Tape measure – Tape measure — Wikipedia

Tape measure — Wikipedia

Plastic tape measure (cm)
Self-retracting metal tape measure (US customary)
Measuring tape capable of measuring down to ​132 inch (0.8 mm)
Diagram showing fractions of an inch on a standard sixteenth measuring tape

A tape measure or measuring tape is a flexible ruler and used to measure distance.

It consists of a ribbon of cloth, plastic, fibre glass, or metal strip with linear-measurement markings. It is a common measuring tool. Its design allows for a measure of great length


Tape Measure | HowStuffWorks

At least one tape measure should be in the toolbox of every homeowner or renter. It is an inexpensive and handy device that has many uses when building, maintaining, and repairing a home or auto.

What a Tape Measure Does

A tape measure is a portable measurement device used to quantify the size of an object or the distance between objects. The tape is marked along the tape edge in inches and fractional inches, typically in quarter-, eight-, sixteenth-inch increments. Some tape measures are marked in millimeters, centimeters, and meters on one edge.

The most common tape measures are 12 feet, 25 feet, or 100 feet in length. A 12-foot tape measure is handiest for consumers. The 25-foot length is called a builder’s tape and is marked in feet and at 16-inch increments to make measuring the standard distance between wall studs easier. The 100-foot tape, usually of reinforced cloth, is useful for determining property boundaries and other exterior measurements.

How to Safely Use a Tape Measure

Tape measures are relatively safe and easy to use. Extend the tape from point to point placing the end-clip at the location you want to measure from. Most tape measures have a clip that can be attached to a fixed object to measure spans easily. Many steel blade tapes have tension-control brakes that lock the blade in place for measuring spans. Longer tapes have a crank on the side of the case to retract the cloth tape.

To minimize injury, slowly retract metal blade tapes, keeping fingers away from edges.

How to Maintain a Tape Measure

Tape measures are virtually maintenance free. To extend their life, keep the measurement blade clean and don’t retract the blade into the case too fast.

Tools Related to the Tape Measure

Other handy measurement devices include the rigid ruler and the square.

Not what you’re looking for? Try these:

  • Home Repair Tools: Whether you prefer to use the Yellow Pages for anything that needs fixing around the house or consider yourself a regular do-it-yourselfer, there are a handful of tools that everyone should have in their tool box. Learn all about them in this article.
  • Measuring and Marking Tools: Find out which tools come in handy when calculating sizes and marking off placement in certain home improvement jobs on this page.
  • Chalk Line: A chalk line will make quick work of marking a long, level line on a wall or other flat surface. Learn more about this handy home repair tool here.


Tape Measure | Definition of Tape Measure by Merriam-Webster

Definition of tape measure 

: a narrow strip (as of a limp cloth or steel tape) marked off in units (such as inches or centimeters) for measuring


TAPE MEASURE | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

These examples are from the Cambridge English Corpus and from sources on the web. Any opinions in the examples do not represent the opinion of the Cambridge Dictionary editors or of Cambridge University Press or its licensors.

We pegged ourselves, when giving plots we used a tape measure.

All diameter measurements were taken using a sliding caliper, and all circumference measurements were taken using a plastic tape measure.

A compass and tape measure were used to establish the sampling points.

Another prop consisted of a plastic ring attached to the end of a tape measure.

The same goes for my tape measure, level, and drill.

The diameter of the central cylinder and the total corm was measured for each cross section using a tape measure.

At 19 sites, a tape measure was run out along the long axis and a second tape measure was run transversely across this tape and measurements recorded.

To designate an action the child had to perform it or else point to or hold up one of the action props (tape measure or platform).

Would it be the tape measure, would it be the height, would it be the avoirdupois?

One cannot get any nourishment out of calories any more than one can get nourishment out of a tape measure.

It reminds me of the story of the inefficient tailor who sought to make his suits less ill-fitting by not using a tape measure.

To me, these brief quotations summarise the present sterling crisis and put the tape measure round it.

He painted a picture of parents wanting choices for their children and measuring the number of yards from a particular school with a tape measure.

We claim that the assessment of a man’s pension should not be entirely tied to the tape measure—to the length of the stump.

Those things in human life can hardly be measured by a tape measure or a foot rule.

 See all examples of tape measure


All about reading the tape measure


In my teens I dreaded the tape measure – It represented all the guilt at eating those extra chocolates after the second helping or was it the third. When I gained weight in my 20s I threw away the tape measure. Then I discovered sewing.

Tape measure has been a constant companion since then. Actually tape measures in the plural; because I have atleast 4 of them in different rooms. One of them tucked away in  a deep drawer ready for the contingency situation when all other 3 are missing.

