The Upholstery Bureau really wants you to enjoy your course and your time in the workshop. If you have some questions, maybe I can answer a few here.

Concerns about Covid 19 Safety measures?

Currently there are no restrictions in place but you may wish to know that the workshop is well ventilated with doors on the farthest sides that are frequently opened to circulate air.   On warm days, the rear door and two windows to the outside are left open.  There will only ever be a maximum of 6 students, including you, on the same course.  You have your own bench to work at and a tool box and a basket to stow your bags in while you are in the workshop.   The workshop and its  equipment is cleaned and sanitised regularly.

Do I need to pay in advance for courses?

Yes!  And sometimes there are Early Bird offers (reducing the term fees) so you can keep an eye out for these.

What happens if the Bureau has to cancel a course ?

If the Upholstery Bureau should have to cancel classes for any reason, you will be given first notice and your course or remaining classes will be rescheduled for as soon as possible within a 8 week period. If the course or class cannot be rescheduled to start within that period, then you will be issued with a Credit Note. If a refund is required, you will be refunded 50% of your fee or the remaining weeks of your course, which ever is less.

What happens if I have to cancel ?

If you cancel more than 14 days before the start of the course, you will receive a full refund.  If you cancel less than 14 days, sadly, the Bureau cannot offer a refund, but you will receive a Credit Note.  We can re-schedule your course up to 2 times.

If you have paid for a short or intensive course (2,3 or 4 days) and then find that you are unwell or cannot attend, you will of course be given a Credit Note to enable you to attend the next available course that works for you.  We can reschedule up to 2 times only.

If you are enrolled on a One or Two Day course (eg 1 or 2 Saturdays), and give less than 24 hours notice that you cannot attend, I’m afraid you will be charged for the course.  If the course is cancelled by the tutor, you will be given a refund or a credit note, which ever you prefer.

If for any reason a course fee needs to be refunded, eg booked by mistake, then charges will be deducted for credit card payments (2% charge).

Can I make up a class if I miss one?

Yes – and the Bureau will do their utmost to help you make up the class.  If you are enrolled on an 8 or 12 week course, and miss several classes, we will still do our best to help you to make up at least one but it may not be possible to make up all the missed classes, either due to your schedule or what space is available.

Occasionally, you might need extra time to finish your nearly finished project.   This is a finishing session which is £32- £36 for 2.5-3hours.

Can I leave my project in the workshop while I do my course?

Yes – and if you decide to leave your fabric in the workshop, that is fine too, if there is suitable space.  The Bureau is not responsible for your fabric or project.  Putting your name on your items is helpful.

What project is suitable for me to do?

If you are a complete beginner, you should start with a beginner type project.  That’s a footstool, a dining chair or a dining chair with a drop in seat.  Basically any single pad item.  Please take a look at the Guide for Choosing a Project which gives you an idea of the work and skill involved when doing different projects.   You might choose something that is just too big or difficult and without skills, previous knowledge or SPEED, you will find the job takes a long time.   You could get discouraged before you’ve even discovered your talent!  And of course talk to me and send me a photo of your project.  Everyone, beginner or more advanced, should ALWAYS send me a photo of their project before bringing it into the workshop!

What tips are there for choosing a project?

Tip 1:  Until you start ripping out your project, you won’t really know what lies beneath.  This can apply to older pieces (broken bits, hole-y wood, general disintegration!) but as well to modern pieces (poor construction, zillions of staples to remove, awkward for re-upholstery).    We can carry out simple repairs and re-glueing in the upholstery workshop but we are not a restoration or wood workshop, so any paint or varnish removal (sanding or with paint or varnish stripper) needs to be done at home by you.  You would need to strip off the upholstery appropriately and then take your project home to carry out this part.

Tip 2:  If you are a beginner, ideally you should choose a beginner type project such as a drop in seat, a footstool or dining chair or any item that has a single seat pad.  Please see Guide to Choosing your Project.

If I recommend certain projects, particularly to beginners, I am considering your ability, other skills you may have, the length of your course and what you might reasonably finish in ‘good and reasonable time’.    As students progress, I consider other projects in your class and how long these will take individual students to complete based on their skill level – and storage of all the projects in the workshop.  While the Upholstery Bureau endeavours to be flexible and to cater to individual needs, it is not always possible to meet them.

Tip 3:  If you are early in your upholstery career, I would suggest that you do pieces for yourself or very close family.   Start with a footstool, drop in seats or a traditional dining chair – a traditionally sprung dining chair.  Small is not always easy, and upholstery is often ‘awkward.’   These are the sorts of projects where you achieve and finish sooner rather than later.  The finished results will spur you on.   You’ll increase your knowledge, improve your techniques as well as speed up.

Can I reupholster my sofa at The Bureau?

No, sadly there isn’t enough storage space to accommodate large projects like sofas, chaise longes or any two seaters at this time.

What is traditional upholstery?

Traditional upholstery is the time honoured practice of using natural materials, hammers and tacks, needles and twine,  hand-tied springs, stitchings and stuffings to create all the beautifully shaped pads and seating for older pieces of furniture.   Like anything that is worth doing well, it does take time.  Beautiful time and your hands and mind.   It really is the building blocks of all good upholstery, whether you are doing modern or traditional pieces.  Even if you love mid century furniture, your work and understanding will only be enhanced by doing at least 3 or 4 traditional projects.  We often use a mixture of traditional and modern techniques now, tacking some elements and stapling other, to preserve the wooden frame.

What is modern upholstery?

Enter the staple gun, foam and zig zag springs.  All marvellous things and usually quicker to create shapes and pads in many cases, depending on your skill level.  Some times you will need to order your foam online for a specific project.  Again, we combine some useful traditional skills with modern, such as temporary tacking pieces first, using calico and sheet waddings to enhance the shape of pads aesthetically but also for comfort.

How do I choose my fabric and how much will I need?

Once you have a project in mind, have a conversation with me and send me a photo of the item so that we both agree it is the right project for you.  I can then give you an estimate of how much fabric you would need so that you can start looking. There are Yardage Charts online too (search Yardage Charts for Fabric)  that show pictures of loads of chairs, and you can usually find something similar to yours, and it will give you an estimate.  We will also talk about choosing fabrics in the classes, but you want upholstery weight fabric with a Martindale (rubtest) grade of 30,000 and over.  No elasticated fabrics and a good rule is that, if you can see through the fabric, keep looking for a suitable fabric.

Where do I get fabrics from?

Designers Guild, ROMO, Clarke & Clarke, Ian Mankin, Linwood, Colefax & Fowler, Sanderson, Osborn & Little, Nina Campbell, GP&J Baker, Zoffany, Vanessa Arbuthnott to name just a few of so many fabric designers…they all have websites, so that is a starting point for a little inspiration!
Haines Collection, The Croft Mill Online, JustFabrics can do some great and less expensive fabrics – take a look online.

What places can I go to for fabrics?

The Curtain Factory Outlet in North Finchley, Designers Guild in the Kings Road, John Lewis Brent Cross, Peter Jones Sloan Square as well as The Cloth Store in Portobello.   Some outlets of Dunelm also do fabrics.

Are there any other costs?

Everyone has a materials’ sheet in the workshop to record what they use.  Towards the end of the course, the materials are added up and you pay for them either by tap or with cash.  Most upholstery materials are available in the workshop and if necessary, I help you to source materials through established upholstery suppliers.   I use, and and as well as as well as other sites.

Is there any way I can 'fast track' and learn upholstery quickly?

Try an instensive course, or enrol for a full day each week.   Work on a chair in the workshop, and work on a similar one by yourself at home at the same time.  Just do more upholstery!