February 2018 – Shoreditch Design Rooms offer an 18 week Leisure Course for students of all levels to learn upholstery, reupholstery and upcycling proficiency under the expert supervision and tuition of our skilled and qualified staff. Call now on o203 689 5841 for further information or to book.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to bring in your furniture to a workshop which is fully equipped with industry leading equipment and you will learn all of the techniques to use the machinery and tools in a safe and supervised environment. Send a message via our Contact Form.
We welcome students of all abilities, whether you have had a chair in the corner of a room for years and thought about reupholstering the cushion, or whether you are an experienced upcycler looking for help with a particularly difficult project, we can help. Our classes are relaxed and informal, over the duration of the course we always find that our students make new friends and have fun whilst learning something new.
Take a look at our Student Stories to see examples of reupholstery and renovation, you will see photos of all kinds of furniture from chairs to ottomans, sofas and footstools.
This week we speak to one of our current students Mark Whiteside about why he chose upholstery as a new career path
I spoke to some friends in interior design and they said they are always looking for good upholsterers and recommended I do upholstery classes to see if I liked it. I spoke to Louise at SDR and she was great and talking through course options and she was a huge advocate of learning to upcycle and ‘renew don’t buy new’
When did you first start studying upholstery at SDR and on which course?
I first started at SDR by doing a beginner’s leisure course a couple of years ago and I absolutely loved my first experience of upholstery. I had an antique chair that I really wanted to reupholster as it had been in the family for so many years, but had been lost in the back of a garage. It was exactly what I needed as you bring your own furniture and can store it at the school for the duration of the course. It was also really convenient that the school is based so centrally in East London
I loved the experience so much that I decided to leave my career in advertising to pursue upholstery and signed up with SDR for the 3 year AMUSF qualification. It’s going really well so far!
What led you to study upholstery?
I came from a creative background in my previous career, so it was important that I carried this through. I’d always had a love for interiors, fabric and furniture design. I had also noticed that there was a massive trend in upcycling and learning new craft skills, especially in East London where I live. It seemed upholstery might be a good career move.
What course stage are you on at the moment and how are you finding it?
I’m work currently working on my Stage 2 AMUSF course. Like the beginner’s course they are really small classes, so I really feel like I have a lot of support when I need it. Doing the leisure classes and then completing Stage 1 AMUSF has given me loads of confidence and I really feel like I’m making good progress on my assessed piece, which is a traditionally upholstered nursing chair. I’ve chosen some very cool fabric, so can’t wait to see how it turns out. Next up is a modern armchair, so looking forward to learning some more new skills and techniques for that.
Do you do any upholstery outside of the classes?
Yes! I’ve done some commissioned and speculative jobs and made some money from both, which was hugely exciting. I started working with a fellow student, Jessica (with a lot more experience than me) who I met through the school. She and I do projects together and it’s a great way for me to keep learning when I’m not in the classes, as I know she also learnt at SDR, so we will have the same attention to detail. We are currently working on a pair of mid-century replica armchairs in leopard print for a client. Great fun!
I’ve also done bits and pieces for family and friends, which is also really nice to do as they can see how satisfied I am doing upholstery.
Personally, I found the 18 week upholstery course was useful as it made it clear that it was something I enjoyed and also seemed to have a knack for. I loved learning new techniques and the different skills involved.
I would also recommend practise outside of the courses, whether that’s hand sewing and stitching, or machine sewing if you happen to have one. There are exercise pieces and materials you can borrow or buy from the school which I found really helped build my confidence.
Reading up on designers and upholstery history was really helpful to my personal development and I was amazed at how quickly I became absorbed in all things upholstery. I now often bore my friends to death talking about ages and styles of chairs.
Museums, galleries, stately homes and even period film and TV are also great for broadening your knowledge. Instagram and blogs are absolutely essential too.
So, you are glad you made the move into the world of upholstery?
Absolutely. I wish I’d done it years ago. I’d recommend it as a career, but also as a part-time upholstery course outside of current work. It’s hugely satisfying and rewarding. I absolutely love it as well as the SDR family!
Follow Mark on Instagram @meek_and_mark_upholstery