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! 🙂



Summer Croup and a New to Me Sewing Machine, a Dressmaker Model 123

After 21 weeks of 24-hour nausea and pregnancy anemia, I now have what my mother calls the summer croup.  Everyone in my house has a runny nose and a cough.  It feels like one thing after another.  My limited innate reserves of stoicism are depleted and my inner-whiner is growing louder and louder.  I am thinking I will just go to bed and wake up in three months and have the baby.  We have a friend coming from England to stay with us the first week of August and how will I have the house clean and ready if I keep getting hit with health issues?  So goes my negative thinking which I know is probably overblown but it dogs me nevertheless.

While waiting for a burst of healthy energy to return my way I did have a singular bit of good luck.  The thrift stores near me often have great sewing/craft items but rarely do they have decent sewing machines come in.  Usually a basic Singer is donated which Iwon’t even look at since I can crash a Singer in eight hours!  I know a lot of folks love their Singers, but this brand and I have poor karma together.

A few days ago I went into my local Goodwill for whatever – I forget my initial reason.  But aligned on the back electronics wall were about five used sewing machines!  Two of them old style mechanicals.  I plugged in both of the older machines.  One did not feed.  Rejected that one right away. 

I had much better luck with the other machine, a Dressmaker Model 123.  It fed appropriately, the stitch length and tensions worked, came with all of its parts including the instruction manual, and the best thing, even on this old machine, the feed dogs can be lowered to allow for free-motion quilting and embroidery. 

This is my latest sewing purchase, a mechanical sewing machine, Dressmaker 123, bought at Goodwill for $20.00. I wondered about that price being so low but after trying out the other machines on offer I think the price reflects the machines age more than anything. It worked better than some of the more expensive newer used models.

That sold it for me.  I have been looking for a machine to quilt on because I am beginning to think that the repetitive fast quilting stitch is wearing down my garment sewing machines earlier than need be.  The machine weighs a ton which told me it was all metal parts.  Therefore I could oil it and keep it babied through the quilting process, unlike some of the more contemporary models which don’t allow for oiling.  Additionally, I believe the metal parts will hold up better to the punishment that all of those quilt layers and stitches give to a machine.  

It weighed so much that I used a cart to get it into the car, and then made my husband tote it into the house.  Appliances just don’t come this solid anymore.  And it has one speed – my favorite speed – bat out of hell!  This thing takes your fabric and runs with it!  Terrific for free-motion quilting as I like to get the quilting part done as quickly as I can.

Though I am not familiar with the maker it gives every indication of being a good solid mechanical sewing machine.  At the store it just felt “right”.  Searches on ebay have turned up what appear to be newer models from the 70’s which have dials.  This machine has a strange way of locking in tension and stitch variety with a lever which seems to be an older method to me .  I was small in the seventies and machines had dials, and then they started having buttons for the computer, but I can’t remember levers.  That is why I think it might come from the sixties. It doesn’t look like any of the models I find online and there is little info about the brand or model itself which I think also confirms my theory of this being a pre-1970’s machine.

Does anyone know about this model?  I would love to know more about it.

Pressing: Put Your Hands Together for the Clapper

hands clapping


steam iron over fabricIn order to get that nice finish we are told to press every seam. Most of the time this works, but sometimes we find that the heat and pressure from the iron causes a discoloration or weakening of the fabric and still the seam is not smooth and crisp as a professional finish.  Unexpectedly this can happen to even sturdy fabrics that we thought could take the heat.

 Here is one solution.  Press with steam iron, then remove iron and quickly press a wooden clapper down on the seam.  You have retained the steam and a moderate degree of heat along with the force needed to press the seam.  The seam is getting the finish it needs and you have avoided pushing so much heat into the fabric that it is ruined.  

A wooden clapper.

 A beautiful crisp seam is very rewarding for the home sewer and I use this technique in nearly all of my dressmaking.  If, like me, you need to economize then buy a tool with a dual function.  I bought a point presser and use the base as a clapper.  

Point Presser

 If you are handy with wood, or know someone who is, both clappers and point pressers can be made at home.  Directions are provided on tipnut.com through the University of Kentucky Extension Office.   


Next Post: Tuesday, February 9, 2010; Pattern Review: Vogue 2923 Donna Karan Jacket