Tape measure


Categories Threads
Theme(s) Arts and crafts
Collection Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) Object Collection
Date Around 1920
Object number 68/543
  • Description

Acquired from The Mount in Reading, this tape measure was used in sewing to measure different sizes of pins, tapes and buttons. Named the ‘Crescent Workbasket Treasure’, it was an early product of the Crescent Tools company, which remains a prominent hand tools manufacturer to this day. First used in the 1860s when sewing machines were becoming popular, sewing tape measures quickly became an essential tool for tailors. Made from cloth or fabric as opposed to metal, they were used for taking measurements of customers, drafting patterns, and ensuring fabric was the correct size. 

Sewing pins are also important to the process, as they temporarily hold fabric in place whilst it is stitched. Amongst the types of pins listed on this tape measure are the unusually named toilet pins and shield pins. Toilet pins, set aside from others by its sizeable head and thin shaft, are named after the French ‘toile’, which translates to ‘material’. Shield pins are safety pins specifically for holding dress shields in place.