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Friday, June 15, 2012

How To Keep Alive Your Fashion Mate 257

View of top & side sections exposed...

There's one device I always wanted on my Fashion Mate 257... a stitch counter.

I've seen this on electronic machines and it counts every stitch you make. It's fun. Like an old car with a speedometer that show's you the mileage. Of course, they never included this on the old machine but it would be fun to know how many stitches my old machine has accumulated over the last 40 years.

One things for sure, if you want your Fashion Mate working well, is to clean and oil it often. Afterall, it's all metal and rust is your enemy.

This is how I keep my baby purring!

Remove the two screws on the top plate and the one screw that holds the side plate. Remove needle and foot to gain better access. Your 257 will look like the image above.

Bobbin assembly removal: lift the locking arm with screw driver...

Then remove the back plate behind the foot. Lift the bobbin locking arm (black metal), gently with a screw driver (image above), lifting it aside to get access and to remove the bobbin assembly. Now, you are ready to dust. You can use a stiff paintbrush or I have found that there's nothing better to remove the dust than a little blow of compressed air. Note: because this area seems to hold so much dust and the paintbrush doesn't reach properly, the compressed air rules. Now, if I had the luxury of an air compressor, but I don't, I would use it. A can of compressed air works just fine. You only need a small amount.

When ONLY the Dust Off will do!

After you finish the dust off, remove the excess old oil and thread with a clean cloth. Make sure you rotate the wheel so you don't miss any hidden thread in the back. Now you are ready to oil.

I oil every moving part. How do you know? 

With the machine open (top plate off to access) and with light on, I start from the top of the machine. Press the pedal gently, and observe which parts are moving. Then stop and place a drop of oil on every moving part. Once this is completed, screw back the top and side plate. Now it's time to oil the bobbin mechanism. 

This is how your bobbin assembly should look...
Clean and Shiny!

Your machine should be looking nice and clean, put back the bobbin holder and plates back together. Press the pedal to make sure all the oil is distributed evenly throughout the mechanism. The bobbin assembly is the MOST IMPORTANT place to oil. If you don't have the time for an overall clean job, at least keep this area oiled at all times!

Looking under the hood.

At this point, you're almost done. The last step is to look underneath by tilting your machine and looking at the bottom mechanism. I press the pedal gently making sure NOT to have your hand caught anywhere. It may not be the safest way so please be careful. I find that it's the only way to view the moving parts and to oil it. This is also a good time to inspect the belt for wear and tear. 

Now, you are ready to close the machine and place it in it's original sewing position. Here's the fun part... put your pedal to the metal and make it run for a few seconds at maximum speed... it should PURR!

I leave my well oiled machine over nite, it seems to like it and the next day I use a scrap piece of fabric to start with. THERE WILL BE SOME OIL RESIDUE.

I've been cleaning and oiling my machine this same way for many, many years. I guess I'm doing something right, because my machine is working as if it's brand new.

So keep on sewing and enjoy a clean and well oiled Fashion Mate 257!


  1. Hello, I'm so grateful for this post! I just got my very own fashion mate, out of the attic of a friend, so I really need to clean it thouroughly! I was wondering what kind of oil I should use... can you help me with that? Thanks a lot! I wish you a wonderful day! Flora

  2. I recommend a sewing machine oil found in most fabric stores. I found this oil is made specifically for sewing machines.

    Have fun with your fashion mate!:)

  3. thank you for this post. i just got my fashion mate from a garage sale! I'm super excited to get started and now i know how to clean it!

  4. Thanks for the link to the manual. I purchased this old machine from a sewing machine repair place over a year ago, preferring the solid metal construction to the "plastic" of newer machines. When I got it home, I discovered that the manual was in Spanish, which is not a language that I have any experience with ;-( I couldn't figure out how to thread the machine, or to wind the thread onto the bobbin. I put the machine away in frustration and only recently had the idea to search the internet to see if I could find a manual for it. Thanks for saving the day! I'm looking forward to using my "new" machine.

  5. Can you recommend a place to order, feet, a new cord and foot control? I picked up the machine at a garage sale for $20 and there was nothing with it.Marie

  6. I bought my new electronic pedal at a local Singer dealer. You would probably be able to find it online. I recomend you purchase a new electronic pedal-it doesn't overheat and works better. Good Luck!

  7. could someone tell me how to remove the plastic gear from the vertical shaft. I've found a new gear replacement , but just cant figure out how to remove the pin that's going through the shaft on the vertical gear.

  8. I just pulled out my machine that was given to me me a couple years ago. The manual was long gone. Thank you for all the tips and the link for the manual! You are a stress saver! :~)

  9. So happy to find you! I have a 257 which had stopped winding bobbins around 2012/2013. Had to get creative. Then, my house was hit by 2015 tornado and ceiling all collapsed on it and it sat in insulation, water, sheetrock for a couple of weeks and then storage for a year and a half. It's home now and sounds awful...barely moved. I found a 503 to "replace" it but have now decided it might be possible to clean it (besides oil/grease) and repair/replace the bobbin winding area. I opened the top and it's full of insulation and grit in addition to the years of use grime. I have decided to give it a try in cleaning, oiling, greasing and then to see if the bobbin winder can be repaired or replaced. Any advice? I've not done any of this before, so could use tips. I am most concerned about the bobbin winder as I cannot locate any information or videos on repair/replace. I still have the manual and all of the things that go with it :) So grateful.

  10. Thank you for posting this! My mom lost one of these, that she bought the year before I was born, in the Camp Fire this past November. I bought a used one that needed quite a cleaning, but I was amazed at the result after taking these steps. That lost machine made baby clothes, school costumes, prom dresses, bridal party dresses, Halloween costumes, and just this past year, quilts for her grandkids and took care of a slew of furniture that needed reupholstering! Quite the workhorse. Just cleaned this one up to give to her for her birthday this weekend. Not exactly the same machine, but it'll be so nice to have something familiar to work with this year.

  11. gracias por la fotorgrafias! gracias a ellas me di cuenta que el engranaje del cangrejo no se movia porque estaba muy bajo y no llegaba a moverse! y ademas aprendí a limpiarla!

  12. Gears should never be oiled; instead use lubricant.

  13. Does anyone have a picture of the inside with a side or front view? I'm trying to resemble mine and I have an extra part.

  14. How do I unlock the bottom belt. I already put oil