Sample machinist

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Sample machinists make samples of garments to show designers or customers how finished items will look.

Salary range: £15,000 to £30,000

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How to become a sample machinist

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
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College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include:

  • Level 1 Award in Fashion – Sewing Machine Skills
  • Level 1 Certificate in Fashion and Textiles

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course

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Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through a sewing machinist intermediate apprenticeship or a garment maker advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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Work

You would usually move into this job after getting experience as a sewing machinist on a production line.

Direct application

Although there are no set entry requirements for applying for this job directly, employers would expect you to have literacy and numeracy skills to read instructions and understand measurements.

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Further information

You can get more information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work on your own
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • checking all pattern pieces are present to start a job
  • following fabric, colour and size instructions from the designer and pattern cutter
  • using industrial machines like overlockers and binders
  • stitching sections together and adding labels to them
  • pressing the garment to give it a ‘finished’ appearance
  • advising the design team about the best way to construct the sample
  • discussing any ‘tweaks’ to the design instructions before the item goes into production
  • carrying out quality control checks during a production run
  • helping other machinists during busy periods
  • working directly with customers who supply their own design details

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio, in a workshop or from home.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could move on to higher-level technical roles, like garment technologist or quality control technician.

You could also move into clothing design.