Expertise, patience and good humour

My upholstery course project completed thanks to the expertise, patience and good humour of Garry! Im definitely doing more.


Traditional upholstery is not a quick process

Almost four years ago I decided that I wanted to learn how to upholster furniture. I looked around to find a local course and found Gary in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. Since joining the class I have learnt a number of traditional upholstery techniques and have now completed a wide range of pieces. What is good about the course is that it is open to all abilities and you don’t have to spend the earth on buying an item of furniture to restore. Until recently the most I had paid was £12. You can work on anything you fancy from old family heirloom to something modern. Gary will guide you through the process all the way and offers suggestions in order to get the most out of your project. His years of experience in the trade means that he is able to advise on anything which is a real bonus.

Traditional upholstery is not a quick process as is using foam and staples but stick with it and the finished product will look amazing and 100 times better.


New Skills

Having made my own curtains and soft furnishings I wanted to learn a new skill and have always wanted to learn how to reupholster a chair.  Garry teaches the “traditional way”, no foam or staples here.  Not really knowing anything, I purchased a second hand chair and went along to his class.  I had a fab time, the other people there were so friendly, interesting and creative, different people from all walks of life.

As everyone has a different project Garry teaches you individually and gives you step by step instruction.  I have loved attending every week and learning a new skill.  Traditional upholstery is a time consuming process but the reward at the end is a chair that I know will last for years to come and gives a great sense of achievement.

I am now on my second project and am looking forward to a new challenge.  I would recommend Garry’s classes, he is a dying breed of traditional craftsmen.


A happy ending

Just a quick email to say how delighted I am with my new chair, hand constructed by myself under your watchful eye during your fantastic upholstery classes. The chair has taken me a long while but along the way I have learnt many useful skills, made some great friends and have come to wonder how you know exactly when I can take no more and are there to step in and help !
Thank you and I look forward to starting my next project!


I am looking forward to project number 2

Initially I booked on to a weekend course having had absolutely no prior experience with upholstery.
I planned to repair an old armchair popular with my family which was in need of some tlc. It required a bit of woodwork and Garry assured me that he would guide me. That he did - exceptionally well. (encouraging and supportive)
I didn't actually realise how much work was required of me to restore the chair the way that I had envisioned. I found myself booking onto more sessions eager to transform the armchair. I had to strip back the materials, learn how to use an industrial sewing machine and make a pattern for the new cover, to name a few tasks that were required. The fabric I had chosen was pretty but a nightmare to work with. The whole process was enjoyable and highly rewarding I am really proud of myself. 
Some sessions were more challenging than others, and I had to overcome numerous challenges. But at the end of the day, I completed my chair and I'm really happy with the results.  Thank you Garry, you have a great sense of humour and patience for a beginner like me.  I am looking forward to project number 2. 

Fascinating and Absorbing Pastime

My bespoke storage seat has pride of place in our kitchen. The really professional look is due in large part to Garry’s advice and help in getting the design right and his rigorous attention to detail which resulted in a high quality finish.  This was my second project and gave me plenty of opportunity to apply all my traditional upholstery skills to a new piece of furniture, using modern materials.  I have enjoyed many hours at the workshop getting to know lots of lovely people with this one interest in common and many fascinating stories to tell from their varied lives elsewhere – it’s a great place to spend time on a fascinating and absorbing pastime.


I am on my fourth project!!!

This is not just an upholstery course - ‘this’ is so much more.  This is a Noah’s Ark filled with the most wonderful people all sharing the passion for old chairs, sofas...that need ‘love’.  The people are the most humorous, kind, intellectual, humble and creative I have met and Garry is a true professional.  He is a real traditional craftsman and the sort of man that I actually thought was practically extinct, the sort of man that you would want to be on a dessert island with - clever, kind, ingenious with design and can build anything out of nothing!  He can cover subjects from opera to fashion in a single sentence and a rare man that has fathomed the complexities of the female species. Oh and did I mention the French???  The other bonus is Garry seamless slips into French as several class members are French so French lessons are an added bonus👍.

