17 Oct Measuring tools for sewing
Hi there! Today we will talk about measuring tools.
This is going to be a quick post as there isn’t much to say about measuring tools except what we’ve been saying for every other sewing tool: always buy quality stuff!
Your minimal sewing kit should always contain a good tailor’s tape measure. They’re definitely not expensive, so try to opt for a durable one: it will last forever! This is a tool you’re going to use every step of the way, from taking body measurements on.
A tape measure is pretty much all you really need for sewing when it comes to measuring tools. However, there are a few other tools that can come in handy for specific tasks or if you want to also explore the patternmaking world.
First one useful for sewing is the sewing gauge. This usually comes in a 12 cm / 6 inches format. (the one in the picture below comes from this shop but they’re really equivalent). You can set the plastic slider to the desired length and then use the gauge as a guide to measure hems (e.g. while pressing them before sewing). The rigid ruler and the slider make it easier to do the job compared to using a standard tailor’s tape.
If you then want to experiment a bit with some patternmaking, your measuring tool’s arsenal has to make room for some new arrivals.
You can’t survive without some good rulers.
I really love these omnigrid ones by Prym (or Dritz). They’re sturdy and thick and they come in a wide range of sizes (and both in metric and imperial).
What I commonly use for pattermaking are the big one (15 x 60 cm or 6” x 24”) for long straight lines and the small one (3 x 30 cm or 1” x 12.5”) for the details. What I like of these rulers is that they are transparent so that you can see through while cutting fabric or drawing lines. This is very useful for patternmaking, for example when you want to square lines off other lines.
Another thing you really need for patternmaking is a french curve. This is a curvy ruler that can be used to draw… curves (what a surprise! eheh). For instance, you will definitely need it for drawing accurate necklines and armholes.
Mine also comes from Prym (see picture below), but different brands are available with a wide range of prices. Sew easy makes a french curve very similar to the Prym’s one. Their main advantage is that you have one universal curve which can basically cover any kind of body curve you may want to draw (also including hips).
Other french curves are specific for some body parts only, so make sure to check that in the item description before to buy.
I think the best french curves are the metal ones (tipically used at a professional level). Actually, I wanted to buy one of those but here in Italy they are difficult to find (or too much expensive!) so I just gave up.
Finally, there’s one more thing you might need for your patternmaking experiments: a flexible curved ruler. This is the one I have. Honestly, I have to tell you that I bought this and never really used it!
It’s meant to be for measuring curves. For example, when you draw armholes, at some point you need to measure their length for drawing a matching sleeve. This can be done with these flexible rulers: you can bend them to follow the curve you drew. Then, why haven’t I used mine? Altough it’s flexible I found it very difficult to bend it to perfectly follow my curves, especially for small ones. Perhaps it’s just me that don’t know how to use it properly, so maybe you’ll be better! What just works for me is my standard tailor’s tape measure: I learned how to “walk the tape” along the inside of a curve to have a perfect and reliable measure of its length and now I don’t need the flexible ruler anymore!
Well, I think that’s all I have to say about measuring tools. If you stick to sewing for now, a tailor’s tape measure is all you’re gonna need, but the sewing gauge will be also handy. If you want to explore patternmaking, then also buy some rulers of a size that is good for your projects and a french curve for curvy elements.
If you liked this post (or… you didn’t :) ) leave your comment below. Have you got an arsenal of measuring tools already? Then, what is your favourite one? Do you have some handy one to suggest? Share your thoughts!
I’ll see you in the next post, where we’ll talk about marking tools.
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