Upholstery Job Process

What are the steps that a professional upholsterer should go through to make sure that the job runs smoothly through the shop?

(In process of being written)

Making out an estimate

To save time and frustration for both you and the potential client that you start by giving a rough phone quote.

If the client is acceptable to your rough phone quote or rough estimate then we recommend that you give a full detailed estimate to the client (and you would keep a copy.) For more information,see Giving Detailed Estimates.

Choosing fabric


After client chooses a fabric, call the wholesale fabric company and check the current retail price and check current stock. If possible, do that immediately while the client is still in your shop. If you are doing an in-home estimate, call the fabric supplier to check stock and price while you are still in the client's home.

Using Customer's Own Fabric

If a client wants to purchase their own fabric I strongly recommend that they first let us give them an estimate, which shows both the total cost using our fabric and using their fabric. On this page is a sample of our estimate form, which gives various price options. From that page, click on the estimate form, then click again to enlarge it. You will notice that the price for C.O.M. fabric is at the bottom of the form. On the estimate I also have a link to our COM page where it explains the COM fee.

Some clients like to purchase their own fabric for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is that they want to buy the fabric at a lower price than you sell it for. As you know, part of the money that we upholsterers make on any job is the profit on selling the fabric. In recent years I have been charging a $15 per yard COM fee, which is automatically put into my estimates. (If you look closely at the bottom of the estimate form you can see how I include the COM fee. (Click on the form and it will enlarge.)

Writing up a Work Order

There are several ways to write up a Work Order.

Ordering Materials

Keep a running list of the supplies needed. Add new items to the list as you think of them.

  1. Ordering the Fabric
    1. Always make out a purchase order, which includes the wholesale prices.
      1. While the client is at your shop OR while you are at the client's home, call the upholstery supplier to check stock and check the current retail prices. (Your wholesale cost ist generally 1/2 of the retail price. Sometimes the supeplier will give you the wholesale price. make sure you clarify with them whether they are giving you the retail or wholesale price.
      2. Sometimes the wholesale supplier may make a mistake on the price list or the web page , which you probably wouldn't  catch if you didn't have the price on the Purchase Order.
      3. The Purchase Order also will remind you of what you ordered.
      4. Quickbooks has Purchase Orders built into it, which is what we use. If you do not have Quickboods or another software, buy a pad of purchase orders from an office  supply store.
  2. Order matching thread
    1. Once the client has chosen her fabric, use a thread color chart to match the chosen fabric.
    2. Check to see if we have enough of that thread.
    3. If not, put the thread on the supplies order sheet.
  3. Order any foam or other supplies

Using a Calendar

Your Job Schedule


When the Fabric Arrives from the Fabric company

  1. Check the fabric in
  2. Check fabric against the fabric in the sample book to verify
    1. Pattern and Color is the same as what client ordered: Read color and pattern names on both fabric sample and on
    2. Color dye lot is the close: hold fabric on roll against the color swatch in the sample book.
  3. Roll out fabric:
    1. measure to verify you receive the amount you ordered
    2. Watch carefully for flaws, color variations, crushing of the pile (of velvets)
    3. Put the fabric back in it's protective wrapping, or wrap it in new plastic.
    4. Put the fabric away (on a shelp
  4. Put client's name or Job Name on the fabric
  5. Put roll of fabric away on the shelf, under the table, etc. However, if the fabric is a velvet, do not put it on a self. Rather hang it using a rod or pipe through the carboard tube. Putting velvel in a sack with other fabrics, or just laying it on a shelf by itself for long periods of tme can cause damage to the pile.

Starting the Job

  1. Check the Fabric
    1. Roll out the fabric, determine useable length.
    2. Measure usable width.
    3. Check for flaws. Make drawing of where flaws are in fabric, take measurements