He has a humble and patient approach and knows instinctively when to step in with his pupils, he is reviving and teaching the lost traditions, skills and sustainable materials, including the patience required for the craft that is real upholstery.  I have literally seen pieces of driftwood and raw planks of wood that within weeks resemble furniture and leave as show stopping pieces!-  It’s so rewarding to watch, share and be part of this craft.  I am on my fourth project now and have obsessively collected a backlog of pieces that need ‘the love’ and so plan on being here indefinitely and feel privileged to have found this secret gem for fun, therapy and friends not to mention the fabulous chairs😉


Bespoke storage seat used traditional upholstery skills and modern materials

I first joined Garry’s course to reupholster a bedroom chair and am now a self-confessed upholstery addict!

For my second venture under Garry’s expert supervision I designed and upholstered this 3-seater bench with internal storage space for our new kitchen/diner at home.  The plywood base frame was covered using foam and synthetic wadding rather than coir fibre and natural cotton wadding, but the traditional skills learned previously were essential to produce a professional looking piece of furniture that I use every day. 

 Garry’s attention to detail is legendary. He gives you the confidence to tackle all sorts of tasks – carpentry for the frame; measuring, cutting and sewing your chosen fabric; as well as all the traditional methods of producing a piece of furniture with springs, buttons, piping - whatever.  He is full of wise advice about what kind of material will suit your project and the best way to go about it.  Standards are high but it’s all very enjoyable!

Learning upholstery here gives me the chance to meet people with all sorts of careers and life experience which makes for a sociable few hours every time.  It’s totally absorbing and so different from doing anything else, I really look forward to coming in. There’s a real sense of achievement at the end of it and you have a beautiful piece of furniture too.


Now on my 3rd course!!!!

I have always had an interest in upholstery but found it difficult to find a suitable course. So it was great when my husband spotted Garry's workshop in the Jewellery Quarter and I signed up for the 30 session course.  I am now on my 3rd course having completed a Victorian Ladies Armchair, part completed a Club Chair and currently working on making a deep buttoned storage Ottoman. Needless to say the course is very addictive. 

Having an office based job its really good to be able to immerse yourself in something creative. I was surprised how much you actually get in the moment and purely concentrate on what you are working on. Garry's style of teaching whilst relaxed is still very thorough, there are no short cuts!  He clearly explains and demonstrates what you need to do and builds your confidence. Its amazing how you pick up the skills. 
I have met some lovely people on the course of all ages and backgrounds. Its very sociable and enjoyable plus interesting seeing all the different projects and how they progress.  

Great group of people and tutor

Fantastic course for those that want to learn traditional upholstery. I never knew how much goes into re-upholstering a chair. Great group of people and tutor Garry is extremely supportive and knowledgeable. If you want to try something new, this is fantastic.


Eclectic mix

Upholstery with Garry is so much more that the term ‘upholstery’ might immediately suggest. This is as much as course on furniture restoration as it is on upholstery. Garry is an exacting taskmaster - but in the easy going workshop filled with an eclectic mix of people, this is in no way onerous.
I started with a ‘four day course’ which was an excellent way to begin - as it allowed me to really get started on ‘my’ chair. However, forget any ideas of ‘upholstery’ for the first few sessions, it is all about ‘down-holstery’. The chair must be stripped back to bare wood, ready for the process of re-creation. This involves first removing the base webbing and springs, then the existing fabric - including the tacks and/or staples originally fixing the fabric. How long that takes depends upon how difficult this is - I spent 26 hours in the workshop ‘down-holstering’ before reconstruction could begin, and 12 hours later I am still repairing the frame. However, as wood work is something I have never done (Garry even had to show me how to use a saw properly) I felt I was learning new skills practically every hour. 
As a rookie, it was great to see how other projects were going - and to see them progress too. There is a chair somewhere in the workshop at pretty much every stage of the process. Sessions can be booked as you go along, giving great flexibility for those with busy lives. Students come from all over the country, and from all walks of life, making for interesting chat in the workshop - although the sound of hammering and the concentration required for quite a lot of what you do, tends to limit constant chatter. Garry moves around the workshop checking on how you are doing, offering a word of advice or a demonstration of a practical skill. It is very laid back, but the finished products are of very high quality, as a result of Garry’s experience and insistence on ‘perfect’. Most students are doing projects for themselves, but such is the standard of work produced, others plan to sell their finished pieces. 
I would highly recommend this Upholstery experience to anyone that is interested in really getting to grips with the whole process of traditional furniture making. You need to be in for the long game, but can be reassured that the process will be much enjoyed, together with offering the opportunity to learn new skills at every turn. 

