SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Occupational Certificate: Furniture Upholsterer 
103199  Occupational Certificate: Furniture Upholsterer 
Development Quality Partner - FPMSETA (MAN) 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 06 - Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology  Manufacturing and Assembly 
Undefined  549  Not Applicable  NQF Level 04  Regular-ELOAC 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Registered" 
EXCO 05164/18  2018-09-12  2023-09-12 
2024-09-12   2027-09-12  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this qualification is to equip a learner with knowledge, skills and competencies to perform duties as a Furniture Upholsterer.

A Furniture Upholsterer manufactures an upholstered furnishing item by fitting suspension and padding and covering a frame to give it shape, comfort, and functionality for a range of domestic, commercial and decorative uses.

A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Read and interpret a design, drawing or sketch and take accurate measurements and calculate/estimate the number of fabrics, leather, man-made fabrics, padding and other raw material such as springs and webbing.
  • Make upholstery patterns and produce templates from sketches, customer descriptions or blueprints which match all quality standards.
  • Lay out, measure, cut and sew upholstery materials following patterns, templates, sketches, or design specifications.
  • Interpret specifications and prepare foundations for upholstered frames by attaching webbing, springs, foam and/or padding securely to the frame.
  • Fit slipcovers and loose material panels to cover frames with materials using staples, tacks and/or glue.
  • Manufacture upholstered furniture, upholstery prototypes and repair and re-upholster damaged furniture.

    This qualification will equip learners with the necessary skills and competencies to operate as upholsterers by applying upholstery skills to fit springs, webbing, padding and covering a wide range of objects covered with fabric, leather, rexine or other upholstery material. After successful completion of this qualification, the learner will be skilled and capable of creating ergonomic and comfortable furniture using both traditional and modern techniques, materials and fabrics to produce aesthetically pleasing and fit for purpose consumer products.

    Learners will find employment as frame preparers, cover fitters, patternmakers and furniture finishers, upholsterers or upholstery prototype makers and upholstery repairers. These skills will also open opportunities for self-employment.

    Target groups identified include school leavers with a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 2 qualification or persons who have been working in the furniture industry without formal qualifications and have the desire to formalise their skills and knowledge.

    Employers will benefit from appointing qualified workers in terms of increased productivity and ability to be competitive in the international market and seek markets abroad supplying quality upholstered furniture and furnishings. 

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    RPL for Access to the External Integrated Summative Assessment:
  • Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result or certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for Access to the Qualification:
  • Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements.

    Entry Requirements:
  • NQF Level 1 qualification with Mathematics. 


    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge, Practical Skills and Work Experience Modules.

    Knowledge Modules:
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-01, Basic Principles for Manufacturing of Upholstered Furniture, Level 2, 4 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-02, Upholstered furniture frame preparation, Level 2, 8 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-03, Upholstered Furniture Basic Cover Fitting, Level 2, 8 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-04, Advanced Upholstery Furniture Technology, Level 3, 2 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-05, Upholstery Pattern and Template Making Principles, Methods and Equipment, Level 3, 5 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-06, Cutting Lay Requirements for Upholstery Fabrics and Materials, Level 3, 3 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-07, Advanced Covering Techniques for Complex and Exposed Frames, Level 3, 4 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-08, Advanced Complex Covers for Upholstery, Level 3, 4 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-09, Complex Shaped Cushions and Padded Items, Level 3, 2 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-10, Deep Buttoning of Upholstered Furniture, Level 3, 5 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-11, Upholstered Furniture and Prototype Making Principles, Level 4, 13 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-12, Raw Materials, Consumables, Tools and Equipment Used in Manufacturing of Upholstered Furniture Prototypes, Level 4, 8 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-13, Manufacturing Principles and Processes for Upholstered Furniture Prototype Manufacturing and Reengineering, Level 4, 17 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-14, Cutting and Sewing of Fabric and Material for Upholstered Furniture Prototypes, Level 2, 10 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-15, Cover Making and Covering Methods for Upholstered Furniture Prototypes and Repairs, Level 4, 15 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-16, Technical Specifications and Configuration of Upholstery Production Equipment for Manufacturing, Level 4, 10 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-17, Communication and Interpersonal Relations in the Workplace, Level 4, 7 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-KM-18, Leadership and supervision in the upholstery departments, Level 3, 4 Credits.
    Total number of Credits for Knowledge Modules: 129.

