Ringa Waitohu/Tapahi Kākahu
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Clothing markers and cutters mark and cut fabric according to a pattern.
Clothing markers/cutters usually earn
$16-$24 per hour
Source: Plastics and Materials Processing ITO
Pay for clothing markers/cutters varies depending on experience, and the type of garments made.
- Clothing marker/cutters in their first year can expect to earn the minimum wage or a little more.
- Those with one to two years of experience usually earn about $18 an hour.
- Those with more than two years' experience can earn up to $24 an hour.
Source: Plastics and Materials Processing Industry Training Organisation (now part of Competenz).
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Clothing marker/cutters may do some or all of the following:
- mark the size, sewing information and codes on the fabric or worksheet
- work out how much fabric is needed
- arrange pattern pieces on fabric
- mark pattern outlines onto fabric
- cut fabric by hand, with electric hand-held cutting machines or by using computer-controlled equipment
- bundle pieces of fabric together and store them in order of size and colour.
The work of clothing marker/cutters may be two separate jobs, especially in larger clothing factories, where the marking is often done on a computer. Alternatively, cutting may be a minor part of the job if the company is small.
Skills and knowledge
Clothing marker/cutters need to have:
- knowledge of fabric types and garment construction
- knowledge of pattern-sewing codes and symbols
- knowledge of different cutting equipment and methods
- computer skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software.
- usually work regular hours, but may need to work overtime at the height of a season. Self-employed markers and cutters often work irregular hours and their work may be seasonal
- work in factories and workrooms. Self-employed marker/cutters may have workrooms in their homes
- work in conditions that may be dusty and noisy, and have to be on their feet most of the day.
What's the job really like?
What does cutting actually involve?
“I lay out 60 to 100 sheets of fabric on the table then I put a large bit of paper on top which has all the pattern pieces marked out on it. Then I put some pins in to hold the paper down, and follow the marks with the cutter.”
Is that as easy as it sounds?
“You can easily twist the fabric or mark it off-grain. Like if you are working with check material, you have to make sure the check is exactly square because if you do it wrong, the garment pieces might not match up.
“Also if you are cutting something like silk, it is very floaty and moves around, whereas something like cotton just sticks to itself and stays there – it’s like cutting paper.
“As you get more experience you start to understand cloth and how it works – it becomes automatic.”
Any advice for aspiring workers?
“Stay focused. If you are going to concentrate on cutting and marking then you really have to know what you are doing, and you have to be quite dedicated.”
There are no specific entry requirements to become a clothing marker/cutter, but knowledge of fabrics, and sewing skills are essential. Some employers prefer you to have a tertiary qualification such as a:
- National Certificate in Clothing Manufacture, Level 3
- Diploma in Fashion Technology and Design.
Those wanting to work in high-end fashion usually complete a Diploma in Fashion Technology and Design, which teaches skills such as how to use a computerised marking system.
Skills such as arranging pattern pieces on fabric, marking and cutting are often gained on the job.
You need three years of secondary education to enter further training. Maths is essential, and English, technical drawing, clothing and textiles and computer studies are also useful subjects to take.
Clothing marker/cutters need to be:
- quick and neat
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to follow instructions
- able to work well under pressure
- good at maths so they can measure and make calculations
- good problem-solvers.
You need to be patient because if you cut something out wrong then you might have 60 wrong garment pieces and a very annoyed designer. So you have to make sure that you lay out the fabric right and take your time with the cutting.
Ra Thomson - Clothing Marker/Cutter
Useful experience for clothing marker/cutters includes:
- community or night courses in dressmaking
- work in a clothing factory or workroom.
Clothing marker/cutters need to have normal colour vision and good hand-eye co-ordination. Physical strength is an advantage for lifting heavy rolls of fabric.
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - email@example.com - www.competenz.org.nz
- 0800 800 300 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzfashiontech.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
The textile and apparel manufacturing industry is slowly picking up, which has seen some manufacturers hiring additional staff, including clothing markers/cutters.
In addition, some small textile and apparel companies that moved production offshore in recent years are moving back to New Zealand and this is creating additional opportunities for clothing marker/cutters.
Most clothing marker/cutter jobs not advertised
If you are interested in getting work as a clothing marker/cutter, it would be best to approach companies yourself, as 57% of new positions in this industry are not advertised.
Many companies prefer to move people up in the company rather than advertise externally, so if you have limited experience in marking and cutting you may need to first get your foot in the door as a sewing machinist.
Better chance of work with wide range of skills
As textile and apparel businesses are now generally smaller, clothing marker/cutters who have a range of relevant skills such as technical production and planning, are more likely to be hired. In a survey of fashion businesses, many respondents commented on how difficult it is to get people with good practical skills, including experience in different types of fabric cutting.
Markers and cutters work for small and large businesses
Clothing marker/cutters are employed by a range of employers - from small boutique designers to large apparel manufacturers, such as Swazi. Some clothing markers and cutters are self-employed, contracting their services out to clients.
- Henderson, K, industry manager, Competenz, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2014.
- Origin Creative, 'NZ Fashion Tech Industry Survey 2012', (www.nzfashiontech.ac.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Experienced clothing marker/cutters may set up their own business or move into clothing design.
In larger firms, they tend to specialise:
- Clothing Marker
- Clothing markers work out how much fabric is needed, arrange pattern pieces on fabric, and mark the fabric.
- Clothing Cutter
- Clothing cutters cut fabric by hand, with electric machines or with computer-controlled equipment.
Last updated 6 June 2017