Tape measures are essentially rulers that are flexible in nature. One may be constructed of a thin band of metal or made with cloth. These handy measuring tapes normally take up very little space, making them ideal for carrying or storing in small spaces. They can be used in a number of different professions with ease, making them extremely popular and functional.
A tape measure will typically use the same units of measurement that are common with rulers. Often, they are double sided, with one side of the tape including measurements in linear increments, while the other side will provide measurements in metric. This means that just one can function about anywhere in the world.
Tailors often favor a cloth measuring tape. Because the device is completely flexible, it is ideal for taking measurements that can be used to alter an article of clothing, or to create a new garment altogether. The image of a tailor wearing a tape draped over his or her shoulders is a common part of many cultures.
Spring style measuring tapes are often favored in construction situations. First developed in the 19th century, this type is constructed with a retractable metal band that is housed in a small casing. The casing easily fits into the palm of the hand, and a locking device makes it possible to extend the tape to a given point, then lock the tape into place. Because the thin metal band of the tape is flexible, it is possible to measure at an angle as well as a straight line.
Both examples of the tape measure are also found in the home. The cloth type is often found in sewing boxes and comes in handy for quick and easy measuring jobs. The spring style is often kept in the toolbox and can be handy for small woodworking projects or even determining the position of supports for hanging large works of art on walls. In all its forms, it is a relatively inexpensive device, and can be purchased at hardware stores and discount retail shops.