Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Introducing Sunny, the Robot Girl

Free Moda Bake Shop pattern Wiggly Whimsy.
Back in the spring I bought a mid-arm sewing machine, the Sunshine 16, from Pennywinkle Valley Ranch.   These machines are built by Nancy in Tennessee and her small American workforce.  Not by underpaid minions of transnational corporations in other countries.

I already had a Pennywinkle frame, bought years ago at a local charity shop.    I used a variety of domestic machines on it with varying luck.  I have written about it before here.  My best experience with a domestic machine on the frame was with a Pfaff 1221, which had a 9" harp and was in general a totally awesome machine.  Sold now, probably a mistake but there are SO MANY sewing machines in the world.  And in my house.

The logo on the side is not lighted, but still it glows.
The Sunshine 16 has, surprise surprise, a 16" harp and will allow me to quilt wider paths and therefore be more productive.  That's the plan anyway.  I named her Sunny.  Yes, that IS totally lame.  And although not all of my sewing machines have names (or genders) sometimes they just DO.  She's a girl.  But not a human girl.  She's a robot girl.  Just look at her.  I'm not going to try to explain or defend it.

Hello there.  My name is Sunny.

I learned a poem when I was a tiny tot:

there was a little girl
and she had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead
and when she was good, she was very, very good
and when she was bad she was horrid.

That pretty much sums up my first two days with Sunny.  When she was performing well, she was a dream to drive.  Other times, I spent hours pulling my hair out trying to figure out what was going wrong.  Most of it was "operator stupidity".  Here's what I have learned so far:
  • If you move the machine around too quickly or change direction suddenly, the thread breaks.
  • If you don't have the needle set perfectly, the thread breaks.  It takes an industrial needle which has a round shank.  No flat side like a domestic needle has.  So it is quite easy to get the needle in there with the eye ever-so-slightly off to one side rather than dead center.  
  • If you use it late at night when you are tired, the thread breaks.  I assume I have poorer fine motor skills late at night.  No beer, wine or other substances were involved, sadly.  But if there were, they would probably cause the thread to break also.
Baby quilt loaded
Then my friends Jo and Janet came over to check her out.  I removed the quilt I had been working on to load up a baby quilt with a long leader for them to practice on.  Removing the first quilt was a quick and easy job because I have long zippers on the frame, so the quilt just zips in and out.

There are three rollers and three zippers: the bottom layer gets zipped at the beginning and end.  The top layer gets zipped at the end only and pinned to the bottom layer at the beginning.  Once pinned, the whole thing can be zipped out.
I was going to have Jo and Janet work on the actual baby quilt, but they were satisfied with working on the long leader.  They both did very well, too.  Yes, the thread did break, but they both got some good quilting in between thread breaks.

Janet drives while Jo supervises
Jo gets her turn too
Here's the funny thing:  when I went back to quilting the next day, suddenly I was MUCH better at it, and rarely broke the thread.  Thus proving that old adage:  if you want to learn how to do something, teach it.

Almost finished!
Too short

And it turns out that I would have had to take the original quilt out anyway.  Both the batting and the backing were too short.  All fixed now, and waiting to go back on the frame.  But in the meantime I got hugely distracted by another project.  It's SHINY.


  1. Looks like fun! What size bobbin does it take? It looks like it is a horizontal bobbin? I like the tall throat. My Bailey is not so tall.

  2. I am not understanding how your "zip" the quilt top onto your quilter. I am very interested in learning this method.

  3. What a beautiful and how fun! I never thought of adding fabric to the sides of a quilt, I'll have to try that. I use a 15-91 singer on a frame.

  4. Good name! Definitely a "Sunny!" Smile : )
    I name some of mine too. The Blue Beast (Turquoise Japanese)
    Machines which resist being opened up for maintenance, I refrain from naming.
    Some, like a really old Kenmore I have but havent cleaned up yet, really inspire intriguing names. Like Monster from the Deep!
    My sis has an ugly old loom I named Helga.
    Don't you feel like you get to know the engineers? Want to meet Necchi engineers in Heaven. Shake their hands!

    Have fun!

  5. I like Sunny's red eyes. She really does look like a robot. Nothing wrong with a 'newer' machine. 'Tails' have there place, too. Can't wait to see your new 'shiny' thing.

  6. It's practically November. Isn't there a blog post for last month's teaser?

  7. May I mention a new group I found for a specific machine. Reason I'm asking is this particular machine has had super tension problems among other things and the mfg is pretty much unresponsive. A group of ladies have come together with some good success on over coming the issue. I'd just like to extend this help to others. It's called "Sunshine Machine Owners Only" Thank you in advance.

    1. Here's my 2 cents on this issue. When you buy a Pennywinkle machine, you are buying at the very lowest end of the market. They are made in America, by Nancy. You are buying from an individual, not a corporation. You are not going to have the same experience you will have with a corporation. The only time I needed help, I got it. She lives where cell service is bad, so emailing her is the way to go.


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