You Are a Ruler

Needing to measure a small piece of muslin but separated from the yardstick, this morning I fell back on an old Girl Scout trick: using body parts of known length as a ruler. Ergo, my thumb’s first joint is a little over one inch long. From inside elbow to wrist, my forearm measures about twelve inches.

Which of those always-available body markers do you use for on-the-fly measuring?

Nose to tip of outstretched arm - one yard.

Good one. I still quick-and-dirty measure fabric that way. Do you turn your head or keep looking straight ahead?

Horses are measured in “hands,” which I understand translates to one “hand” = 4 inches measured across the palm (but on me that’s 3 inches, not 4).

I just used this technique to illustrate the height of the shoes my daughter was thinking of buying online. (3 inches for my pointer finger)
And when I was designing a college themed scarf. (used my hand)

I also use a ‘handful’ to measure things for cooking.

The span from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my pinky, when stretched fully apart, is 9" - I use this to measure things far more frequently than one would expect.

That’s a new one for me. I like it!

I look straight ahead. Learned this trick in Home Economics class about (mumble, mumble) years ago.

I use this all the time to measure yarn and fabric.

I use my palm to measure ingredients frequently.

My index finger is 3 inches. And the creases are conveniently placed one inch apart, lol! Often i will put my two index fingers together for a six inch measure.

Now I have to go measure mine!

These are really interesting, but the only one of the above that works for me is a handful when I am cooking! I am short, 5ft 1in, and I am reasonably in proportion, so it probably works differently for different people.according to their overall size. I did read somewhere that the measurement from the bend of the elbow to the bend of the wrist is the same as the length as the foot, and that works for me, just under 9 inches - handy for checking the length of a sock without actually trying it on.

I use that one all the time, too. My span is more like 8", but it’s a “handy” little ruler.

I had to go measure mine, too. I have to resort to my middle finger, but it’s the same as your index finger.

That’s interesting. I’ll have to do a test of that one. It seems to me that my feet keep growing, though. In the last couple decades I’ve gone from being a dainty-ish 7.5 shoe size to the 9.5 boats that I currently wear! I haven’t noticed the same increase in arm length, which is probably a good thing, since my knuckles would be dragging!

@Trowynt I think feet change in shape, so it affects our shoe size although the feet themselves are the same size. As my mother got older, she needed shoes a full size bigger than the ones she had worn all her adult life, but it turned out that her arches had dropped so her feet were not as “bunched up” and short as they used to be. She also gained weight, so her feet got wider and she needed shoes that were bigger all over. I just hope I get my feet from Dad’s side of the family!

My feet have definitely grown in length. When I was first married, I was an 8 1/2, now an 11! They also went from being AAA width to medium width.

So - this isn’t a part of your body, but you often have it with you. Did you know the American Dollar is 6” long?

Fold it in half - 3”
fold it in thirds - 2”
open one of the thirds - 4”


I use this all the time when traveling and can’t find a ruler.

Brilliant! Although I’ve used a standard sheet of paper (8-1/2 x 11), I’ve never heard of using a dollar bill. It’s much more precise and elegant!