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Doing the job

When thinking about a career as a sample machinist, personal skills and attitude must be considered. The sector is looking for creative, consciences, innovative people, with an eye for detail who can work to a high quality standard using their own initiative.

Competencies and attributes

A sample machinist performs a variety of technical functions to create pre-production samples, working closely within a design team they scrutinise the structural integrity of the fabric, design and construction techniques to ultimately provide an accurate guide to instruct the manufacturer for the final production. 

As with any job the role of a sample machinist requires a variety of general, core and job specific competencies:

  • General competencies are transferable between different sectors i.e. team work, personal skills.
  • Core competencies are transferable in the same sector (general garment production) i.e. sewing skills, health and safety.
  • Job specific competencies are not likely to be transferable (high end garment production techniques) i.e. take measurements, assess figuration.

However, it is important to note that the role can differ from company to company, as each designer, brand and manufacturer operates differently depending on product, size, technical practice and manufacturing methods. This means the skills required can vary from company to company.

Listed below are the general, core and job specific competencies that are required in full detail.

General competencies

Team work 

Communications 

General management 

Core competencies 

A sample machinist must be able to monitor compliance throughout the pre-production process

They have to…

  • Identify and evaluate specifications and production requirements/ specifications 
  • Ensure the pre-production process can meet requirements 
  • Analyse and collate reports, testing and other information from the pre-production processes 
  • Assess machinery capacity and capability 
  • Critically evaluate the product at the end of each pre-production process, diagnose faults and take corrective action 
  • Identify machinery, resources and method adaptations to meet requirements and overcome problems 
  • Compare the finished sample against specifications and identify and communicate modifications required when products do not meet specifications in relation to patterns, production, costing and methods
  • Identify and maintain the quality control standards and procedures 
  • Clarify points and issues that would impact on the final production and negotiate and agree required changes to the specifications 
  • Resolve issues within limits of responsibility 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility 
  • Complete documentation 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes

And they need to know about...

  • The principles and methods of:
    • Production processes
    • Garment construction
    • Costing
    • Construction and properties of materials and components
  • Manufacturing and machine capability and capacity 
  • Work aids, techniques and methods of production 
  • Fault assessment and remedies 
  • Specifications, quality standards and finish requirements 
  • Pre-production and production methods and sequences 
  • Production timescales and schedules 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • Reporting problems outside your area of responsibility 
  • Effective communication 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Documentation and record keeping 
  • Equipment operating procedures 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health, safety and environmental legislation and regulations

A sample machinist must be able help plan the production of a given design

They have to...

  • Identify and confirm specifications, requirements and constraints 
  • Interpret evaluation information from the development stages 
  • Liaise with those involved in pre-production processes 
  • Identity a critical path from sample to production 
  • Identify and document requirements for the production 
  • Identify how constraints can be overcome 
  • Identify appropriate machinery for process 
  • Identify and record machines, adjustments and settings to achieve quality standards 
  • Specify working practices appropriate to machine settings 
  • Ensure fabric compatibility with production processes 
  • Ensure interlinings and trims are compatible and meet specifications 
  • Conduct and analyse sewability tests 
  • Devise e a production plan for discussion and agreement 
  • Complete records and documents 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues within limits of your own responsibility 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • Work instructions and specifications interpretation 
  • The impact of legislative requirements on design and technical specification 
  • Import and export legislation requirements 
  • Principles and methods of manufacturing 
  • Garment construction methods 
  • Production processes 
  • Construction and properties of materials and components 
  • Giving instructions and encouraging teamwork 
  • Working to a deadline 
  • Feasible alternative garment assembly and production methods 
  • Methods of remedying faults 
  • Equipment and machine capability and work aids 
  • Quality standards 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health and safety 

A sample machinist must understand the characteristics and behaviour of different fabrics and be able to apply this knowledge to product design and production methods

They have to…

  • Interpret the design requirements 
  • Analyse the style and function of the design 
  • Identify the fabric properties required 
  • Recommend suitable fabrics for the design 
  • Maintain an overall knowledge of the properties of fibres and fabrics, the characteristics of fabrics, product production, odurability characteristics, style characteristics and utility characteristics 
  • Complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Communicate effectively 
  • Use safe working practices, including the use of equipment, personal conduct and arrangement of work station 
  • Work to quality standards, systems and procedures 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues within own responsibility 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • Design briefs, working sketches and specifications 
  • Information analysis 
  • Evaluation methods and presenting recommendations 
  • Fabric and fibre properties 
  • Fabric structures 
  • Working characteristics that affect production 
  • Techniques and quality 

A sample machinist must monitor product quality during production and examine and pass products

