January 21, 2013

Singer 403A (1958)

Well I'm going to make my vote here for the best choice within the 400 series; the 403 is the model to have, better than the 401. The 403 has all of the capability and none of the ridiculous complexity of the 401, it looks better and is more inviting. I love the little hood ornament on the top cover.
I am especially partial to 1956 and have been trying to find a machine that is exactly my age for some time.

Got this one from CL at a good price, did a complete tear-down for cleaning and have a beautiful running machine. I think it has all of the stitch variants of the 401 with the cams but who uses them any how?

It came with all of the goodies and manual too!

I used it for my latest shoe project, I needed some custom laces and so I sewed several 6 foot long pieces of organza, turned them inside out and then pulled a different color piece of organza thru the middle. After many tries I got what I wanted.

In honor of the 2013 Detroit Auto show I am featuring a shot from a 1956 auto show. Back when the future was something we dreamed about in a much different way that we do today.

GM was setting the trends for the future; sweeping lines, two tones, who could ask for more Modern?



  1. Just found your blog as I was looking for information on a Singer 66 treadle that I just bought. When I saw the picture of this machine, I had to laugh. My mother had this one and EVERY time I would use it I wanted to use bad language! I hated this machine. It always jumbled the thread. Tension was never right. Now that I am older, I know a lot more about how to deal with that but as a teen- I simply wanted to throw it through a window! Sue

  2. I have it 1956 403A. Best stitch ever!

  3. If the tension is giving you "fits", from personal experience, the tension mechanism gets filled with fine lint that becomes like a "rope" making adjustment nearly impossible! I took my machine to a Singer dealer years ago, and they did not fix it--finally my husband took the mechanism apart--after that it sewed like a dream! I love-love this machine!

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  6. I am sorry to inform you, but the Singer # 403 was introduced in 1958 not 1956.. The #401 was first, being introduced in 1957. In 1958 Singer introduced the "Two Sisters" to the #401.. The #403 and 404 machines. The internet data on manufacture dates is not always accurate.
    Happy Sewing and Regards, Richard Beman

  7. I have a 401, and I do agree it is "ridiculously complex," as you said. It is also runs harder than the 404 and MUCH harder than the 301 - which of course are straight stitch machines. I don't have a 403, but I do have a 503, and I have come to the conclusion that I'd just as soon pop in a cam to make a deco stitch which takes about the same amount of time as consulting the chart on the 401 for the stitch pattern combination and dialing it in.

    1. OMG you made my day! The "top o the line" model is just not THE machine to have
      Pleas check out my rending list/blog although a total amateur I love Brit, French, and American early Hist.

  8. In my opinion, the 403A Special is the best and most versatile machine Singer ever made. It has the fancy stitches, is easy to clean, uses easy-to-use drop in common 66 bobbins, and is relatively portable. The 404 is the same, but straight-stitch only. Both are awesome machines. The 201 and 301, 66, and 99 are all awesome machines as well. The 503 is awesome, too, but more delicate than the 403. I could get by with only the 403, but I like my 201, 301, and 404.