When I started to sew and for a long time afterwards I just knew the main marks in the tape measure. A sewing friend then taught me the rest. Something as basic as this should be taught in the school rather than some other nonsense that I learned in school, which I never found a use afterwards. In this age of laser measuring tapes , electronic tape measures and measuring tape apps , and easy paper patterns one (the husband) may wonder at the  use of the ordinary tape measures. But for me it is one of the most useful and necessary sewing tool.

As I understand it there are two types of tape measurements – metric measurements and imperial measurements
Metric measurement markings represent measurements in centimeters and millimeters and meters. 
Imperial measurement markings represent measurements in inches and feet and fractions of inches.

The numbers given represent the whole centimeters and the small lines in between the centimeter lines are the millimeters. 10 millimeters make up one centimeter and 100 centimeters equals one meter.

Scientists use the metric system but when measuring the body most people use the imperial system ie inches. 36-24-26 is not in centimeter as you know; they are in inches and the anathema of millions of differently endowed girls. But I use the metric measurements to measure fabric

Different types of measuring tapes used in sewing
1 The regular measuring tape

Typically a measuring tape for measuring the body is 60 inches long which is about 1.5 meters (152 cms). You get 120 inch long measuring tapes in shops as well, which is useful for measuring those curtains and quilts and other home decor stuff.

My measuring tape comes with a right and wrong end ( with one end stiff with a metal plate)  but there are simple ones available with both ends ready to measure. 

My measuring tape has metric and imperial measures placed on top and bottom. On the other side of the tape only imperial system is given.

The measurements are given as 1/8th of an inch ie one inch is divided into 8 parts. Sometimes measurement markings representing  1/16th of an inch are also given. Tape measures and rulers used in construction and design works usually have markings with 1/32 of an inch.

The main middle marking inside the inch represent 1/2 inch ( Half inch)

The next small markings represent 1/4 of an inch ( Quarter inch) & 3/4  of an inch ( three fourth inch)

The next small markings represent 1/8, 3/8, 5/8 and 7/8 of an inch ( eighth’s of an inch)


Inch to millimeter conversion Reference List.

12 inches make a foot. One inch is equal to 2.5 cms or 25 mms.

InchInchmilli meters

You use simple maths which you studied (did you ? or slept like me) in school to add the fraction when you have to ; to put it simply 1/4 + 1/4 is 1/2 (ha). To add unequal fractions you have to make the denominator equal and then add. Let me run before I start teaching gibberish.

When you are using the tape with the metric system or the imperial system just ensure you are measuring from the zero line

Have you realized that the tape measure that you have been using for years may not be accurate – it may have stretched out of  correct measures. You can replace it for a new one every now and then or choose a fiberglass one which is guaranteed to be non-stretchy. 

Measuring is very important when making a dress. There is a very often said adage about measuring – measure twice and cut once – very forgettable I would think remembering all the occasions when I have forgotten this one saying – when that expensive fabric was cut a little too short because I didn’t measure twice

2. Cutter practical guide tape

This is a kind of measuring tape with elastic tape and other tapes attached to a piece of plastic. 

3. Trouser Tape

This is a tape measure with a curved thing on top which is helpful in measuring inseam length when measuring for making pants. This ruler measures 45 inches in length (114 cms)

4 Drawing rulers

The big meter scale available in wood, plastic or metal can be very useful in drawing the long seam line etc. A smaller Foot rule (scale) measures 12 inches in length and is usually made of plastic wood or steel. This is useful when you have to measure seams, small tucks, pleats etc

L square is a scale which is made like the capital letter L. This is great for measuring corners as it gives an accurate 90 degree marking. One side ( the long side) will be 24 inches long and the other side 12 inches.

Checkout the post on correctly measuring the body for dress making

Related posts


Tape measure — definition of tape measure by The Free Dictionary

As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round magnifying glass from his pocket.He whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hurried about the room on his knees, measuring, comparing, examining, with his long thin nose only a few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird.Dona Rita described amusingly how she had to stand in the middle of her room while Rose walked around her with a tape measure noting the figures down on a small piece of paper which was then sent to the maker, who presently returned it with an angry letter stating that those proportions were altogether impossible in any woman.

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the precise spot where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket a tape measure.

Taking, now, the tape measure from the nearest point of the trunk to the peg, as before, and continuing the extension in a straight line to the distance of fifty feet, a spot was indicated, removed, by several yards, from the point at which we had been digging.

