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Ways to Learn How to Upholster

There are several ways to learn how to upholster. One way might be better for you than another.

Factors to Consider

Some factors that might influence your decision are:

  • Where you live
  • Time you have to devote to learning the skill
  • Your finances
  • Transportation available to an upholstery class

Community College

The first source that comes to mind is a class at a community college. Throughout this country many of the community colleges have continuing adult education classes. As a general rule, these classes meet once or twice a week for a few hours, over a period of several weeks or months.

In these classes you would be learning the very basics of upholstery while working on your own project. The instructor would be there to guide you and answer your questions.

He or she would discuss the various tools and how they are used in upholstering. They would also demonstrate how to use the tools. Some locations even have a few upholstery sewing machines to be used by the students.

Interesting Observation

When we taught these classes, the persons having the most difficulty using these commercial machines were the ladies who were very accomplished seamstresses.

Time and time again a student who had no knowledge of the finer points of sewing had the least problems learning to sew on these larger upholstery machines. People who do a lot of sewing on lighter weight machines seemed to have more difficulty sewing on a commercial upholstery machine.

Upholstery Books

Another way to learn how to upholster is purchasing a book on the basics of upholstery. You will always use the basics in upholstering your simple projects as well as your more complicated pieces.

You will be building on the basics as you gain experience doing your furniture. It sure is helpful to have pictures illustrating what the text is telling you to do. Also, being able to email (contact) the author with your questions is a plus.

Caution About Books

You want a book using the modern materials that are used today.  You do not want an upholstery book that only deals with materials and techniques of a hundred years ago. If you did antiques, such a book would be a good reference for your library.

We saw a sales page for an upholstery book that sounded like you could redo a piece of furniture in a matter of hours, even if you had never used a tack hammer and tacks before. We ordered it. What we received was a copy of a hundred year old upholstery reference book on antiques.

This person had sold as their own a copy of a public domain book which did not contain any modern materials or methods. In fact, about 20 years ago we were reupholstering an unusual antique chair. We needed a reference manual and finally located this same reference book at a regional library.


We don't know of any upholsterer who would allow you to apprentice under them. But some will answer your questions or give you pointers.


This is just a sampling of ways to learn to upholster. Undoubtedly, there others ways to learn that we haven't mentioned.  Pick the best way that works for you.

As you seek ways to learn how to upholster, a helpful resource to consider is a book, How To Upholster Furniture. Even if you do know how to reupholster furniture, this book will offer some valuable tips you probably never thought of.

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