Deteriorating Eyesight and Sewing is something faced by many of us
My personal little motto: Deteriorating Eyesight has nothing to do with age, it has to do with knowledge, laughter and tears, the more we live life, the more we become aware of who we are, and where our niche in life is, life itself asks for something in return, that just happens to our eyesight in many cases. So next time some-one says you are losing your eyesight due to age, tell them phooey, I am losing it because of the knowledge and experience I have gained over my lifetime.
Having said that, it is a major issue, and although many quilters and sewers are suffering, most of us refuse to give up our hobby until it is absolutely necessary. Below are a few tips that can help immensely with eyesight issues in everyday quilting and sewing.
- Good lighting is essential, and something so obvious can be extremely hard to achieve. Try to have good lighting under the throat of your machine as well as near the actual needle.
- Normal incandescent lights especially those with a pearl finish give a what is classed as a “warmer light” and has a somewhat yellowish tinge. An alternative to these lights are compact fluorescent (CFL) they are extremely low wattage
- Incandescent Bulbs – Incandescent bulbs are too yellow and use a lot of energy
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) – Have many advantages. They come in a large range of colour temperatures, they use less energy, they are brighter and they last longer. These bulbs are eco friendly and you end up saving money in energy costs. Their only disadvantage is they take a few minutes to fully light up, but the benefits are worth it. (This information was obtained from http://www.stanprokopenko.com/blog/2009/06/choosing-light-bulb-art-studio/ ) And even though this information is specifically about Studio Lighting the same stands true for our Sewing Room or Sewing Area, we need the best light available that actually shows true colours with no tinges from the actual light bulb.
- Choose a “Daylight colour” temperature of between 5500k and 6500k, this will give a beautiful white light, what photographers and artists class as “high noon”. You will not usually find lights of this temperature in a supermarket, but they are readily available from good hardware stores.
- LED light bulbs are also an option. And although extremely expensive, they do come in a pure white LED light, and give a beautiful light and usually with far less shadow than a normal incandescent or even Compact Flourescent Lamps, but because of the expense they are certainly not an option for every-one.
- If you are using extra lamps around your machine, again try to head for LED lights or bulbs that are a white not yellow light. When you get that yellowish hue, it can make it almost impossible to differentiate between colours, even for people with great eyesight, and almost impossible for any-one with deteriorating eyesight.
- Make sure the bases are heavy enough not to be knocked over with your sewing or that they clamp onto your table, for safety reasons.
- When you are not sewing or utilising the light, turn it off, and not just for the energy saving aspects, your eyesight can adjust very easily to extra lighting, and if it is always there, when we sit down to sew, we can sometimes lose the “extra benefit” of that extra light because it has become our standard.
Sewing Machine Lights
Some of the worst lighting going are what they place on sewing machines, and even with the modern new machines, unless they are the top of the range, many still do not include LED lighting as standard. And in lots of cases the lighting is actually quite a yellow light, which makes piecing extremely difficult. And it is not machine specific, they have just never updated the lighting. There are lots of options in machine lighting some of which I have listed below
- Changing the actual bulbs in the machine to LED if they are available, although this can be extremely expensive, I priced one for my Husqvarna recently and it was going to cost me around $400 because they had to change the entire lighting structure.
- Extra stick on or magnetic small spotlights are available with a goose neck that will allow you to shine the light directly on your needle. These can have huge advantages in lighting the needle when you need to thread, and semi lighting the seam line. The major disadvantage of this light, is it will cast huge shadows to the left, but more importantly under the throat of your machine, making actual quilting or large piecing even harder. My personal advice if you are going to use one of these lights, and are finding issues with shadows, turn the light off unless you are actually threading the machine.
- Another alternative is a LED lighting strip that goes under the throat of your machine, like the EcoluxLighting or the Dark Be Gone systems Sewing Buddies Australia has in stock. This lighting systems give a pure white light under the entire throat of your machine. I actually went from not being able to sew after dark, or sewing black on black, to being able to do both from the moment I placed the lighting on the machine.