They have to…

  • Interpret work instructions and specifications 
  • Organise the work area and check that equipment and tools are in good working order and ready for use 
  • Protect materials and products from contamination 
  • Examine products following approved procedures and examination techniques
  • Identify faults and report them in accordance with agreed procedures
  • Report problems outside of own responsibility 
  • Identify un-repairable/repairable products 
  • Take corrective action to ensure products meet required standards
  • Isolate products which do not meet specification 
  • Record problems and use approved methods to mark and log identified faults 
  • Forward rejected products which have not passed 
  • Inspections in accordance with agreed procedures 
  • Report the results of inspections promptly and accurately to the appropriate person
  • Contribute to maintaining the on-going quality of production and products
  • Forward passed products to the next stage in the production process
  • Complete and store accurate records and documentation 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • The company's quality standards 
  • Work instructions and specifications 
  • Inspection methods and quality procedures 
  • The production process and planning work activities to maintain continuity of operations 
  • Characteristics of materials 
  • Reasons why products do not conform 
  • Procedures when products do not meet specification 
  • Possible sources of contamination 
  • Limits of own responsibility 
  • Pre-inspection activities 
  • Types of faults and irregularities in products 
  • Methods of protecting materials and finished goods 
  • Achieving quality and end user expectations 
  • Limits of your own responsibility 
  • Ways of resolving problems within the work area 
  • Effective communication 
  • The organisation’s rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Keeping accurate records 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health and safety 

A sample machinist must be able to be able to carry out the sewing process

They have to…

  • Organise work in accordance with instructions and identify and report difficulties 
  • Prepare equipment for use and identify, rectify and report machine faults 
  • Carry out emergency stop procedures on machinery 
  • Ensure components meet specification and are free from defects and identify, rectify and report deviations from specification 
  • Ensure quantity of cut items meet specifications 
  • Organise and prepare components for sewing and carry out test sews 
  • Sew cut items to specifications and in the correct sequence 
  • Ensure sewn product conforms to shape and size and meet specification in terms of labels and trimmings 
  • Operate machine safely and correctly according to instructions 
  • Inspect sewn products against specification 
  • Identify, mark and place rejects in the designated location 
  • Use tools and equipment correctly, efficiently and safely 
  • Prepare sewn work for transfer on to the next stage of the process 
  • Complete and store accurate records and documentation 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • Work instructions and specifications 
  • The production process 
  • Common equipment faults and how they should be dealt with 
  • Characteristics of different materials and test sews 
  • Possible contamination sources 
  • Continuous work preparation i.e. spool / bobbin fill whilst sewing 
  • Organising work to meet required quality and quantity levels 
  • Sewing techniques and sequences 
  • Consequences of not meeting specifications 
  • Types of faults and how they should be dealt 
  • Handling and storage requirements 
  • Quality standards and procedures 
  • Personal hygiene and duty of care 
  • Limits of your own responsibility 
  • Effective communication 
  • The organisation’s rules, codes and guidelines (including timekeeping) 
  • Records and documentation 
  • Equipment operating procedures/manufacturer’s instructions 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health, safety and environmental legislation and regulations 

A sample machinist must be able to take responsibility for their own health, safety and security in the workplace

They have to…

  • Take action in the event of fire, emergency or accident 
  • Identify the location and type of accident/incidents 
  • Recognise the sound(s) of alarms and be able to raise the alarm 
  • Recognise and rectify potential workplace hazards 
  • Follow the organisational procedures for shut down and evacuation
  • Use, maintain and replace emergency equipment and protective clothing and equipment 
  • Monitor and report hazards which cannot rectified immediately 
  • Use correct handling and lifting techniques 
  • Report any security breaches and follow procedure for loss of property 
  • Safely handle and move waste and debris 
  • Store materials and equipment in line with manufacturer’s and organisational requirements 
  • Identify and correct (if possible) malfunctions in machinery and equipment
  • Recognise and report any service malfunctions that cannot be rectified
  • Recognise and report hazardous substance leaks 
  • Complete records, reports and documentation 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • The location of alarms, emergency exits, escape routes, 
  • Emergency equipment and assembly points 
  • The sound of the alarm 
  • Hazardous substances used in the workplace 
  • Methods of making safe or reducing the danger of hazardous substances in the event of an accident
  • Handling and storing hazardous substances in line with COSHH 
  • Be aware of what the likely accidents and emergencies in the workplace are and how to respond to them
  • Nominated first aiders 
  • Lost property procedures 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health, safety and environmental legislation and regulations

Job specific competencies

A sample machinist must be able to assess, develop and evaluate given designs that vary in style, fabric and construction

They have to...

