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Started by chrisberry12, September 01, 2014, 02:17:03 am

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ok here is a question, How many years have each of you been upholstering and what do you specialize in, Ie: furniture, cars, boats etc...

I have been upholstering for 32 years and I reupholster furniture and the occasional boat


This year makes it 46 years doing Upholstery. I took off about 10 years of fulltime work only doing it occasionally but all in all 46 yrs. I do mostly furniture both residential and commercial. Some boat work. I've done automotive but don't like to mix cars, or boats with furniture they are too dirty. I do also do bike seats as they are small and not all that dirty.
Minichillo's Upholstery


I'm 56 now. I was pressing buttons at 5. Been working in the family business ever since. It's been my full-time career since my teens. I worked a few "outside" jobs along the way. But upholstery work has paid the bills most of my life.

Furniture only. I dabbled in cars and boats a little in my younger days. But furniture was what I "cut my teeth on", and I've never had a shortage of furniture work. So I never had any real reason to branch out.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


I started this at 33  21 years ago strickly boat upholstery and canvas and the odd sewing job reciently a shade sail


Over 40 years - early on in a cabinet shop / finisher - now full time furniture repair.  No regrets -  many up sides -
Maybe a different answer after the next 40 - 


For me...close to 30 years.  Been in and out a couple of times.  Took off a few years to buy, sell houses.  Did ok.  Built my last house here in the country and one day while musing the future, I muttered to my husband that "I might not go back in the upholstery business"...He quickly said, "oh good, we can get rid of all your stuff, then" 
I figured in his eyes, to justify having all my "stuff", I needed to hang out my shingle again.

I do mostly furniture now.  Early days, I did a LOT of farm work, truck seats. Some boats..No boat tops.  Trying to ease it down to where I'm just doing fun stuff for established customers..and family and friends..
Gettin' there..
If at first you don't succeed, redefine success. If at first you fail, redefine failure.

Virgs Sew n Sew

I'm a newbie.  I'm working towards year 3 and still trying to figure out what I do and don't do. 

I know that I will NEVER EVER do another headliner/top replacement on a Volkswagon ;) ... I really love doing restaurant jobs, motorcycle seats, door panels, vintage car seats, dining room chair seats and so forth.  I did a rocking chair early on that was a doozie but I don't think it would be that hard to do it now.  No couches as they are too big for my work area.


Darren Henry

I got starved out of making shoes back in '95 and other than that stint between closing my shop and coming out here I've been upholstering ever since. The place I apprenticed at custom made furniture,re-upholstery,boat tops and interiors/floors, but refused to do auto. I did pretty much the same in my shop; except that I would do orthopaedic work during the day [the shoe repair/leathercraft was a night job ] , and with all the talented auto trimmers on here at the time, to bail me out, I took on some straight forward auto. Now I do garbage. Mostly repairs for the big retailers, truck seats, sew up tarps etc..., and all the obvious sewing for the RV parts/service business that "my shop" is part of. Probably wouldn't make me want to hurl by the time my day is done as badly if the diaper wasn't such an a$$. 
Life is a short one way trip, don't blow it!Live hard,die young and leave no ill regrets!


Believe it or not I started back in 1978 doing minor furniture repair and odd ball stuff. Things got busy at work and I got busy doing funeral home work for my former father in law on my off hours and dropped the upholstery work.

Picked it back up in 2000 and am now here. I only do canvas and specialize in RV's only.



Got my first sewing machine in 1976.

Didn't get serious about it until 1992 because of fast cars and hot women or was it hot cars and fast women?

Anyway, I did household and vehicle upholstery until I got into aviation interior work for the last 12 years. six sewing machines and 2 carpet sergers later, here I am today. But since no one knows how to TIG weld at our Aircraft Maintenance Center, I do all of that along with machining. I still do interior work on occasion.
    It is nice to have a variety so I don't get burnt out on the same thing.

Strive for Perfection...Settle for Excellence!


In reading all these replies, I've noticed something.

Most of us don't know an exact number. We started young doing other things, and sorta eased into upholstery work. A lot of us stumbled into this trade quite by accident.
Some of us went off and did other stuff, and came back.

Many of us have a parent that can tell you their exact starting and retirement day of a job they worked all their life.

