Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Lighting for Embroidery: Stella Lamp Review


So, we’ve chatted a bit about color in hand embroidery projects lately, and yesterday we talked a bit about color and the eyes. Today, I’d like to follow up with a review of a good light for hand embroidery.

We’ve talked about lighting before here on Needle ‘n Thread. I’ve reviewed the BlueMax lamps that I use in my workroom, and the Dublin Craftlite LED light and magnifier, and I’ve used all kinds of other lights, too, from various types of Ott lights, to “HD” craft lights, to LED clip ons – you name it. I don’t have very good eyesight, so good lighting has always been one of my Great Quests.

There lots and lots of craft lights available out there, and it’s difficult to differentiate between them without either using them yourself or doing a little research. So here’s another review – this time, of Stella lamps.

Stella Lamps Review

The lamp I’m reviewing today is the Stella desk lamp. Stella Lighting also makes a floor lamp called the Stella Sky, but I’ve not tried the floor lamp.

However, if you want to read a review of it, you can find a good review of the Stella Sky floor lamp on the Needle in a Haystack blog, written by Cathe Ray.

Stella Lamps Review

The Stella desk lamp comes in black or white. When adjusted to its fullest height, with the neck bent so that the lamp shines flat down on the surface below it, the space between that surface and the lamp is about twelve inches. So the desk lamp is not a large lamp. It’s a task lamp.

Stella Lamps Review

However, the neck on the lamp is super-duper adjustable, and you can manipulate it quite a bit to shine the light right where you want it.

Stella Lamps Review

This is Stella, turning to say Howdy. She likes this Pixar pose, because it demonstrates how her neck twists to make it easier to direct the light where you want it.

Stella Lamps Review

Here, I’ve got the lamp on my table, next to my current project, which is being held in a tabletop frame stand.

In order for the light to shine over the project on the stand, the lamp has to be adjusted upwards at an angle, and even then, it is a little close to the project. So the task lamp is not “tall” at all – it doesn’t take up much space.

Stella Lamps Review

If you do your needlework in a hoop or a hand held frame at a table, the Stella lamp provides plenty of illumination over your work area, and plenty of room between it and the table for this type of work.

Stella Lamps Review

There are some special considerations about the Stella lamp that make it different from any other craft light.

The first point is the lighting itself. The lighting is LED, so it gives off very little, if any, heat. You can’t feel the light get warm at all. I worked under it for different stretches and never felt any kind of warmth radiating from it at all.

But unlike other LED craft lights available, you can actually switch the color settings on the Stella. There are three different color settings: cool, warm, and natural.

The lamp is on the “cool” setting in the photo above. This is a “white light” setting with just a hint of blue, often associated with LED lights.

Stella Lamps Review

With the touch of a finger, you can switch the lamp to “warm,” which is that typical indoor yellowish lighting that we associate with regular light bulbs.

Stella Lamps Review

Finally, there’s the “natural” setting that combines both lights, the warm and the cool, in order to get a lighting that imitates natural daylight.

The way the lamp achieves the different lighting temperatures is by using alternating rows of LED lights for the first two colors – warm and cool – and then combining those rows of LEDs for the “natural” setting.

Stella Lamps Review

In addition to the three different types of light temperatures, the lamp is also dimmable – a unique feature among LED lamps. So you can increase or decrease the brightness of the lights (on any temperature setting) to suit yourself.

The photo above shows the front base of the lamp where the controls are located. They are “touch” controls rather than knobs or switches.

Stella Lamps Review

Last point: the Stella desk lamp doesn’t look portable, but it really is portable, more so than any portable lamp I’ve owned yet. Although the lamp itself doesn’t fold down into a self-packaged carrying case, it packs easily into its very sturdy, relatively small box, which is topped with a convenient carrying handle.

The lamp itself – and when packed in the box – is extremely light. To illustrate: when the shipping package arrived (the light was packed in its box, inside another box), I didn’t know what it was. I was expecting the light, but I knew it couldn’t be the light, because the box was so light!

