An Upholstery Year in Review

2018 is nearly upon us! I don’t know about you, but I’m already noodling resolutions and goals for the new year.

But before we close the books on 2017, how about we take a last look back?

What exactly does an upholstery year look like???

Every shop is different, and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting otherwise. My typical workload is only representative of my typical workload. Nonetheless, I think there’s great value in getting a peek inside any shop. . .


This (according to Instagram) is a mostly complete list of my client projects for 2017:

 Equipment for a small physical therapy office


Testing face holes :-O Vinyl by C.F. Stinson

1 portable massage table 


Vinyl by C.F. Stinson

Two giant sectionals


The Island of Couch


The Big Easy 

24 loose cushions (10 plain seam, 14 boxed/welted/zipped) 

30 dining room chairs (4 seat/back, 4 boxed/welted, 6 seat/back with nailhead, 16 slip seats)

15 throw pillows 

(No pictures???!!!)

2 ottomans (1 storage, 1 skirted)

3 chair/ottoman combos 

1 tufted love seat 


5 fully upholstered chairs (2 attached cushion, 1 barrel swivel rocker, 2 freaky deaky midcentury buggers)

1 vintage Davenport sleeper sofa 

I vintage sofa overhaul (Rose) 

3 sofas with some restyling/cushion replacement 

1 sofa/love seat combo 

(No pictures 🙁 🙁 🙁 ) 

1 bench 


1 vintage rocker overhaul (Vivian)

2 rockers, upholstered seat

3 rockers, upholstered seat and back

6 accent chairs (1 faux leather, 1 hair-on-hide, 3 with springs/padding, 1 with tufting) 

2 personal projects (attached cushion chair, love seat)

Reupholster Aunt Bea (YouTube project) 


Aunt Bea, ready for a seat cushion. Fabric by Greenhouse, supplies by Fabric Supply, Minneapolis 

Plus whatever handful of small projects that never made it onto social media . . . 

 I actually try to keep my services relatively narrow – you’d be shocked at how many things I DON’T do.

I don’t do any automotive or marine. I don’t do slipcovers or window treatments. I don’t custom build anything new. I don’t pursue new designers or commercial work (although I have a couple established accounts I’m happy to keep). I refer traditional work to an appropriately trained peer. I decline projects that need significant frame repair or restyling, since I’m not a woodworker. For reasons of quality control, I try not to work with fabric I did not sell. For reasons of time management, I rarely travel out on estimates or projects.

Keeping my services focused and narrow allows me to preserve time for writing and teaching, which are important professional and personal goals.

Nonetheless, the point I’m trying to illustrate is that even with a very deliberate menu of services, my typical workload is still astonishingly varied.

This year I worked with vinyl and velvet and Crypton and hair-on-hide, and polished cotton and chenille and tapestry and more. 

l tied springs and glued joints. I repatterned and replaced padding. 

I hand stitched, and tufted and matched large repeats. 

I made rolled cushions and attached cushions and welted cushions and plain seam cushions. 

This in addition to teaching and writing and being relatively new at self employment, which means that more established shops without education likely do waaaaaaay more in a given year.

My point is really this: getting to a professional level in upholstery? It takes a lot of time, a lot of projects, and a whole lot of practice. Making it your livelihood means turning out a serious amount of work held to some seriously consistent standards. This job is so much more than a clean cut skill set. Every day is about problem solving, and applying your experience to new situations. 

I don’t mean this to be discouraging – in my opinion, the best part of upholstery is the endless problem solving. What a delicious challenge!!!!! But I do hope it helps to frame wherever you’re at on your journey, especially if you’re just starting out.

Your skills are not going to come together overnight. You’re going to be learning for years, and speed will come well behind comprehension. So be patient with yourself. Everything you’re doing today is an investment in the years ahead. Good thing you’re on your way, because this is going to take awhile!!!

Just remember to appreciate the journey. It’s going to make you very proud someday to see just how far you’ve travelled <3

Want to see 2018 in real time? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram

(We’re almost up to 1,000 followers on Instagram, seems like a good milestone for a class giveaway, don’t you think?? )

See something you liked? Browse our vendors online:

See you in 2018!!!!!


Leave a Reply