The world of tape measures and calico counters seemed so far away; the interior of his quondam lodgings in a by-street of Islington, so unfamiliar and impossible.A COUNTY Durham business has won a contract to be the sole UK and Ireland distributor of a newlyinvented tape measure which has taken the US and French markets by storm.The tape measure is available in sheep, owl, hedgehog, frog, sunflower motifs and more.These include DynaRule Bullseye Measuring Guide, Retractable Tape Measure, SiliGentle AG Silver Foam Dressings, and DynaSorb Super Absorbent Dressings.Occasionally, Lloyd George would ask me up to the house — where the old goat would stand me up against a wall, take out a tape measure and try to take all my measurements; it was never explained why and because he was my boss and the grandfather of my buddies I didn’t dare ask — or he would go up to London and I would get a lift in his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce.The rim of the bucket can hold masking tape, screwdrivers, pencils, scrapers, a tape measure, painter’s putty and a wiping cloth.Materials: copy paper (two sheets per student) * computer with internet access * projector * ruler * scissors * tape measure * chair * pencil and paper


What is a Tape Measure? (with pictures)

Post 11

Post 10

I like to use the tape measures that have the metal band to lock it in place. If I am measuring for something like curtains or drapes, this is a life saver. The windows are usually too long to try and do this with a cloth tape measure.

If I don’t have a steel tape measure, I have been creative and measure as far as I can with a cloth tape measure. Then I place a mark where it ends and measure again until I come up with the right measurement. This gets the job done, but it just takes longer.

I will say a small cloth tape measure takes up less room than a steel tape measure. You can easily keep a cloth one in a drawer a sewing box or even a purse without adding much weight or bulk. I wouldn’t really want to carry around a heavy steel tape measure in my purse.

Post 9

Whenever I start a new diet and exercise program, I use a cloth body tape measure to measure different parts of my body. Sometimes this tape measure is my friend and other times it isn’t.

I will start out with several different measurements and check to see if I have lost any inches from week to week. Sometimes I might not have lost any pounds, but I have lost inches. This is always encouraging even though it doesn’t seem exciting as seeing a lower number on the scale. You can also tell if you have lost inches by the way your clothes fit, but it is always better to see the actual numbers written down.

Post 8

I used to have a miniature tape measure attached to a key chain. I carried this around with me for many years before finally getting rid of it. I don’t think I ever used it for anything. I kept it because I thought it might come in handy some day when I was on the road, but it never did.

I keep a cloth tape measure in my kitchen junk drawer. It doesn’t get used a lot, but every once in awhile I will need a tape measure for something. This way I always know where to find it and I don’t have to go searching for it or run to the store and buy one.

My husband keeps a laser tape measure in his toolbox in the garage. I wouldn’t even know how to use this and just stick with a simple cloth tape measure when I need to measure something.

Post 7

@JackWhack — A tape measure that winds up is probably much safer than the kind that snaps back in place, especially if small kids are using them. All of the retractable tape measures we have around our house are the retractable kind that snap in place.

Post 6

My dad used to get me to help him measure lumber when I was little. He would always tell me to go to one end and hook the end of the tape measure onto the wood. He would take it from there.

He had the kind of tape measure that you wind back up. Instead of it suddenly snapping back into the casing all at once, he had to slowly wind a handle on the side of it. This prevented injury, and it made no alarming sound, so I liked it.

Post 5

The one thing that frustrates me about tape measures is the same as what annoys me about rulers. It seems that I always flip it first to the side with the measurements I don’t need. I only use the side that measures in inches, and I wish the other side was either blank or the same as the first side!

Post 4

@cloudel – I have a cloth one, and it makes a good body measurement tape. I use it to determine what size clothing to order.

I do a lot of shopping online, and without being able to try something on, the best thing to go by is my measurements in the waist, hip, and chest areas. My body weight fluctuates a lot, so I always measure myself before ordering anything, even if it has only been a few weeks since I last ordered something.

I can pull the cloth tape as taut as I need to without hurting myself. It’s comfortable, unlike the cold, sharp metal of my husband’s measuring tape.

Post 3

I prefer cloth tape measures to the sturdy kind. The cloth ones come in a smaller casing, because they are not as thick and bulky as the metal ones.

As long as I hold it straight and flat, I can measure just about anything with it. I can carry it in my purse without adding any significant weight to it.

Post 2

@Fa5t3r — The only problem is that they hurt if you use them wrong! I did quite a lot of sewing when I was younger and I was always catching my fingers with the tape measure.

I guess it was my own fault for using my husband’s heavy duty tape measure for sewing but I was always losing the little ones that came with my sewing kit.

Post 1

I have a friend who collects tape measures, which seems really daft until you see her collection. I think she started out with a camel shaped tape measure she got from Dubai (the camel tail is the actual measure) but she’s got all kinds of quirky shapes. A little robot one and another one where the measure is the tongue of a frog and so forth.

I never realized they were so much of a tourist item, but I guess it’s something different. And it is kind of satisfying to make a retractable tape measure snap back into the box.


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