Course Overview

A Sewing Machinist can be employed by a large, small or micro size sewn product manufacturing business. These businesses produce a wide range and variety of products such as leather goods and soft furnishings. The Sewing Machinists role is fundamental to the production process right across this diverse, multi sector industry.

Depending on the product and company size, a Sewing Machinist may work alone or as part of team on one aspect within the sewing process or on various operations. The role may involve occupations such as lockstitching, blind hemming, overlocking, cover stitch, cup seaming or ruffling.

The key responsibility of a Sewing Machinist is to make sewn products that meet specifications and quality criteria, with particular emphasis on maintaining quality standards whilst working at the required efficiency rate and meeting targets and deadlines. Typically, the role of a Sewing Machinist includes:
• Organisation and maintenance of an efficient workstation
• Operating specialist industrial sewing machines
• Adhering to health and safety rules and regulations
• Working with a variety of materials, threads and trimmings
• Using a variety of sewing production techniques and methods
• Producing sewn items that meet quality standards, targets and deadlines
• Interpreting and following instruction and technical specifications
• Monitoring and maintaining the work flow
• Routine machine maintenance

The Content

A Sewing Machinist will develop the following skills, knowledge and behaviours:

Knowledge - A Sewing Machinist will have knowledge and understanding of:
The company they work for including:
• Product range and business model
• Overall manufacturing and production methods
• How the job role fits into the manufacturing process and structure
• Workplace procedures and policies
Materials used in production including:
• The characteristics and behaviours of materials, threads and trimmings used
• The significance of the materials to the product style
• Faults and flaws common to the materials used
• Awareness of material and resource costs
Specialist sewing machines including:
• Different types of industrial sewing machines
• Industrial sewing machine settings
• Different types of industrial sewing machine needles and their uses
• Industrial sewing machine maintenance procedures
• The importance of machine test runs
• Health and safety procedures
The production process including:
• Each stage of the manufacturing process required to make the finished product
• Work techniques and methods used in sewing production
• Common product faults, their causes and remedy
• The agreed reporting process and the consequence of unreported faults on production
• Stitching industry terminology
• Awareness of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement
Quality and quantity requirements including:
• Different quality standards for sewn items including specifications, tolerances, seam allowance and finish
• The efficiency rates that apply when manufacturing sewn items
Supply chain and customer base including:
• Key clients and their expectations
• The supply chain
Policies and procedures:
• Employment policies
• Health, safety, welfare, compliance and environmental policies and procedures
• Safe working practices and workplace risks and hazards
Communication including:
• The companies’ communication protocol across all levels and departments involved in the manufacturing process
• How to accurately complete the companies work records and tracking process

Skills - Sewing Machinist will be able to:
Prepare workstation:
• Prepare an efficient workstation and organise workload to ensure a quick, smooth workflow
• Ensure the machine and working environment is safe
• Ensure the machine is in full working order and thread, components and tools are to hand
• Carry out test runs to ensure quality of stitch
• Inspect cut components and report deviations
• Adhere to any documentation accompanying the work to be done
Carry out stitching operations:
• Operate and control relevant specialist industrial sewing machines
• Sew components, following the correct sequence of work
• Handle and sew materials in accordance with its characteristics and behaviour
• Apply a high level of hand/eye co-ordination
• Work to specifications and quality standards
• Meet deadlines and targets
• Identify and report poor quality work
• Consistently produce items of quality standard at the required rate of efficiency
• Complete the appropriate work tracking process
• Pass work on to the next production operation, following company procedures to ensure continuous production.
Maintain machine and work station:
• Layout of workstation to ensure an efficient method and productive workflow
• Monitor machine speed, feed and material flow and report problems
• Make machine adjustments as required
• Clean machine to prevent contamination
• Recognise needle damage, select appropriate new needle and replace damaged needle
• Carry out routine machine maintenance
• Carry out test sews following maintenance and adjustments
• Identify and report machine problems that require a machine mechanic
Instructions/ specifications:
• Read, interpret and work to instructions
• Interpret and follow work policies and procedures within a sewing production environment
• Communication
• Develop and maintain effective communications with colleagues and sewing production staff
• Work as part of a sewing production team or individually demonstrating flexibility and adaptability
• Accurately complete work records and tracking process

Behaviours - A Sewing Machinist will:
• Strive for effective working relationships conducive to meeting sewing production targets with a co-operative attitude and approach
• Be efficient when working individually and as part of a sewing production team, with ambition to achieve in all aspects of work
• Take ownership of work, recognising the value of the role within the organisation and the value of the role others perform
• Commit to achieving and maintaining sewing production quality standards and efficiently rates
• Demonstrate a responsive, flexible approach to changing working environments and sewing production demands
• Demonstrate a positive work ethic and can-do attitude showing initiative and self motivation
• Be punctual and reliable, with an understanding of the consequences of absence from work and late arrival and the effect this may have on colleagues and sewing production
• Have a safety first attitude in sewing production and the wider work environment

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:
• Direct observation in the workplace
• Interview underpinned by portfolio of evidence
• Practical skills test

Course Duration

Up to 15 months (ie a practical training period of up to 13 months, followed by an End Point Assessment (EPA) period of up to 2 months).


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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