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Tips & Techniques > Centimeters to inches for the mathematically impaired

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Posted by: Karla Kizer
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About Karla Kizer starstarstar
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Posted on: 5/31/05 8:54 PM
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 6 people   
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Long car trips have me staring at the horizon, mentally tracing and altering patterns and planning adjustments. Since I've become increasingly intrigued with European patterns, I often find myself trying to convert cms to inches in my head. I don't speak Metric system, much less *think* in metric. All I know is the rough translation: 2.5 cm is approximately 1 inch. Because dividing the number of cm by 2.5 is more than I can do while attempting to stay in my traffic lane, I switched to a simpler method: double the number of centimeters and divide by 5. (You remember in Algebra I, when they told you that you could multiply both sides of an equation by a common number? Well, finally here's a practical application for that nonsense....). Example, my new Onion pattern size chart says the back length is 41cm. Double the 41 to 82. Divide by 5. (Mentally - no cheating with paper and pencil.) Answer: 16 and 2/5...so it's a little less than 16-1/2". Checking my answer on a "bilingual" tape measure: 41 cm is about 16-1/4". Not perfect, but good enough for those times when I am being held captive without a calculator and a tape measure.

Yes, I know...it's basic math, and since my name is not Pythagoras, it's definitely a "recycled" idea. Anyone who laughs gets to balance my checkbook.

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13 Comments
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gwen said...
Thank you, Karla. I love this tip!!!
5/31/05 10:17 PM
Danvillegirl said...
I can truly appreciate your tip. I just got two Onion patterns and was trying to do a best guess on the numbers. Truly timely and helpful.
6/1/05 5:58 AM
Stitchology said...
I think I can do this! Someone else is driving, right?
6/1/05 7:28 AM
Cornelia said...
That's wonderful! My first really good math teacher used to say, "Use your head to save your feet." She enthusiastically encouraged us to find different, but mathmatically correct, ways to solve problems.
6/1/05 8:18 AM
PVA said...
Brilliant! I just may find myself actually doing some math in my ancient head! (Although probably not while driving -- 8^D)
6/1/05 9:45 AM
Neefer said...
You can also multiply by 4 and divide by 10. So 41*4=164 164/10=16.4 It's the same result, but I think the math is slightly easier.
6/1/05 11:51 AM
candyo said...
hahahahaha......
6/1/05 5:37 PM
Lilibet said...
Karla, when I started sewing we used the imperial system but then Australia switched to metric. I always buy tape measures which have both side by side and which saves me from actually having to think! Sad, when I remember arithmetic was one of my favourite subjects!
6/2/05 3:43 AM
appleC said...
I need to do the conversion a lot because I use international pattern books. At first, I wrote a small conversion program and pasted the the chart on wall. Now, I simply look at my measuring tape(inch on one side, and metric on the other). Great tip though! I'll use it if I can't find my measuring tape :)
6/2/05 9:59 AM
Juli_et said...
Nice tip, I am going to tell it to my father. We live in Canada so, he learned imperial system and I learned metric system at school (Canada changed to metric system). He is always confused with metric.
6/2/05 12:28 PM
Deepika said...
What a cool tip!
6/2/05 4:49 PM
sheone said...
Wow. This is such an easy way of doing the calculation. I have a tape in my bag which is only in cm's. I can be quite clever now!!
2/3/06 9:03 AM
Pam in Amsterdam said...
Karla, don't speak about mathematics to me, because I'm absolutely figures analphabeth. Living in Europe, I'm using Burda WOF patterns and understand cm's. Browsing on the American quilting websites, I have to admit the only method I understand the inches is using one of my many inch tapes or google to inch/cm convertor.
4/15/06 6:31 AM
 
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