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Sew Anytime of Day: Finding the Best Lighting and Magnifiers for Sewing

Have you ever been sewing late at night, happily stitching away, and the bulb in your machine burns out? This certainly makes it difficult to keep sewing.

Sewing in general, whether by machine or hand, can cause a great deal of eye strain and fatigue. Therefore, it is important to  equip your work area with the best lighting for sewing and proper magnifying tools. This will not only help your eye health over time, but will also allow you to enjoy your sewing for longer periods of time.

Threading a Needle on a Sewing Machine - craftsy

Here are some ideas for effectively lighting your sewing space:

1. White shades for your ambient lighting

When considering lighting for your sewing space, you will want to look at ambient as well as task lighting. For the ambient (overall) lighting, try switching out your existing shades for bright white shades. The bright white lets out so much light, bringing much more visibility to your projects. You may also find that hand sewing under a lamp with a bright white shade will minimize your need for task lighting.

2. Specialty quilting lights for task lighting

When it comes to task lighting, the options are endless! There are a few companies that have built a reputation in the quilting industry (Ott-Light, Daylight, Dazor), and their products are very good. These specialty quilting lights seek to mimic natural daylight, which reduces fatigue and allows you to see the true colors of your fabrics, threads, etc.

The things we look for overall in a task light are the quality of the light fixture (we need it to work for hours on end!), the ease of replacing the bulb, and the availability of the replacement bulbs. If you’re sewing at 1:00 in the morning and your light goes out, you don’t want to have to order a new bulb! Also, check for any warranties that are offered for the fixture and the bulb. These task lights can be an investment, so you want to make sure you’re covered if something happens.

Sewing with a Machine Light

Amy Alan uses a sewing machine light while stitching in Sew Ready: Machine Basics

In the past few years lighting companies have realized the importance of style in addition to function. There are task lights that you can place directly next to your sewing surface, while others look like more traditional ambient light fixtures. The fixtures themselves have become quite attractive, helping you to incorporate the light into your studio.

3. Magnifiers that work in conjunction with task lighting

In addition to these style benefits, manufacturers also offer magnifiers that work in conjunction with the task lighting. These magnifiers can be extremely helpful for small handwork, and are great companions to your sewing light. Before making a purchase consider how frequently you’ll use a magnifier. If you do lots of hand piecing and appliqué it will be worthwhile to invest in a floor lamp that includes the magnifier.

The combination of perfect lighting and magnification will help you to enjoy your handwork that much more. If you only do occasional hand work, or need a magnifier at your sewing machine, look for the clamp-on types in a power that is suitable. Again, the magnifiers with lighting are going to be the best choice for your sewing area.

It’s easy to get by with what you have in terms of lighting and magnification. However, by spending some time researching what will be the best lighting for your sewing room and the kind of work your do, your sewing will be much more enjoyable and you’ll be able to do it for longer periods of time without eye strain or fatigue. Treat your eyes well so that you can enjoy your craft for many years to come!

Getting your space set up for sewing? You might enjoy our tips on organizing your sewing and quilting studio and  proper ergonomics for sewing tables.

What are your favorite lighting methods?

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