    Practical Skill Modules:
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-01, Prepare Foundations for Upholstered Frames, Level 2, 20 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-02, Cover Prepared Upholstered Frames with Fabric and Other Materials, Level 2, 20 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-03, Perform Advanced Covering Operations for Complex and Exposed Frames, Level 3, 10 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-04, Perform Deep Buttoning Procedures to Decorate Upholstered Furniture, Level 3, 10 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-05, Produce Cutting Lay Requirements for Cutting of Upholstered Cover Components, Level 3, 4 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-06, Produce upholstery patterns and templates for the upholstery frame preparation and cutting departments, Level 3, 16 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-07, Lay Out, Measure, Cut and Sew Upholstery Materials According to Templates or Specifications and Optimising Material Usage, Level 2, 20 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-08, Manufacture Upholstery Bespoke Furniture or Prototypes for Bulk Production, Level 4, 30 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-09, Repair and Re-Upholster Upholstery Furniture, Level 4, 10 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-10, Inspect Upholstery Furniture During Various Stages of the Manufacturing Process to Ensure Conformance to Quality Standards, Level 4, 15 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-11, Re-engineer Upholstery Furniture Products to Address Development or Manufacturing Defects, Level 4, 15 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-12, Develop Technical Specifications and Line Setup Requirements for Manufacturing of Upholstery Furniture, Level 4, 15 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-PM-13, Guide Teams in the Upholstery Manufacturing Departments to Achieve Set Targets and Outputs, Level 3, 4 Credits.
    Total number of Credits for Practical Skill Modules: 189.

    Work Experience Modules
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-01, Upholstery Furniture Frame Preparation Processes, Level 2, 24 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-02, Upholstery Furniture Frame Cover Fitting Processes, Level 2, 24 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-03, Upholstery Pattern and Template Making Processes, Level 3, 15 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-04, Upholstery Cutting Lay Preparation, Level 3, 10 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-05, Advanced Upholstery Covering Processes, Level 3, 25 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-06, Material Cutting and Sewing Processes for Upholstery Prototypes or Bespoke Furniture, Level 2, 24 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-07, Bespoke Upholstery Furniture and/or Upholstery Prototypes Manufacturing and Reparations, Level 4, 56 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-08, Furniture Re-upholstery Department, Level 4, 17 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-09, Upholstery Furniture Technical Specifications and Re-engineering, Level 4, 20 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-00-WM-10, Supervision in the Upholstery Department, Level 4, 16 Credits.
    Total number of Credits for Work Experience Modules: 231. 

