I often get asked, “is it hard to  learn how to upholster?” To be honest, the answer is different for everyone. There are actually a lot of factors that can affect how well or quickly you learn the skills and technique of upholstering.  The main factor depends heavily on how you choose to learn. Upholstery, like any new endeavor can be hard, but your personal learning style might be beneficial and help you catch on quicker. The way you learn skills and techniques will also contribute to how well and quickly you learn upholstery. 

If you are a problem solver by nature, have an eye for detail, and are good at puzzles, upholstery will probably be a little easier for you to pick up on. However, that isn’t to say someone who doesn’t consider themselves a natural problem solver, etc. can’t learn upholstery; it just may by slightly harder, or they may need to pick a different learning method that fits their needs better.

When Learning How To Upholster, It Is Important To Remember:

  • Upholstery is a lot about problem-solving
  • You must push outside your comfort zone at times and be willing to try new things
  • To pay attention to what you find during the initial teardown
  • Your piece is taken apart in the reverse order it was put together
  • Where each layer is attached to the frame
  • To always have bandaids ready 

Ways to Learn Upholstery 

01. In-Person Upholstery Workshops

If you are taking a weekend upholstery workshop, BE READY! Ensure that you have what you need ready to go and the whole process will go smoother. You’ll also get the most out of the time you have at the workshop. These workshops are an immersive experience and can sometimes move quickly, which is why it is so important to be prepared. However, hands-on teaching is beneficial for many starting out. 

02. Reading Books

Books. There is literally a book out there for anything and everything you could ever want to learn. While how-to books can be filled with pictures explaining each step, you may not interpret everything right away. However, once you start applying what you are reading by doing it, certain things start to click and make sense.  Sometimes people like to immerse themselves in reading about a subject before ever starting. It is their way of familiarizing themselves with a topic. Then when you actually start, you feel more confident even if you are still a bit unsure about some details at first.  

03. Watching Videos 

I find watching videos to be the best of both worlds. It combines the hands-on instruction you would get from a workshop, by having an instructor on screen walking you through each and every step, and all the information and tips you would find in any book on the topic. The other perk with videos is that you can pause and replay over and over and come back to the video as many times as you need to. Those that have a membership with Kim’s Upholstery also have the benefit of accessing the instructor on weekly lives and community forums. This is beneficial if you have a question about a specific topic or project that you would like help on. 

Still wondering which training method for learning how to upholster is right for you? See our blog on the Pros + Cons of Online Upholstery Classes vs. In-Person Classes.

As you learn upholstery you will start to pick up things along the way naturally. You will learn how different fabrics behave and how to get them to do what you need them to do.  For instance, if your frame is curvy you need fabric that will stretch with the curves. You will also learn quickly that there are some prints that don’t look good on every frame style, like plaids, really large prints, stripes, etc.

It may surprise you to hear me say this, but trust your instincts! Instincts can be your friend-even when you are learning and don’t know what you’re doing.  My students often hear me say repeatedly in my videos, “let the fabric tell you what it wants to do”.  Pay attention and you will see just what needs to be done. 

Upholstery is like a 1,000+ piece puzzle

In upholstery there are a lot of pieces that must come together for the finished project. However, you DON’T have to do things exactly the way the last person did it. As you tear down a project, or watch a video of someone else’s technique, trust yourself if you think something should be done differently for your project. There is always more than one way to do things, usually several, so refer to your instincts. There will always be someone who does things differently or thinks their way is better, faster, more efficient, etc. However, if a certain way works for you, then do that! There is no right or wrong way! 

Word From The Wise: You can’t do one upholstery project and expect to know all there is to know about upholstery. 

It can take years and hundreds of projects to really feel like you know the ins and outs of upholstering or to be considered an expert. Needless to say, don’t get discouraged if upholstery still feels hard after your first project. The important thing is that you are trying and learning new skills that will help you on your next project. 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to start with beginner-level projects and do as many as you can get your hands on.  Repetition will help you retain what you’re learning and build confidence along the way. The more methods you use to learn how to do upholstery, the faster you will learn and understand the skills involved, and soon you’ll be taking on projects like this big couch! It just takes practice and repetition.

If you are still nervous about jumping in and starting, I promise, you won’t regret it! Start with one of our beginner projects, to set yourself up for success. You can read more about choosing your first upholstery project on our blog or watch our Upholstery Life Video here.

Once you’ve decided on a project, just start. It’s okay if you don’t know everything. You won’t – and you don’t have to! While it can be hard to learn, starting small is your best road to success. As always, our online training experts are ready to help you learn and succeed. Join our online membership and start learning when and where you like with the support of our amazing online upholstery experts!

Kim’s Upholstery is all about helping and equipping others to learn the art of upholstery for pleasure, and if they want, enabling them to create an income for themselves – all on their own schedule! 

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