So the lamp works as a portable light, too, perfect for taking to workshops and classes. And the power cord is about 10 feet long, which is also nice.

Stella Lamp Pros & Cons

Here are my pros and cons, in a nutshell:


1. Three light settings, as explained above.
2. Adequately illuminates work surface for task use, reading, and so forth.
3. Cool to work under – radiates very little (no discernible) heat.
4. Very adjustable neck.
5. Dimmable!!!
6. Packages up easily and is light to carry, making it transportable for class use. Though very light in weight, it is well constructed.
7. Simple controls, easy to use (no knobs to grip, etc.)


1. If you work at a table using a table top frame or hoop stand – especially if you are tall – the light is a little short. The head of the lamp has to be directed from the side to illuminate the work surface, rather than directed from above. I’m not tall (5’3″) and I find it too short. However, for hand-held hoop or frame work at a table, it’s great.

If you are sitting on a sofa or in an easy chair and you have the light on a table next to you, it does not have a long reach, so depending on the type of furniture you have, it may not reach out over your work.

2. I personally don’t like touch controls. But this is a matter of personal preference. When a touch control goes bad, it’s more difficult to fix than a knob. And touch controls can be finicky. The controls on this light responded well enough after I got used to them.

3. The Stella lights are expensive. But if you are looking for a good task lamp that doesn’t give off heat, that is dimmable and portable, you’d be hard pressed to find another so well made with these features.

Product Video & Further Information

I found this Stella Lamp product video on YouTube, so I thought I’d share it here, too:

Stella Lighting also has a nice website, too, and while perusing it, I noticed that they are coming out with an table-edge-mount version of the lamp this autumn, with a neck that’s 3″ longer. That’s good to know ahead of time so you can decide which version you’d like better for a task lamp. I like the idea of the edge mount version!

Where to Find

You can find the Stella desk lamp and the Stella Sky floor lamp at Needle in a Haystack.

This particular lamp I’m reviewing was sent to me courtesy of Needle in a Haystack and their distributor. I only review products according to these product-review guidelines, so all the opinions here are my very own.

Hedgehog Handworks Needlework Supplies


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(21) Comments

  1. It sounds like an interesting lamp. I do like the lighting options from cool to warm and in between. For the most part I’ve avoided the LED lamps because they make the colors look weird.

    I’m a bit sorry that it’s so short though. I would have liked a smaller light option for when I’m sitting in a chair stitching. I have my stand with light and magnifier I use when doing large projects on a scroll frame but nothing great for small things.

    One more note: will you ever do or have you done a blog on table top frames? I either use my big floor stand or I use Q Snaps for small items. I’d love to have a frame that actually holds the project for me to keep both hands free. Does the table stand in the photo leave you enough room to reach under comfortably?

    1. Hi, Irene – The only table top frame holder I use at this point is the Needlework System 4 one, which I really love. I have an older version of it. The newer one has the full tray as part of the base. Thing is, I just recently acquired it through a friend who got it at an auction (you can read the story here: http://www.needlenthread.com/2013/06/needlework-system-4-table-lap-stand-review.html) – if I had known earlier how much I love the thing and how useful it is, I would have bought it a long time ago and paid full price! I just love it… MC

  2. Ooooh! I didn’t realize that the rose project was so small! I thought it was twice as large or a little more. It will be really dainty!

    1. Hi, Margo – Funny, that’s what everyone says when they say it in person. I suppose it’s the use of close-up photos so you can actually see the stitching. But if you print the pattern offered in the Index for the Mission Rose project (and print it at the actual size – you can determine that in your printer settings), you’ll see exactly how big it is. The surprising thing is that the threads (like the pearl purl) are really so tiny and delicate, but in the close ups they look pretty huge! ~MC

  3. I have this light too and LOVE it. I can see so much better and I don’t swealter under it like I did with my Ott light.

