I am working on a quilt that I will submit for consideration into a juried exhibit. The exhibit has specific size requirements. I completed my quilt and was preparing to cut it to be 24″ x 20″. You know the adage-measure twice, cut once. When it comes to making a cut on a quilt that must be a specific size, if you cut too small you will be out of the running. Since I made this quilt specifically for this exhibit, I was going to be very careful about my cuts.
I lined up two rulers to lay the line for my subsequent cuts and I could not help but notice:
Holy cow, one ruler was a full 1/8″ shorter! How can that be? So then I just had to get out my other 24″ rulers:
There was some discrepancy there too! My final tally on rulers: Omnigrid and O’Lipfa were the same, Cutting Edge was 1/32″ shorter and the Matrix ruler was the full 1/8″ shorter. I’m astounded.
So, which is “right”?? I did a little mind numbing research and found that in 1066, 1 inch was equal to the length of 3 barleycorn. Ah, but it became much more refined in 1814 when an inch was defined as “three grains of sound ripe barley being taken out the middle of the ear, well dried, and laid end to end in a row”. Wow, cleared that up! You will be happy to know that at the time, the barleycorn was the standard from which all English long measurements were made. The barleycorn thing remained the standard until the mid-1800’s.
Given the history of the inch, I would deduce that the Matrix ruler is shorter than most 24″ rulers by…the mere width of a barleycorn.
And the next time you are asked to make a piece to a certain dimension, perhaps you should ask-“Whose inch should I use?”