Skip to content

Tools for the Aging Sewist

2013 March 10
by elizabeth_admin

Jack’s magnifiying glass comes in handy sometimes


Do you or someone you love suffer from failing eyesight?  Do you feel betrayed by your own eyeballs?  Does your seam ripper rip out imaginary stitches that you swear were there and then you realize you have a hole in your fabric?  Then you may be in need of new tool in your sewing arsenal.  All you young sewists don’t have to worry about this yet, but we aging sewists definitely need some tools for hard to see stitches, especially the black thread on black fabric stitches.


1.5x magnification reading glasses


I have been using some reading glasses for the last couple of years now, the 1.5x magnification kind.  They have been an amazing help to me.  I keep them on pretty much the whole time I sew.  But recently, I have noticed that the magnification is losing its power?  Is it the glasses or my eyeballs failing?  I would love to say it’s the glasses’ fault.  Sigh…  Sometimes I would use Jack’s magnifying glasses in conjunction with my reading glasses to see the really hard to see stuff.  Desperate measures people.  Gotta use what you have on hand.

So while at Target recently to buy some running socks (my dryer keeps hiding them on me), I bought a higher magnification set of glasses, 2.5x.  Boy oh boy, these babies are strong.  I can only wear them part of the time, they are so strong.  I get dizzy if I try to wear them walking from the sewing machine to the ironing board.  But they really hit the sweet spot when I need them.  Amazing!


2.5x magnification reading glasses


I dearly hope my eyesight doesn’t get worse — I don’t think they have higher magnification reading glasses for purchase.

So what tools do you use that you never expected to use for sewing?  What am I missing?

23 Responses leave one →
  1. annie permalink
    March 10, 2013

    Clip-on magnifiers. The sell them at the dreaded JoAnn’s and Michaels and A.C. Moore. Six or eight dollars. Cannot do a thing in the sewing arena without them.

  2. March 10, 2013

    I find lots of light helps. But, alas, it’s happening to me too.

    • March 10, 2013

      I definitely need to sew in better light than I could before.

  3. Rebecca permalink
    March 10, 2013

    I use 3x magnification glasses (cheapies from chemist) and a camping head light to shine directly on my work. I look ridiculous but gee whiz it works well!

  4. March 10, 2013

    My DH was diagnosed with A.G.E. that last time he went to the opticians!
    Meant to say – you looked stunning the other day in your new wrap dress – hope all went to plan!!!

  5. Jenny stratford permalink
    March 10, 2013

    Don’t forget needle threaders!
    For the life of me, i can’t see properly enough to thread needles now. How, and when, did that happen??
    Last year, when i saw the optometrist, he told me my eyesight had changed and it was time multifocal lenses – $800.00 later, i’m not in any hurry to see him again!

    • March 10, 2013

      Sometimes I think I need a needle threader just to thread my needle threader — it’s that bad!

  6. Rosie permalink
    March 10, 2013

    Do you have a hidden camera in my apartment? Great lighting does help somewhat but as you say desperate measures … I think we will all need the reading glasses at some point. The next thing you know, I will be wearing the miner’s lamp on my head. Yikes.

  7. March 10, 2013

    Oh I hear you! Not only do I use Alex’s magnifying glass also, but I have a usb powered LED light with magnifier! It was $5 at the supermarket and it is great! I have 5 pairs of glasses – one by my bed, one by ALex’s bed, one in my handbag, one in my uni bag and one just floating around because sometimes I just can’t find a pair!

  8. Julie permalink
    March 10, 2013

    I have had a headband-like device called Mag-Eyes for many years that does the trick for me. Here is their website:

  9. New Ribena permalink
    March 10, 2013

    Just today I had to pull out the magnifying glass to read the ridiculously small writing on my sewing machine needle. Also my clover needle threader has become my bestie!

  10. March 10, 2013

    I bought one of those magnifying lights from the big blue hardware store for cheap a year or so ago, and it’s awesome. It has wheels on the base and is height/reach adjustable, so you can pretty much put it wherever you want. Bonus, I think it was only like $30 compared to the $$$ for the name brand version at JoA’s Fabrics. I really like it, and would definitely recommend it so that you can have hands-free operation, and who couldn’t use a bit more light in their sewing cave?

  11. carol permalink
    March 10, 2013

    Oh, the sorrows of aging! I keep a jeweler’s loop in my needle stash just to read the eentsy writing on the side. Hopeless. Glasses for close-up, lots of light and brutal determination. You last dress was smashing. However… look so much like your personality in brighter colors.

  12. March 11, 2013

    I couldn’t sew without my glasses! I have two pairs for those times that I misplace one. It has been known to happen. And I found an OttLite lamp (love it!) that is a huge life-saver for providing good lighting at my sewing table.

  13. March 11, 2013

    This may be a littke ghtto, but I use rocks and canned goods for pattern weights.

  14. March 11, 2013

    *little, ugh.

  15. Judi permalink
    March 11, 2013

    Elizabeth…have you seen the new Butterick pattern 5887? I thought of you when I saw it. Actually, I think maybe you have a pattern almost like it. Regardless, it’s a cute pattern.

  16. March 11, 2013

    Ah, it’s inevitable – so I just buy cute and funky readers!

  17. March 11, 2013

    I was going blind working on costumes for 8″ figures and found the best thing ever– readers with LEDs built into the front of the frames. ! Totally normal looking with the lights turned off. They’re made by Foster Grant. I don’t know how I’d have finished the project without them.

  18. March 12, 2013

    I discovered that wearing TWO pairs of reading glasses is twice as good as wearing one. Completely dorky look, but totally effective.

  19. March 13, 2013

    I’m all about denial! I find that good lighting really helps for now, but I know it is just a matter of time!

  20. Cherie permalink
    March 21, 2013

    Happens to almost everyone after age 40. No biggie. Brighter lights at first. Then the readers, they go up to 5x. I found a little magnifying stick-on for my sewing machine. I also found an old one with a heavy base I can pull in when I need it, push away when I don’t. But don’t fret, it is normal. I feel blessed I don’t have macular degeneration that does end up making one blind sometimes. So just think positive and be glad it is not worse!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Tools for the Aging Sewist – The Lighting Edition | SEWN

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

  • Follow SEWN...
  • My Weapons of Mass Construction

    Singer Featherweight 221 (1938)
    Baby Lock Imagine
    Brother 2340CV
    Husqvarna Viking Emerald 183
    RIP: Brother 1034D
  • Translation

  • I’m a proud member of

  • I support

    Project 95
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • The Trench Sew Along