    1. Interpret drawings and product specifications and compile a list of materials and consumables for upholstery of furniture.
    2. Prepare upholstery frame for final covering by hand-building the suspension of the frame applying safety procedures and conduct a quality inspection.
    3. Fit and attach prepared covers and loose material panels onto prepared upholstery frames using staples, tacks and/or glue.
    4. Produce a cutting lay for upholstery cover components by considering optimal use of material and cut and sew upholstery components to specifications.
    5. Upholster furniture by fitting and attaching upholstery covers to complex and exposed prepared upholstery frames using hand and power tools.
    6. Demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of the manufacturing of upholstery furniture. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Drawings are read and understood, and symbols, lines, and views are interpreted.
  • Dimensions of upholstered furniture are established from drawings, and actual size is determined by applying measurements and scale.
  • Various components of an upholstery furniture and raw materials are identified according to drawing details and specifications.
  • The sequence of upholstering activities according to the type and construction of upholstered furniture is derived from the drawing and specifications.
  • A list of materials and consumables is compiled according to the drawing and technical specifications.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • An upholstery frame is inspected to ensure it meets specifications and defects in the construction of the frame are identified.
  • Foam, cardboard, springs and webbing used for preparation of an upholstery frame are marked out and cut.
  • Frame weakness and strengths (knots, corner blocks, all joints, and rails) are identified and corrective action is taken.
  • Springs are evenly spaced, tightened and secured to the frame using lashing and knotting techniques.
  • Webbing is selected, measured, cut to length and attached to the frame applying correct spacing and interweaving techniques and ensuring correct tension.
  • Foam is selected and checked for the correct density according to specific components, measured, shaped and layered according to the prescribed template and attached to the frame applying adhesives or other appropriate methods.
  • Safety procedures are adhered to at all times.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Prepared upholstery frames are inspected to verify conformance with specifications.
  • Prepared covers are inspected and faults and defects identified, including type of covers supplied, quantity of covers, fabric type, sizes and seam allowances, fabric flaws, sewing faults and pile direction.
  • Raw materials, consumables and ancillary materials required for covering upholstery furniture are identified, selected and inspected.
  • Covers are fit and secured to prepared upholstery frames using visible and concealed finishing techniques and using relief cuts to relieve tension on the fabric and to achieve the specified finish.
  • Covers are stretched and strained over the frame and firmly secured using the magnetic tack hammer and tacks, pins, staple gun and staples, needles and thread.
  • Covered frames are inspected ensuring fabric tension is suitable and smooth, patterns match, pile runs in the correct direction and there is no distortion of the seats.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • Cutting lay requirements (cutting plan) for layout of templates and patterns for railroad or standard upholstery material are produced.
  • Upholstery material lay-out is correct according to specifications and includes allowances.
  • Upholstery covers are cut and sewn whilst considering and applying pattern matching, correct direction of the pile and direction of the stretch of the fabric.
  • An industrial walking foot machine with attachments (for piping, zip, flat sewing, quilting) is correctly operated to sew upholstery covers.
  • Upholstery cover components are aligned and assembled according to the nip marks or burn marks applying the prescribed sequence.
  • Upholstery covers are inspected for straightness, neatness, corners, stitch lengths, etc. to ensure quality requirements are met.
  • Safety procedures are applied at all times.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 5:
  • Panels/covers are stapled onto frame sections such as seat deck, inside arms, inside back, outside arms, outside back, seat border, etc. using correct methods and covering sequence.
  • Back tacking is applied where applicable.
  • Various operations such as piping, flat stitching, quilting, pleating, decorative finishing's are applied as required by specification details.
  • T-cushions with zip fastening are produced.
  • A final quality inspection is performed to verify that the overall appearance of the furniture work-piece is in compliance with specifications by paying attention to balance, neatness, direction of pile, placement of patterns, ensuring no excess fabric or threads.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 6:
  • Principles and processes involved in the manufacturing of upholstery furniture are described.
  • Principles related to manufacturing of prototypes, bespoke upholstery furniture, repairing of upholstery furniture and re-engineering principles are described.
  • Principles related to productivity are evaluated and explained.
  • The construction and assembly of various furniture styles and types are detailed.
  • Basic design principles and ergonomics of furniture types are explained.
  • Timber technology is described with reference to characteristics, properties, functions and processing.
  • Material technology is described with reference to characteristics, handling, properties, functions and processing.
  • Tools and equipment are identified and their respective uses, operation, attachments and safety features are described.
  • Measuring principles, calculations and the application of formulae in the construction of furniture products are applied.
  • The application of health, safety and environmental protection procedures in the workplace is reasoned.
  • Methods to enhance quality in the workplace are analysed.
  • The role and function of production documentation and trace ability in the workplace is assessed.
  • Factors impacting negatively and enhancing productivity are analysed.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the Exit Level Outcomes and Associated Assessment Criteria. 

    This qualification was compared with two qualifications, namely the:
  • National Certificate in Furniture (Restoration and Recovery Upholstery) from New Zealand; and the
  • Diploma in Upholstery from the United Kingdom.

