Magnifying lamps for embroidery

Magnifying lamps are a boon if your eyesight is not as good as it once was, or if there isn't a source of natural daylight available in your stitching area.

I don't know about you, but as I get older I am finding that my arms now seem to be too short! I have to move my stitching or pattern further away in order to be able to focus on it. As I can't do anything about the length of my arms, I have resorted to using magnification, especially when working on finer fabrics such as the 40 count silk gauze as in the project below!

If your "near point" is gradually getting further away, then you too may be looking for a magnifying lamp, to enable you to continue doing embroidery or other crafts. However, once you start looking at those on the market you may well end up confused as to which one would be best.

You could opt for a circular light tube around the outside of a magnifying glass or a stand with two "stalks" one holding the bulb and the other the magnifier, Personal choice will come into play here, along with the type of work you do.



The choice of either a magnifying floor lamp or a desk lamp will depend on where you prefer to stitch, so I can't really helps with that decision either, but maybe some guidance on the power of magnification and the colour temperature of the bulb would be useful?

Magnification strength

You are likely to find that the strength of magnification is expressed either in dioptres or as 2x, 3x etc. But what do these terms mean?

Now I will try not to get all technical on you, and keep this simple.

The term dioptre refers to the curvature of the lens. A magnifying lens is convex (or thicker in the middle) and the thicker it is, the more dioptres and therefore the more magnification.

To calculate the magnification strength of a lens where only the dioptre value is given, you can use the following formula - divide the number of dioptres by four and then add one to that figure.

The following table shows some common equivalents...





Magnification strength




What strength do you need

Keep in mind that the higher the level of magnification the closer the lens needs to be to your stitching or pattern, and the smaller the area that will be visible.

Therefore, buying a really strong magnifying lamp will not necessarily be your best option. You need room to pull the thread through the fabric, without hitting the lens and scratching it with your needle!

Personally, I opted for a 2x magnification, which I found worked well for me. 

Color temperature

Normal light bulbs give out a warm, yellow light which has a color temperature of approximately 2700 kelvin. For your embroidery purposes it is important to be able to match colors accurately. In order to do this, you want to look for a lamp that uses daylight light bulbs which have a value of 6400k.

This type of bulb can be expensive, however, so if you need to economize you could opt for a cool white bulb of 4000k, which will help to reduce eye strain.

In summary

With the choice of magnifying lamps available today there is no need to give up your hobby as your eyesight changes.

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