Sewing Machinist Kaiwhakamahi Pūrere Tuitui

Sewing machinists stitch together clothing, canvas for tents and awnings, and soft furnishings.

Sewing machinists may do some or all of the following:

  • set up their sewing machines and overlockers
  • work on part or all of a product
  • clean and maintain sewing machines
  • program stitch patterns into a sewing machine
  • operate thread-trimming and other non-sewing machines
  • repair or alter items and do some hand-sewing
  • discuss daily work requirements with supervisors.

Physical Requirements

Sewing machinists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), normal colour vision, good hand-eye co-ordination and steady hands.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for sewing machinists includes:

  • community or night courses in dressmaking
  • dressmaking or tailoring
  • work in a clothing factory or workroom.

Personal Qualities

Sewing machinists need to be:

  • patient and good problem solvers
  • able to concentrate for long periods
  • quick and neat
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work well under pressure
  • reliable, careful and safety-conscious.


Sewing machinists need to have good sewing skills and knowledge of:

  • different sewing methods
  • needle sizes and machine-threading techniques
  • different types of sewing equipment and fabrics
  • basic computing skills to program stitch patterns into sewing machines
  • types of products they are sewing, and their construction
  • practical skills for cleaning and maintaining sewing machines.

Sewing machinists in small businesses may also need to have clothing marking and cutting skills.


Sewing machinists:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may sometimes work overtime
  • work in factories and workrooms
  • work in conditions that can be noisy.

Sewing Machinists can earn around $23-$25 per hour.

Pay for sewing machinists varies depending on experience and the type of work they do.

  • New sewing machinists usually earn minimum wage.
  • Sewing machinists with experience, and sample machinists (those who mock up designs to show designers and clients) can earn up to $25 an hour.

Some sewing machinists are also paid performance bonuses.

Sources: New Zealand Fashion Tech and Competenz, 2017.

With further training, sewing machinists may progress to become clothing markers, cutters, garment technicians, patternmakers or designers.

Sewing machinists can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Pleaters sew pleats and folds into fabrics.
Sample Machinist
Sample machinists sew sample pieces of clothing to show designers, garment technicians and buyers.
Trimmers apply decorations to clothing or upholstery, such as piping, ribbon and beads.

Sewing machinists may also specialise in items such as:

  • clothing
  • curtains and upholstery (coverings for vehicle seats and furniture such as sofas)
  • leather goods
  • canvas (tents, awnings).

Years Of Training

<1 year of training usually required.

There are no specific entry requirements to become a sewing machinist. However, most employers prefer to hire people with qualifications.

You can become qualified by completing either of the following:

Sewing Machinist