on the other side of the center dot.

Drill holes through the back or board part of the headboard at your marked button locations using a 3/16-inch drill bit, stopping before the bit goes through the cover fabric.

Cut pieces of upholstery thread at least two feet long. Cut one piece of thread per covered button. Thread one piece of thread through the upholstery needle, tying the ends of the thread together in a knot.

Push the needle through one of the holes on a sturdy large button, which serves as a backing support behind the headboard for the covered button. Push the needle back down through one of the other holes on the button, looping the thread through several times for added security. Hold the button near one of the holes drilled in the back of the headboard, then push the needle through the hole and straight through the fabric.

Push the needle through the loop on one of the covered buttons, then back down through the fabric on the headboard, spacing the thread slightly away from its original entry point. Push the needle through the backing button, back up through another one of the backing button's holes, then up through the fabric and through the covered button's loop again, essentially sewing two buttons onto the headboard at once. Pull the thread tightly each time to create a tufted effect. Knot the thread on the back of the backing button once the covered button is securely in place.

Repeat Steps 6 and 7 for each covered button and backing button until all buttons are sewn and knotted in place.

Reattach the headboard to the bed by replacing the nuts and bolts, tightening them with the adjustable wrench.

Items you will need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Tape measure
  • Permanent marker
  • Drill with 3/16-inch bit
  • Upholstery thread
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery needle
  • Sturdy large buttons with multiple holes, one per covered button
  • 3 or 4 fabric-covered buttons (or more if desired)


  • Look at images of tufted headboards to get an idea of how many buttons or tufts are ideal for your headboard. The number of buttons is simply a matter of preference. Generally, the larger the headboard, the more buttons you can use without the headboard looking too cluttered. Three or four buttons may be enough.
  • Choose upholstered buttons that look good against the existing headboard fabric; for instance, white, red or black buttons for a black and white floral headboard fabric, or yellow or blue buttons for a light green headboard.
  • Button covering kits allow you to create your own covered buttons using your own fabric scraps or cuttings of fabric from the back of the headboard.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images