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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Craftoptics: So You Can See the Details!


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I’m always excited to share products that I think can improve the embroiderer’s life, especially when the improvement has to do with seeing our needlework better. I’d like to introduce you to a tool – a tool that can change the way you look at your embroidery. And I mean that literally!

Craftoptics are an incredible tool for people who do detail work – any kind of detail work – but they are especially wonderful for those of us who have vision problems and need to use magnification when doing embroidery.

Imagine small binoculars (or two jeweler’s loupes) that magnify your work considerably. Add a directional light beam that brightens up your work surface, and imagine both of these effects – good magnification and bright light – without a bulky magnifier positioned between you and your needlework. That’s what you get from Craftoptics.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

I know they look kind of weird – a little futuristic and bizarre, perhaps! Essentially, what you’re looking at are eyeglasses (prescription eyeglasses, for those of us who wear corrective lenses) with miniature binoculars affixed to them.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

Here they are from the side. The eyeglasses you see in the photo were made by the folks at Craftoptics, specifically to my prescription. The magnifiers are mounted on the bridge of the glasses. They can be adjusted for angle, and they can be flipped up out of the way when not in use.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

And then there’s the Dream Beam. It’s a super-powerful, but super-lightweight, LED light that mounts on the Craftoptics.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

The light clips right onto the front, and it is also adjustable, so you can direct it right at your work.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

The Dream Beam attaches to a small battery pack that you can place in a pocket, hook onto your belt or waistband, or lay it on the table next to you.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

Here, in a dark room, you can see the light from the Dream Beam. It’s super-duper bright!

Now, all this probably looks pretty bulky, so you’d think it would be heavy on your face, right?

But it’s not! It’s surprisingly light for what it is. There’s an adjustable strap you can wear around your neck (or head) if you want to tighten the glasses up and provide support for them, but I find I don’t need the strap. The glasses stay put on me, even if my head is bent towards my work. But, speaking of bending towards your work, these things correct the tendency to do that – you don’t have to bend towards it, because the magnifiers bring your work close to you.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

The cord for the light passes across the top of the glasses, and clips to the side, to keep it in place and balanced. From there, it can be clipped to your lapel, a pocket, or just directly to your shirt, to keep the cord out of the way.

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

On the face, this is what they look like. When you look through them, you see a kind of oval window with your work magnified clearly.

When working on the Mission Rose project this week, I found I could see the fine silk weave of the fabric perfectly. I could place each of my stitches precisely where I wanted them, because I could see the surface of the work with absolute clarity. It was lit up brightly and magnified to the point that I felt as if I had a whole new pair of working eyes, with some sort of strange bionic vision thing going on. It was great!

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

With the dark room in the photo above, you can see how bright the Dream Beam is, too. Imagine holding your work at this distance (about a comfortable 16″ distance from the work), with no bulky magnifier between you and your fabric, and still seeing your work really close up!

Craftoptics - Magnification for Embroidery

This is the whole package – the glasses and magnifiers fit in one hard case, and the light and battery in the other. They are small, light, and perfectly portable.

Although I’ve had poor vision all my life, I can see most of my work with just my corrective lenses, without magnification, except for miniature embroidery or fine detail embroidery, at which point, magnification has become a must for me. When testing out the Craftoptics, I worked with 72 count silk gauze and with regular surface embroidery using fine silk thread.

Using the Craftoptics and working on the 72 count silk gauze, the only comparison I can make (since I can’t show you a photo of looking inside the lenses) is this: it was like working on 22 or 25 count linen with heavier floss! I could see the holes clearly and there was no hesitating or hunting – and better yet (for me, anyway!) no bending over a magnifier, or being limited to little head movement, because of a magnifier. I could sit up straight and work just as if I were working on a regular surface embroidery project with regular fabric and regular thread.

Again – can’t say it enough – it was great! I felt free while I was stitching!

Of course, there was that moment when my niece walked into the room and I looked around at her through the lenses. That was a strange experience, but probably stranger for her than for me.

Pros & Cons


1. Craftoptics provide excellent, clear magnification and bright light.
2. They work with my prescription, so when the magnifiers are flipped up, I can still see fine – I don’t have to switch back and forth between glasses.
3. They provide easily portable magnification and light, so I can stitch wherever I need or want to, without having to worry about seeing conditions.
4. They leave my head free – I don’t have to be glued to one position in front of a magnifier – and they eliminate the interference of a large magnifier & light component between me and my embroidery.
5. They allow me to sit with better posture, and in any comfortable position I choose. After just a few days of using them, I noticed significantly less neck and shoulder strain.


1. They are expensive, but not if you consider what they are.
2. They take some getting used to. Don’t expect to pop them on and stitch away without a little period of adjustment. But the adjustment period doesn’t last too long. It took me about two stitching sessions to be perfectly comfortable with them.

