Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon
Sewing with Threads Podcast

Eyewear Options for Better Sewing | Episode 31

Video: Cari Delahanty

Professional optician and Threads author Susan Kistler of Nashville, Tennessee (SpecsNashville.com), discusses the special vision needs sewers have for a variety of tasks  and offers advice for how to get the best eyeglasses for the kind of sewing you do.

You can read Susan’s article in Threads #211 (Oct./Nov. 2020), “Essential Techniques: See better, sew better.”

Get to know Susan

Susan started her love of sewing when she was 10, with lessons at the local Singer sewing store in El Paso, Texas. She went on to learn traditional tailoring and made many of her school clothes, creating matching dress and coat outfits. In recent years, she’s become a fan of her serger and her embroidery machine and enjoys the benefits of the newest in sewing technology. She likes to upcycle and refashion ready-to-wear, and she has made many masks for sale at her Etsy shop during the early months of the pandemic. If you like a fun and quirky look, you’ll find Susan’s offerings of vintage eyeglass frames on Etsy.

Susan talks about her favorite fabric and why she loves sewing. Find out which natural fiber blend she looks for.

Lenses for sewers

We talk with Susan about the physical changes we experience that make it so difficult to accommodate our eyes for close vision, generally after the age of 40. These changes are inevitable, and there’s no way to slow this process. Therefore, Susan strongly recommends dealing with this as early as you notice visual challenges, rather than try to stave off the need for eyeglasses. Even if you’ve always had perfect eyesight, there’s no reason to avoid seeking eyewear to help, she explains. You’ll spare yourself eyestrain and headaches.

Susan talks about the advantages and disadvantages of using over-the-counter readers with a generic, low prescription. For those who have worn prescription glasses earlier in life, she advises switching to progressive lenses, with a higher “add” power for reading, when you detect that you have difficulty changing focus from distance to reading or close work.

Another option she suggests for sewers, in particular, are occupational or computer lenses. These are similar to progressive lenses but have a larger intermediate- and close-vision area, and little distance range. They are ideal for when you are working at a 10-foot radius or closer. For machine sewing, fitting garments on the body, and close work such as hand sewing, this type of lens provides comfort and versatility.

One tip she offers to sewers: Ask your eye doctor to give you a higher reading power in a your progressive eyeglasses than is standard for reading. This may increase your comfort when doing close work. To ensure the eye-care professional understands your needs, take with you some of the work you do—for example, a needle and thread—to demonstrate the challenges you face.

Fitting frames

Learn some tips for choosing a frame style that accommodates your prescription and that places the most important part of the lens where you need it. Progressive prescriptions require frames with height, but if your frames are too large, the reading area is too low for comfortable reading or sewing, Susan explains.


Just when you thought you’d seen it all, introducing the Solaris 2 embroidery and sewing machine from Baby Lock. With revolutionary features, including IQ Visionary Projector Technology, you’ll see how your design looks before you stitch it out—for perfect placement every time. The Solaris 2 also comes equipped with the convenient features and technology and educational support you’ve come to expect from Baby Lock. Visit your local retailer today to learn more.

Baby Lock logo

We have created a podcast survey to help guide our content. Please take a moment to answer a few questions.


Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in


  1. twiggles | | #1

    This podcast was so informative. Lately I've noticed that my glasses do not allow me to see as well when doing close work. I never thought to take examples of what I want to be able to see to my eye doctor appointment, but I will definitely be doing that from now on. Also, Susan's mention of the types of progressive lenses led me to do some research on the internet and I now have valuable knowledge for the next time I purchase glasses. I look forward to reading her article in Threads Magazine.

  2. user-7452025 | | #2

    I really liked this podcast. I was left wanting to hear more from Susan. I hope you can bring her back so we can learn more!! I use progressives for my everyday needs, but I have a second pair of glasses for computer and sewing work. The second pair are normal bi-focals with the top for computer use and the bottom for machine and up close sewing. My progressive and computer/sewing lenses are a little short of 1 and 1/4" from top to bottom. For reading small print, I do have to hold up my progressives up in order to read the print. I will need to speak up more when I am having my exams and being fitted for glasses. I used to wear larger lensed glasses, but they made the bags under my eyes look bigger and who needs that!!! Thank you again for this podcast.

  3. User avater
    [email protected] | | #3

    This podcast was just what I needed! I've had cataract surgery on both eyes (a couple of years ago) and although my vision seems to be good most all the time, I sometimes experience issues with blurriness. I've recently had an exam and my prescription has changed just a bit. I do have progressive lenses and the conversation about frames was quite interesting as I though mine might be too skinny in their vertical length. But after measuring from the center down, I found I have more than enough reading room. I'll be keeping this podcast article to refresh my memory when I order my new prescription within the next couple of weeks. Thanks so much for this very valuable podcast! I'm sure this will also help me very much in my sewing.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

More From Threads

Discussion Forum

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All