  4. Wow, Mary, you’re a mind reader! I have had this lamp on my wish list for a while now, but I’ve hesitated to buy it. I didn’t know if it would do everything they promise. Since I work mostly at a table with all kinds of crafts and textiles from embroidery to felting to beading, quilling, and drawing, I think it will be perfect for me. I really wanted a lamp that doesn’t give off a lot of heat and that can be dimmed and brightened. Thanks for the review!

  5. I’m excited about this light, Mary. I’ve needed a good light for a long time, but I don’t like Ott lights. Will start saving my pennies for this one. Might wait for the edge clamp one!

  6. Mary,

    Thanks for your review of this light. I really wish you could review the floor version, too, and tell us the prose and cons! I’m desperate for a good floor lamp that doesn’t give off heat especially in Texas summers. But I hesitate to spend the money without a recommendation from a friend I trust, which is how I think of you! I’m glad to hear the table lamp has so many pros on the list. Thats a good sign. Kate

  7. ” . . . the power cord is about 10 feet long.”
    Now, there’s a selling point!! I’m currently fighting a toaster which can only sit in one, exact, 6″ spot on my counter because the cord is only about 18″ long.

  8. I have been looking for a good floor lamp. I bought a floor OTT lamp and it is terrible!!!
    The shade is supposed to be positionable but never stays put. The screws do not tighten enough to make it hold. The lamp inside screws into the base and always comes loose and falls over. The way they make their screw mechanisms do not work. Worst purchase I ever made. I thought it would be good since I like the tabletop OTT lamp.

  9. I have the BlueMax lamp. Is this as bright (or brighter) than the BlueMax? The lighting option isn’t that important to me, but the brightness is. Which do you like better? Many thanks.

    1. I like my BlueMax lamps better, overall, because they are so bright, and the color under them is accurate and vivid. However, there’s no way they are transportable, as they are quite heavy, so this one makes a great option for a transportable light. Also, for folks who are sensitive to heat, or who live in hot climates without AC, they might find the BlueMax lights too warm. But for my everyday studio work, I prefer the BlueMax lights. – MC

    2. Thanks, Mary. I’m going to stick with my BlueMax. I don’t think I’ve seen anything in the market that’s as bright. I do see your point about the portability of Stella. That sounds like a great lamp to take to class.

  10. Thank you for this Mary. I like the look of this lamp and might just have to save my nickels (we don’t have pennies here anymore) and invest in one. I like the fact that you can choose which sort of light you prefer.

  11. Dear Mary

    The Stella light seems to be a good light and with the availability of the different settings it looks sturdy and light at the same time and portable which is very useful. But I do like my Dublin Craftlite and magnifier it’s very versatile because it’s a floor lamp and can be adjusted to sit on a table. Thanks for the review it’s so useful to know about new products on the market.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  12. That lamp looks just wonderful!! I am having really trouble with my vision while sewing and embroidering. It would be a wondrous help.
    I love your blog!

  13. The Stella lamp is awesome. Even the name is inviting. The versatility of this lighting is very attractive with the three different light settings, adjustable functionality and the fact that it does not heat up as ordinary lamps do when you use them.

    As I do my embroidery mostly in a hoop, I can see where the Stella would be most conducive to being moved around the house or even taken on vacation!

    Also, I have found that lighting is extremely important as one gets older and must use reading glasses.

    All in all I think that Stella would be a great friend to have when you are doing any type of sewing project.

  14. Is there a chance to buy this lamp in Germany?

    Or does anyone know about an online shop that ships to Europe?

    I would really like do buy the new Stella Edge some day. 🙂

  15. This seems to be the newest lighting review. Someone on facebook today asked about lights with magnification and I immediately thought of you. I read your post on BlueMax. You mentioned that we might not need magnification if we got a BlueMax. I need something to light/magnify as i sit on the sofa and do needlework so it has to be a floor model. If I still need magnification, do you have a recommendation? thank you, scarlette

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