Eyewear Options for Better Sewing | Episode 31
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.
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.
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