Sunday, November 4, 2018

PSA: Check Your Tapes!

PSA = public service announcement

Focus on the number 31 above.  The camera was directly above 31, so because of camera angle and perspective that is the only accurate place to look.

Recently I heard or read something about unreliable tape measures.  Honestly, I can't remember where.  Hey, it happened more than 2 seconds ago!  It was either on Facebook or a podcast because that's where I learn all the important things PLUS (on Facebook) there are those cute cat vids.  Friend of mine rescued a 3 week old abandoned kitten 4 weeks ago and she has been a faithful chronicler of its antics.  Have I drifted off topic?  Who knows,  I started writing this more than 2 seconds ago.

Oh yes. Tape measures and important information.  I'm a fan of Zede and Mallory Donahue, who have BOTH Facebook and podcasty presence.  Check out Sewing Out Loud and the Self Sewn Wardrobe.  It was probably here that I was alerted to the possibility that my tapes were wrong.  But it could have been anywhere.  See 2 second comments above.

So I lined a bunch of them up on my largest cutting mat, all starting at the zero point and held in place securely by a cast iron shoe last.   I also laid a steel yardstick down.  Fortunately the mat and the yardstick agreed, so I'm going to believe they are accurate.  But just look at the tapes!

Frankly  I am horrified by this.  Devices that are designed to measure should measure ACCURATELY.  Am I right?  or am I right?  Right?

I have never used cloth measuring tapes because I was told years ago that they would stretch over time, but I assumed I was fairly safe with the plastic ones.  But notice that both of them (top 2) are too short.

And the flexible curve ruler that I bought just last week is a full 3/8" too long by the time you get out to 31 inches.


This public service announcement has been brought to you by DragonPoodle Studio, a completely not-for-profit private enterprise.  The term "not-for-profit" is a description only and has no legal meaning or validity under the tax codes and laws.  Not only is there no profit, it is pretty much a black hole into which a percentage of my disposable income regularly disappears. Happily, by the way.


  1. I've also heard that you should cut a quilt out using the same ruler, since rulers aren't always the same, either. I'm not a bit surprised about the tapes.

  2. Wow now I have to check all my measuring devices. I have placed too much faith in manufactures!

  3. This is horrifying! I wonder how many are stretched over time, vs straight from the store inaccurate.

  4. With tapes I try not to use the 0" to 1" part. I believe it is really inaccurate. Start a measure at the 1" mark and then subtract 1" for the total measurement.

  5. I've written about this as well; my dad clued me into the 'start at 1' with metal shop tape measures (the front end gets chewed off by wear and tear).
    My folding cardboard layout board loses distance with the folds, but the 1/4" error on the big plastic grid from Joann'a (it was rolled, I assume stretch distortion over time) is harder to remember. At least they are both....mostly square.
    Some of the tape measures I have are wrong just straight out from the package. Again, stretching during packaging.

    If I use the same measure through the same project, it's good.

    1. Ive linked this post on my blog, because you've said it better than I could. As usual


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