Saturday, April 19, 2014

Singer 457 'Stylist' Sewing Machine

I regularly monitor Craig's List for vintage machines that are reasonably priced and that will fit within my life.  This is a Singer 457 Stylist sewing machine that I picked up Friday morning.  The lady I purchased it from said she bought it in 1977. 
I did a little test before purchase.  Something that I will have to sit down and blog about.  There are so many great machines out there for less than $50, but if you don't know much about sewing machines it can be intimidating.
Step one when I got home was to start taking her apart to see the inside and get some oil on metal parts that haven't seen oil in years, probably decades.  Underneath the top cover, you can see where the grease is still on the gears, but I don't know the last time it was applied.  While inside the machine, I checked all the wiring to make sure it was still flexible and not damaged.

I don't have any replacement grease, so I left it as is until I get grease.  I did put some drops of machine oil in there as a start, though.  The test stitching was very rough, but likely just because she is very dry overall.

The bobbin area is beautiful.  Only a little surface rust on the forward bar.

Next, I pulled off the bottom cover to see all the workings from below.  Not too bad here, either.  (I will have to take a class on setting timing at some point.  I can't just keep avoiding it.)  The number of dust bunnies tells me it wasn't used very much. 
Then I pulled off the face-plate to look at the presser bar and the needle bar.  I love how the basic mechanical workings of a sewing machine hasn't really changed in over 100 years.  The presser bar can be adjusted and I've read that you can actually free motion quilt with this machine.  I'll have to give that a try at some point. 

The last thing I removed was the front plate.  I really only did this to make it a little easier to clean the plate and the front of the machine. 
I did a couple test stitches to check the balance on the stitching.  I did have to adjust the bobbin tension as it was too tight to let the thread leave the bobbin.  I used different color threads so I could see how balanced the tension was.  This is pretty good.

Finally, I turned the cabinet over and tightened up all the screws.  A couple of the legs were a little wobbly, but all it needed was about a 1/4 turn on some of the screws and everything was good as new.
The down side is that I didn't check my floor before I spun the table and scratched the top with a rock either I or the pups had tracked in.  I'm pretty sure that long scratch was all my doing.  Oh, well, I'm not looking for a museum piece, I want another machine that sews and I've already proven that it will do that.  All that is left it to put a coat of wax on the cabinet and get her back into the cabinet.

For reference, I visited the following sites.
Singer Sewing Info UK had great pictures and information.

Sew USA had the threading diagram, which was a great help for setting up for bobbin winding.
I got paid to clean up this machine, too.  One penny, from 1976.  The discolored areas are from some grease I wiped off after I managed to shake it loose from the machine.

Even newer UPDATE:  I have repaired this machine.  Go read about the replacement of the failed gear in this post.

UPDATE:  Since I posted this this sewing machine is no longer in working order.  This machine, like many of the time, had nylon gears.  The gear that drives the bobbin hook was damaged.  I don't know if this was because it was damaged when I got it, or I damaged it by failing to properly lubricate the hook area.  It could be either of those things.  I was sewing along and the machine stopped picking up thread.  I did some troubleshooting and found that the reason it wouldn't pick up thread is because I had no movement of the bobbin hook.  I did some research and a replacement gear would not be terribly expensive.  It would however require me to take apart much of the machine to get to the damaged gear and then after reassembly it would need to be timed.  While I enjoyed the time I spent with this machine I don't think it is worth the time to replace the damaged gear.  When buying a vintage machine I recommend you take a screwdriver and flashlight and take a good look under the hood before handing over your dollars.


  1. That is a very clean machine! Glad you found another beautiful one in great shape to add to your collection. :) -Brittany

  2. I have the same machine. I brought it from a repair shop. I am a novice sewer, and the bobbin thread kept getting caught. Had to take the slide plate and remove some screws in order to get the jam out and your blog helped my husband and I put it back together. Thank you so much!

  3. Hi Becca, Thanks for so carefully documenting this. I have a singer stylist from the goodwill and am trying to tune it up. I was wondering, now that you have yours tuned up for half a year, are you pleased with the machine? thanks, Phoebe

  4. Yeah, changing that gear might be a real big PITA but if you were to 'screw up' or need to wade through the thick of it to get it fixed, it might be better to learn such lessons on this one rather than another machine you treasure more and consider more valuable. Maybe it is better to cut your teeth on this one rather than mess up something more valuable. At the end of the day, you still have it back.

  5. Hello Becca,

    I have a question since you also quilt. Would you consider this a heavy duty machine? I know weight wise, but how does it handle quilts? I do thick ones and need feed dog steady pulling, and a foot that lifts high enough to get the quilt under. As well, I need a machine that can handle the work and keep the lines straight. I have access to one and wondered if it would be a good choice.
    Thanks for your opinion.

    1. I hope you stop back by to see this comment, Cris. Your account is set up as a No-Reply Blogger so I am unable to reply directly to you through email. You won't receive a notification of this reply, either.

      I would never consider this machine a heavy duty machine. I will not use this machine for anything beyond simple piecing. This machine was designed for light, home sewing.

      If you are looking for a sturdy machine that will keep up with heavy work but still be a home sewing machine I recommend you look for a Singer 15-91. As an all-metal, direct-drive machine, they have a great reputation as being strong sewers. I have one that I'm still working on getting cleaned up and back into service.

  6. Hi. I am so glad you posted this. I was lucky to get this exact same machine with the cabinet for $1.00. I am using your blog to assist me with cleaning and making sure everything works on this machine. I have not used it yet, but really look forward to it.

    1. I just recieved one from my sis-in-law, as she upgraded hers. It's a third hand me down. My first sewing machine. I'm going to use this blog too in order to take it apart and check everything out. Should be fun!

  7. Becca, thank you for your sewing machine info. Like everyone else, I discovered a neighbor had a 457 for sale on Craigslist, and he gave me a "neighbor' cut rate. After reading everything on the internet, I know I should save it for easy stuff like sewing quilt pieces together. But it's also my first mechanical Singer, and I've enjoyed taking it apart and learning. When (not if) the gear breaks, I'll be ready to fix it thanks for your help!!


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