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Sewing Machine Operators
SOC Code: 51-6031.00

Operate or tend sewing machines to join, reinforce, decorate, or perform related sewing operations in the manufacture of garment or nongarment products.

Sample of reported job titles: Line Closer, Machine Operator, Prototype Sewer, Sample Maker, Seamer, Seamstress, Sew On Operator, Sewer, Sewing Machine Operator, Zipper Machine Operator

Tasks

  • Monitor machine operation to detect problems such as defective stitching, breaks in thread, or machine malfunctions.
  • Place spools of thread, cord, or other materials on spindles, insert bobbins, and thread ends through machine guides and components.
  • Position items under needles, using marks on machines, clamps, templates, or cloth as guides.
  • Guide garments or garment parts under machine needles and presser feet to sew parts together.
  • Remove holding devices and finished items from machines.
  • Match cloth pieces in correct sequences prior to sewing them, and verify that dye lots and patterns match.
  • Fold or stretch edges or lengths of items while sewing to facilitate forming specified sections.
  • Cut excess material or thread from finished products.
  • Select supplies such as fasteners and thread, according to job requirements.
  • Examine and measure finished articles to verify conformance to standards, using rulers.
  • Start and operate or tend machines, such as single or double needle serging and flat-bed felling machines, to automatically join, reinforce, or decorate material or articles.
  • Record quantities of materials processed.
  • Turn knobs, screws, and dials to adjust settings of machines, according to garment styles and equipment performance.
  • Attach tape, trim, appliques, or elastic to specified garments or garment parts, according to item specifications.
  • Repair or alter items by adding replacement parts or missing stitches.
  • Perform equipment maintenance tasks such as replacing needles, sanding rough areas of needles, or cleaning and oiling sewing machines.
  • Mount attachments, such as needles, cutting blades, or pattern plates, and adjust machine guides according to specifications.
  • Cut materials according to specifications, using blades, scissors, or electric knives.
  • Inspect garments, and examine repair tags and markings on garments to locate defects or damage, and mark errors as necessary.
  • Attach buttons, hooks, zippers, fasteners, or other accessories to fabric, using feeding hoppers or clamp holders.
  • Position material or articles in clamps, templates, or hoop frames prior to automatic operation of machines.
  • Draw markings or pin appliques on fabric to obtain variations in design.
  • Tape or twist together thread or cord to repair breaks.
  • Baste edges of material to align and temporarily secure parts for final assembly.
  • Position and mark patterns on materials to prepare for sewing.
  • Perform specialized or automatic sewing machine functions, such as buttonhole making or tacking.

Technology Skills

  • Electronic mail software - Email software
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Awls - Sewing awls
  • Bobbins or bobbin holders - Bobbins; Spindles
  • Bodkin - Ball point bodkins
  • Buttonhole machines - Buttonhole makers
  • Domestic clothing irons - Clothes pressing irons
  • Embroidery hoops - Hoop frames
  • Hand clamps - Sewing clamps
  • Hand sander - Hand sanding blocks
  • Needle threader - Drawstring threaders
  • Pattern cutting mats or boards - Cutting pads
  • Rotary paper or fabric cutter - Portable electric fabric cutters; Rotary fabric cutters
  • Rulers - Quilting rulers; Transparent rulers
  • Seam ripper - Seam rippers
  • Serrated pattern tracing wheel - Serrated pattern tracing wheels
  • Sewing machine needles
  • Sewing machines - Double needle sewing machines; Sergers; Single needle sewing machines; Tackers (see all 8 examples)
  • Sewing patterns - Pattern plates; Seam rolls
  • Shears - Scissors
  • Stitch bonding machines - Stitch bonders
  • Straight pins
  • Tape measures - Measuring tapes
  • Utility knives

Skills

  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Abilities

  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Multilimb Coordination - The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Rate Control - The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Reaction Time - The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.

Interests

  • Interest code: RC
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
    • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Context

  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 84% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 71% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 70% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 35% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Time Pressure - 62% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others - 38% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 62% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 36% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity - 50% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 36% responded “Important.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 64% responded “40 hours.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body - 34% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 31% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment - 26% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 42% responded “Limited freedom.”

Education

Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
53%Less than high school diploma
41%High school diploma or equivalent
5%Associate's degree

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $11.69 hourly, $24,320 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 154,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Decline (-2% or lower)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 12,300

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