Dressmaker 123 Sewing Machine Manual

Dressmaker Sewing Machine Model 123

WARNING: This post is photo-heavy with 11 photos shown as large as is manageable

Since picking up an old Dressmaker 123 sewing machine at Goodwill I have had a few requests for a copy of the manual.  Rather than emailing I thought I would post my manual pages.  My manual is worn and the scans are a bit fuzzy.  If you want a sharper image or would simply like your own manual I have sometimes seen them for sale on ebay.

Front Cover

Diagram of machine

Features and How to Wind a Bobbin


Using the Bobbin Case, Threading the Bobbin Case and Opening the Shuttle Race


Needle Threading, Taking Bobbin Thread through Needle Plate, and Stitch Adjustment Lever

Thread Tension, Adjusting the Pressure Foot and Fabric Selector


Built-in Light and Zig-Zag Sewing


Buttonholes and Blindstitching

List of Zig-Zag Patterns and Final Page of Manual

Hope this helps those interested in learning more about this model! :)


Going to Guhl’s

My family is taking a few day trips in our home state of Ohio over the summer holiday and I am looking forward to traveling through Jackson, Ohio and revisiting Guhl’s Outlet Store.

Guhl’s is a lot like Big Lots except they carry fabric too.  It is mainly polarfleece and quilting cotton.  I enjoy browsing the endless tables and buying a few pieces which are sold off the bolt as separate cuts.  The books are a fun browse too.

The only caveat to Guhl’s is that it is CASH ONLY.  In the age of debit cards I sometimes forget to carry cash and have been caught out.  So if you plan a trip to Guhl’s, stop by the ATM first. :)

Pattern Review: Butterick 6659 Option F Girls Short Pajama Bottoms

Butterick 6659: I am using Option F, the baby doll PJ bottom.

My daughter likes to wear shorts and a t-shirt to bed.  This year we had plenty of tees, but few PJ bottoms.  To keep her from parading around the house in her unders, I decided to sew up some quick pajama shorts.

Previously I had made a nightgown from this pattern and was on the verge of discarding it, when I thought that it could easily be graded up slightly, (the original being so oversized,) and I might be able to make the panties into shorts by omitting the elastic at the legs.  Why buy a fresh gym shorts pattern when I already had essentially the same thing.

I also had a laundry basket of discarded summer tees.  For once, I had the spare fabric to finally perfect fitting the crotch seams for my daughter – something I can transfer to other patterns. 

The pink shorts are the RTW pair that I want to emulate. The first try at the unaltered pattern is the yellow pair and you can see how much larger they are than the RTW. The yellow pair bagged in the front waist when my daughter tried them on.


Though this pattern was cut for a size 5, it easily fit my 6X/7 Slim sized daughter.

Very few seams making it a quick sew.  One for which you soon have a finished project and have not expended a lot of mental attention – perfect for mothers of young children.

One pattern piece along with a cut of elastic.

If you only have five or ten minutes to sew, you will be able to cut and sew this pattern in just a few sessions.


If your child is a tricky fit there aren’t a lot of seams to work with.

The pattern sizing – sigh!  Has no one in the industry redesigned children’s patterns to match RTW?  The waistline of this pattern is at the natural waistline while my daughter and her little friends barely know where their waists are located.  They all wear their pants at the navel and I consistently have to adjust children’s patterns to follow suit.  This one is no exception. 

The length of the lower hemline option seems much too long to me.  Again little girls wear their gym-style shorts upper mid-thigh rather than towards the knee.

I didn’t dare try a 4-line stitched elastic waistband as the elastic grows and distorts whenever I try this.

Some Assembly Required:

I sewed the crotch seams, then inserted the elastic waistband.  The original RTW shorts I was copying have a 4-line stitching of the elastic.  I find the elastic grows and stiffens if sewn over so many times, so I settled on the simplest elastic application. 

Fabric:  Old T-shirt fabric.


Sadly my serger appears to be going kapoot, so I did not serge the seams.  Instead I did a double line of zig-zag stitching.  It isn’t the most professional inside finish, however the material is knit so it won’t ravel.  And old t-shirt knit at that allowing me to more easily justify the simpler finish .

The final pair and how they compare to the original pink RTW. Much better.

Will I Sew it Again:

Yes, definitely.  I finally got the pattern adjusted to fit perfectly.  Now I only have to grade up for at least the next two sizes.  

