Sewing Machinist

What is it?

Making clothing is a fundamental part of fashion manufacturing. The role of a sewing machinist is to use machinery to create a part of whole garment. This highly-skilled profession might work in-house or at home for a particular brand, or work in a factory that produces clothing for several brands.


The career ladder

If you start out your career as an intern or apprentice in a garment factory, there are lots of opportunities to learn and develop your role. Your career ladder might take you from an apprenticeship into a machinist role, then supervisor, quality control technician, pattern cutter, or facility manager. If you choose to be self-employed, you could become a tailor or dressmaker after developing your skills on the sewing machine.


Daily tasks

On a day-to-day basis, a sewing machinist will follow a set of instructions to sew part of all of a garment. They will be working with different materials and different machines to produce the desired final garment.

A sewing machinist may have to clean and maintain their equipment, as well as carry out quality control checks on the garments being produced. They may have to work closely with a designer or pattern cutter to ensure that the final outcome is in line with the original design for the garment.


A career highlight for a sewing machinist might be to help designers bring their drawings to life. “I think the days of sewing machinists, who have quite often not being viewed as the most enviable position within a studio, will change. Their importance and respect within the studio will be crucial to the success of smaller labels which will be reflected in their wages, driven by the demand for their much needed skills. I think and hope we’ll see an increase in smaller manufacturers to help push and develop the want and need for local sourced, produced goods which will also push this demand and will require a new trained workforce to meet this.” – A GFF member university lecturer

What should you study? What skill do you need?

You don’t need to study at university to become a sewing machinist. You could undertake a sewing machinist apprenticeship to hone your skills. However, many of the skills you need can be taught on the job. This role requires great attention to detail, patience, coordination, and the ability to work under pressure.

You’ll need to know how to use standard manufacturing machinery like a sewing machine, overlocker, hemming machine and others that are commonly found in clothing factories. Sewing machinists work in a team as well as independently, so the ability to manage your time and work with others is important too.


While many fashion brands manufacture their clothing overseas, the UK manufacturing sector is growing with the demand for British-made fashion. There are lots of opportunities to train and find work in this sector!

Want to learn more?

Interested in getting behind a sewing machine and trying it for yourself? You can always start with a needle and thread, learning to mend and alter the clothing you already have. Find out if your local library rents out sewing machines, or see if you can borrow one from family member or friend. You can download patterns from the internet to get started on your journey. Mastering a sewing machine is a skill that takes years to hone, so it’s never too early to get started!

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