Dino Map Headboard Project + Upholstery Tutorial

AUG 26, 2014 updated Jun 4, 2021

See how fabric designer, artist, and mama extraordinaire Samarra Khaja (SammyK on Spoonflower) created this dino map headboard for her son out of our new Faux Suede fabric* and learn how to make a DIY headboard of your own!

Dino Faux Suede Headboard

SAMARRA: My eldest heads to 1st grade this fall. Call me all sentimental and whatnot, but I wanted to celebrate this first person to ever call me “Mama” by giving him something decorative that would also feed that cerebral sponge that is his thirsty brain. Fun and functional in one fell swoop. I decided upon a new headboard. It’s the perfect way to revamp the look and feel of a bedroom without sending one’s wallet off to weep quietly in the closet.

But this is not just any headboard, it’s a Dino Mapasaurus, my illustrated rendition of some of the places around the world that dinosaurs have been discovered (thus far <–wink, wink, lazy paleontologists of the world, let’s get crackin’!). My kids are pretty much dinosaur-obsessed, so this was the winning route to take.


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Did I mention this project comes together quickly too, like, in less than an hour? I’d even say less than 20 minutes if you’ve had your morning coffee and all your supplies are ready to go. Hello, win-win.

To make one of your own, you’ll need:

  • 1 yard “Dino Mapasaurus” in Faux Suede*
  • 1/2″-thick MDF, cut to a 31″ x 31″ square
  • 34″ x 34″ square cotton batting (I used double-thickness because I had extra)
  • 2 bolts, 2 washers, 2 nuts
  • 1/4″ staples
  • Staple gun
  • Drill
  • Scissors

*Spoonflower’s Faux Suede was retired in the spring of 2018 but Celosia Velvet™ is a great alternative for this project! 

Measure the width of your bed’s existing headboard (if you don’t have one, even better because you can start from scratch with whatever dimension you want).

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This is the existing headboard I had to work with. The very top of it is the widest, so I went with a measurement that would cover that, in this case a stately 31″ x 31″ square.

You can also see that there are two pre-drilled holes on either side of this headboard. They were there originally to secure side rails (which had been taken off a couple years ago) and now they are the perfect way to attach the new headboard.

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I placed the cut MDF up against the current headboard, marked where the two current holes were, drilled two new corresponding holes and slid the bolts through both thicknesses of wood to make sure everything was properly aligned.

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Here’s a side view. If you don’t like the raw ends of the bolts sticking out like that, consider covering them with those plastic cap thingamabobs that you can also find at hardware stores. Ask for them by name.

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Certain that the holes align, detach everything from the bed leaving only the bolts remaining in the MDF.

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Place the Dino Mapasaurus face down on a flat surface. Place your cotton batting on top of it and trim edges down to match. Place your MDF wood on top. You’ll need to do some adjusting here to make sure the wood is centered properly on the map. Using the stripes in the design as a guide is really helpful to keep everything straight.

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I’ve stapled and upholstered quite a few things over the years and the key is to start slowly by tacking down each side, at the center point of each edge, so the entire fabric is tacked down in place and won’t move.

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My other key technique is to add staples along an edge with a wide space in between. Your goal is make sure the fabric doesn’t shift, pucker or crease and keeps even tension throughout. Adding an initial set of staples with very wide spacing and then coming back around to fill in those spaces with additional staples will help ensure everything is smooth and even.

Take a peek at the right side to ensure everything is laying flat. If it isn’t, don’t worry; just pry the staples out and start again. Better to do it right than leave it wonky, which will just drive you batty in the long term, if you’re anything like me.

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Here’s your chance to employ some sweet crisp hospital corners to cover the headboard corners nice and cleanly. All those childhood mornings of making your bed have culminated in this one glorious moment of awesomeness.

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Make notches to fit your fabric smoothly around each bolt.

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Once fully stapled, the back of your newly-completed headboard should look similar to this.

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Now it’s time to assemble the headboard, using the washers and nuts. Although I didn’t need to, you might consider an additional wall-mounted shim at the top of your headboard for additional support and stability.

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Here’s how this sharp new addition looks before the final bed-making touches.

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Finito!

Now it’s time to let your resident paleontologists flex their mental muscles and see if they can identify and locate all those prehistoric critters.

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Upon closer inspection, you’ll see red dots marking many discovery sites around the globe with corresponding labeled dinosaurs nearby. Dinosaur tracks found in North America and Australia are also noted.

No lie, I got proudly geeky with this one, fine people. It’s also pretty fun to try to pronounce everything properly.

Dino Map Headboard Project + Faux Suede Upholstery Tutorial

Dino Mapasaurus world headboard: complete!


About Our Guest Blogger

018Samarra Khaja is an artist, illustrator, licensed textile designer and proud lefty. She once gave an art history lecture at the Texas Medieval Conference about representations of the Virgin Mary in medieval European apse mosaics. She also assumes everyone else’s high school experience included an annual toothpick bridge-building contest that they fell over themselves to participate in, much like she did. She’s nerdy like that.

See more of what inspires her at Samarrakhaja.tumblr.com and follow her on Instagram. She’s currently working on her first book. Please wish her luck.

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  • What is MDF wood please? I really hate it when the initials are not explained even once at the beginning. Thank you. Dd

  • Love this map for my boys room but I don’t want to make a headboard out of it. Actually would like to maybe attach to some boards and make a picture out of it to hang on their wall. Which fabric would be the best to go with, I see that you have so many different options. Thanks a bunch.

  • Claudia Petrilli

    Very cool. I have a question, though. Re: “if you don’t have one, even better because you can start from scratch with whatever dimension you want” How does one attach a headboard like that to a bed frame that doesn’t have one? I just can’t picture it