What Does a Sample Machinist Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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A sample machinist prepares mockups of clothing for review by designers and developers. This work requires familiarity with industrial sewing machines and the techniques used in mass clothing production. In addition to producing samples during the development process, the sample machinist can also be involved in the development of templates and patterns for mass production. Job opportunities may be available at garment factories, fashion houses, and small clothing firms that focus on specialty items.

As clothing moves into development, the sample machinist can meet with the designers to discuss fabrics and other materials. Using drawings to show what the garment should look like and how it should be constructed, sample machinists can produce examples in fabric, leather, and other materials called for by the designer. These can be shown to the development team to allow it to make adjustments to change the fit and style. Once the design is finalized, the company can move into large scale production with the assistance of templates established by the sample machinist.


Each garment produced by a sample machinist is handled with care. Machinists use techniques similar to those employed on the actual production line to create finished, polished pieces that resemble the items that will be sold in stores. As they work, they can think about how to streamline production to make it easier on an assembly line. This can include cutting fabrics efficiently, with minimal waste, as well as developing seams and other features that will be straightforward to sew.

In addition to industrial sewing machines, some firms use computer numerical control (CNC) equipment in their garment production. Sample machinists may need to be comfortable with such equipment so they can program it to complete sewing tasks and take note of any problems that develop during garment construction. Familiarity with computer aided design (CAD) can be helpful, as some designers may provide CAD renderings of their projects and may expect the sample machinist to work with these.

Training to become a sample machinist may take place on the job, by starting in a lower-ranked position and working up in a company. Another option is to attend courses at a technical or trade school to learn about industrial sewing and acquire experience on CNC machines. Such training can be a useful job qualification in a competitive market, where employers may prefer to hire people with experience to reduce the amount of time they need to invest in training their new personnel.


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