questions & answers

What happens if I have booked and paid but I have to cancel the course?

If you cancel at least a month before the beginning of the course we will refund your payment, less an administration charge of £25.00. If you cancel less than a month before the start of the course, there are two options. We can refund half the cost of your course. Or, alternatively, you can find someone else to take your place.

Can I buy a course for a friend, or a gift voucher?

Yes, you can.  If you are buying a course for someone, book it in their name, with their details.  Put a note that it’s a present for them. We offer gift vouchers at £50.00 each, and you can buy one in the shop. You will find details there on what to do.

How easy it is to get there by public transport?

Nearest stations are Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland, for the London Overground, both about 10 minutes walk away, connecting to the Victoria Line at Highbury and Islington, or Whitechapel and New Cross. Alternatively Rectory Road BR station, is also a 10 minute walk away, and connects to Liverpool Street.  There are lots of buses that go up Kingsland Road which is a 5 minute walk away, and the 488 stops outside the door, going to Bromley by Bow in one direction and Dalston Junction in the other.  There is no parking at the School of Stuff, but there is metred parking on surrounding streets. If you need to bring a chair there is a loading bay, but you will have to make an appointment with us.

Is the studio easy to find?

Fairly easy. We are at the back of number 73-75 Shacklewell Lane.

Go down the alley by Floyd’s pizza joint. This takes you to the loading bay at the back of the building.  It might sound alarming but it’s not. There is good lighting and 24 hour security. On your left in the corner is a black door with a bank of bells next to it.  The studio is B003. It says Bob Marley, but it’s us (of course).  Ring it and we will come and get you.

Can I park at the School of Stuff?

There is no parking at the School of Stuff.  We have a loading bay where you can unload your project, but you will have to park in the surrounding streets which are metered.  After 6.30pm and at weekends you can park for free.

Do I have to pay up front for courses?

Mostly, yes.  All evening classes and most day classes should be paid for before the start of the course.  If you have booked your place will not be secure until you have paid.  You should pay on the website through Paypal when you book. Our longer courses, such as the two year Professional Traditional Upholstery Course can be paid for term by term in advance.

Can I pay by credit card?

Yes, our booking system enables you to pay securely by credit or debit card through Paypal.  We can also take payment by bank transfer (that’s the way we like the best), or you can do it the old-fashioned way and send us a cheque.

Can I store my project at the School of Stuff?

Yes, there is storage space at the School of Stuff, though it is limited, and we would encourage you not to bring large projects.  If they are too big they might get rejected.

Who will teach me?

All the School of Stuff teachers are working practitioners, so they are furniture restorers, cabinet-makers, fabric printers, experienced crafters, upholsterers, basket-makers and so on.  But they are also gifted teachers with experience of sharing their skills.

Is the cost of materials included in the course fee?

For most of our classes materials are included in the course fee.  If there is an exception to this it will be listed in the bookings section.  For the upholstery classes, all the structural materials are included, but you will have to provide your own trimmings (braid or fringe) and top cover (the outer fabric).

Where can I get fabric and trimmings?

You will source your own fabric and trimmings for your chair, but we have a list of fabric providers, including suppliers of specialist fabrics such as silk or leather.

Where is a good place to source projects?

Auctions are the best places to find chairs that are in need of reupholstering or restoring.  But be careful about what you are buying.  Make sure that the chair is all in one piece and not wobbly (unless of course you are taking the chair restoration course when a rickety chair would be ideal!).  If you buy from an auction you cannot take it back if you find there is something wrong with it. has a list of upcoming auctions.  If you are in doubt, buy from a second hand shop or antique shop, as you will be able to take it back if you find an unexpected problem.  Beware of ebay  because you cannot tell how good the frame is.  You are totally reliant on the seller’s description and sometimes they are themselves unaware of problems.

What is the difference between traditional upholstery and modern upholstery?

Traditional upholstery is appropriate for older chairs – from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – and uses natural organic materials such as horsehair or coir (coconut) fibre, hessian or linen, and tacks for fixing, and employs sophisticated stitching techniques to make firm stitched edges. It is labour intensive, but involves real skill and is a treat to do. Modern upholstery is usually more appropriate for post-second world war chairs and uses synthetic foam as a stuffing, and staples for fixing, and is normally much quicker to do than traditional upholstery.   Reupholstering modern chairs is not always easy though, because they were usually mass produced so the manufacturers often used moulds for the foam fillings whereas we have to cut and shape them, and they had plenty of opportunity to get the templates for the covers right.  We only have one go!

What kind of chair should I get for the project based upholstery course?

Something small!  Our storage space is limited so we cannot accommodate large armchairs or sofas or chaise longues.  Small projects are also less daunting than big projects.  Whatever you choose, make sure that the frame is sound and not wobbly.  Otherwise you may spend all your valuable upholstery time doing chair frame restoration.   The age of the chair doesn’t matter.  You can do antique or modern chairs, but be aware that the techniques are different for modern and older chairs.  If you want to learn traditional techniques, you should try to get an older chair.

If I miss a class can I make it up another time?

It is sometimes possible to make up a missed class.  If you are doing the project based evening upholstery class it is usually possible to come on another night to make up a class you have missed.  But you can only make up classes you have missed within the 12 week term.

In upholstery, how long will it take me to finish my chair?

This is a difficult question to answer, as people work at different speeds.  But it should be possible to complete a traditionally sprung, stuffed and stitched dining chair in the evening upholstery class in a term (36 hours in total).  You might be able to finish a small armchair in that time, but because there are more stuffed elements in an armchair than in a dining or side chair it might take you two terms.  If you work slowly it might even take you three!  The tip is to start small.  A drop-in seat is an ideal starter project.

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