Lighting Check!

We Carry
by Sara Snuggerud in Sewing Tips


How good is the lighting in your sewing room?

I want to share a situation that came up twice in one week recently at Heirloom Creations.

A gal came into the store with her quilt top, back and binding and a disappointed look on her face. She said she needed to buy new back fabric for her quilt because the color of what she had was not right. Of course it needed to be completed for Christmas.

While she went to look for new fabric we laid out her beautifully pieced batik quilt top and looked at it with the back fabric. I stood there wondering why she did not like it. It was perfect! It had all the colors she used in the quilt top washed together in perfect harmony. When she came back with a few bolts of fabric, she saw what we saw. It looked great!

Conclusion: The lighting in her sewing room had distorted the backing fabric color so much that it looked wrong. She ended up NOT needing to purchase another 9 yards of fabric for her quilt!

About 5 days later, I worked with a second gal with this exact same problem. This time it was the wrong color of binding. She did not like how it looked next to her quilt back fabric. When she arrived at Heirloom Creations, she too, realized it looked great!

At Heirloom Creations, we invest in true-color light bulbs so that our fabrics are seen true to life. One of my pet peeves is when I walk into other fabric or even clothing stores and I can’t tell what color the fabric really is.

I ask you now, how good is the lighting in and around your sewing room? Do you select colors that look good together under poor lighting and when you see it in the daylight wonder, “What was I thinking?” If so, it is time to make some changes now!

Now for the technical part:

Color Rendering Index

The color rendering index is an arbitrary scale of 0 to 100. It was developed in the 1930’s, before fluorescent lights. Eight true color samples picked by the international lighting community are used to test the manner in which a particular bulb affects the color of the samples. Since the color of the sample is known, the amount that its color changes because of the bulb illumination determines the bulb’s scale rating. A 0 rating would be the absolute worst, with a score of 100 being perfect.

Ratings can be all over the scale. For example, certain mercury vapor lamps have a CRI rating of 20! That is why your car looks odd in some parking lots at night. Some fluorescent bulbs have a CRI rating as high as 90.

For comparative shopping, any bulb with a CRI rating of 70 or higher will produce excellent color rendition. Values between 60 and 70 would be considered good. Below 60, and you run the risk of poor color rendition.

Promise me that you will go shopping for new light bulbs soon so you will not be frustrated with your fabric color selections this year.

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