So, for those of you who are looking for a magnification solution for detail work – whether you have prescription lenses or not – you might want to look into Craftoptics. They’re worth every penny, especially if you are prohibited from doing what you love because you can’t see what you’re doing!

You can find out more about Craftoptics on their website, where they have plenty of photos and videos showing them in action.

There’s no affiliation here. My product review policy is pretty simple: I only review products that I like, that I use myself, and that I think my readers will like. Jeff at Craftoptics sent me a pair to try, with no obligation to review them. I tried them, I love them, and I happily use them when I need them! I hope that Craftoptics will help improve the quality of other stitchers’ lives, too.


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(46) Comments

  1. Mary,

    Like you, I’ve had vision problems forever, since the age of 7. Love the idea of freedom of movement of the head = reduced shoulder and head strain, very important! Will certainly put them on the wish list.
    -Sharon in France

  2. Talk about your coke-bottle glasses! hahahahaha My vision has stunk my whole life too. Maybe this will help more of the elderly, you know, the ones that can no longer do any serious stitching because of eye issues. Too bad they cost way too much, most of the elderly would be unlikely to afford them.

  3. Mary,

    Thanks so much for this review! My mum-in-law is losing her vision and loves to stitch. She is doing so much less of it these days and is missing it. These may be just the thing to get her back to her hoop and needle. 🙂

  4. Dear Mary, I am afraid these Craftoptics will have to remain on my wishlist forever. 🙁 It is a fabulous idea and I think I can do with a pair, but the cost will be too much. Add to the glasses, the postage and insurance and add to that import tax ….. So it is back to my faithful magnifying lamp. Without it I will never be able to do any embroidery at all. Love, Elza Bester. Cape Town

    1. Hi, Marie – they are phenomenal, especially if you’ve ever been stuck not being able to do something you really wanted to do because you couldn’t see well enough. I wouldn’t call the price “extortionist” though. They are specialty tools, very well made, and I think the price is reasonable, considering what they are.

    2. You’re right – extortionate is not the appropriate word, I should have written ‘prohibitive’. I didn’t mean to disparage them in any way because the product does seem amazing and will no doubt be a boon for many people.

      I don’t yet need corrective lenses but this product is still tempting!

  5. Hi Mary! The problem for the vast majority of us is that the eye industry standard for reading glasses FOCAL POINT is like 18-24″ from eye to reading matter. I FINALLY convinced my opthamologist that I DO NOT READ/do needlework at that range. I read/do needlework like 8″. He finally added a +4.00 to the reading Rx. (after MUCH convincing!! LOL) I went from over 10 years of not being able to read comfortably to doing ALL of my favorite close up activities with joy, pleasure and my regular eye glasses. I think that many women (us short people–I am only 5 foot NOTHING….) have not had a correct working Rx. My arms are not LONG enough to support the industry standard focus point. It is such a joy to be able to stitch and watch tv together. My former way was to have Rx reading glasses made up and add a 3x clip on magnifier!! So much easier. Only other problem was finding an optician that can get the correct lenses. Walmart optical will NOT have them. Pearl, eye Dr. etc. SHOULD be able to get them. I am SUCH a HAPPY Stitcher and have been for the last year! I am still amazed at having wonderful, working to me glasses!! Hugs! Linda Mc L in NC!!

  6. Thanks for the great product review. I had no idea these were out there. Ya`ll just get better and better. Happy Easter and enjoy the weekend.

  7. Those are AMAZING! I have two linen counted cross stitch projects I’ve given up on because I can’t see it well enough, even with the magnifier. And that is uncomfortable to work with, making sure it’s in the correct position, then add the clip on light (which isn’t bright enough) – well, it was just NO FUN! So, I quit working on them. I’m not going to throw them away, I’ll find a way to use what I’ve done, but these Craftopics are well…amazing!! lol Pricey yes, but I think worth every penny! Thank you for sharing these with us, I’d never heard of them.

  8. I have had a pair of Craftoptics since last August. I agree with you–they are great. I had a hard time getting used to them. Like other people with myopia, whenever I can’t see something, I bring it closer to my eyes. Well, the craftoptics have a long focal length. When I called to inform them that I could not get them to focus properly, I spoke to a very nice lady who asked me a couple of questions about my travails. She then suggested that I bring the fabric down, not up. That had never occurred to me! Well, it was all I needed and I have been a happy and satisfied user since then. Check their website and if they are going to be at a quilt show near you, make the effort to go and try them on. You might be pleasantly surprised by the price. (hint, hint)

  9. Wow, those are some serious peepers! I’m in awe. It would be cool to be such an accomplished stitcher that these would be an everyday typical tool of my trade.

