Shine a light – How much lighting do I need?

Posted by on June 14, 2017

By Sondra Reierson, TinLizzie18 Educator

When do you quilt?  I’m sure many of you will say, ‘Whenever I can!’  I’m the same way.  It may be 3:00 a.m. or mid-night or any time in-between!  And many of us tend to start quilting and forget everything else and quilt until the piece is complete or we are forced to stop.  My quilting room has some natural light and overhead lighting besides lighting on my machine.  Throughout my quilting day (I’m a quilt until its done person most of the time) I notice that sometimes it’s harder to see what’s happening with my quilting because of lighting changes.

So how much light should there be?  Do you find yourself squinting, get headaches after quilting for an extended period of time, are your eyes itching or blurry?  This may be an issue with how much light there is and the type of light.  What kind of light?  If you’ve purchased light bulbs lately there are many different kinds of bulbs and many kinds of light they give off; natural, soft white, bright white, etc.  For myself, I prefer a more natural light – it is easier on my eyes, I don’t strain as much.  So, I don’t block the natural light from my windows, but at 3:00 a.m. there isn’t any natural light.  I have natural light style bulbs in my overhead lighting, but the overhead lighting doesn’t compensate for the lack of extra natural light from my windows at 3:00 a.m.

There are several ways to compensate for this directly over your quilting area.  A lighting system that is mounted directly over the quilt frame is one.  These could be permanently mounted in the ceiling over the frame or as a stand that extends over the frame itself.  If your quilt area is a multi-purpose area, lighting that is repositionable may be your best investment; track lighting with positional fixtures.

If you don’t want to invest in a hard-wired lighting system, there are free standing lights that are on positional stands and can have the lighting style that is comfortable for you; natural light, white light, soft light, etc.  Photography supply companies have many options for this type of lighting. Or stand lights that can be found at hardware stores – just watch what style of light you use as some may get hot and you don’t want to get burnt or have safety issues.

If you don’t want to worry about constant changes in the lighting and you have light coming in through windows, you will need to block the light from the windows and then determine where you need lighting, the position of the light, and the style of light that is comfortable for you.

Whatever lighting system you choose for your quilting area, keep it from glaring, have it maintain a consistent lighting around your work area.  And remember to take a few seconds to look away from your quilting surface – look across the room for 10-20 seconds to help rest your eyes throughout your quilting time.  Let’s keep our eyes healthy and happy for our quilting time and beyond!


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