Its Great!

As a complete beginner I signed up for 30 sessions with Gary. I have learnt a lot in a relaxed environment, everyone on the course is friendly.  The experience is a creative one and I have enjoyed the process of learning new skills. It's great!


Fab Week

Had a fab weeks course with Gary.from complete novice I learned deep bottoming and saddle stitching, making patterns for s boat soft furnishing refurb. Really relaxed and friendly learning environment.


Loved learning a new skill

Fantastic day on Friday 25 May attending the Caning Workshop. Loved learning a new skill and can't wait to finish my Regency chair and continue this skill alongside my traditional upholstery skills.


Turned out to be a brilliant gift!!!

My partner gave me a gift voucher for Christmas to start an upholstery course that I had been meaning to do for a long time. This turned out to be a brilliant gift and in January I joined a class of upholsterers of differing levels in Birmingham run by Garry, a true professional and a very patient teacher.

Coming from someone who had been office bound for years and not knowing one end of a wood chisel from the other I set out to restore an antique 1890 chair which in itself is a daunting thing to do particularly as every week the poor old chair looked more miserable each time I set to work on it removing tacks, nails etc.

Garry gave me the reassurance and confidence to believe that it would be alright in the end and when I finally got to the stage of polishing the beautiful wood and realising that it will be lovely when it is completed I feel proud that I have come so far in such a short time.

I have collected many books over the years on the subject of upholstery but I can say from my experience at the class that the hands-on approach teaches things that you can never pick up just from reading it in a book.

Well worth the experience and I look forward to the next project when this one is completed.


Its an addiction

This is the second chair I've completed, and belive me it be it won't be the last!
So I think its important that I warn anyone who is looking into joining Garry's class that it's probably best that you don't start in the first place! You'll only gain an addiction that will be hard to overcome. People start with a stool and before you know it they've bought 5 other chairs off ebay to upholster. The worst kind are those who have even started making their own frames. Total gonners!
So any who don't heed my warning may as well know that Garry is the 'Bees Knees'. We get traditional upholstery taught by a Master Craftsmen (if they haven't given him a certificate yet, they should do), using springs and tacks and traditional techniques. Yes he teaches you upholstery but he teaches you patience too. 
In the three hours: you use your hands, your eyes and your mind. You get totally immersed - although you do get to stop at times for a large mug of tea and a moment to admire your own and others handywork. Lovely!

If you are looking for a quick fix - forget it!

A rare late 19th century Victorian iron framed armchair,to follow the chairs progression look at course photo s

After finally retiring and escaping from 25 years in an office environment, what next?  My previous 20 years had been spent in the antique trade.  I had always promised myself that one day I would look into learning furniture restoration and upholstery.  Whilst wandering around the Jewellery Quarter, I stumbled across a sign offering the exact courses I was interested in.
After speaking to Garry, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism and decided to sign up for a 30 week course.  I definitely made the right choice.  If you are looking for a quick fix - forget it!  Garry is a fountain of knowledge and he will take you through each process, working at a pace you are comfortable with.  He ensures that each stage is completed perfectly, which results in the end product being something to be proud of.
I find others on the course friendly, fun and interesting.  As most people have common interests there is never a lack of things to discuss.


Fun, Friendly and Addictive

Shortly starting my forth chair!! This course is fun, friendly and addictive Garry knows his stuff and is a perfectionist which makes for a good experience!


I recommend the class whole heartedly

I joined Garry's upholstery class to create a bit of time for myself. My regular work is mostly desk bound and I spend copious amounts of time taking my son from toddler group to toddler group. 
Upholstery is a great hands-on activity. You will meet lots of friendly people and enjoy a few hours of pure creativity. I've upholstered a chaise longue fully and now I'm upholstering an antique armchair. Everyone is very accommodating and Garry is very flexible. I recommend the class whole heartedly.

We will definitely be back!!!

Just wanted to say thank you for a great weekend, we were both shattered by the end of it but very satisfied with the progress we'd made on our 4 dining room chairs.
It was only when we got them home that we realised that we'd actually bought them home in four different stages! (see pic) The challenge will be to get them all to the same stage, all looking the same!
We really enjoyed the informal and relaxed way you ran the sessions with different people working on different projects and all at varying stages and you keeping everyone going with encouragement and instruction whenever necessary.
We will definitely be back for more guidance, thanks again

Lucy and Rob

Its a great class

I originally signed up for a four day course in order to finish a chair that I’d started in another class. It soon became apparent that I needed to re-do a lot of my previous work and very quickly signed on for another 90 hrs.

