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Upholstery Courses/Schools

Started by tahoe, January 25, 2011, 06:03:42 pm

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I am wondering if anyone knows of an upholstery course or school that is worth attending. I sew a bit, but think that I would like to get into the business of furniture upholstery. I live in northern California, but would be willing to travel for the right school or course.


January 25, 2011, 07:24:16 pm #1 Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 01:42:01 am by kodydog
Hi Tahoe welcome to the forum. One of the best furniture schools in the country is Catawba Vo Tech, in Hickory NC. I know this is quite a distance from you but they have courses on sewing, pattern making, and upholstering with highly skilled teachers. My wife took the sewing course 23 years ago. I took adult ed. classes in furniture production, leadership, salesmanship, furniture design, history of furniture and fine woodworking. If you really want to get into it they have 2 year degrees which include how to run and manage a furniture and industrial business.
The possibilities are almost endless.

You can also try to get a job at an upholstery shop. With no experience they will start you at min. wage pulling staples, sweeping floors and P/U and deliveries. But if you show genuine enthusiasm they will gradually show you more and more skills. This of course will take several years and keep in mind some business owners have been burned. Spending countless hours teaching someone to upholster just to have them open their own shop down the road.

Don't forget to check out some of the excellent literature and videos advertised in this site.

Learning to upholster like anything else can be frustrating at times but keep a positive attitude and you'll have a lot of fun.    
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.


I found a great Upholstery Course in Lincoln Lincolnshire United Kingdom. It is run by a professional upholsterer in his own workshop and I did a one week course but they also run evening classes. Their website is www.upholsterycourse.co.uk


Hello from West Cork. This won't be much help to you, I'm sure, but I travel from Ireland to England to do a AMUSF course (there are several levels; I'm doing level 2). It's a good course, with a structure, and although not cheap I'm being trained by a qualified, Master Upholsterer (Bob Barnett, in Battersea, South London). Check out AMUSF for information regarding certified courses in Britain (nothing exists like this in Ireland). I understand that in the States the situation is much the same and that Upholstery, especially traditional techniques, have been sadly neglected by the technical and vocational schools (let's be honest: upholstery isn't especially well-paid or glamourous - at least not if you're a 16 year old just out of school!). There are several teaching and supervision options in North America and Europe, as far as I can see, and you can opt for any number of combinations (weekend, intensive one week, traditional or modern), but if you can get a certified, structured course which takes you through a series of projects that might be worth considering. This was my thinking, in any case, and I don't regret it. Bear in mind, too, that any training will need to be supplemented with DVDs and books and anything else you can get your hands on. I've just ordered two DVDs by David James (not received yet, but due any day). Have a look at these if you can. I'm also thinking of buying Kim Buckminster's DVDS, though I've to check DVD compatibility this side of the water..... Anyway, my apologies for all the advice and ideas. Seasoned upholsterers will be able to put you on the right track, I'm sure; I only add my tuppence worth because as a Newbie like yourself I thought this might help.


Firefly no need to apologize, you information is quite useful. Even though the original question was posted last January, people from around the world come to this forum and often ask the same question. Any insight you give to any post is appreciated.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.


Kobydog, thanks for the encouragement! One of the things that I'm not sure about is how much upholstery experiences alter from region to region. I mean, I can only imagine that traditional upholstery techniques are pretty much the world over, using the same processes and hand tools. But I'm less sure if the materials used in the States -- in the case of modern upholstery, for example -- are the same as they are in Ireland and the UK. Are the foams and fabrics and adhesives pretty much the same? Perhaps they are.... By the way, I saw advertised a set of DVDs from a long-established upholsterer in Canada - they looked very comprehensive, though I can't remember his name.... undercover by design is the webpage/business name, I think. Regards. FF.


Welcome aboard, Firefly.  I'm picking my way through recovering two armless side chairs and there is no substitute for actually doing the work.  I have had exactly one upholstery class and that was 15 yrs. ago.  I would lo've to take more classes but there really isn't anything nearby and the price of accomodations puts many opportunities out of my reach given the amount of upholstery I'm asked to do.

You're right, there isn't much in the USA that focuses on traditional techniqes.  It's a shame that we undervalue such a useful skill so much. 


Hi there Bobbin. Although you took one course some time ago, you've now got 15 years experience though! And that's what really counts, I imagine: being able to talk confidently to a customer, knowing where to source the right materials, but especially feeling that you've worked on a range of tasks and can pretty much tackle anything that comes your way. I'd sure like to be in that situation!

Yes, formal training is great: but expensive. My course costs 2500 £.... Then I've got to travel to the UK and stay someplace (as cheaply as possible, though nothing in London is cheap). 

As I said in my earlier message, though, there's no training like this in Ireland. In Britain they're happy to pass skills and knowledge on (providing you pay), but if you go talking to someone about a bit of training in Ireland they'll tell you 'you're taking the bread out of my mouth'.... It's a very Irish way of looking at things. And of course the crippling economic difficulties aren't helping, in fact they're making people even meaner and more paranoid! FF.