Course Overview

This occupation is found in the manufacturing sector, in the production of textile items using various fabrics and materials such as canvas, cotton, leather, silk, vinyl, wool, woven and non-woven. Production ranges from bespoke to mass-produced items and includes, handbags, shoes, clothing, tents, industrial textiles, and numerous home wear products.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to cut specified material components by hand or by machine using templates or measurements and then prepare the components for assembly. In preparation for cutting, a material cutter will select the materials following instructions, check the materials for quality issues, and plan, measure and calculate material usage ensuring waste minimalisation. They are then ready to cut components to meet the required quality, quantity and specifications. They have a role in ensuring effective handover to the next stage, including bundling, labelling and completing records and documentation such as production/cutting sheets or work dockets. Material cutters are also responsible for dealing with quality issues and providing re-cuts as requested by the production team. In order to keep the process running smoothly, they maintain specialist machines and equipment, for example changing blades and chains, sharpening shears and blades, cleaning and removing lint and maintaining automated tables/machines.

Material cutters work in a production environment, often in a dedicated cutting room. They must have an eye for detail and be able to distinguish between colours and patterns. The role can be physically demanding, involving lifting heavy rolls of fabric and standing for long periods of time.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with other cutters, depending on the size and structure of the company. They will work under the supervision of a manager or supervisor and may interact with personnel from other teams such as production, maintenance, and stock control. They may also come into contact with external suppliers or customers.

The Content

A Material Cutter will develop the following skills, knowledge and behaviours:

• The material cutters role, responsibilities, and position within the wider production operation.
• Operational insight (types of products produced and types of customers).
• The end to end production process, quality requirements, deadlines and targets, performance rates.
• Commercial considerations (efficiency, material cost, production costs).
• Health and Safety
• Environment and sustainability
• Work-station ergonomics, posture and positioning whilst cutting.
• Workload planning for example scheduling and prioritisation.
• The construction, behaviour and appropriate use of different types of materials
• Material characteristics (quality, colour, pattern, print, pile, correct side).
• Material matching techniques for stripes, checks, pattern repeat, print placement.
• Material faults and fault tolerances (shading, discoloration, print error, holes, marks).
• Component shapes and product parts.
• Cutting specifications and instructions (the number to be cut, grain line, size, pairs).
• Mathematical techniques for cutting, measuring and calculating meterage.
• Measuring tools, equipment and techniques.
• Material spreading and transferring information requirements (notches, button placement, pile direction).
• Lay planning and pattern placement techniques; manual and machine.
• Manual and machine cutting techniques; quality check requirements.
• Material cutting machines and equipment (knives, cutting machines, press, scissors; their purpose).
• The consequence of machine/equipment mis-use
• First line preventative maintenance requirements (checking, cleaning, sharpening, or changing blades).
• Re-cut request procedures and the re-cut process.
• Continuous improvement techniques.
• Documentation requirements and their purpose (specification sheets, work records, labels).
• Verbal and written communication techniques.
• Material cutter terminology (ease, pairs, grain, right side).
• Team working techniques and benefits.
• Equality and Diversity in the workplace.

• Read, interpret, and follow information (for example work instructions, material specifications).
• Prepare the work area for cutting materials.
• Maintain the work area.
• Follow health and safety regulations, legislation and procedures; PPE, manual handling, lifting procedures and ergonomic practice.
• Follow environmental and sustainability regulations and procedures.
• Estimate and calculate material requirements to complete the job.
• Select material following specification or instruction.
• Inspect materials against specifications and quality standard.
• Check lay plan.
• Prepare materials for cutting for example lay and spread material.
• Select, check and use tools/equipment for the task.
• Cut material by hand and/or machine (for example band knife, shears, laser).
• Check quality of the lay post cut for example waste minimised, grain, component positioning, colour continuity.
• Check cut components.
• Prepare material for the next stage of the production process (for example bundling, labelling).
• Identify and segregate material for reuse, recycling and disposal.
• Check and clean tools and equipment and sharpen or change blades as required.
• Report cutting issues for example material faults, equipment faults shortages, required recuts, lay plan.
• Apply continuous improvement techniques.
• Communicate with colleagues verbally.
• Enter information - written or electronic.

• Prioritise health, safety and the environment (for example follows safe ergonomic practices, ensures safety and welfare of self and others and adopts environmental working practices).
• Uses own initiative, for example when dealing with material faults and flaws.
• Adaptable and flexible (for example in response to changes in priorities and work deadlines).
• Team player (for example keeps others informed, interacts proactively, considers impact of actions on others, and takes account of equality and diversity).
• Takes ownership and responsibility (for example seeks to meet quality targets, completes allocated work on time, escalates issues).
• Professional (for example polite and courteous, a good timekeeper, has a positive can-do attitude).

Functional Skills in English and Maths
Learners who have not already achieved Level 1 English and maths, must do so as part of the programme and must also attempt the assessment at Level 2.

The Assessment

Learners will need to undertake an End Point Assessment which consists of the following 3 elements:
• Observation with questions
• Interview underpinned by portfolio of evidence
• Multiple-choice test

Course Duration

12 Months

Entry Requirements

You will have to take a Skills Scan to ensure your current level of maths and English is at the required level.


This role may be a gateway to further career opportunities in this sector, such as management or senior support roles, or to further study.

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