Its obvious that Garry has a great deal of experience in both Upholstery and teaching and very skilled he is too - in both fields. I particularly like the fact that he can manage to keep an eye on everybody in the class, more often than not he gives attention without being asked and he treats each person with respect and good humour. Most importantly he instills confidence in his students, I’m tackling things that I wouldn't normally have taken on but he makes me feel I can do it - and I find I can!

Its a great class, constant tea and biscuits and french lessons thrown in for free - Thank you!



Sense of achievement

I originally signed up for a weekend course and enjoyed it so much I signed up for the year.  I am enjoying learning a new skill and am currently re-upholstering a nursery chair, although I have already purchased a couple more chairs that need some love and attention.  Garry is very patient and his knowledge of traditional upholstery is second to none.  I never knew how much was involved in traditional upholstery, it's fantastic.  I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone.  I go home after every class with a great sense of achievement of what I have accomplished that morning. 


I only signed up for a few weeks

“ I only signed up for a few weeks to re-upholster a piano stool. I have enjoyed it so much I have re-upholstered 3 dining room chairs and I am now making a chair from scratch. Garry gives you all the support and confidence you need to learn new skills." 


Upcycling of wing chair

Just started a 30 hour course of classes. The workshops are very friendly and relaxed and eveyone encourages each other. The tutor Garry is amazing he knows all you need to know about upholstery and is very hands on. I'm currently reupholstering a wing back chair and Garry is helping totally redesign which is what I wanted to learn. It's good to learn as many traditional techniques as possible.

I would highly recommend it.


Dear Garry

Thank you for experiencing my first upholstery workshop it was really enjoyable.  

Kind Regards


Hi Gary

I was on your weekend course. Really enjoyed the weekend and I think I might have become addicted. Purchased an armchair last night on a bit of a whim which will hopefully be my next project. 

Many Thanks 


Can't wait for my next session!


Just a quick email to say thanks for the course on the weekend ! Can't wait for my next session! 
Take care



The class is really fun - interesting people - a great tutor - and learning a new skill- what could be better. If you've got an old chair that needs some love and attention this is the place to go.

 K Cambell-Legg

A wonderful way to learn a new skill

A wonderful way to learn a new skill and meet people from all walks of life.  I have made some great friends and look forward each week to my classes.  "Garry is very patient" and makes everyone feel very welcome.


A friendly atmosphere!

I love my new training and I am very impatient to finish my first project.



I went to the taster day and had a great time and continued with my project on subsequent days.I cannot recommend the classes enough and anyone wanting to try upholstery should undertake this course.I shall be back with my next project.

Thank you Garry for your knowledge and patience.

Many Thanks.





Having always had a desk job and not being aware of having any practical skills, I have discovered (with a lot of patience on Garry's behalf) that my capabilities have exceeded my imagination. This upholstery and furniture restoration course has been a revelation, I have enjoyed every minute of my time restoring many armchairs and chairs much to my family's amazement. I can recommend these courses with Garry as tutor. 

Daniel Lamonde


Garry as a tutor is a very meticulous craftsman. He has a way of getting the very best results out of his students but always doing it in a nice way!! it can be slightly tiresome but he is the "maestro", having spent seven years with Garry as my tutor, its a happy and warm course where even the least pratical student achieves wonderful results. The photo s are proof of the pudding. Thanks to Garry.

Danielle Bardet

amazing adventure

What an adventure! After having travelled twice to Belgium to take part in courses on the Dutch barge, I can honestly say that its great fun. We do actually acheive alot in a weeks course and at the end of the week can really appreciate how our restoration project has moved forward. Being on a boat on the "Meuse" is to say in the least surprising. The scenery is just beautiful! The atmosphere is so relaxing that everybody seems to enjoy themselves more on the water. There were so many fun moments. I must say I discovered how warm and welcoming the Belgians are especially our hosts Meike and George, owners of the bed and breakfast. They gave us a wonderful send off on the last evening bravo to George who sings extremely well, I am booking my place for next year! 

jessica bell