  10. I have a pair of these and absolutely love them. There is one other “con”, when your prescription changes, you have to change these as well, which they are willing to do, you do not have to buy a new pair. But it is a consideration. These are a tool well worth saving up to purchase, great for slivers, also reading fine prints, I also use them for fine work on the sewing machine. No connection with the company. I found them at Nancy Zieman’s Quilt Show in Madison, WI last spring and had to wait about 3 weeks for them to arrive at my home. My husband didn’t blink an eye! I’m back to embroidering again!!

  11. Drat! Yes they are expensive, and I was really hoping to find a replacement for my lighted magnifier. However, I watch television while I stitch. OK, I really listen more than watch, but occasionally I do lift my head to see the TV screen. Don’t think these would be friendly for my purposes.

    1. Hi, Doreen – I find I can see fine when I glance up into the top part of the glasses, actually. The magnifiers don’t cover the whole front of the actual lenses of the glasses. If I’m going to be looking up for more than a glance, I just flip them up. If you have bifocals (I do), when looking into the magnifiers, you’re actually looking through the lower part of the bifocals. – MC

    1. Hi, Cate – I went ahead and deleted the link in your comment. I clicked on it, and it tried to take me to your email log in…. Do you have a link to a regular website where the photos can be found? -MC

  12. Mary, thank you so much for sharing this. My vision limitations have been so frustrating. I got some high powered glasses, but then I have to hold my work 2 inches from my nose. That’s hard for anything that takes more than a few minutes. Boy, I bet I’ll be able to do long and short stitch with these. The price is nothing compared to what I’ll get from it. Although I will have to save up a bit to get them

    Thanks again.

  13. Mary thanks for the review of the optic glasses.

    I have seen them before as many doctors and specialists have something similar, I had thought of getting a pair.

    I thought theses glasses would be good as travelling mates. They are expensive but well worth the money if you are younger an able to get the wear out of them.

    I have worked out my options for my embroidery.
    As I am an old codger now my expenses out lay is curbed.

    I have discovered that I wear two pair of glasses (I know I look like an odd ball but it works really well for me) to keep them together I have used a piece of plastic tubing over the arms.
    I have bought just about every item to assist with my sewing and embroidery.

    I have a magnifying light system. Yes a bit of a pest but works well.

    My recent discovery, and it is all your fault Mary showing the BluMax.
    To buy a Max for me and have it shipped to Australia was astronomical.
    So I looked around for a similar wattage of light and found the Daylight triple bright. It is a recent addition to the Daylight lamps. Yes it is expensive but it has two very helpful uses. It gives a wonderful bright white light for sewing by and it is also good for alleviating winter depression. Of course it has to be done with care. No one should look directly into any light.

    My Daylight lamp to Max! Max has a dimmer switch. But that is solvable by getting a sparky to fit a dimmer, here in Australia.

    I have to say my light is wonderful and with the reading glasses and magnifying glasses add ons I get a great view and no eye strain.

    I don’t think I suffer from depression but by the end of winter here I will see if my mood is cheery or glum.

    Love reading your reviews and everything else as well.

    Kind regards to you Mary and all

  14. Oh dear–those things are expensive. I don’t think it’s extortionate, as you say, they are very specialized tools, but there’s no way I could afford them. *sigh*

  15. Oh, I’ve wanted these since I first heard of them, but as a hobbyist and sole breadwinner it’s hard for me to justify the cost.

  16. I have for a long time, taken advantage of a UK optician’s one for two offer by having my reading part of the prescription, enhanced up to 2x, and creating a normal pair of specs that allow me to work on a standing frame in the upper or main area, and a highly magnified part for my fine silk and lace work. It means slightly more work for the optician and you have to remember to ask them whilst they are checking your prescription requirements but that is all.

  17. These sound like just what I need! Thanks so very much for introducing this. One question: which “working distance” telescope do you recommend for embroidery (regular or short)?

    I stopped doing embroidery because I could not see my work well enough (I also wear corrective lenses). I’ve had some success using a bright daylight lamp and wearing a magnifier with drop down lenses on my head, but it’s still a struggle with very fine detail work. I plan to start saving up for these now!

  18. I bought myself a pair of these for Christmas last year and won’t stitch without them. I love miniature embroidery and with these, I continue to be able to stitch comfortably.

  19. Have been looking into purchasing a pair of Craft Optics. Do you still use them? Would you purchase them again? Did/do you use the short (13 in.) or regular (16 in.) working distance? I do a lot of 32-36 count work on linen as well as 10 count canvas and am very near sited. I usually stitch close to my face without my glasses and frequently get a stiff neck.
    This is an expensive purchase so I would deeply appreciate your feedback. Thanks much in advance.

