Operation Ugly Frankie; A Bed Upholstery Project – Pt 2

So, since you’re here at Part 2 of the great bed frame upholstery adventure, i’m figuring that the task of tarting up Ugly Frankie didn’t scare you too much? We have much to do and much to learn; so let’s get cracking. If you want to read Part 1 in the series, you can find it here.

Begin the project by writing a basic design plan to try and identify and anticipate future problems. The biggest problem with Frankie is that this bedframe has hardware that gets in the way of the upholstery process; the footboard moreso than the  headboard.

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the hardware poking out from the where the side rails meet the footboard. This will be the most challenging part, but I have some idea of how I am going to address this. Even the most detailed design plan can come across snags, so being flexible and having a problem solving outlook will be beneficial.

I know I will be stapling materials to the back of the header and the inside of the footer (the side that faces into the mattress) which will need to be flat and as you can see the bedhead back has two cavities. So, I need to add slats to the bottom section headboard and footboard cavity to give me a flat surface to staple into. Measure up the cavities, cut the wood then glue and clamp them in place. Then brad nail the boards for extra strength; if you nail the boards, you can take the clamps off immediately as the nails will hold the wood in place while the glue dries.

Next up,the foam will be applied. Lay the foam down and lay the header on top. For this project, I knew the foam needed to be adhered 1″ above the bottom edge of the header so i put the header in the right spot on the foam. I will also need an inch or two of extra foam on the two sides and the top edge. So, account for this and then cut the foam. I have a very old electric carving knife which i now use exclusively for upholstery foam cutting projects but a sharp pair of scissors will do the trick.

Flip the headboard over so that the front is facing up. Remember in this project, the bottom edge of the foam needs to sit 1″ above the bottom edge of the bottom of header, so I need to make sure that the foam sits in the right spot before gluing. Pull up one side of the foam and fold it back on to the other side of the foam. You’ll only be gluing one side at a time. Spray the foam and spray the wood and wait for both surfaces to become tacky before you lay the foam down; do one side and then repeat the process for the other side. Wait until the glue has dried before moving on.

To get a super nice curved edge you’ll need to compress it. To do this you need to, bit by bit, bend the foam toward the back of the header and draw a line along the back edge of the wood. Do this in small sections trying to be accurate with your line drawing. Really compress the foam down. The aim here, is to make sure the foam, once cut, won’t go over to the back face – it will compress and end on the edge where the back face and curved front face meet. Carefully cut the foam on the inside of the line.

You can see that once the foam is cut, it sits over the edge of the header edge, but once it is compressed down, this will all flatten into a nice smooth rolled edge.

Next,  cut strips of calico about 25 cm wide and long enough to cover the header sides and top; in Frankie’s case, I won’t need to compress the bottom edge of the foam and you possibly won’t on your project either. Try and cut the fabric on grain as much as possible; an easy way to get on-grain ‘cuts’ is to snip the selvedge of the calico and rip it – the rip will stay on grain.

Lay the calico strips on the header with half of the width of the fabric on the foam and the other half of the width draped off the header.

Spray each section in small parts; don’t spray all the pieces at once. Spray half of the calico strip lengthwise; the other side will be glued to the back of the header to create the compressed edge. But right now, all we’re going to do is adhere the strips to the foam. Spray the foam and then let the glue get tacky…wait…wait for the glue to get tacky as it will adhere better. Once the glue is tack on both the calico and foam, apply the calico to the foam making sure that the unglued section of calico drapes over the edge of the header. Continue on and glue the calico to the entire top and sides edges. Leave it dry.

Now that the glue is dry, flip the calico toward the foam at the front of the header. In small sections, spray the back of the calico with adhesive and spray the back of the headboard. Wait until tacky and then pull that section of the calico to the back. With your other hand, compress the foam so it lays flat on the outer edge of the bedhead, but make sure you don’t push the foam over the edge and to the back of he head board. Try and get the calico to lay as flat as possible; you have time to pull up and have another go if necessary. This is a messy job, but the outcome is super professional looking. You may need to make release cuts in concave and convex areas of the headboard to make the calico pull around the shape changes.

It’s okay to leave the ends of the calico unglued, as these excess fabric areas will be trimmed down later. Continue along the edge of the header to compress the foam and glue it down using the calico. Next, make sure you spray your scissors with silicone spray and then cut the excess calico away.

You can see I made release cuts in the curved areas; you will need to determine how to best work the calico on your project. Don’t be afraid to make release cuts to get the best compressed edge result. Leave the glue to dry really well or you’ll have issues with the glue not performing well when we glue on the bonded dacron next.

Cut a piece of 1″ thick bonded dacron bigger than the bedhead – it doesn’t need to be massively bigger; just a couple of inches all around. Lay the bonded dacron smooth side up. There are two sides to bonded dacron; a fuzzy side and a smooth side. The smooth side is always up so that it creates a smooth surface for the top fabric to sit on. I have lined up the bottom of the dacron level with the foam and then used Selley’s Kwik Grip spray adhesive to stick it to the foam. Start on one side and spray both the dacron and the foam, wait until tacky and then lay the dacron down. Repeat on the other side.

Next, we need to cover the smooth compressed edge of the headboard. We’ll be working in sections again. Leave the corners until last; work the straight edges first. Spray the dacron and the edge of the headboard, wait until both are tacky and then use your hand to hold the dacron in place while it dries; it won’t take more than a minute or so to stay in place. Make sure that you don’t push the dacron to the back of the headboard; the aim is to have it bonded to the back edge and no further.

Once the straight edges are glued and staying in place, move on to the first of the two corners.  Spray the edge of the header and the dacron; wait until the glue is tacky and then using your hand, cup the corner and push the dacron onto the edge. Again, make sure that you don’t glue the dacron to the back face. Once the dacron adheres and doesn’t peel off, move on the the other corner.

Leave the glue to dry for a few minutes.

For the next step you’ll need a silicone spray and sharp shears/scissors. I bought this can of silicone spray from Bunnings; it has a long nozzle which helps stop over spray. You’ll need to spray the blades of the scissors to stop the adhesive from clumping in your scissors. Don’t be temped to cut the wet gluey dacron without silicone on the scissor blades – you can thank me in the comments haha

Cut the dacron flush with the back edge of the headboard.

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I need a rest. We’ve accomplished a decent amount. In beauty terms, Ugly Frankie has had a facial and a bit of dermabrasion and thinks she’s almost ready in her quest to be a contender in the “Miss Upholstered Bed Beauty Contest”.  But just between you and me, at this point in time she’s still only likely to win the “Miss Congeniality” title…

Join me for the next instalment of Frankie’s make-over!


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