10 Measuring tools & Rulers used in Pattern drafting and Sewing

Drafting dress making patterns to your own custom measurements, or making pattern alterations, and then measuring and marking on fabric and then cutting it all out accurately, all are a breeze if you have the right tools. The following tools are what you need if you want your sewing life a lot easier, while you conceptualise your own patterns and then materialise them and make beautiful garments.

Just ensure that whatever you buy, they are not made of flimsy material and they are made well without any jagged edges and the markings and printings on them are clear and readable. It is an advantage if the rulers have metric and imperial measurements marked.

Measuring tape

sewing tools

Goes without saying that measuring tape is the number one thing you need in sewing. You can do without any other tool in this list when sewing, but not this one. Read more about measuring tape here.

Straight rulers

drafting tools

Ideally you can buy a 18″ x 2″ clear plastic ruler; You also need a small plastic ruler  for small measurements. I have a 24 inch plastic ruler. Transparent rulers are great as you can see where you are putting the ruler on.

L-shaped ruler (L-scale)

measuring tools

This scale has two sides – it usually measures 24″ x 14″ and is used to mark fabric straight, corners correctly. It can help to keep the grainline of the fabric correct. Keep the scale on the fabric and align against the edges so that the other edge becomes completely straight. Also called Tailor’s Square.

French curve ruler

armscye measurement

This is a ruler with a variety of uses in sewing – primarily it is used to shape armholes and necklines.

Square Quilting scale

measuring tools

This is a clear ruler which has a square shape and is used for cutting fabric square pieces accurately. It is great for squaring half square triangle blocks and is a must have if love patchwork and quilting.

Other curved rulers

Useful in patterndrafting when you need to make long curves.

Hip curve. 

Hip shape scale/curve ruler; Leg curve ruler; arm curve are some rulers available in the market that can come to be of use when drafting and marking the hip side line, inseam in pants, arm curve – the open edge of the sleeves etc.

Leg curve. 

The hip curve can help in giving a natural look to the hip line you draw for pants and skirts.

Arm curve.

Hem guage

This is a tool you can use to mark your hems accurately. You can make this one yourself using a cardboard sheet. 


This is helpful to make small circles. The regular compass can be used to make small circles – useful in marking designs for embroidery. But for large circles you need something bigger.

You can make a compass yourself by attaching string to two pencils. The string should measure slightly more than the circle you want. Tie the two pencils on both edges of your string with the circle’s radius as strings length. Hold one pencil at the center of the circle you want to draw and using the other pencil draw your circle..


You can use this to mark angles. This is especially useful when you are cutting fabric pieces for patchwork when you will need to match edges and angles accurately, especially if you do not own the quilter’s scale.

Cutting mat

This is an excellent measuring surface – the primary purpose of the mat is to protect your work surface as you cut with your rotary cutter. But the other purpose is wonderful too – measuring and marking with accuracy. The mat has all the markings on a ruler on a larger scale with 1/2 inch grid markings and inch and metric measurements.You can buy it as big as 36″ x 48″. 

Related posts : Marking tools ; 30+Sewing tools

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8 thoughts on “10 Measuring tools & Rulers used in Pattern drafting and Sewing”

  1. I just bought a set of tailor rulers and need to learn how to use them. Is there a good reference book to learn from?

    1. Hi Davies
      Depends on your country. But they are not very costly. You can get them on amazon or other web shops or retail shops, depending on where you are located.

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