In quilting and sewing, we use rulers all the time. We love our rulers and part of the fun is buying new and even more fabulous rulers. Then we get to organize them in various clever ways, it's a great part of quilting. As rulers as such good friends of ours, it's time to learn some revealing facts about rulers!
1. Definition - I love to start with the basics. I quote here from The Free Dictionary which states that a ruler is
"A straightedged strip, as of wood or metal,
for drawing straight lines and measuring lengths."
Sounds right to me!
2. Invented - Many civilizations used various straightedged measuring tools in order to reproduce items in the approximate same shape but there was not much uniformity. According to Weights and Measures, "The first calibrated foot ruler, a measurement tool, was invented in 1675 by an unknown inventor." I'll accept that answer!
3. Standardization - Most of the world uses the metric system, this kind of unification took a great while. Who does not? The USA, Liberia, South Yemen and a handful of tiny countries still use the "English" system. Hmm, we don't seem to be in very good company and those countries are in the processing of converting. This juicy detail and many others can be verified here.
4. Early tools - The earliest tools were parts of a person's body, the span of finger, a length of a foot, a thumb for an inch and the length of the middle finger to the elbow was called a cubit. Although the lengths could vary, you definitely always had it with you!
5. Eli Whitney - He first conceived of interchangeable parts and hence the need for stricter control of measurements. This was the beginning of the modern day units rather than say the length of a king's arm! Read this fact and more at this web site.
6. Most modern - Today the most cutting edge way to measure something is by laser. I had no idea and learned this here.
7. Manufacturer - In the USA today the largest number of rulers is produced by Westcott which is owned by Acme United. They are 140 years old, that's a lot of ruler. Internet site here.
8. Quilters - Many quilters use acrylic rulers. Acrylic is a really hard type of plastic which is diffitul to break and you can see through. Learn more here.
9. First quilting ruler - I am sure there are other sites out there but this site states that in 1985, Peggy Schafer's husband made one in his workshop and thus Ominigrid was born. From there, Marti Michelle made templates and template rulers. It's almost hard to remember when acrylic tools were not available.
10. Unusual rulers - When I think of a ruler, I think of my quilting ruler or school ruler. But there are at least 10 unusual ones with pencils embedded or with built in calculators. Check them out!
11. Slide Rulers - I remember them but not fondly. I wondered if people still use them and the answer is NO. They died out in the 70's due to calculators. Read all about them at this site.
12. Song - Of course, in fact there are more than one on YouTube but this spoof of a Justin Bieber song was my favorite.
My rulers make me Sew happy!
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If you like reading facts, check my last facts post about rotary cutters.