Advice to Others:

I sewed four pairs in all but one has gone missing.

Use an old tee to make the practice muslin if yours are wide enough for the pattern piece.  And if you do use a t-shirt, utilize the RTW hemline for the shorts hemline saving you an extra step and making the garment look more RTW, as I have always found that the standard mechanical machine’s zig-zag stitch does not much resemble a RTW finish.

Overall Style Grade:  Um, A – I guess.  This is such a classic that it hardly seems a style.

Results Grade: A, after you finetune the fit, you will get consistently good results.

My Daughter has Decided that She Isn’t a Ruffly Girl Anymore.

Should she be allowed to do that! 

All on her own. Without any say-so from her mother.  :-0

Here is a pile of patterns ready to donate to the thrift store that are no longer “her”.  “Those aren’t my style, Mommy.  I’m not a ruffly girl anymore.” 

What is wrong with a little ruffle?

And when did she get old enough to have a style?!

 I am not ready to go from this . . .

         to this. . . .


 What am I going to sew her now?  The dresses I made her last autumn to fit her this summer – she won’t wear.  Too ruffly, I suppose.

It also means she is growing up.  I love the family years and already feel nostaglic when I see signs she is no longer my itty-bitty girl.

What is a mother to do?

I guess hit a sale at the fabric store and buy more patterns!  Proof that every cloud has a silver lining. :)

Getting the Fabric for Free

The price of knit fabric has gone up in my area and the design of many kid knit patterns leans towards the dorky and ill-fitting. (I love you pattern companies – but sorry, it’s true.)  Additionally, children’s patterns are often so oversized that they are unwearable and the contours are not updated to current fashion.   The end product, though well-sewn, can look a little “off” and the kid just won’t wear the garments.  The “off”-ness also screams home-sewn, but not in a good way.

But having some basic knit patterns for kids can be essential.  Kids sleepwear can be as expensive as daywear and I sometimes want to quickly create an easy top or bottom for playtime or to accessorize a more intricate garment. 

That means I need to spend some time customizing some kid knit patterns.  I have chosen these to work with.

Butterick 5510: I am looking at the knit tee and bottom as a source for summer pj’s.

Kwik-Sew 3043: Kwik-Sew usually has such great standard patterns that I actually traced this one hoping to refine a top pattern that I can easily sew in my daughter’s school uniform colors.

Butterick 6659: I have made this before and it is hugely oversized. My daughter who is a 6X can easily wear the size 5. I am looking at making her a few sleeveless nightgowns and using the pants and panties as PJ bottoms.

And I am getting the fabric for free.

From where? 

From here – the great motherload of free fabric.

Our closet.

Summer is such a short season but my family sure runs through the summer clothes.  Between the summer gardening and the summer sweating we manage to grime up quite a bit of our wardrobe each season.   A recent purge of my husband and my closet resulted in the above basket of cast-offs.

I could have thrown them away or made more cleaning cloths, but this year I decided to consider this a source of free material to create practice muslins and summer jim-jams.  With the new baby getting any sewing time has been so hard, but I am hoping that these small projects can be managed.  And if I ruin it, who cares, it was a cast-off tee.

I am looking forward to getting started! :)

Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do . . . Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad Because my Family Refused to Do Without.

One thing of note has happened for our family during the past few weeks that my daughter will probably remember for a long time.

We replaced our TV.

My great-aunt bought me a TV the summer of ’91.  It had a 16′ screen encased in one of those huge black boxes with a “handle” that bit your hand down to the bone, but allowed the manufacturer to lay claim that it was “portable”.  It weighed a ton.

In my family of origin we don’t replace an appliance until it stops working so it never occurred to me to upgrade.  Visitors would come to our house and quietly stare at the set.  Once we had a pastor offer us the brand new TV of a recently deceased church member and we were astonished.  Incredulous, we declined the offer and thought “Now why offer us that?”  But once my daughter starting having little friends over, they in their youthful innocence would exclaim “THAT’S your TV!”  – we started to get it. 

People thought our TV was old.

Having tasted the first fruits of media technology at her friends’ houses my daughter began a campaign explaining how due to the decrepitude of our timeworn TV, that it could not accept a Wii, which was our loss.

I asked her if there was sewing Wii or knitting Wii, to which she said “No”, and I replied, “Then how much fun could a Wii be?”

Because by that time my husband and I liked our old TV and wondered how long it would last. It became a curiousity.

