Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!

Spotlight on the humble tape measure

6 Comments

merchant_mills_tape_measure

While reading the much anticipated first issue of Simply Sewing recently (have you heard of this new magazine?), I came across a little note within an article on essential sewing tools.  The note mentions that it is worth spending a little extra on a good quality flexible tape measure so that it will not stretch out easily and render your measurements inaccurate.

This note reminded me of my orientation day when I began sewing for an interior designer a few years ago.  The very skilled and knowledgable seamstress that I was working with told me to handle our tape measures very carefully and to drape them softly over their hook on the wall each time I put them away.  This careful handling would prevent them from stretching out – something that is very important to someone who is sewing precise roman shades!  When she told me this I nodded quietly while guiltily visualizing my tightly rolled tape measure within it’s plastic case in my sewing box at home!  When I got home I inspected my tape measure closely – it was a cheap plastic blue one (rather than coated fabric or strong, reinforced plastic) and, after several years of use it featured visible stretch marks along it’s entire length!  Needless to say, when I compared it’s measurement markings to my metal pattern drafting rulers, they were quite off!

_HBL1156
Ever since this experience I have been much more careful with handling my tape measures and have now switched to using coated cloth measures that are far less prone to stretching.

merchant and mills boxed

Aside from resistance to stretch, there are a couple other features I like my tape measures to include.  I prefer to use tape measures with very clear and simple markings – I find it annoying when inches and centimeters are crammed onto one side of the measure – the Merchant & Mills tape measures that we carry in our shop are particularly simple and clear to read since one side is black and one side is white making it very easy to refer to your desired unit of measurement instantly.  Lastly, I like to use tape measures that feature no blank space at the beginning or end of the measure.  I prefer tape measures to start at “0” exactly where the metal tip begins and to include measurements right up to the other metal tip.

 merchant and mills unboxed

While I only own basic tape measures, I have seen some really useful specialized ones when working with other sewists at pattern drafting workshops and school that I would like to add to my tool box.  For instance, I have noticed drapery weighted tapes are a common tool within many seamstress’s sewing boxes.  They drape the chain over the body to measure various rounded areas (for instance, the front shoulder to waist measurement that extends over the bust).  They pinch the chain at either end point and then remove the chain to a flat surface where they measure its length.

Have you tried working with circumference tapes that feature a slider and locking button to measure the circumference of various areas of the body?  Or, have you attached an adhesive tape measure to your sewing table?  Or are you a fan of working with quilting rulers while garment sewing?

I’d love to hear your measuring tips and tricks!

If you are feeling the need to update your measuring tools like I am, our Merchant & Mills measuring tape is currently 25% off this weekend!

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Spotlight on the humble tape measure

  1. I trained as a cutter when I left school, and we were told only to use our own measuring tape and never switch (esp mid lay or mid project – I still have the same measuring tape for 20 years! – and I always assumed since that this must have been talking about to badly coated fabric tapes. when I got my measuring tape there was little choice and there werent any ‘bargain’ ones like you get now.

  2. I collect and display lots of old tapes and rulers, I love to rummage in charity shops for them and also because lots of my friends know I dress make etc I end up with lots of nice old sewing equipment. I do find your blog very helpful and encouraging. I do use a ruler quite a lot for paper work and I have now completely given up using inches, I have even put my inch tape on display not to be used. So a lovely new tape was bought in centimetres.

  3. when I was in college (engineering) I had a professor who said we should check our measuring devices every day! He said one millimeter can be matter of life and death! Now I’m a mom at home sewing like crazy and even though it’s no matter of life or death I still check my rulers and tapes! If I’m working on paper I prefer my rulers, on the body I use the measuring tape and pieces of elastic to mark clearly the waist or hips One size of elastic fits most!). Also I have on hand a small necklace to see were the neckline should be (it can be a small chain with big links to adjust the design)
    I really like you notions!

    • Good tip about the elastic to clearly mark the waist or hips – I like to use that too. I made myself a grosgrain waist indicator once but find elastic is much more accurate since it doesn’t slip when someone breaths in or out and always sits at the narrowest point of the waist. Also – excellent idea to refer to a necklace regarding necklines!

  4. I’ve got the merchant & mills tape measure but thought I was bring really neat & tidy by always rolling it up. Off to unroll it right now!

What do you think? Leave a comment for me :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s