  • Identify the key design features 
  • Evaluate the design, cost and production requirements 
  • Ensure designs conform to specifications 
  • Identify possible constraints to the design features 
  • Evaluate the fabric characteristics for the given design 
  • Assess production requirements 
  • Identify the cost of the design production 
  • Recommend amendments to designs 
  • Clarify issues arising from the evaluation 
  • Identify and agree required changes relating to design features 
  • Illustrate viability and cost effectiveness of proposed amendments 
  • Complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility to the appropriate person 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • The company product range and production capacity 
  • Principles of design, function ,fit, shape and form
  • Principles of pattern technology 
  • Construction techniques 
  • Production processes costing
  • Manufacturing techniques 
  • Machinery capacity and capabilities 
  • Quality standards and procedures 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • Effective communication 
  • The organisation’s procedures 

A sample machinist must be able to review designs and identify product requirements and construction methods

They have to...

  • Review the design to be produced 
  • Check production needs for the design 
  • Identify construction methods to meet specifications within the cost parameters 
  • Review existing and potential production systems against requirements 
  • Identify required resources and check availability 
  • Identify and agree amendments to the design to meet production capability and costing constraints 
  • Recommend construction techniques and sequencing for make-up within cost and production parameters 
  • Present and confirm viability of the final design 
  • Ensure quality standards are met 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues within limits of your own responsibility 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility to the appropriate person 
  • Complete documentation 
  • P15 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • The company product range and production capacity 
  • Principles of design, features, function, fit, shape and form
  • Principles of pattern technology 
  • Construction techniques 
  • Production processes 
  • Costing materials and components
  • Manufacturing techniques 
  • The influences of production methods and make-up sequences on the design
  • Machinery and work aids 
  • Quality standards and procedures 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • Effective communication 
  • Working within critical path systems 
  • The organisation’s procedures and documentation 

A sample machinist must be able to prepare samples for make-up

They have to...

  • Interpret working instructions and specification 
  • Select the appropriate materials, tools and equipment to lay and cut the sample 
  • Examine and assemble the pattern pieces to ensure they are correct and complete 
  • Check materials for faults 
  • Inform the appropriate people of any deviations from requirements 
  • Recommend corrective action 
  • Arrange the pattern pieces on the material considering grain, pile and matching patterns 
  • Lay and secure pattern pieces to minimise wastage and ensure appropriate cutting for style and design 
  • Cut and prepare interfacings and other components required to make up the sample 
  • Cut the pattern pieces form the fabric 
  • Mark and label sample components 
  • Bundle sample components 
  • Complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues within limits of your own responsibility 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility to the appropriate person 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • Interpreting instruction/ garment specifications 
  • Principles and methods garment and pattern assembly 
  • Material handling 
  • Garment and component cutting 
  • Fault diagnosis and correction 
  • Lay planning 
  • Methods and types of marking 
  • Functions and use of equipment 
  • The type and number of components required 
  • Matching requirements and tolerances 
  • Interlining garments; shrinking techniques; moulding techniques 
  • Working practices, including the use of equipment, personal conduct and arrangement of work station 
  • Quality standards 
  • Work documents and records 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • Reporting problems outside of responsibility 
  • Effective communication 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health and safety and environmental legislation and regulations 

A sample machinist must be able to produce samples of a given design

They have to…

  • Interpret the given design specifications 
  • Clarify points and discuss issues 
  • Analyse materials and equipment specified 
  • Report unavailable resources 
  • Confirm ability to complete the sample 
  • Prepare work station and machinery 
  • Identify and select appropriate thread, needle and work aids
  • Identify, mark and divide components and report missing components 
  • Cut missing or damaged components if necessary 
  • Identify and select appropriate sewing techniques 
  • Use suitable handling techniques and work methods 
  • Order and prioritise the sequence of the garment's make-up 
  • Critically examine sample garments throughout the sample production process 
  • Identify and report issues with components, design, materials 
  • Diagnose equipment faults correctly and take appropriate corrective action 
  • Confirm that finished samples meet specifications and quality standards 
  • Complete samples within the timescales specified 
  • Complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • The principles and methods of garment construction 
  • Interpretation of specifications and written instructions 
  • Complying with written instructions 
  • Making use of the information detailed in specifications and instructions
  • Pattern technology 
  • Fabric types and handling requirements 
  • Machine and equipment capabilities 
  • Machine preparation, guides and aids 
  • Thread types and needle types 
  • Assessing and applying trimmings 
  • The re-cut process 
  • Manufacturing techniques and assembly methods 
  • Interlinings, facings and fusing 
  • Effective communication 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health and safety and environmental legislation and regulations

A sample machinist must be able to oversee the quality of sample production and identify and resolve quality issues

They have to...

