How to Make a Slip Cover for a Fabric Headboard

I love having a padded fabric headboard. Not only is it perfect for reading in bed, but I just like the look of an upholstered headboard.  The downside is they are hard to clean.  I have a post all about my attempts to clean the fabric headboard in my master bedroom you might want to check out here Can you clean a fabric headboard? It depends

headboard before recovering

I was not completely happy with my “cleaned” fabric headboard so I decided to make a removable slipcover for my existing headboard that I could take on and off and throw in the washing machine.  

This seemed like the perfect solution and I must say it was a fairly easy project and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  It looks like a whole new headboard! It was so easy, in fact, that I think I could do a different fabric for the fall/Christmas.

DIY Headboard Slipcover Tutorial

Supplies needed

  • fabric (be careful when you order fabric online to determine if it is one piece of fabric or 4×1-yard pieces)
  • straight pins
  • scissors
  • iron
  • sewing machine
  • thread

I chose an indigo denim fabric partly because I wanted a dark color. Denim is a really good weight for slipcovers. Be careful when you order fabric online to determine if it is one piece of fabric or 4×1-yard pieces)

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​Step-by-step instructions

  • Choose your fabric. The first thing to do is buy fabric.  I chose 100% cotton denim fabric.  In hindsight, I should have washed the fabric before I started.  This is always a good idea so that any shrinkage will occur before you begin your project.
  • Lay out the fabric to test for fit.  The fabric I bought came in four one yard pieces so I just did a rough measurement to make sure I had enough.  I placed two pieces on a flat surface and put the headboard on top.  
  • Once I was sure I had enough fabric I made two panels, one for the front and one for the back.  I did this by sewing two pieces of fabric together for the front of the headboard and the other two for the back of the headboard.  I sewed them right sides together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance and pressed the seam open.  This step may not be necessary, depending on the size of the headboard.  If you buy fabric pre-cut into two, 2-yard pieces you can skip this step unless you have a very large bed size.
  • Trace the pattern.  I found the best way to transfer the shape of the headboard onto the fabric was to simply trace around the headboard.  I layed the fabric on the floor and placed the headboard centered on the fabric panel.  I used a pen to trace the outline of the headboard directly onto the wrong side of the fabric.  In other words, the pretty side of the fabric is facing the floor and the wrong side is facing up.  Repeat this same process with the second fabric panel.  
  • Pin the front and back sides together.  Because these were fairly large fabric panels, I decided to secure the front and back together so they would stay aligned while I sewed them together. 
  • Sew the front and back together.  My headboard is padded, so in order to make sure it would fit properly I did not sew right along the traced outline of the headboard.  Instead I sewed a seam 2 inches beyond the line I had traced.  The seam extended around both sides and the top, leaving the bottom open.
  • Test for fit.  Once I had sewn around the sides and top I slipped the cover on to make sure I had a snug fit, before cutting off the excess fabric.  Remember, you can always remove your stitching and tweak things a bit if necessary.  
  • Add reinforcement stitching.  Once I was happy with the fit I stitched a second seam 1/4 inch inside the first around the sides and top just as a reinforcement.  I did this because the slipcover will be taken on and off whenever I want to wash it and I wanted to make sure it was sturdy.
  • Trim excess fabric.  I then cut off all the excess fabric along the sides and top.  I trimmed leaving about 1 inch of fabric. 
  • Test for fit.  I turned the slipcover right side out and tested the fit one more time.
  • Hem the bottom opening.  Since the bottom of the slipcover was open I wanted to make sure the raw edges didn’t fray with future washings.  I pressed the bottom edge with a 1 inch fold (turned under twice 1/2 inch).  I then stitched the bottom hem.
  • Press seams open.  I pressed the seams to the sides and top open to make sure the slipcover would lay flat. 

Here is the finished product.  It gave my headboard new life and I’m thrilled with how it turned out!

fabric headboard slipcover, finished product

Before you go, you might also like Bedroom decorating tips, how to make envelope pillow covers (great for beginners) and how to get your white sheets white again.

After making this slipcover I decided to make a tailored bed skirt, see that tutorial here.

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