The Best Tape Measures and Clear Rulers

A tape measure and a clear ruler are two basic sewing and craftwork tools with which you can make cool stuff (or even non-cool stuff…).

Sewing requires a few basic tools such as thread, needles, threader, thimble, pins, pin cushion, scissors, a seam ripper, thread snips, a tape measure, a clear ruler. If you have some of these items already, you are ahead of the game! If you don’t have any of them, they are fairly easy to get.  

You are only as good as your tools

I grew up in a family that made things, repaired things, created things. Something I always heard was “You are only as good as your tools”. It means exactly that. Get the best tools you can afford, and they will last a very long time (in many cases a lifetime and more – more on that soon). When I was in school I would ask my instructors which types/brands/styles of tools they preferred, and why. When I interned and apprenticed, I paid attention to the tools my mentors were using, again, types/brands/styles. I learned through exposure and practice, and testing.

Here are my thoughts on the best tape measure and ruler:

How to Choose the Best Tape Measure:

The thing about making stuff is, you have to measure everything. And then measure again, just to make sure you got it right the first time.

There is an old adage that basically says “Measure twice, cut once.” So. Very. True. Rulers are great for measuring things that are flat, but a tape measure can wrap around anything. Your body. A curved line. A circle. You get the picture. Also, most tape measures are much longer than most rulers. This can be very helpful when measuring an inseam or an arm length.

I prefer tape measures that are made of fabric or fiberglass rather than plastic, as they are more flexible. That being said, they are not as easy to find these days. Here are a few sources for tape measures.

Online Sources for the Best Tape Measures:

How to Select the Best Clear Ruler:

As I stated above, you need to measure everything when you are making things. I prefer a clear ruler because you can see through it to the material underneath. The ones I use are typically 2” wide by 12” or 18” or 24” long. Actually, I use all of those lengths. I make patterns and each ruler has its usefulness in that endeavor. These rulers are marked with all inch divisions as well as half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth divisions. They are extremely useful for measuring just about anything (except wrapping around your body or a curve…) Start with a 12” or 18” ruler. The Westcott 2”x 12”, and 2”x 18” beveled plastic ruler is my fave.

Online Sources for the Best Clear Rulers:

Other Rulers You May Want to Have:

There are myriad rulers you can purchase, all with specific uses. A French Curve is very useful for making patterns - perfect necklines, armholes and other curves every time! A Hip Curve is a shallow curve ruler, yes it is used for that soft hip curve on a dress, skirt, pant, as well as for many other places you need a soft shallow curve. Also quite useful are the yardstick (36") and the 48" ruler. These are best in metal. Buy a yardstick at your local home improvement store for the best value. Do not buy online at a sewing outlet - they charge two and three times as much for the same metal ruler you can buy at a home improvement store!

Wawak and Gold Star Tool  have good selections of the curved rulers. Just click the link and search for the curve you want.

Take a look at our Other blog posts on the best tools:

Needles and Threads

Four Types of Scissors for Sewing That You Should Have

Best Pins and Pin Cushions

Best Scissors, Seam Rippers and Thread Snips

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