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Celebrate National Tape Measure Day on July 14

Jul 07, 2017
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National Tape Measure Day, observed on July 14, commemorates the day in 1868 when an American patent was granted on a spring-loaded tape measure.

At Threads, we like to keep track of sewing-related holidays (however new or concocted) because it’s always fun to celebrate our passion and the tools we use to practice it. On July 14, one handy tool has a well-deserved observance: It’s National Tape Measure Day. This is a chance to consider this clever device that is used in a variety of vocations, from sewing to surveying.

Although research at the online National Day Calendar couldn’t unearth the beginning of this observance, it occurs on the date in 1868 when New Haven, Connecticut, resident Alvin J. Fellows patented a “spring-clip tape measure.” You can read more about Fellowes’ design and its antecedents in an interesting Wired article: July 14, 1868: Tape Measure Clicks In.

Sewers typically rely on the vinyl version of this tool, rather than the spring-loaded metal one, but each type is useful. The more rigid metal tape measures are handy for marking hemlines, measuring height, and checking fabric length or width.

Tape-measure trivia

  • An Englishman, James Chesterman, patented a spring tape measure in 1829, an occurrence proudly commemorated in Sheffield, England, according to Wired. Chesterman’s invention cost $17 – impressive when you consider that is the equivalent of $300 today.
  • In 1956, the Northern Virginia Surveyors Association presented Mickey Mantle with a gold-plated, 600-foot surveyor’s tape, Wikipedia also mentions. The tape symbolized the distance Mantle’s amazing home runs travelled. The term “tape-measure homer” was coined in the 1950s to describe Mantle’s superlong hits, according to Jane Leavy in an NPR interview.
  • A tape measure is the first measuring tool listed in the Threads Sewing Guide. According to our guide, most modern tape measures are 60 inches long, with extralong versions at 120 inches. The longer versions are particularly useful for home décor sewing projects.
  • Wear your love of accurate measuring on your “sleeve” with a tape measure bracelet. There are working versions, such as the Wrist Ruler by ILoveHandles. Or you can choose a purely decorative option such as the aluminum cuff from Neurons Not Included.
  • I say tape measure, you say measuring tape: It’s a classic conundrum, discussed in an entry on the Separated by a Common Language blog. Some believe the terms to be synonymous, while others argue that “measuring tape” refers to the flexible vinyl tool used by seamstresses, and “tape measure” refers to the retractable metal device used by carpenters.  Where do you stand in this debate?

Accurate measuring tools, and the know-how to use them, are vital to sewing. Look for the feature article, “For Good Measure,” by Senior Technical Editor Carol Fresia in Threads #193, our Oct./Nov. 2017 issue.  It takes a look at basic and advanced tools to measure bodies and patterns, and the correct ways to use them – of course, the classic vinyl tape measure is included.

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  1. TigerB July 11th

    Don't you think measuring tape day should be on May 8th (5/8)?

  2. queenellabella July 12th

    If anyone needs help fixing a broken tape measure - the cheap plastic kind - I wrote a blog post seven years ago about fixing mine and it's apparently helped a bunch of people fix theirs!

  3. User avater Baris July 14th

    The English is my second language, so I use both terms for each tape. :-)

  4. Michael1979 July 17th

    I think it's great!

  5. KathleenMary July 17th

    I work in a costume shop and bemoan the day that vinyl replaced cloth tape measures--WHY!!- because I want to keep my tape measure close i.e. around my neck, and the vinyl tapes slide off! Does anybody still make cloth tape measures??

  6. I definitely will!

  7. User avater Tsidu July 25th

    I think it's great!

  8. User avater Trydo July 27th

    I did not know that such a day exists

  9. User avater Kawef July 27th

    wow, incredibile

  10. User avater vinisantos July 28th

    Amazing good tape

  11. User avater Ovada July 30th

    Tak wazny dzien istnieje i ja o nim nie wiem ? :(((

  12. User avater Vifew August 2nd

    Wow, incredibile

  13. User avater Sloce August 2nd

    I really enjoyed this walk

  14. User avater Wyfin August 2nd

    Serio taki dzień istnieje?

  15. Rijuj August 3rd

    to taki dzień wgl istnieje ? szok

  16. User avater Vivef September 11th

    I see it is an important day for many people

  17. User avater Opuby September 13th

    Congratulations, best janet

  18. User avater Klehu September 14th

    congratulations with all my heart

  19. User avater JoyNash September 15th

    Great tool for help tailer.. iiiihiiiiiihhiiiii

  20. User avater Zopyh October 10th

    Bonne entrée, bon spectacle bon apettito

  21. User avater Dozug October 10th


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