Why Do We Sell In Centimetres?

Soooo….. we have overloaded shelves and we can’t fit any more fabric bolts on the shelves until we sell some stock. I gather a goodly amount of fabric loveliness and create a 50% off sale for it (still ongoing if you’d like to partake!). I set up a Facebook ad and off it went into the webosphere to tell everybody that we have a 50% off sale.

I didn’t quite bargain on an incoming barrage of comments and emails from people saying that us selling by the centimetre was “mad” and “crazy” and “who *does* that?”. (Well, me actually).

To be honest with you, it is actually hurtful. Like all business owners, I care very much about my business, work extremely hard seven days a week for little or no pay, and aim to always do the absolute best for my customers, whether in-store or online. I have no problem at all with people asking me why I chose to sell fabric by the centimetre, but – like most people – I don’t like rudeness or outright attacks, particularly without any understanding of my viewpoint.

I thought then that this week’s blog would create a good platform to share exactly why I chose to sell fabric by the centimetre, instead of the half or full metre.

Fairness: You Can Buy Exactly What You Want

I never thought it was fair that I had to buy half a metre or a full metre when I only wanted 20 cm or 60 cm. Why should I have to spend more than I wanted to because the retailer has decided that I should? I’m very good at doing that all my own; I don’t need someone else’s help on that one 🙂


If I only wanted 60 cm of fabric for a project and I have to round my purchase up to the nearest metre, then that’s 40cm that won’t be used. OK, so I may make mistakes or make something else, but if not then this additional 40cm will firstly end up in my stash and then ultimately head to a charity shop or bin when I have a clear out (charity shops won’t really want stash type fabric so it’ll still head to the bin).

The Environment

Fabric that makes it to the bin will then sit it landfill. We seriously don’t need any more in landfill. OK, so it should be recycled but many people don’t. In fact each year, we British throw away a million tonnes of textiles each year* – which could be recycled. The processing and manufacturing of cotton into fabric uses water, chemicals and doesn’t do much for the carbon footprint, as it’s mostly made in the Far East. Not wasting our fabric, or buying just what we need, helps to cut down the strain on an already overloaded environment and its resources.

Our Customers Love It

OK, so nobody has put me to the ultimate test of cutting an actual centimetre yet (although I’m up for the challenge!) but I do often get asked for 5cm from a load of fabrics for a strip-pieced project. And why shouldn’t our customers have their 5cm?

But Won’t I Have To Press The Quantity Button 100 Times If I Want A Metre?

Nope, just type in ‘100’ and off you go 🙂

Technology :-/

There is definitely technology out there which would happily let the website show a per metre cost even if we sell by the centimetre. This technology though comes at a cost and as a business, I would have to build that cost into the fabric price. Quite honestly, I didn’t want to do that, and I don’t suppose our customers want to pay extra. I chose a system that offers a solution for both on-line and for the shop. It can’t be perfect because, in the business world, perfection comes with a large price tag.

So, Mad? Silly?

Maybe. But maybe I’m just leading the way on being different.

Maybe there is a different way of buying fabric?

Maybe bicycles seemed silly after riding horses for centuries. Maybe electricity seemed silly after candles and gaslights. Maybe aeroplanes seemed a completely daft idea (what? propelled into the sky in a heavy steel tube??) after a thousands of years with feet firmly planted on terra firma.

For me personally though, it ultimately comes down to being fair and having integrity when a customer wants to buy. I want our customers to be happy and to never feel that they have had to buy what they don’t want or need.

And if being fair and having integrity is being silly, then let’s hope the world becomes a sillier place.


* https://www.uktextilerecycling.co.uk/

4 thoughts on “Why Do We Sell In Centimetres?

    • Kim O'Rourke says:

      Thank you Moira. We do use inches in the quilting word in the UK too when we’re actually making our quilts, but due to EU legislation we have buy and sell in metric 🙁

    • Kim O'Rourke says:

      Hi Glynn, all our fabric is the standard width for quilting fabric, which is approximately 44″ (or about 112cm in metric).

      Hope that helps 🙂

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