By: Erika Mulvenna | Original Article published for We All Sew Blog

Your sewing area is more than just what’s under your needle, it also includes the space around your sewing machine. Good overall lighting in your sewing space can reduce eye strain and fatigue, helping you sew for longer periods of time. Here are our best sewing room lighting tips!

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A balance of good lighting by your sewing area (like my fellow BERNINA Ambassador Laura McDowell Hopper‘s space above) will help you focus on your task for a longer period of time while avoiding stress to your eyes. You may already be suffering from eye fatigue and not realize it! Straining to see your sewing project without proper light, direct glare from a light bulb in your field of vision, or looking at a focused bright area of light in a dark room for long periods of time can cause symptoms of eye fatigue. These symptoms can include headache, sore neck and shoulders, blurred vision or problems focusing, and even increased difficulty in concentrating on your task.

To avoid problems with eye strain and fatigue, experts suggest a good balance of light in the overall area. This includes good task lighting and an even amount of diffused light in the room where you are working, and can combine natural light with artificial light.

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Your first step in a well-lit sewing space starts with your sewing machine. If you are sewing with a modern machine, chances are you have bright lights built in above the needle.

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Check out the B 590 E above, you can see how bright the built-in LED lights around the needle (and beyond!) are, and they give lots of light to the work area under the machine.

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Also notice the removable work table and free-arm both have a flat surface to reduce glare from the lights. In fact all current BERNINA machines have flat finishes on the direct sewing surface specifically to prevent glare. Make sure your sewing machine lights are all working properly, and get them repaired right away when they need replacing.

In addition, a task light over your sewing machine can light the work area around your machine (for grabbing tools, adjusting whatever you’re sewing, or grabbing a new needle). Working in a dark room with only the lights from your sewing machine can add stress to your eyes as they struggle to adjust to the two different light levels when you look away from your sewing machine.

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I use a Daylight Company Slimline LED table lamp over my sewing machine (pictured above), it’s perfect for task lighting at the sewing machine as it includes a strip of bright LED lights that provides even, bright light. The Slimline clamps on any table surface and is fully adjustable (you can also purchase an additional floor stand for the lamp).

Laura also uses the Slimline light in her space (check out her blog Sonic Stitches where she writes about her sewing space lighting), and you can definitely see the difference extra light around her sewing machine makes in her before/after pictures below.

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Sonic Stitches After Slimline

Tips for setting up task lighting:

  • Use in any area where you are working with your hands for long periods of time (sewing, at the cutting table, pressing, etc.). The Daylight Company have a fantastic array of task lighting in different shapes and sizes.
  • Prevent glare from highly reflective surfaces. Either adjust the task lamp or move objects to keep glare down. If you wear eye glasses all or part of the time to sew, put them on when adjusting task lighting to make sure there is no direct glare from your glasses.
  • Don’t let bare bulbs shine directly in your field of vision. Adjust the lamp to get the benefits of the light without any part of the bare bulbs shining into your eyes.
  • Keep lamp bases or cords away from your direct work space. You don’t want to reach for a pair of thread snips or a rotary cutter and accidentally knock over your lamp.

General Lighting for Sewing

General lighting includes the overall light in the room where you sew.

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Experts recommend an even, diffused light in the room to prevent eye strain and fatigue. Eyes won’t constantly try to re-adjust with different light levels when you are looking up from the sewing machine, or performing another quick task in the room (pressing a quick seam, clipping a thread, etc.) if light is evenly distributed. I use a combination of diffused natural daylight from windows, a handful of lamps that reflect off of white ceiling and walls, and task lighting. Overall this gives me plenty of all-around light in the room with a bright light focused on my sewing area.

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Natural daylight offers one of the best sources of light in a room. Make sure to keep direct sunlight away from your sewing machine and supplies as the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage fabric, threads, and even your machine over time.

Tips for setting up diffused lighting:

  • Keep your sewing machine and supplies away from direct sunlight. You can choose a window treatment that will block the direct light and still give a nice diffused light to the room (like semi-transparent sheers, shades, or frosted window stickers).
  • If you have light fixtures in the ceiling, change out clear bulbs or directed floodlights with soft, frosted light bulbs. Make all the light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures the same type of bulb, wattage, and lumen rating.
  • If you don’t have a ceiling fixture you can add tall lamps or wall mounted fixtures that point directly at the ceiling to reflect the light down into the room. White ceilings can help increase the amount of ambient light in the room, too.

Please visit the WE ALL SEW BLOG for Slimline Table GIVEAWAY INFO! The the giveaway is open through Tuesday, August 14th at 11:59 PM CST. The giveaway is open to residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. One comment per fan. Comment must be submitted to the WeAllSew.com blog by August 14, 2018 at 11:59 PM Central Time. Winner will be chosen randomly. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to contact to claim the prize.