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Measuring Tools in Sewing

Updated: May 2, 2021

Following the previous post on sewing tools for beginners, let's chat about measuring tools.

Measuring tools in sewing are very important for the perfect fit and shape of any garment and even home furnishing. Even as a beginner, you will need to measure seam allowances, hems and other markings. Some instructions of patterns or projects might only give you the measurements for a rectangular piece so you will need to be able to measure that out.

The list of measuring tools in sewing isn't too long but you don't need all these tools in your sewing kit right away. So I have broken into beginner and intermediate tools to make it easier for you to set up your sewing kit.

So what are these measuring tools and how do they help?


  1. Measuring Tape

  2. Clear ruler

  3. Quilting ruler

  4. Sewing gauge

  5. Yardstick

  6. French curve

  7. Flexible curved ruler

  8. Tailors L square

  9. Curved runner


If you are a beginner setting up your sewing room, these are the 3 essentials that I use most sewing days.

  • Measuring Tape

  • Clear ruler

  • Quilting ruler – Just get one smaller one around 14 inches (35.5cm)

The rest you can purchase as you expand your sewing skills and start sewing more regularly.


  • Yardstick

  • Sewing gauge

  • French curve

  • Curved ruler

  • L square

  • Curve runner



The tape measure is a standard measuring tool that every sewist should have in their sewing kit. You will find that you will use it not just for sewing, but for all kinds of home measuring projects. 

When measuring your body for sewing clothes, a tape measure is essential for taking your bust, waist, hips and many other measurements that allow you to create the perfect fit.

Invest in a good flexible tape measure with standard measurements in both inches and centimetres. Having both imperial and metric measurements helps broaden your sewing horizon by allowing you to purchase sewing patterns from various countries.

Keep in mind that tape measures can stretch out of shape over time meaning your measurements won't be accurate, be sure to check this and replace if necessary.

A good length for a tape measure is 60 inches (150cm) and the numerals need to be clearly marked and easy to read. I like the retractable sewing tape measures as the case prevents it from getting tangled.


Measuring tools in sewing must include a ruler made of clear plastic. The length can vary, but 12 inches (30cm) or 18 inches (45cm) is a good length for dressmaking and pattern measuring. You can find these in the stationery section (or steal it from your kids pencil case).

The clear ruler is used for

  • measuring straight lines

  • seam lines

  • quilting lines

  • pattern seam markings

  • marking off small distances and spaces like buttonholes and pleats.


Quilting rulers come in different shapes and sizes and are made from clear plastic with markings in inches. The quilting ruler is basically a grid system of different useful markings. Start small with the 4.5” x 13” ruler and build up your selection as you grow in confidence.

There are square rulers and triangular rulers in different sizes to assist with a wide range of quilting projects. Quilting is based on precision and accurate measurements taken using a great ruler will give you the guidance you need.

You can also use the quilting ruler to help you keep a straight grain when placing your pattern pieces onto your fabric.



Made of a hard wood or metal, a yardstick is useful for checking hems and drawing long lines. 

Measuring from the floor to the hem length helps to gauge the finished drop of the hem. The yardstick will check on straight grain lines and other straight measurements in dressmaking, home décor and pattern making.


A sewing/seam gauge is a small useful tool to measure small distances.

The sewing gauge can measure hemlines, tucks and pleats as well as the spaces required for buttons and buttonholes.

This tool can come with a sliding guide to easily mark out your measurements. Or you can also find plastic or metal plates with the various seam allowances up to 1 1/4", the same is available in centimetres. As mentioned above, getting used to both imperial & metric is a good practice.


A French Curve is a very useful curved template and can help measure and draw out all sorts of patterns and curved areas. 

Alterations, additions to curved areas or just accurate curved cutting lines are all made easier with the use of the French Curve. This tool will be used frequently if you are pattern making.


The flexible curved ruler is one very bendy and curvy plastic gadget. It helps to measure and draw any curved or straight line. 

It bends into the shape you want to assist measuring accurately. This is a very useful gadget and as a multi-task tool will perform the same functions as may other tools in the measuring department.


Technically the L square is two different sized rulers joined together into one L shaped unit with a short side and a long side. They make a right angle at the point where they meet.

It is very useful in pattern measuring and scaling down 1/2” 1/4” 1/8” 1/10” and 1/32” scaled measures. (12mm, 6mm, 3mm, 2mm, 1mm)


This little gadget is known as a rolling ruler.  It is a very useful measuring tool because it is easy to use and very compact. Made of clear acrylic plastic it is fast and accurate. You are able to see through the wheel and measure curved and straight lines.

Measuring tools have become very creative and inventive over the years. Tailor-made for the most accurate designing and perfectly fitting garments. 

Choose a gadget or two to help the process as having sewing gadgets is always fun. However, you don't need all to be honest. All of them measure, some measure straight or curved better. As long as you have the basic kit covered, that's all your really need.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

Happy Sewing,


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