When I started learning how to sew, the one thing that surprised me the most was this…
You must have a basic knowledge of fractions and geometry. And you need to know how to read a ruler.
Before learning to sew, I had no idea that basic math skills played such a part in the construction of sewing garments.
You need to know things like…
- The crosswise grain must be perpendicular to the lengthwise grain (geometry);
- To protect your body standing at the cutting table or sitting in front of your sewing machine, you need to know how to create right angles (geometry again);
- Sewing patterns for the home sewer are drafted ½ of the front of our body and ½ of the back of our body (fractions); and
- If you need to add 1″ to the hip measurement of the pattern and you have four vertical seams, then you’ll need to distribute ¼ inch to each vertical seam (fractions again).
But don’t you fret! Because what we need to know is very simple and not hard at all.
In this article, I will be covering how to read an imperial ruler.
In the U.S., we use the Imperial System of measurement, rather than the Metric System.
I promise you that once you’ve used your ruler or measuring tape in a few projects, you’ll be thinking to yourself, “That was so easy! Why ever was I afraid?”
So if you’re ready, let’s do this…
NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!
How to Read an Imperial Ruler
Let’s start by breaking an inch down into its parts.
The longest lines on a ruler or tape measure represent the inch markings — for example, 1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, and so forth:
Each inch can be further divided into half, which is represented by the second longest line. This gives us a ½ inch:
And each ½ inch can be divided in half to give us fourths: ¼, 2/4, ¾, and 1.
Did you notice how the ½ inch mark is now 2/4?!
Okay, I think you’re probably beginning to see a pattern!
Now, if we divide each fourth in half, we get eighths: 1/8, 2/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, and 1!
Did you notice how the ½ inch mark is now 4/8?!
Alright, we down to, yes, you’ve guessed it, sixteenths: 1/16, 2/16, 3/16, 4/16, 5/16, 6/16, 7/16, 8/16, 9/16, 10/16, 11/16, 12/16, 13/16, 14/16, 15/16, and 1!
Yep, this is what we get when we divide eights in half.
Well, that’s it!
You now know what all those slashes on an imperial ruler mean!
Now, how easy was that?!
And you thought you couldn’t do it.
Pro tip: Grid rulers are conveniently divided into eights and sixteenths. And these rulers are lifesavers when it comes time to adjusting our sewing patterns to achieve a good fit!
When you started this article, you probably had no idea what every slash on an imperial ruler meant.
And now you do!
We’re now ready to move onto learning the definition of a good fit and how to bring any sewing pattern into alignment with our body proportions.
Are you excited?! I hope so because I am.
Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!
RELATED: Click HERE to learn everything you need to know about sewing patterns!
RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies!
Get Your FREE Gift!
Join me and I will send you a FREE copy of the Sewing Machine Practice Sheets! So you can begin mastering sewing straight lines, pivoting corners, and taking curves!
Plus, so much good stuff is coming that will allow you and I to finally unleash our dressmaking superpowers. And, I will also share weekly exclusive tips! Seriously!