  • Confirm specifications and quality requirements 
  • Identify the appropriate stages to perform quality checks 
  • Monitor sample production against quality standards and specifications 
  • Maintain up-to-date technical records on the sample production process 
  • Identify deviations from the specification requirements and their effect on the quality of the sample garment 
  • Identify modifications required and the effect this will have on the quality of the sample garment 
  • Clarify issues and confirm make-up recommendations 
  • Agree changes and indicate how these may affect future processes and practices 
  • Liaise with quality control personnel to maintain ongoing technical quality standards 
  • Ensure quality standards are met throughout the process 
  • Complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations

And they need to know about...

  • The quality assurance procedures and practices that must be adhered to for the development of samples and production runs 
  • Diagnostic techniques and corrective methods 
  • Quality seals: red, green and gold 
  • Manufacturing procedures, processes and techniques 
  • The customer's quality standards and finishing requirements 
  • Company quality standards and specifications 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • How to report problems outside your area of responsibility 
  • Effective communication and team work 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health and safety 

A sample machinist must be able to evaluate and provide feedback on samples to inform the production process

They have to...

  • Evaluate samples and identify and remedy issues with construction methods, specifications, fit problems, style issues, aesthetics, quality function and cost
  • Collate the evaluation report with any additional feedback from the sample production 
  • Provide the evaluation information and discuss and clarify issues that have arisen from the sample production and make recommendations 
  • Identify the revised production needs following the sample analysis and compare these to the production needs of the original sample 
  • Agree and confirm modifications required 
  • Modify samples and ensure production feasibility of adaptations 
  • Finalise samples and confirm final production processes 
  • Apply the appropriate quality seal/standard 
  • Provide information for the final production processes and complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues within limits of your own responsibility and report issues outside area of responsibility 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • Specifications, instructions and requirements 
  • Analysis and feedback processes 
  • Principles and methods of construction 
  • Construction and properties of materials and components
  • Feasible alternative garment assembly and production methods 
  • Work aids and techniques 
  • Presenting ideas and recommendations 
  • Quality standards 
  • Recording information accurately 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • Reporting problems 

A sample machinist must be able to produce the final design/sample

They have to...

  • Confirm the design and specifications required 
  • Select the appropriate materials, tools a to make up the design 
  • Assemble and prepare the components required to make up the design, identify and report any missing components 
  • Ensure that all design features are met and the material pieces are ready to sew 
  • Identify and select appropriate sewing techniques, adopting suitable handling techniques and work methods to achieve required outcomes 
  • Select the appropriate machinery, work aids and guides 
  • Identify the process sequence and assemble/sew the garment components 
  • Apply the finishing processes as appropriate to the design 
  • Critically examine the item and compare with design requirements throughout the production process 
  • Diagnose faults and take appropriate corrective action 
  • Apply quality standards throughout the process 
  • Record issues and communicate problems effectively 
  • Identify problems and resolve issues within limits of your own responsibility 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards and regulations, policies, procedures and professional codes 

And they need to know about...

  • Design and pattern interpretation 
  • Pattern cutting techniques 
  • The characteristics of materials and components 
  • Maximising the properties of fabrics 
  • Capabilities of sewing machines and equipment 
  • Operating machines and equipment effectively and safely
  • Sewing, pressing and finishing techniques 
  • Quality standards and specifications 
  • The types, placement and meanings of pattern markings
  • Designer/customer requirements 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • How to report problems outside your responsibility
  • Effective communication and teamwork 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines
  • Statutory responsibilities under health, safety and environmental legislation and regulations

A sample machinist must be able to prepare for and conduct garment fittings

They have to...

  • Confirm the customer and the garment for fitting &interpret the design brief/garment specification 
  • Schedule fittings at the appropriate stages of garment assembly and arrange convenient fitting times 
  • Select required equipment and tools to conduct the fitting 
  • Assemble/sew appropriate component parts to allow customer fittings 
  • Identify deviations and problems from requirements and take corrective action 
  • Assess the fit and style as agreed with the customer (use the mirror reflection to assess fit/look) 
  • Recognise and diagnose faults in the garment(s) and take appropriate corrective action 
  • Finalise, mark and note alterations required 
  • Note any further instructions from the customer 
  • Manage customer expectations 
  • Communicate effectively with customers and colleagues 
  • Ensure quality standards are met 
  • Complete appropriate records and documents 
  • Report problems outside area of responsibility 
  • Work to legal requirements, standards, regulations and policies, 

And they need to know about...

  • Fitting room procedures 
  • Accurate measuring techniques 
  • Alteration procedures 
  • Garment-making techniques 
  • Customer service and inspiring the customer’s confidence 
  • Managing customer expectations 
  • Noting and recording requests and information 
  • Quality standards and specifications 
  • The limits of personal responsibility 
  • Reporting problems outside your area of responsibility 
  • Effective communication with customers and colleagues 
  • The organisation’s procedures, rules, codes and guidelines 
  • Statutory responsibilities under health and safety and environmental legislation and regulations

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