Calculate the measurements for your headboard. The headboard should measure 2 to 6 inches wider than a queen bed, which is 60 inches wide. The height will vary depending on the height of the mattress and box spring, and the height you want your headboard to be. Measure the depth of the cushion plus the board you will use to construct your headboard.
Determine the layout of your fabric. Standard upholstery fabric is 54 inches wide. If you are using a solid color, attach it to the headboard with the selvage on the top and bottom. However, if you are using a print that runs alongside the selvage, you will need to sew two pieces together so the fabric will cover the width of the headboard and the print will not be sideways.
Add 6inches plus the depth of the headboard to both the height and width to determine the size of fabric piece you need to cover the front. This will give you enough fabric to pull on as you staple it on the back of the headboard. To calculate the yardage needed, divide the length of the fabric you need by 36.
Add 1 inch to the height and width of the headboard to determine the size of fabric piece you need to cover the back of the headboard. This gives you a half inch seam allowance. You can fold and iron the fabric 1/2 inch around to hide the raw edges and then glue it in place. If your headboard will be against a wall, you can use a less expensive fabric on the back or leave it uncovered. Just be sure the staples won't scratch the wall behind the bed.
Be sure to add extra yardage if you wish to add embellishments. To make fabric covered buttons for a tufted headboard, for example, add 1/4 yard of fabric to your order. Consider any other projects you want to make with the fabric as it may be difficult to find the same fabric later.