SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Friday, March 19, 2010

Creativity in Measures | Family Economics

By Cathe Holden

Everyday measurement tools can be used for much more than their intended purpose. Consider the possibilities by thinking a bit outside the box and repurpose them into unique craft, gift and decor projects.

Measuring Tapes:

• A vintage fabric measuring tape, often found in the bottom of a sewing box or at a local thrift store, can be used as a unique ribbon tied around a gift wrapped with layers of unused sewing pattern tissue.

• Use one to cinch a silk flower spray for a craft room display by wrapping it several times around the stems and tying into a bow.

• Heavier and inexpensive vinyl measuring tapes, purchased from the fabric store, can be wrapped and adhered around a simple tin can or drinking glass to make an unusual pencil cup or vase for your sewing nook.

• For easy to make key fobs, cut 6" lengths of the tape and fold in half. Either punch a hole and press in a grommet or attach ribbon end clamp hardware to the ends to hold a ring of keys.

Wooden Yard Sticks and Rulers:

• A collection of vintage or new yardsticks left plain, stained or painted can be used as chair rail trim above the kitchen wainscoting or nailed to the edge of a farmhouse table as a trim.

• Use a yardstick or your child's old 12" school ruler to make a fun key rack by screwing in cup hook hardware.

• Use several 12" rulers to frame a 1-foot square mirror tile. Add names, messages or graphics with rubber stamps to customize.

Folding Wood Rulers:

• Configure a carpenter's folding ruler into shapes such as a star, crown or monogram initial to create interesting wall decor. Use sticky party/poster tack to connect the ends and keep them from unfolding and hang from a small nail or rest atop a framed mirror or picture.

Even more:

• For a thoughtful, custom birthday card, photograph or scan a section of yardstick, ruler or measuring tape at the number of the recipient's age and enlarge, crop and print onto pre-scored greeting card stock. Print several of that numbered section onto paper, string together and hang as bunting for birthday party decor.

• You can also make a fun and unique tape measure growth chart with free downloads and instructions from my blog by clicking here.

What other ideas can you think of that can be created from traditional measuring devices? Share them!

31 Comments so far

Post a comment

On Friday, May 21, 2010, jacquerose wrote

What great ideas! I have been collecting old yard sticks, and now I know what I can make with them. Incredibly creative lady!

On Friday, April 16, 2010, cody lei from ocean isle bch, nc wrote

I love vintage rulers/yardsticks!! I have used them to display pictures, but never thought to use them in such clever ways as you mentioned. I am going to use the star and crown idea immediately! Thanks, cathe you have the best ideas!!

On Friday, March 26, 2010, julia wrote

You have the best ideas, bar none!!!

On Thursday, March 25, 2010, catherine s from wisconsin wrote

I've used old yardsticks (painted and distressed) as wainscotting in a back hall...added a ton of character and got lots of compliments. Also, my folding carpenters rulers I use in my studio/office to hold the very cool business cards I pick up from others...some are like little pieces of art (especially the letterpress or specialty diecut ones)...

On Thursday, March 25, 2010, stephljones wrote

some wonderful ideas....i am definitely feeling inspired.... I'm looking at an old basket, and thinking about weaving an old tape measure around it....instant sewing basket!

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Cathe Holden wrote

Thanks for all the WONDERFUL comments everyone!! It is so appreciated, I love reading every one!

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Kelly from Wyoming wrote

I love it when I get an idea to help me use up some of the funky/hippie/vintage thrift items I collect. It also allows me to show my husband that I really do use the stuff I collect. I love your ideas Cathe.

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, jodi wrote

I especially love the idea with the folding ruler...my dad is a builder and his rulers were always an enigma to me growing up...he wouldn't let us play with them (because we would have broken them, for sure), but we always wanted to get our hands on them! brings back great memories!

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Angie in Vancouver, WA wrote

Ohhh- my ex boyfriend in college had one of those from his grandfather's former lumberyard in Germany! It was sooo cool, and I loved playing with it. What great ideas! Thanks!

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, SaraJane wrote

Love the idea of using the foldy-rulers for decorative shapes. Can't wait to pull mine out of storage!

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, betz wrote

Love all of these ideas!

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Tee R wrote

Kathe: I love the frame idea and have thought of that for a project. When my grandparents died I was cleaning out their house...bittersweet project...and found my grandfather's stash of vintage yardsticks he collected through the years. These were favorite give aways for local hardware stores. I plan on making a frame of them for a mirror...but it will be larger than 1 ft. great minds think alike.. Thanks for all the ideas here and on your other blog!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Laura Paring Down wrote

What creative and cute ideas. I love the yardstick and cup hooks!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, page.after.Paige wrote

These are great ideas! Now I need to go rummage thru my dad's garage for some of those nifty folding ones. I know that I have a bunch of cloth measuring tapes in my grandma's old sewing baskets. I love the project where you blow up the tape...my kids are older so I don't need to measure them at this point, but I think it would make awesome artwork over my couch.

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Cheryl ~ TidyMom wrote

What great ideas!! I never would have thought of most of them!! you are ALWAYS so creative with everything Cathe!! Thanks for a great post!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Quiet Quilter wrote

All great ideas!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Dogpackmomma wrote

Thanks for these oh so clever ideas! I think my favorite would be the folding wood ruler in the shape of a star. Happy Trails!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Marie from Idaho wrote

Thank you for the key rack idea using an old ruler and cup hooks. I love quick projects!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Debbie T wrote

Kathy I am always amazed at your ideas. That you could come up with so many great ideas to use tape measures and measuring sticks is a testament to your creative genius. I am new to the blog community but already yours if a favorite. Keep the great ideas coming.

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Nevie-Pie wrote

Love your ideas!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Claire wrote

Love the ideas - particulary the folding ruler in the shape of a star. Mmmm, the perfect addition to my craft room!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Elaine Allen wrote

Cathe - Who knew that one could do so many things besides "measure" with rulers and measuring tapes! These are really great ideas and I think I'm going to need to try a few!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Colleen@Mainstreetmemories.blogspot.com wrote

I love this idea! My Dad was a carpenter and I get all verklempt when I see those wooden-foldy-ones! Thanks so much for this idea :-)

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Elizabeth from California wrote

Great creative ideas for those 'old' things we can't help but saving!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Barbara from Florida wrote

These are all great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Whitney from California wrote

What great ideas! I love when an object is used in a way that's unexpected!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, a little bit of everything wrote

All very clever ideas!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Southerngeek wrote

What fabulous ideas!! I'm in love with numbers and old tape and rulers and I usually just have them sitting in a bowl or jar. I can't WAIT to go make something. Bravo!!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Jill wrote

Great ideas--what is it about numbers that is so intriguing?! They add interest wherever you put them. I have a vintage jar full of old rulers just sitting in my sewing room and I love them. Just sitting, doing nothing but looking good. You have such wonderful ideas of how to use modern technology to capture the great vintage vibe we love.

On Monday, March 22, 2010, LeAnne from WeeInklings wrote

I love old rulers, but I don't really do anything with them except put them in a cup and look at them! There are lots of good ideas here....TFS!

On Monday, March 22, 2010, Mommy of Monkeyshines wrote

Enjoyed your post! Great ideas :)

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