Our Story

What is Ministry of Upholstery?

Welcome to the UK’s leading modern upholstery school. Our manifesto here at the Ministry is to make upholstery accessible to everyone. Whether you’re already a dab hand and want to learn more or have never lifted a staple gun in your life, we can teach you!
With world class facilities including large workshop space in Central Manchester, classrooms, a range of state of the art sewing machines, fully equipped frame-making workshop, individual private workshops and a teaching team with over 150 years’ experience between them, we are the destination for anyone wanting to learn upholstery.
At our Manchester school you can choose from a huge range of upholstery courses. If you’re new to upholstery and just starting out, then our famous weekend Queen Anne Footstool Masterclass, held by our Creative Director Anthony Devine, maybe just the ticket. Or if you have an old unloved chair in the corner of your room, then you can choose one of our Bring Your Own Courses and benefit from our guidance and expert tuition to transform it.  Perhaps you’re bored of walking around furniture stores to find you don’t like anything or its all the wrong size/ colour/ shape etc? Not only do we offer a large range of chair and sofa frames all ready for you to upholster to your exact requirements, but we can also make bespoke items to suit your needs! Maybe you’re thinking about a career change and are looking for an in-depth course that can equip you with the requisite skills to go on and start your own business? If so, then look no further than our Business Course. Or if you simply just fancy spending some quality time with us at the Ministry, then our new six week Residency Course allows you to get a good old upholstery fix!  So, whether you want to start a new hobby, tackle a one-off piece of furniture to suit your home or embark upon a new career, we will definitely have a course to suit. Not only that but you will leave with a smile and a quality project to boot!

The People Behind the Ministry

Our Creative Director and founder Anthony Devine has been passionate about interiors since an early age and has worked in the furniture and upholstery industry for the last twenty years. Anthony started his career as an apprentice at the age of 16 in Long Eaton, the home of British handmade upholstery and world renowned brands such as Duresta, Wellbeck and Wade. After completing his apprenticeship, he went on to produce and install hand-made furniture for a range of household names including Rocco Forte, The QE2, Forte Hotels, Harvey Nichols and Crowne Plaza Hotels. In 2010 Anthony opened an upholstery and interiors boutique and workshop specialising in bespoke hand-made upholstered pieces. It is here that the Ministry of Upholstery was born. Anthony’s passion and experience has been the catalyst for dusting off his tools and opening the doors on a new modern, forward-thinking learning environment for those looking to gain valuable practical hands-on experience, whilst learning about the craftsmanship of upholstery in a workshop environment. When not strutting his stuff in the Ministry workshop, Anthony can be seen moonlighting and showcasing his talents on several TV programmes!
Susie Milner joined as part of the team in October 2013. Susie comes from a creative background, having trained and worked as a professional actor for almost 10 years. In 2012 Susie turned her creative focus to upcycling and restoring old furniture and set up her own business. It was upon this quest that she discovered a natural inclination to want to reupholster stuff and it was this that led to a meeting of two great creative minds.  Anthony and Susie joined forces in more ways than one and now, as husband and wife, they co-run the Ministry!
On the teaching team is Kevin Burrows. Kevin brings a wealth of upholstery experience, having completed a 4 year apprenticeship followed by 42 years of experience in the trade!  The majority of his career has been spent at Tetrad, where, for the past 12 years he has worked in prototype and development. He is experienced in working with all types of fabric, including leather, pattern making, templates and design. What Kevin doesn’t know, isn’t worth knowing and we are very proud to have him as a part of our teaching team.
Andrea completes the team and is our sewing teacher extraordinaire with over forty years of sewing experience under her belt! Add Andrea’s knowledge and experience to the mix and together we make a formidable team!
Kevin teaches our daytime students. Anthony, with the help of Susie, teaches our weekend courses and Anthony also teaches our evening courses.

What is Traditional Upholstery?

traditionalTraditional upholstery is appropriate for older chairs; from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and uses natural 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 very labour intensive and involves real skill and takes years to truly master.

What is Modern Upholstery?

modernModern upholstery is more appropriate for post-second world war chairs and uses foam as a stuffing, alongside some of the traditional materials such as hessian, felts and webbing and hand-stitched borders. It uses staples for fixing and delivers much quicker results than traditional upholstery keeping costs of material and labour down.

Why choose Ministry of Upholstery?

There are some excellent traditionally led upholstery schools out there, so what makes us different? We teach to a high end, replacing horse hair with foam and using a staple gun instead of hammer and tacks. We don’t compromise on quality and comfort or appearance and we believe that teaching in a modern way, whilst still retaining some of the traditional methods where applicable, enables even the most inexperienced of our students to go on to create amazing results of which they can be proud.

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