    1. Hi, Mary – yes, I do use them, when doing very fine work, especially on high count linen or gauze. I have the regular length, I think. The best thing to do is to talk to them about the focal distance, and try to figure out which would be more comfortable for you. I think they’re a great solution for magnification and light – especially if you travel or if you work in a room where other people are doing other things and a large light would be annoying. But yes, for high count thread work, they’re really terrific!

  20. Hi Mary, I’m new to your site. My mom and I were looking for good storage for our DMC floss and came across your site via Google. I cannot tell you how much money I’ve spent since finding your site! First I had to purchase the Bisley cabinets, next I purchased every color of DMC floss. I had done so in the past (as well as Anchor), but had gotten out of stitching once I discovered paper crafting in 2006. I first learned embroidery at the age of 13 (my great-grandmother taught me), in my mid-20’s a friend introduced me to counted-cross stitch. Within a couple of months I left Aida fabric behind and stitched on nothing but linen. In my mid-40’s I discovered paper crafting. In my early 50’s I discovered Ribbonwork with Helen Gibb, as well as Parchment Craft. I’m approaching my 60’s and have so much needlework I want to get done (a bucket list thing . . . LOL) and have decided to scale back on parchment craft and get back into sewing. I was reading your post on the Needlework System 4 and will be making a purchase soon. While viewing youtube videos on the System 4, I came across the CraftOptics glasses. I am farsighted (due to good Lasik surgery); but need readers. I placed an order for the glasses and well as the DreamBeam (if I’m going to splurge, I might as well go for it!) as birthday gift to myself. I don’t have any sewing on my site, but if you’d like to see what parchment craft looks like, I do have my work posted on my blog, http://www.jerrikay.com. I am self taught, licensed to teach via Pergamano (The Netherlands) and the Academy of Independent Parchment Craft Tutors (UK), as well as an Associates Member of the Parchment Guild, UK. I look forward to reading more from your site (I have subscribed). Thank you for the reviews of products, it truly is helpful. I know you put a lot of time and effort into your site with writing the posts, the fantastic photography and very informative articles. You’re a blessing to us all!!

    1. Hi, Jerri! Well, it sounds like you’re well on your way to a great stitching adventure! The NWS4 stand is really a good choice. I’ve been using mine for years and years!

  21. Mary, after reading about the glasses here, I decided to give them a shot. I am farsighted so only needed the +2.00 reader. I couldn’t believe how fast they arrived. I ordered them Nov. 26, they arrived Dec. 5. I also ordered the Dream Beam light. I was not disappointed. I was able to put the glasses on, adjust the binoculars and was sewing within minutes. I was expecting to have the “adjustment” period, but I was able to use them comfortably immediately. It’s so wonderful to be able to sew without using a magnifying glass and light. The glasses and light are made very well they were worth every penny, I love them!!

  22. Thank you for review and experience with the Craftoptics Magnifier. I have been looking for a magnifier to help me with my vision loss. A little over a year ago I was told 80% of the vision in one eye is irreparably damaged due to glaucoma.
    I do a lot of hand embroidery and feel the need to magnify the work to see fine detail. I’m exploring several options, will look into this one. Thank you. Ana-Maria

    1. Hi, Pauline – if you click trough to the CraftOptics website through the link in the article above, you’ll find their pricing. They also often have specials, so you might check to see if they have one running now.

  23. Thanks for the review on these. I’m thinking of checking into these and wanting to know if you can just use your glasses by themselves without the binoculars or light? That would be great if you can. Also, can these be used with bifocals?

    Thanks for any info.!

    1. Hi, Tammy – the unit is a pair of prescription glasses that they make for you according to your prescription (so, yes, if you wear bifocals, they would be bifocal glasses). The “binoculars” are attached to the glasses, but they flip up easily if you want to flip them up out of the way. You can also see over them easily, if you’re watching TV or something like that, without flipping them up, since the binocular part when in place is situated on the lower half of the glasses. The light is a separate unit that clips on so you can still see distance over the binoculars with the light in place. In a normal stitching situation at home when I have my task light available, I prefer to use them without the light. But the light comes in handy when you’re traveling or you don’t or can’t use your task light.

    2. Well I took the plunge Mary and so now waiting for my glasses to come:) I cannot wait to get started and also want to say what a beautiful designer you are! Love your charts and wish you much success in your adventure still!

      Best Regards,

      Tammy Tutterow

  24. I LOVE your site

    As for the Craftoptics, I am totally thrilled with the idea and would love to have a pair for my old eyes but $1100 CDN is just way out of my retirement income. Do you know how much floss and fabric I could buy for $1100 LOL

    I think I will have to settle for a good BlueMax light instead

    1. Hi, Sara – I’ve provided links in the article above. If you click on the links, they’ll take you to the CraftOptics website where you can see what they offer.

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