My daughter demonstrating how tiny our screen had shrunk.

As so often with a beloved elderly pet the final illness began with mild but relatively untroubling symptoms.    The screen began showing a dark line at the top and bottom.  Since rented DVD’s always showed up in this letterbox format we didn’t especially notice when both TV shows and DVD’s began looking the same.  My husband remarked that “Damn,  somehow it has gotten reset for letterbox!”  Too lazy to delve deeper we thought nothing of it.

Then the “letterbox” began to shrink.  This was mildly bothersome but I largely ignored it.   My family grumbled a bit but I was learning to live with the restriction.  Then one night watching a BBC fantasy/drama show called “Merlin” I noticed to my family, “Boy all of these actors sure have gained weight since last season.  Especially that Morgana.  She looks downright short and pudgy. Maybe they should change up her wardrobe from all of those medieval-ey dresses.” 

The young actress/model who plays Morgana in reality is tall and slender, however when viewed through a 4 inch screen her figure had changed remarkably. She looked like a dome, her head abnormally small for her waistless triangular form.   Sadly I thought, “Her runway days are over!”  Right upon the heels of that sad pronouncement another niggling thought emerged -  it just might be the TV.

Just for grins I measured the image screen before ditching the TV. You can barely see the tape but it we had only four inches of height left.

Taking this new information in I explain to my family that ever since broadcast switched to HD it has changed the TV screen.  You see we have an old TV and it can’t “read” those kind of airwaves. ”  You see it’s those new airwaves, not our old TV.

Astounded by the glib scientific acumen of an English major, my husband stared at me for a second and then uttered the sad truth that would break through my denial.  “The picture tube is going bad.”

The picture tube. . . . . . . You don’t say. 

It took a few days for me to make peace with the reality of the situation but it was either a new TV or resigning myself to our screen distorting actors into increasingly extreme images of shortness and pudginess. Even though I felt a little guilty since the TV still technically “worked” (my husband asked me what I considered working to mean)  I finally gave the OK to purchase a new set.   Upon announcement it became clear to me that my family had wanted to put the old TV set out of our misery for weeks. 

Lest I in a burst of nostalgia change my mind, my husband hustled the family into the car and off we sped to our local big box appliance store.  The TV’s are now so flat and clear and lightweight.  In just twenty minutes my  husband popped one set onto his shoulder and off we went to the cash register.  My daughter asked for a Wii seventy-five times on the ride home.  (She is now using fitness Wii as an inducement as she knows I am still working off those pregnancy pounds. Clever child.  Still no Wii.)

 We get home, turn it on and Voila!  It is beautiful and all the sweeter for the wait. The picture and sound are terrific. No more squinting at tiny misshapen images. But you know, for me I am still getting used to it.   Having grown attached to seeing their shorter and pudgier versions the actors have returned to being consistently enviably tall and thin.  Every time I turned on the old set I was reminded of the loved one who purchased it.  All of those comments about how outdated it was, made me laugh to myself and reconnect to the value of frugality passed down from my great-aunt. 

I think out loud, “Maybe in another twenty years this new TV will be as good as the old one.”  My daughter just gives me a dirty look. And asks “When are we getting a Wii?”   

What sewing techniques do you avoid learning?

The January 2012 Threads “Designer Spotlight” (page 22) interviewed Kenneth King and this is what he had to say when asked what advice would he pass along to others interested in couture sewing:

Persistence, practice, persistence, practice.  When you get a technique “in the hands’ as my teacher Simmin Sethna would say, its quicker than using a shortcut.  A shortcut may seem faster, but in the end, doing something correctly from the beginning can save far more time.”

Though I am a big fan of shortcuts myself and love to sew using RTW methods,  Mr. King’s point is well taken. In both persistence and practice I have been remiss when a technique does not come easily. I would love to master the tailoring details that go into a pair of classic tailored trousers.  However making great slacks means welt pockets and perfect fly fronts.  I know that I should just grab some scraps and start practicing but something in me pushes back.  My sewing time is so limited that to “waste” time practicing means I will have to forego some finished garments in designs that sew more quickly.

At least that is what my impulsive mind tells me.  But Kenneth King is asserting that if I would just practice with persistence it would cut my work time in the end.  Something to think about.  It almost makes me want to pull out one of my sewing references and cut some welt pockets.

What sewing techniques do you feel you should learn but find yourself avoiding to do so for some reason?

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