A comprehensive introduction to modern upholstery


The format for the current course is 1 day per week for 12 weeks offering a flexible format for those who have work of family commitments and can't make a 12 day block.

Our Modern upholstery course has been designed to cover the core and essential skills of modern upholstery as well as the essential background knowledge if you want to set up and run your own upholstery business. We know that many people are either looking for a change to their routine; want to create a better work/life balance; or simply want to earn some extra money; but they are not sure they have the correct skills and/or knowledge to make the change.

This is the ideal upholstery course for someone in that position. It’s packed with practical, hands-on experience, with much of the theory and knowledge being dealt with during the practical sessions – e.g. pattern matching is introduced in a practical session rather than in a classroom because it makes much more sense when you can see the pattern on an item of furniture. We don't offer online tuition - we believe upholstery has to be experienced in person. 

The course is focused on teaching a range of core, transferable upholstery skills that can be applied to a range of furniture and items of soft furnishings, and that will allow you to begin creating and selling from your kitchen table, spare room, or garden shed. The equipment needed to set up your own upholstery business is limited to a few key items and you will learn about each of these on the course.

After you have completed the Modern upholstery course you can choose to extend your skills by booking additional short courses to learn further techniques that can be applied to different pieces of furniture, or learn the traditional techniques that are in demand but in short supply.

The items of furniture covered on the course are small enough to create from your home and are items that we know from experience are in demand. All the skills transfer naturally between pieces – e.g. buttoning can be applied to footstools, chairs, headboards, storage boxes and more. The focus is on learning skills through repetition and practice and our experienced tutors will provide the time and guidance to ensure you learn them thoroughly. They will assess each piece you create and provide guidance along the way. You will learn to choose, cut and apply materials throughout the course, as well as creating your own templates – not just assemble pre-made components.

Pieces of furniture included in the course:

  • Drop-in seat pad - modern materials
  • Shallow buttoned Footstool - modern materials
  • Deep buttoned Footstool - modern materials with van dyking (joining two pieces of fabric with a hidden join) and a fixed border.
  • Headboard - sample boards with different styles covering borders, piping, fluting, and square/biscuit finish
  • Single headboard of your choice applying your newly learned skills.
  • Scatter cushion with piping and zip
  • Modern Cocktail chair with a stitched border – modern materials with options for different finishes using your newly transferable skills e.g. buttoning/fluting.

Frames and materials for all pieces are included within the cost of the course supplied, students only need to supply top cover fabric and flame retardant interliner if required. These can be bought through Manorhouse or via other outlets, but must be of suitable upholstery standard and comply with fire and safety regulations. You will learn all about this on the course and we will advise at all stages.

Practical Skills that will form part of the learning for beginners:

  • Health and safety
    • Identifying tools and their uses and safe use of tools
  • Use of existing material for templates
  • Planning your projects and recording material and labour costs
  • Fabric selection suitable for your project
  • Fabric calculation - how much you will need 
  • Pattern matching for joined material and larger items
  • Calculate and draw patterns for deep buttoning
  • Calculate and draw patterns for square buttoning
  • Van Dyke joins - creating hidden joins in material
  • Make buttons - always a favourite 
  • Shallow buttoning techniques
  • Deep buttoning techniques
  • Square/biscuit buttoning
  • Make and apply ruching borders
  • How to sew mitres
  • Make and apply plain borders with mitres
  • Fluting techniques
  • How to apply studs to edges 
  • Applying finishes to raw wood using waxes or stains
  • Recognise, select and apply webbing to frames
  • Recognise, select and apply foam to various sub bases
  • Forming corners 
  • Doing various cuts 
  • Apply back tacking strip
  • Apply metal grip 
  • Hand finish sewing techniques 
  • Apply bottoming material to complete the project
  • Sewing machine selection and safe use - including industrial machines
  • Safe use and operation of overlocking machine - including industrial machines
  • Make double and single piping
  • Insert a zip into cushions

Required Knowledge 

In addition to the practical elements above, the course includes several knowledge sessions, each designed to give you the essential information to plan, set up, run and maximise the potential of your new business, or to operate safely and effectively.

These are:

  • Workshop set up and introduction to compressors, power tools and hand tools
  • Fire Regulations applicable to UK production of furniture items
  • How to select the appropriate fabric for your project
  • Fabric Measuring - how much is needed and how to plan layouts
  • Job estimating and pricing - how to record and calculate for any project
  • Setting up and operating the business – includes business type, insurance and legal requirements
  • Marketing and promoting your business

The Modern upholstery course is held every Thursday during a 12 week "term". 

What’s Included?

  • All frames are included and are new so there’s no stripping of wood involved. Different approaches to frame creation are included with a review of the most suitable for each project.
  • Everything you require to upholster your furniture items is also included in the cost of the course. You will only need to supply the top cover fabric and any fire retardant interliner, should you require it.
  • All tools are available in class or students are welcome to bring their own if they have them.

We have a maximum class size of 10 and places are booked on a first come, first served basis.

At the end of the course a Certificate of attendance, content and achievement will be awarded.


We have a payment scheme that allows you to spread the cost across three smaller, more manageable installments.

Payment 1 – payable at time of booking £495

Payment 2 – payable at the start of week 5 £450

Payment 3 – payable at the start of week 9 £450

All the items you make on the course are yours to take home and either keep as samples for future projects, or to sell.

Manorhouse Upholstery has no connection with any other upholstery training centre and we have developed courses to offer the essential skills and knowledge needed to practice and enjoy upholstery at all levels - from recreational to professional.