Sailmaker and Upholsterer

A sailmaker and upholsterer uses canvas and PVC sheets to make or repair a variety of articles like tool bags, blinds, camping beds, tents, army webbing, sails, tarpaulins, garden chairs and sun visors.

They cut canvas and PVC sheets according to the patterns and stack them, then the various pieces are stitched together by hand or machine. The necessary accessories are added, such as PVC windows, eyelets, ropes, zips, press studs and buckles for fastening. They may cut and stitch material lining or stiffening into certain articles. Sail makers and upholsterers also manufacture or repair large items such as tents, sails and tarpaulins. When articles are made with PVC sheeting only, modern apparatus is used to fuse the seams together.

Sail makers and upholsterers are required to work indoors in rooms and halls, which are well lit and ventilated, and equipped with the necessary machines and tools. Sail makers often have to work in teams and the workrooms are usually a hive of activity.


  • canvas manufacturers

  • shipyards

  • SA Navy

  • SA Prisons Service

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a clothing factory company

  • practise your sewing skills

  • arrange to speak to sail makers and ask permission to observe them at work

  • contact the Department of Labour about learnership possibilities in your area

  • speak to a manpower procurement officer of the SA Navy


Motheo TVET College, Tshwane North TVET College

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