Level 2 Sewing Machinist Apprenticeship (Standard Level 2)

Off the Job learning: 20% off the Job (OTJ) Guided Learning Hours (GLH)  

Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of day-to-day work duties and leads towards the achievement of the apprenticeship. This training takes place within the apprentice’s normal (contracted) working hours.

The Sewing Machinists role is fundamental to the production process right across this diverse, multi sector industry.

Total length of course: 12 – 18 months

Practical / On-programme phase: 18 Months 

  • Typical duration to gateway is 18 months 

End Point Assessment (EPA) Period: 3 months  

  • The EPA must be completed within a 3-month period after the apprentice has met the EPA gateway requirements.  

The apprentice must remain employed by their apprenticeship employer throughout the End Point Assessment stage (EPA).

Entry Requirements: Apprentices without English and mathematics at Level 1 must achieve this level and apprentices without Level 2 English and mathematics must take the tests for Level 2 prior to taking their EPA. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language qualification is an alternative to English qualifications for those whom this is their primary language.   

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 from clothing and fashion items to leather goods, soft furnishing, knitwear, marine and medical textiles. 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 being a universal worker and have a variety of skills such as lockstitching, blind hemming, french seaming, overlocking, cover stitch, cup seaming, pleating, applying framalon, ruffling or pin tucking.

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

Knowledge: A Sewing Machinist will have knowledge and understanding of:

The company they work for including:

  • The companies’ product range and business model
  • The companies’ overall manufacturing and production methods
  • How the job role fits into the manufacturing process and structure of the company
  • Workplace procedures and policies i.e. employer and employee legal obligations, employees’ rights and responsibilities, ethical trading standards, equality and diversity

Materials used in production including:

  • The characteristics and behaviours of materials, threads and trimmings used in production i.e. woven, non-woven stretch, finish
  • The significance of the materials to the product style i.e. waterproof, durable, drape
  • Faults and flaws common to the materials used within production of sewn products i.e. shading, misprint, pulls, holes
  • Awareness of material and resource costs

Specialist sewing machines including:

  • Different types of industrial sewing machines used to produce sewn products i.e. Lockstitch, overlockers, overstitch, linkers and blind hemming machines
  • Industrial sewing machine settings i.e. stitch length, threading, tension, pedal control
  • Different types of industrial sewing machine needles and their uses
  • Industrial sewing machine maintenance procedures
  • The importance of machine test runs and the consequence of not carrying out test runs
  • Health & safety procedures in relation to setting up and using industrial sewing machines

The production process including:

  • Each stage of the manufacturing process required to make the finished product i.e. pattern making, sample making, cutting, sewing, final checks
  • Work techniques and methods used in sewing production i.e. seam types, stitch type, fabric handling and finish
  • Common product faults, their causes and remedy i.e. material defects, stitching defects, cutting errors
  • The agreed reporting process and the consequence of unreported faults on production
  • Stitching industry terminology i.e. stitch, seam and finish types
  • Awareness of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement i.e. efficiency rates, organised workstation layouts, fast techniques

Quality & 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 i.e. standard minute value, non-productive minutes, down time, targets and deadlines

Supply chain & customer base including:

  • Key clients and their expectations i.e. specific requirements, quality standards
  • The supply chain – where raw materials come from and where the finished product goes.

Policies and procedures:

  • Employment policies i.e. employer and employee legal obligations, employees’ rights and responsibilities, equality and diversity
  • Health, safety, welfare, compliance and environmental policies and procedures.
  • Safe working practices and workplace risks and hazards i.e. needle guards, belt guard, personal protective equipment.

Communication including:

  • The companies’ communication protocol across all levels and departments involved in the manufacturing process
  • How to accurately completes the companies work records and tracking process i.e. dockets, documentation or electronic systems.

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 to use
  • Ensure the machine is in full working order and thread, components and tools are to hand
  • Carry out test runs before production work to ensure quality of stitch
  • Inspect cut components before sewing and report deviations.
  • Adhere to any documentation accompanying the work to be done i.e. specifications, specific instruction.

Carry out stitching operations:

  • Operate and control relevant specialist industrial sewing machines i.e. lockstitch, linker, blind hemmer, overlocker, cup seam, coverstitch machine
  • Sew components, following the correct sequence of work i.e. Standard Operating Procedure
  • Handle and sew materials in accordance with its characteristics and behaviour
  • Apply a high level of hand/eye co-ordination when carrying out the sewing process
  • Work to specifications i.e. seam allowance, tolerances, hem depths
  • Work to quality standards i.e. neat finish, straight sewing, straight hems, stitch tension
  • Meet production deadlines and targets
  • Identify and report poor quality work i.e. uneven seams, bad stitching
  • Consistently produce items of quality standard at the required rate of efficiency
  • Complete the appropriate work tracking process i.e. work dockets, documentation or electronic tracking system.
  • 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 for different products and materials
  • Clean machine to prevent contamination i.e. oil, dirt on product, broken needles
  • Recognise needle damage, select appropriate new needle and replace damaged needle
  • Carry out routine machine maintenance i.e. stitch tension, spool replacement, lubrication
  • Carry out test sews following maintenance and adjustments to prevent contamination and ensure stitch quality
  • Identify and report machine problems that require a machine mechanic i.e. motor replacement, broken parts, machine electrical failure

Instructions/ specifications:

  • Read, interpret and work to instructions i.e. specifications, standard operating procedure
  • Interpret and follow work policies and procedures within a sewing production environment
  • Communication
  • Develop and maintain effective communications with colleagues and sewing production staff to ensure a productive work environment i.e. supervisors, team leaders, fellow machinists, senior machinists
  • Work as part of a sewing production team or individually demonstrating flexibility and adaptability
  • Accurately complete work records and tracking process i.e. dockets, documentation or electronic systems.

Behaviour: 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
Institute for Apprenticeships (IFATE) website link: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/sewing-machinist-v1-0
Skills & Education Group End Point Assessment website link: https://skillsandeducationgroupawards.co.uk/epa/level-2-sewing-machinist/

This course is available at:

  • London Haringey Campus
  • Leicester Campus
  • Wales Campus
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