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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Protect Your Magnifier – and Everything Else!


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Today, a tip for those who use magnifiers (or might use one some day!) for embroidery and other needlework.

I don’t always use a magnifier, but I have a couple stand magnifier and light combo units that I really like – this one that I reviewed here is working out to be my favorite, because of the strength and clarity of the lens and the easy rotation and placement of the lens.

Now, I’ve always had the idea that every useful thing in my work space would also be beautiful, either embellished in some way with embroidery or beautiful in some other regard – like beautifully made wooden tools or beautifully wrought scissors or what-have-you. In reality, I have to admit, I have many purely functional things that can’t really slide into the Decorative or Beautiful categories. I mean, a screwdriver? A table clamp? A roller for packaging tape? An external hard drive? You get the idea.

Once upon a time, I had the idea I’d hand-make and embroider the thing I’m going to show you today. And some day, I might. Instead, I recently took a purely functional piece of packaging and recycled it for this use. It works well!

Using a Sheet Sack as a Magnifier Cover

Not very pretty, is it? It kind of cracks me up!

This is The Thing: If you own a magnifier that doesn’t have, already attached to it, a lid to cover the lens, you need to concoct some kind of covering for the magnifier’s lens.

Two Good Reasons for Covering Your Magnifier

There are two excellent reasons for covering your magnifier when it isn’t in use:

1. A cover will protect your magnifier’s lens from dust, grit, and possible scratches; but – and much more importantly –

2. A cover will keep your lens from refracting light into a concentrated point and potentially starting a fire.

The larger the magnifier, the stronger the magnification, the more convex the lens, and the hotter the sun, the higher the potential for starting a fire if your lens is left exposed in sunlight.

So it is really important to have a cover on your magnifier, if you leave your magnifier set up where sunlight can pass through the lens.

I leave my magnifier by my stitching chair, which happens to be right in front of a large window.

And although I’ve toyed with the notion of making a custom drawstring cover with a bit of embellishment on it, I’ve not gotten around to doing so. In the past, I’ve always draped a large flour sack towel over the head of my magnifier and tucked the towel into a rubber band around the neck to keep it from accidentally slipping.

Using a Sheet Sack as a Magnifier Cover

But I was unpacking a new set of sheets the other day, and I was momentarily captivated by the little sack that the sheets came packaged in. The sack, which is rectangular and closes with velcro, is made out of the same cotton the sheets are made from.

I contemplated the sack and thought, “Gosh, I could use this for Something.” But I really dislike collecting Stuff that I could Someday use for Something! And I was just thinking I would use it as a rag, when it struck me that it would fit really well over the head of my magnifier.

And so I slipped it on.

I marveled at the way it looked like a loose, baggy baby diaper hanging from the head of my magnifier!

Using a Sheet Sack as a Magnifier Cover

Admittedly, I hesitated a bit when I realized that it is clearly visible (and rather weird looking) from outside my window.

But … it’s so very functional. And it’s easy to slide on and off. And I don’t have to do any tucking of towels into rubber bands.

In fact, I like it.

If you happen to have these types of sheet sacks lying around, and you happen to have a magnifier without a cover, you might consider adopting the sheet sack for your cover.

If you don’t have a sheet sack, but you do have a magnifier without a cover, I encourage you to concoct a cover of some sort. Especially with summer close by and the sun getting more direct and a lot hotter, don’t leave your magnifier up and in range of sunlight!

Want to Make Your Own?

A simple drawstring sack makes a great cover for a magnifier head. There are several good tutorials online for how to sew up a simple drawstring bag. You’d just have to adjust the bag size on any of the tutorials to make a bag large enough to fit your magnifier. Trace the head of your magnifier and give it a good four inches all around, and you should have ample room for a cover.

This photo tutorial from Purl Soho for how to make a simple drawstring bag is excellent.

And if you want a video tutorial, this video tutorial for a simple drawstring bag from Made Everyday is excellent, too.

When you’re making a drawstring cover for your magnifier, you don’t need to box the corners of the drawstring bags, as shown in the tutorials.

You can always make your drawstring cover out of a cute cotton fabric (you don’t need any special fabric – anything will do), or you could make it out of something suitable to stitch on, and grab one of my free hand embroidery patterns here on Needle ‘n Thread to embellish it.

This particular Dancing Daisy Garden design – very simple in concept and perfect for beginners and beyond who want something very basic – is from a children’s class ages ago. We used it specifically for embellishing a drawstring bag. It would be cute and not hard to stitch!


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(27) Comments

  1. Good Morning Mary!

    Thank you for this wonderful post! While highlighting the very good reasons for keeping your magnifier covered, you managed to make me chuckle by posting a photo of your covered magnifier from outside your house, looking in. Re-purposing a sheet sack is a brilliant idea. Another ‘sack’ that could possibly be re-purposed are those that come with shoes. Some even have a drawstring already!

    Happy Stitching and thanks again for giving me a reason to smile this morning!

  2. Could not agree more with covering the magnifier. I’ve seen the little pinpoint on the floor and started using a light cotton bag years ago.

  3. Finally! A great idea for the cotton sheet bags – that I have 4 stored in my sewing room closet! Love it☺️

  4. I was using a plastic shower cap with a satin lining until I found a linen sack with ribbon work on the front and ribbon draw strings. It is lined with a good quality cotton and just fits over the magnifier. Found this for around $5 at WalMart several years ago.

  5. My husband and I both have covers for our magnifiers. Ours came with the little drawstring bags that slide nicely over the lens but they’re sadly plain. His is more fancy in that it’s a light blue color. Mine is plain white. 😉

  6. And if you happen to have a velvet Crown Royal bag (or several) lying around, they make an excellent cover also. And a good conversation starter!