But us stitchers just woke up one day, and realized that we been doing this work for a long, long time.

But we're not real sure just exactly how long.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


I come from a long line of furniture builders. My grandfather was a woodworker for Sligh Furniture in Holland Michigan. And his brother was an upholsterer. Funny thing is, that had nothing to do with me getting into upholstery.  My father taught me woodworking at an early age. I still have the camp box (I'm an Eagle Scout) my father helped me build when I was a teen.

1984 my wife and I moved to Hickory NC where I found employment as an apprentice upholsterer learning from the ground up. I started working at Hickory Chair and Hickory Business Furniture building fancy leather covered, executive furniture. Later I worked for Century Furniture on their chair and sofa line.

While I was honing my skills in upholstery Rose finished her education at Lenoir Rhyne University earning her BA in business management. And we both took classed at Catawba Valley Community College the premier furniture school in the United States.

We opened our first upholstery business in Charleston, SC in 1988. One year later Hurricane Hugo destroyed our shop. But with a positive attitude we soon had our shop rebuilt and our business was thriving again upholstering antiques for the mansions along Battery Row and The Old Village in Mt Pleasant.

In 1999 we decided to move back to Florida to be closer to relatives and property we owned near Live Oak. We settled near Gainesville (goooo Gaters) and built our business servicing Alachua and Columbia Counties. Six years later we decided to build a house and shop on 10 acres near Live Oak, Fl and expand our business to also serve Suwannee County.

To make a short answer long, this year is my 30 year anniversary as an upholsterer
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.


I have been a marine mechanic since 1984. Started doing boat covers in 2002 to fill in the slow off season times, got frustrated at my lack of speed and quit sewing from 04-07. Started back up in 2008, been doing mostly boat covers and some upholstery every since as well as mechanical stuff too.

We are not retreating - we are advancing in another direction.
Douglas MacArthur


30 years this year!  I was hot rodding a 73 camaro and needed the interior redone, couldn't afford, or find anybody in my area who did auto, so I did it myself.  It came out ok and I decided to go to school and learn the trade.  Started out doing only auto, but soon found out I would have to do everything if I wanted to pay the bills.  Today I only do furniture, I have a few special people who I will do auto for.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln


September 10, 2014, 09:20:10 pm #14 Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 09:27:44 pm by byhammerandhand
Long story short: sort of like asking a singer, "How long have you been singing?"      But I've had the company and done this full time for 12 years.

I started woodworking in Jr. High shop class and dabbled wwodworking here and there for the next few years.   Once I got out of college, got married, and had my own place, I started building furniture like most people, "Because I had a place with no furniture and needed some."   For about 5 years, I made do with hand tools, often on apartment balconies or basements as I moved every couple of years for work.    In 1979, I set down some roots and started setting up a woodshop.   Got serious into it, not just because of need, in early 1980s.   About that time, I joined the nascent woodworking club, attended a lot of club meeting education sessions, seminars, read about every woodworking book I could find at the library, bought a bunch of books, and subscribed to most of the magazines.   Eventually, I realized finishing was a weak point and got more interested in that.  

Eventually, my 30 year career in computer software was at a suffering software company, I decided to jump the ship.   Signed on to a franchise organization for furniture repair and refinishing.    Got more training, including basic upholstery repair and upholstery cleaning.

As I got more local customers, mostly retail and delivery companies, they started to pull me more into upholstery repairs.   Ended up taking an upholstery class at the local tech school, more reading, and self-teaching.    I don't consider myself "an upholsterer" but more a furniture repair person that does some upholstery repair -- cleaning, open seams, panel replacement, button replacement, tear repair,  spring and frame repair, etc.   My wife is an accomplished sewer, but I don't go too near her machines except for maintenance and repair of them.  My older sister is a retired Home Ec. teacher, so at an early age, I was exposed to a lot of sewing stuff, 4-H style reviews (so I got another trip to the county fair on those days, etc.)   She also taught some classes in upholstery and caning, but I live too far away from her to ever attend any.

Now, as I walk around my home nearly every piece of furniture or accessories, I have made, refinished, or repaired.   The same is true for my three children's homes.  Bedroom sets, bunk beds, cornices, tables, cabinets, entertainment centers, etc.

So, somewhere between 12 and 45 years.

Hope that's not TMI

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison