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upholstery 101

Welcome to my world! 

When I first started my apprenticeship in 2014, I knew absolutely nothing about how furniture was constructed. The only thing I had going for me was an overpowering curiosity for the trade and that I knew how to operate an industrial sewing machine. 

I get so many questions ( which I have listed in my FAQ's ) but I thought this was the perfect place to go into a little more detail.


How much does it cost?

Upholstery is not quick and it's not "cheaper" than buying a new sofa. The main reason: What I do isn't off a factory floor. I don't have pre-made patterns to work with, in fact - every single piece of furniture I have ever worked on is different from the last.  

What I do is custom. 

The cost is a very open ended question, that really depends on what you are looking to get recovered. Let's take Material as our first cost example. These fabric swatches all have different prices per yard. 

Some of the heavy weight Upholstery grade materials, can run anywhere from $28/yard - $95+/yard. There are scratch resistant material for those of you who have cats or dogs, stain resistant and water repellent materials for those of you with kids. Designer textiles, also can go up in price. I have some samples in my show room to choose from, of which I would have to order, and a lot of time, folks seem to prefer getting their own at a local Joannes, or Fabric Depot to save on shipping and tax ( in Portland ) - not to mention they have some great coupons pretty much all the time. If you are in need of foam for new cushions, that is also an additional expense. 

On top of material cost, you also will expect labor cost, in other words how much time it takes to completely tear down and fully re-cover a love seat, sofa, arm chair, dining room chairs etc... To give you an idea, just to tear down an Ethan Allen wingback chair - made in a factory, with staples galore - that took me roughly 5 hours. Not only do I have to be very careful around the exposed wood while removing all nails, fabric etc I have to be extremely careful and detailed when making my measurements and cuts with the fabric you brought to me. If I tell you 8 yards for a wing back chair, I measure twice ( sometimes 3 times ) and cut once. Once I cut, that's what I have to work with. This is a time consuming and detail part to the job. Once I have all of my pieces marked, it's a matter of putting the puzzle back together.

Long story short, you can see why it's difficult to just throw out a rough estimate. I don't want to over estimate but I don't want to underestimate - while I love what I do, this is a very physical and mental process.

For a more comprehensive approximation for your piece, feel free to take a peek at this cost chart I have put together:

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How long does it take?

Similar to the cost, this one is also hard to say. I seem to average on about 3-4 jobs consistently in my workroom. Sometimes I get all dining room chairs which I can turn around relatively quickly, but other times I get antique pieces that requires some structural attention ( I tighten, glue and clamp the frames if needed ) Along with furniture, I also get in automotive interiors for those classic cars with tuck and roll details and door panels with stainless trim that I need to measure around. 

If you are needing foam, other padding or something I need to order in that could also add to the timeline. They very best thing to do if you have a piece in mind that you would like re-covered, feel free to email me at with photos and dimensions, that way I can schedule you in the workroom. 

Depending on capacity at the moment, I will take a security deposit to save your spot, and call you when I am ready to take your furniture.