Monday 11 April 2016

I is for...

Inches vs Centimetres

Just to make this clear if you didn't already know. I live in Australia. Which means we learn to measure distance in metric measurements. Unlike the kids now though my parents learnt inches and cm so we were taught both at school so we had a basic understanding. My school rulers had both on them but until I started to quilt the only thing I measured in inches was my height and that is only because I measure myself off my mother. 

When I started learning how to quilt it took me by surprise that everyone uses inches. It didn't make sense until you think about the fact that quilting (in it's current form) originated from America. That was the driving force behind it. All the supplies and rulers were coming out of there. So it was better just to turn around and say in quilting we use inches. It makes life easier, no changing up from pattern to pattern or trying to remember what you're doing. 

The crazy thing is that this has gone into other areas of my sewing. I use a 1/4" seam all the time or a 5/8" I couldn't tell you how many centimetres that is! It also helps that my grandma still measures and does everything in inches as she didn't have centimetres when she started. So she speaks in inches, my mum also sews in inches so it wasn't a hard transition. 

This came to light over the weekend. I had to go buy some fabric. Now although we quilt in inches and need a certain amount in inches you can only buy fabric in metres here. So I'm standing there at the counter trying to work out how many metres roughly would a yard and a half be. In the end I got WAY more than I needed as I want a couple of pairs of pants out of it.  But it was interesting how ingrained it is to just work in imperial measurements and not bother with centimetres. I even got annoyed the other day that the kids ruler doesn't have inches marked when I needed something quickly. (That's their ruler and my quilting one in the picture above)

I do find it funny how something that we are meant to have fazed out and not using is becoming more prevalent for me as time goes on? 

I do measure some stuff in metric:
  • road distances
  • lengths of most objects
  • houses
But I will always measure these items in inches:

  • my height
  • any sort of fabric
  • Anything for sewing!
  • babies (well at least convert them to pounds so I can understand compared to my mother) 
It's a weird world. 
Happy Stitching, 


  1. My mother had the same "I" post over at her blog! OzzyPip Quilts

    Fangirl Stitches A-Z Cross Stitch Style
    Travel like a Geek A-Z Harry Potter film locations

  2. Thanyou for visiting my blog. I tried to reply earlier but my ipad kept freezing half way through the comment. So... here is said mother. It is amazing we both wrote about inches but it is a fact of life with patchwork. I always end up buying a little more fabric than I need... 10" strip... what's that in cms... do conversion 25.4" hmmm better make it 30cm. I have been caught out on some patterns that have said X fat quarters. ... Australian fat quarters are bigger than US ones.... and if you buy on the internet and its an aussie pattern... hmmmmm. But still... usually all good. I have to have baby weights given to me in lbs to know how big they are. Still don't comprehend it in kgs although I can do cooking and my own weight in gms....and kgs

  3. In India, we have rulers marked with both Inches and centimeters :) This was a fun post to read and understand the differences across the world.

    Pooja from
    The Side I Hide

  4. Great post! In England we are supposed to use metric but stick to Imperial for a lot of things (oo, there's another I, the non-metric system came from Britain, hence Imperial and why the former colonies used it).
    We still have miles instead of km and pints instead of litres.
    It is not uncommon to buy things in odd amounts of grammes because it is equivalent to the old pounds and ounces.
    Of course, 28 count, 32 count etc are all Imperial measurements too. I understand that mainland Europe uses holes to the cm though.


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