    1. Hi, Pat – I’ve received at least three emails in response to this article, from readers who use Crown Royal bags for the same purpose. LOL!

  7. I saved a package just like yours from sheets because it was too nice to throw away but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Great idea.

  8. Very good reminder. This exact thing just happened to a friend if mine who owns a big, very nice old house that they have renovated. She just happened to smell smoke and it was starting to smolder on a settee upstairs by her bedroom window. It makes me cringe to think what could have happened. Thank God she was at home!

  9. I second this idea. A number of years ago (20+) I didn’t have a cover for my magnifier and I had left my paper pattern on top of my stitching. Luckily I was near when I could smell smoke only to realize that my pattern page had caught fire. It was extinguished quickly and my stitching was undamaged. However, I lost a 2″ diameter hole in the middle of my pattern (cross stitch btw and a very detailed section) and I had to spend hours trying to figure out from the picture of the piece how to stitch the area as I wasn’t able to find a copy of the pattern anywhere.
    Two lessons learned – cover the magnifier and photocopy the pattern so that if it gets damaged (fire!!, food or beverage spill (not that I would ever have food or drinks near my stitching but even a glass of water can do a lot of damage), pets or children messing things up) you have the original pattern to refer to.

  10. Yay! Fire safety tips! I don’t have a magnifier… you know… yet… but I’m getting blinder by the day. (I should really get my eyes checked. My assistant will make an appointment. Wait… my assistant is a stuffed dog doorstop. So…) Anyway, Magnify Day is approaching and I never would have thought about fire! Never! Until there was a fire. So, thank you so very much! (Also, your curtains are lovely. )

  11. Once time I was stitching on the back deck and enjoying a beautiful day, watching the birds…when I smelled smoke. My magnifier was burning the wooden stretcher bar.
    I do keep a drawstring bag over it now, because I keep it near a window.

  12. Great idea!!!! And everyone needs to keep their magnifier covered whenever it’s not in use. Many years ago I did not cover my magnifer, and yes, it did live in front of a window; one that was covered with venetian blinds that were slightly cracked open — open enough to send a shaft of light through the glass and onto a cushion that had fallen over below it. And it caught fire! Fortunately at the same time my husband was walking down the hallway and happened to glance into the living room, saw the fire just as it was starting and was able to easily put it out. No damage except for a small hope in the cushion cover. It could have ended so tragically though. My magnifier no longer lives near a window but it is still always covered! Always!

  13. Great idea! I think I have one of those I was Saving for Something.

    On a related note, I always tucked my clear water bottle away out of the direct sun when I left it in a parked car to keep it from warming up too fast, but now make a point of it since I read about someone who noticed smoke coming up from the upholstery where the sunlight had been concentrated. I thought it was an urban myth, but saw the video where he recreated it. Here’s a link to it.

  14. G’day Mary,
    Mmmm, nice sheets. Put funny faces on either side of the cover, one happy and one questionable! In your spare time of course?!
    Thank you for the tips, I wouldn’t have thought of fire even though as kids we used burn drawings and write on wood, leaves etc using a magnifying glass and the sun.
    Cheers, Kath.

  15. It’s no joke! One sunny day we spotted the burn mark just starting on the curtain -since then the stand magnifier has its own cover. Thanks for your site which I enjoy enormously on a Saturday morning in NZ.

  16. Dear Mary

    What a good idea I never thought of covering my magnifier before but it does make sense especially if you store it near a window. I don’t leave mine near a window but to stop dust/grit/scratches getting on the magnifier it would be sensible to cover it. The video and photo tutorials are really useful for making tote bags and great for covering for the magnifier. Thanks for sharing with us the advice on covering for magnifiers and for the video and photo tutorials on how to make tote bags.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  17. Mary, Last year I ordered a trestle frame from Mythic Crafts after reading about them on your blog. I’ve not heard anything from them for over a year. I have filled out a “contact us” form on their website and am hoping to hear back.
    Did you receive anything that you ordered from them?
    Or know anything about if they plan to fulfill those orders?
    Thank you,
    Lauren Dudley

    1. Hi, Lauren – It seems we are in the same boat. I too have tried contacting them lately. The last I heard from him was in November. At that time, people were receiving their smaller frames, but he had not shipped any of the large frames or the trestles or other larger pieces of equipment. There were some updates on the Indiegogo page early this year, I believe, but I haven’t had any reply to any of my emails. According to folks who know him, the government has closed him down. I am disappointed, even though I realize this is the risk of crowdfunding. I had confidence in him, his products were beautiful (and not all that complicated to make, as far as the frames and trestles go) and I encouraged others to have confidence in him, too. Needless to say, I find the whole scenario sickening, and I am astounded that he did not contact people and explain his situation – at least owning up to the situation with some kind of apology. It’s very sad. I have heard from some folks who were able to go through their credit card companies and get a refund, even though they placed their orders last year, so you might look into that. I have not had luck with that, but I have heard from at least two other people who have.

  18. Hi Mary:
    I just finished making your childrens’ Lazy Daisy Drawstring Bag to use as a cover for
    my magnifier, turned out beautiful! Thank you for such a great pattern idea.
    Thank you again for all your work and time you put into “Needle & Thread”. I look
    forward to all your comments and tips.

  19. Hi Mary,

    I have covered the lens of my stitching light for many years now. What do I use? A French boiled wool beret decorated with a boiled wool flower. It’s pretty whether seen from inside or outside.

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