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Sewing Machine Operator / Seamstress
Sewing machine operators use high-powered, heavy-duty industrial sewing machines to stitch together garments and other products of cloth, canvas, leather and non-woven fabrics.

They may construct the entire finished product or specialize in performing a single operation such as sewing seams or stitching collars. They need to handle machines with care and report any defect to the sewing machine mechanic or the manager. They usually work in clothing factories on a production line.

With experience, sewing machine operators may progress from performing simple operations like stitching straight seams to more complex tasks like finishing sleeves. They may use elementary machines, multiple-needle machines with special attachments and work aids and other automatic equipment.

Some areas of specialization include:

- single-needle operator
- double-needle operator
- blind stitch operator
- bar tack operator
- sewing on buttons and making button holes
- fancy stitching

As the sewing machine operator progresses in the work, wages may increase accordingly. Bonus schemes often provide incentives to work as quickly as possible.

Satisfying Aspects
- good fringe benefits if employees are Union members
- being paid for training on the job
- steady employment
- working with one's hands

Demanding aspects
- doing routine work
- being closely supervised
- the constant emphasis on speed and accuracy   
- sitting with little body movement for long periods of time
- noise in sewing room
- working in a confined space

A sewing machine operator should:
- be able to concentrate;
- have an aptitude for needlework;
- have a certain amount of mechanical insight;
- work quickly and carefully;
- be quality-conscious;
- enjoy routine work tasks;
- be able to sit and work for long periods;
- be able to work under pressure.

School Subjects
Grade 8 Certificate for in-service training.
Grade 10 Certificate or higher qualification for training at a technical college or fashion house.
Preference is given to people with a National Senior Certificate.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Consumer Studies

Clothing Industry Training Board: Certificate of Competency: 8-week all-inclusive training course. The first part of the training concentrates on the basic machine work and for those who show proficiency, instruction on the specialist machines is given during the last part of the training, whilst others obtain additional skill in basic sewing.

Many factories have their own centres which offer training, where operators are taught how to perform each task with minimal finger, arm and body movement.

Prospective sewing-machine operators have to pass an entrance test set by the Training Board.

- Garment manufacturing factories
- Curtain and drapery companies
- Accessory manufacturers
- Furniture manufacturers
- Self-employment, with enough experience, initiative and capital, can start own business

Textile Federation
P O Box 53
Bruma, 2026
40 Seventh Avenue
Edenvale, 1609
Tel: (011) 454-2342 Fax: (011) 454-2654