    New Zealand:
    The National Certificate in Furniture (Restoration and Recovery Upholstery) is at level 4 and the credit value is 158. It refers to the restoration and refurbishment of a variety of furniture that can be modern or old, and to the manufacture of: one-off upholstered items to order. It differs from manufacturing upholstery in that it mainly involves single unit jobs with unique specifications. It often requires the restoration of furniture to a client customised requirements. The restoration and recovery upholsterer needs to be multi-skilled and knowledgeable in a wide variety of furniture types. The unit standards cover aspects such as:
  • Mark and cut single-lay plain upholstery materials.
  • Mark, cut and match single-lay patterned upholstery materials.
  • Prepare and operate a sewing machine for upholstery for basic sewing operations.
  • Fill cushions in craft upholstery.
  • Strip furniture with polished frames in preparation for recovery in craft upholstery.
  • Write cutting plans for manufacture of cushions in craft upholstery.
  • Set and operate an overlocking sewing machine for upholstery 3.
  • Set and operate a hand-held vertical foam cutting machine for craft upholstery.
  • Mark and cut multiple-lay (up to thirty) upholstery materials.
  • Fit intermediate upholstery coverings to furniture.
  • Match, mark out, and cut single-lay patterned upholstery fabric.
  • Estimate fabric quantities for upholstery covers.
    Produce a cutting plan for layout of templates on upholstery fabric.
  • Produce templates for marking and cutting upholstery fabric for a furniture item.
  • Carry out non-show wood furniture frame repairs for upholstery.
  • Carry out deep buttoning on upholstery coverings.
  • Carry out deep buttoning on upholstery covers.
  • Design and make upholstery patterns.
  • Mark and cut multiple-lay (more than thirty) upholstery materials.
  • Mark, cut and match single-lay patterned upholstery materials.
  • Match, mark out, and cut multiple-lay patterned upholstery fabric.
  • Match, mark out, and cut multiple-lay piled upholstery fabric.
  • Hand cut fabric in craft upholstery.
  • Hand cut leather for craft upholstery.
  • Hand cut leather for upholstery.
  • Prepare and operate an upholstery sewing machine for advanced sewing.
  • Prepare and operate an upholstery sewing machine for leather sewing.

    United Kingdom:
    The National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) Diploma in Upholstery is at Level 3. The minimum credit value for this qualification is 55 and it follows on the Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Upholstery. The qualification equips learners with skills and capabilities of creating ergonomic and comfortable furniture using both traditional and modern techniques, materials and fabrics and to produce aesthetically pleasing and fit for purpose consumer products. Units include aspects such as:
  • Clarify design briefs and research information.
  • Construct upholstery foundations.
  • Fit and finish top covers.
  • Produce advanced loose covers.
  • Produce and maintain jigs and templates.
  • Produce complex shaped cushions and padded items.
  • Produce furniture design prototypes.
  • Produce furniture production specifications.
  • Upholster standard items of modern furniture.
  • Upholster standard items of traditional furniture.

    These qualifications compare well with this qualification as they include similar and most of the aspects covered by the South African qualification. This qualification is more comprehensive than the NVQ Diploma and covers more competencies which are needed by the qualified upholsterer. 

    Horizontal Articulation:
    This qualification articulates horizontally with the following qualification:
  • Further Education and Training Certificate: Craft Enterprise, Level 4.

    Vertical Articulation:
    This qualification articulates vertically with the following qualifications:
  • National Certificate: N4 Textiles, Level 5. 



    Qualifying for External Assessment:
  • In order to qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required modules by means of statements of results and work experience records including the Foundational Learning Competence.

    Additional Legal or Physical Entry Requirements:
  • None.

    Criteria for the Accreditation of Providers:
    Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) website.
    The curriculum title and code is: Furniture Upholsterer: 683401-000-00-00.

    Encompassed Trades:
    This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the National Learners` Records Database (NLRD):
  • 60833: B040: UPHOLSTERER - FURNITURE (PE).
  • 60978: BS25: UPHOLSTERER - MINING.

    Assessment Quality Partner (AQP):
  • National Artisan Moderating Body (NAMB).

    Derived Qualifications Registered As Part Qualifications.
    SAQA ID, Curriculum Code, Title, NQF Level, Credits
  • 683401-000-00-01, Upholstery Frame Preparer, Level 2, 56 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-02, Upholstery Cover Fitter, Level 2, 52 Credits.
  • 683401-000-00-03, Upholstery Cover Fitter and Template Maker, Level 3, 72 Credits. 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.