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Department of Weights and Measures Inspector David Sorlie jots down notes on the Measuregraph to send to the State Weights and Measures Department.About a month ago my mother calls to tell me she and my brother Bill are coming up from Indianapolis for a visit. We have a nice chat and she also mentions the old garden/tool shed built back in the 1960s was on its last leg and they were having it torn down and replaced. So she’s been busy pulling items out of it when she calls to tell me, “I found something in the shed I think you might like.” After we hang up I begin to wonder what in the world could she have found in a tool shed that would be of interest to me?

I didn’t have long to wait. Come Saturday they arrive and Bill carries in a square wooden board about 2″ thick draped with an old brown plastic bag. He sets it down and lifts the bag. To my amazement I find myself to be the new owner of a Measuregraph used in fabric stores back in the day to measure fabric. Back in 1976 Stillman’s at Southgate was going out of business and my mother buys it at the auction thinking she would use it to measure her own fabric. Two years later my parents and younger siblings move to Indy and at some point it is relegated to the tool shed.

What a delight! The City of Fort Wayne Weights and Measures sticker shows it was last inspected in 1969. I call up the department and speak to senior inspector David Sorlie. I start to describe it to him with its mechanism to cut the fabric and dial to show how much has been measured. He’s never heard of such a thing so I meet him over at Born Again Quilts (BAQ) so he can take photos to send down to Indy to see if anyone there knows how to calibrate it. No word yet, so in the meantime I contact the Measuregraph Company and get to know Agent Barry Edminster. I send him a photo and he tells me it looks to be either a model 146 or 156. The last two numbers are indicative of it being made in either 1946 or ’56. If it’s the latter: we’re the same age! I can’t wait to check it out. Barry is checking to see if they have anyone in Indiana who might give me an assist on operating and maintaining it. Good to know if repairs are necessary the company started in 1916 still carries spare parts for them.

Back to David and his visit I learn more about the Department of Weights and Measures that I always associate with gas pumps. Every scale or device used to measure items for profit must be inspected: From the scales to weigh coffee in your favorite coffee shop to taxi meters and laundromat machines that measure time. The department gives a helping hand by voluntarily working with local high schools to make certain shot puts and discuses are of the correct weight or they will be rejected. If you are a wrestler know the scale was inspected by David or his assistant prior to competition to ensure everyone meets the required weight for their class.

So stop by Born Again Quilts and check out a piece of fabric shop nostalgia. One thing you can be sure of…when we do get it to operate, we won’t be ripping the cloth after the small cut has been made. It will be back to the rotary cutter!

Thank you mom for making the Measuregraph’s new home the BAQ Studio!

Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts 4005 South Wayne Ave, Fort Wayne
Hours 5:30-7 T W TH and Saturday 9-2 or by appointment

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer