Having a spacious, well-organized sewing room is a dream of all sewers. For people who sew as a hobby or as their job, one of the most important factors for sewing properly is having a well-lit sewing room. We wrote recently about 7 Practical Tips for Designing A Sewing Room. In that article, we mentioned one must-have of a sewing room, aside from adequate equipment and proper storage is good lighting.
We've also dedicated a lot of articles to ways to organize your sewing room and the things in it.
We've also invested a lot of time in talking about sewing safety. But one of the most important aspects of sewing on which we've spent the least time is lighting.
Just like reading, sewing is a strenuous activity for the eyes. Without proper lighting, sewing won't be nearly as enjoyable or as productive.
As I approach 50, I can certainly feel the strain on my eyes more and more. How I wish I had planned for better lighting for all those years in my various sewing rooms.
We have gathered some tips on lighting your sewing room. Here are some ideas about how to optimize the lighting in your sewing space.
Tip #1: Use ambient and natural lighting when possible
Ambient, and preferably natural, light should be the main source of light in your sewing room. Ambient lighting serves as the main source of brightness in your room. Using white light for the overall brightness of the room makes things more visible and you will find it easier to move around and work on your projects. Choose bulbs that let out a bright white light. Avoid using yellowish or orange light bulbs because it can add strain and fatigue to your eyes as you work on your projects.
I've recently moved my own main sewing room to a place in our house where I can get beautiful morning sunlight. I find that this helps reduce strain on my eyes, let's me work more comfortably, and helps keep my mood up to boot! (For one of our most popular articles ever, please have a look at: Sew Your Blues Away! – How Sewing Fights Depression.)
Tip #2: Have task lights on hand
There are many choices when it comes to task lighting. You will need this when sewing and especially if you are into quilting. Since quilting has more detailed patterns, it is important to up your task lights. It will reduce eye fatigue and exposes the real hues of your materials, especially the fabric you are using. Look for companies who sell task lights with high-quality bulbs. Never compromise your vision health.
Tip #3: Install magnifiers to augment your task lights
Magnifiers are helpful for tiny details in your sewing or quilting projects. Aside from your task light, you can use a magnifier along with it to aid you in hand-sewn tiny details and appliques. Some floor lamps include a magnifier so worth keeping an eye out for these. With a magnifier, I can assure you that you will enjoy working on those intricate details much more often. If you decide to invest in a magnifier, do your research and buy a good quality one like this.
Beautifully written article. Very useful and informational.
My room has very little natural light and I find overhead lights don’t work for me so I have 4 angle desk lamps which I find invaluable.
My sewing table is directly under my window which gets great light all day it face south so it’s nice and warm also especially in the winter months. I do need to invest in a good task light to help with the finer tasks though. Thank you for the useful tips!!
Hi, thanks for the interesting article, I am also a late night/early morning sewer and what I have done is install natural white light LED lights in my overhead spot lights, I have also positioned my sewing cabinet under a high wall mounted bookshelf and then installed strip LED lights (natural white light) to the underside of the bookshelf which then casts a great light over my whole sewing area.
I tried track lite and it didn’t help. I then had my DH put up LED tube lites. My room is like daylight and I love it. I have a 11×12 room and he put one sort of on each side and I can turn on both or just one depends on where I am working. I still have a portable lite for my machine as I do embroidery and sometimes need extra lite there. Just an idea for you all.
I use LED puck lights. They are inexpensive, small and light enough to be put anywhere and very bright. They can also be repositioned at will and can fit into a tote to take with you.
Currently, I have binder clips clipping them to where I need them to be. Two of them reside in my very bendy tubular lamp – I took out the regular bulb and put in two pucks. Now it’s even more positionable and brighter.
I am sorry, but this is a self-indulgent article. Very few of us have the pleasure of such a wide expanse of space and light available as displayed in the pictures.
And honestly, a giant videolight to sew? Most of us just turn on the normal light, that’s real life.
Hi Suse, I agree but for me to be able to share what I share in this blog have had to spend over 5000 dollars just in camera equipment and light. Maybe one day I will make a video and show you my space (dining room, office and storage room) and you will be surprised how humble it really all is. I would like to have a cabinet filled walls and shelves full of fabric with overhead studio recording equipment, but as you said this is not normal life.
Not that self-indulgent, since I’m here after googling “lighting sewing room.” I sew after work and my aging eyes need good lighting.
Hi Suse, perhaps you should have taken a closer look at Tip #1: Use ambient and natural lighting WHEN POSSIBLE! Nowhere did the article suggest you spend outrageous amounts on lighting!
I really do not understand your complaint of a photo of an empty room with big windows and two photos of lamps. Perhaps you didn’t know that there are white light replacement bulbs for any current lamp you already own that are within a tight budget? I am glad for you that you have excellent vision and no use for a magnifying light, if that is what you are calling a “videolight”. I do not have great vision and find magnifying lights to be quite useful. How self-indulgent is your complaint? Did you consider those with limited vision? I think not.
I am sorry you are such a sourpuss that you felt the need to comment in such a sour way! I liked the article very much and found it very helpful to me.
I hope and pray that whatever was causing you such negativity has left you and that love and harmony touch your soul and helps you to step into a more positive life.
Thank you for yet another great post. Yes, lighting makes such a big difference, that if I can’t see right, I don’t even feel like getting involved in things. A greater chance to get hurt, or having to do things over, once you see them in good light.
We have an older home, and even though it is cozy, a lighting challenge exists absolutely everywhere. What I resorted to might not be pretty, but it works. I placed Brooder lamps https://amzn.to/2Y10BE6 where I need a lot of good light. They hang and clip, are adjustable, and best of all, they are made for powerful brooder lights, so you can put in any light bulb you like. With regular lamps there is often a limit to suggested wattage.
