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Essential Tools: Measuring Tapes

Find out which tape works best for your needs.

Evamarie Gomez-Bostic and Carol Fresia; Videographer: Jeff Roos

Threads Contributing Editor Judith Neukam helps you navigate the world of measuring tapes in this Insider All Access video. Judith explains several types of measuring tapes and their best uses. She also offers clever tips for measuring the inseam and crotch length.

A measuring tape is essential in any sewing room, but they’re not all alike.

Extralong tapes, up to 120 inches long, is more than most people need for garment sewing. Look instead for a tape that’s 60 inches, and 5/8 inch wide. Having a tape measure that’s the width of a standard seam allowances makes it easier to visualize seamlines relative to cutting lines as you’re measuring patterns.

Narrower tape measures are must useful for keeping in your purse to measure garments, fabrics, or your body when you’re away from your sewing space.

A metal, retractable tape measure is not of much use in the sewing room, unless you’re sewing large home decor projects, such drapes or bed linens. You may like a narrow, flexible tape measure that retracts, though. Again, it’s a handy tool to keep in your purse.

Judith shows two ways to hack your standard measuring tape for more accurate measuring for pants’ inseams and crotch lengths.



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  1. Concordiabelle | | #1

    I agree that there is nothing on my body that requires a 120" tape measure...........however, as a custom dressmaker, I have had clients who were more than 60" in circumference. It was embarrassing for both of us when I had to mark my place and measure from there to get the total. I would rather work with the extra (hopefully unneeded) length than relive that experience. Please rethink your advice, Judy. Sending hugs, Peggi Barrett

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