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How-to

Tip: Divide Measurements Easily

Threads magazine - 185 - June/July 2016 Issue
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This reader-submitted tip was originally featured in Threads #185 (June/July 2016).

Sometimes in pattern drafting or other sewing tasks, you have to divide a measurement into equal intervals. It’s time-consuming to divide fractions of inches and then convert the answer back to a “measurable” fraction in eighths or sixteenths of an inch, so I discovered a quicker, easier method. I find the full measurement in inches on my tape measure. I mark it with my fingertip, then carefully turn the tape measure to the metric side and note the equivalent length in centimeters. (Some tape measures have imperial and metric scales on the same side of the tape.) Because it is easier to divide decimal numbers, I divide the metric length by the desired number. I then locate that answer on the tape measure and its inch equivalent on the other side of the tape. The only math I need to do is one division problem, which is easy to calculate in decimals. The process is faster and less error-prone than working out several fraction-to-decimal conversions.

-Evangelina Vera, San Antonio, Texas


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  1. TwoBees June 24th

    The way I learned to make equally spaced buttonholes that are not a precise measurement of inches or cms & to fit them into a given length was to take a piece of elastic & if you have to make say 7 buttonholes on the front of a shirt or blouse etc insert a pin into the elastic for the top buttonhole & the other 6 at 2" or 3" intervals. Now stretch the elastic & lay it on your garment front so that the top & bottom buttonholes are where you want them to be & all the intervening markers will be exact spacings regardless of the fractional measurement. It is then easy to mark the buttonholes matching the pins at the side of the elastic on the garment. I first learned this method from a knitter to work out how to space the buttonholes for a cardigan front by knitting the button band first & marking where the buttons would be & either counting rows or laying the buttonhole band against it. You can give or take a row or 2 in knitting to make it fit or make a decision for more or fewer buttonholes if that works out better.

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