Remember, the higher the Lumens #, the brighter the light. Another plus, they are cheap enough to put them wherever you need a little extra “lots of light”, as well as very portable. Hope that helps someone.
I liked the article however there are many of us that are night sewers which has lighting challenges. Any suggestions?
I use this lights at night they are fantastic. https://amzn.to/2LlRHQ3
When you sew at night in a room with large windows, don’t forget to draw the curtain/blinds/shades closed. Not only for needed privacy, but you would be surprised how much light you lose when you have big dark spots(windows) on the walls. My sewing room is to the back of the house, so privacy isn’t an issue for me and I usually don’t close the blinds at night. One late sewing night, I closed the shades and I suddenly had more light
Thanks for all the great ideas. I did purchase a LED strip light that works wonders for the sewing machine. It attaches via tape strip. I got it from Amazon and it lights up my sewing machine table perfect. https://amzn.to/2AmD07j
I would also recommend these. I used a similar light strip on my machine and loved it. It lasted for a long time but eventually went out. I plan on getting more, one for each of the 3 machines I’ve managed to get over many years,
I really need to invest in some better lighting. My sewing room is in the basement, no windows anywhere. I usually sew at night since I work a day job. Need to look into the LED light bars or shop light.
I love my LED shop light. I don’t care if it does look like a shop light it does the trick. During the daytime, I live in my sewing loft under a skylight, but definitely need the extra lighting on overcast days and nights.
I wish your article had been more in depth, I have been trying to find 5000k LED track lights for my sewing room. 5000k is equivalent to daylight which is necessary if doing any sewing at night and necessary to see true colors. I can find LED track lights but most are in the 3500k range.
I bought an extremely light weight 5′ LED shop light at Home Depot for under 30 bucks. I hung it, just in front of, over my head. Used hooks that just screwed into the ceiling. There is a pull chain that I can reach while still sitting down. I love it.
I have track lighting and I use the MR16 lights. Can you tell me what the MAX number of these lights is for a ‘U’ shaped track.?
Thank you! I outgrew my hole in the wall sewing room (9X11) and I’m in the process of commandeering a spare bedroom. I will have two windows instead of one, but lighting is an issue for me. Seems from your article that I am on the right track!
Q: With much of lighting going to LED would this be a good lighting choice in our sewing rooms? Do they flicker like like the old fluorescent tubes? (Flicker is not visible to the naked eye, but studies show they make your eyes tired and slow you down.)
Thanks again for this article.
You won’t look back with LED lights. They don’t flicker at all, very brought & use much less electricity. I bought some simple clip on lights from IKEA & they work so well around my sewing area . Also a strip light under my sewing machine body is fabulous.
Lighting is everything, wether doing hand or machine work. I use LED daylight bulbs everywhere in my house. I couldn’t do without.
My husband installed a 4 foot long LED shop light that is suspended over my sewing table and plugs into a regular power outlet. It is attached by 2 small hooks in the ceiling and therefore I can easily remove/move it to another location. Brilliant!
Donna, I am interested in the 4 foot long LED shop light. Would you mind providing details to me? Thank you!
Check out Home Depot. It’s under 30 bucks. I love mine.
After going blind in my left eye from a small stroke, it became much more difficult to sew. I wish I had realized the importance of good lighting. I recently learned that I now have cataracts getting worse in both eyes. Then half the lighting in my sewing room went out due to electrical problems. Then I saw an ad for those strips of lighting using adhesive to affix it to the top of the tower of my sewing machine. The wattage is the equivalent of a hundred watt bulb and it hasmade such a difference. It’sgot to be one of the best investments I’veever made.
Can you tell us where to get these lights? I’ve never seen anything like that but it sounds ideal.
i ordered mine from Inspired LED.
I have those strip lights for my machine, Got it on Amazon, they have several different ones.
Thanks for the great idea. I didn’t know these existed. I’m 73 and I seem to need more light for everything. I can still thread the needle w/o a threader, so I guess I’m not doing too badly, but more lighting always helps.
I love that you are pushing on despite some pretty heavy set backs! Please tell me more about the adhesive light for your machine. My 54 year old eyes with the starts of cataracts, will thank you!
Precious idea and advice to anyone to take care the ignored thoughts
Very good advice, I want a room with those beautiful windows!
My husband recently installed a new light fixture on my ceiling fan and now I have 4 bright white LED bulbs that light every corner of my room. My BFF told me she almost needs a visor and sunscreen to sew in my room!
Hi Terri. My maiden name is Klapproth, from Wisconsin.
Heehee I’m sure she was just teasing, but I find it reassuring to know that the LED lighting I have in my studio emits no UV lights and won’t damage my fabrics!! Great minds think alike!
Terri, can provide more details about the light you added to ceiling fan? I have a crappy light fixture on mine & wanting to change. I really don’t know what to look for. Thank you!
Several years ago, my mom gave me a standing task light on wheels for my birthday. It is perfect for my sewing room! I just wheel it over to wherever I happen to be working and I’ve got the light I need!
Wish I had room for a sewing room…LOL
I would suggest just not any task light. As I have gotten older I have found that I need simulated daylight, especially when working with dark colors. I have Ott light bulbs in various lamps and a Ott task light at my sewing machine. Look for coupons to get the price down on the bulbs.
I don’t use Ott-lites anymore. Look for LED light bars…they blow the doors off Ott-lites.
I love it
This is music to my eyes. Thanks so much for the helpful tips.