Just right!

Do you hate it when you order something and it doesn’t turn out to be what you expected?

This happens A LOT in magic – sadly however there are many occasions when we can actually avoid this problem.

There is one item in particular that this has happened to me more than once and that is, silk handkerchiefs. You think I would have learnt by now the sizes of each silk. However, I still manage to get them wrong with every order I place. They are either too big or too small and I end up having to re-order them again.

Sometimes it’s my own fault ordering the wrong size. But sometimes also from dealers I get given a completely different size that I originally ordered. And some dealers measure silks differently. How can we be sure what we are ordering if dealers aren’t sure either?

Measurements Smeasurments!

I realised that part of the reason for the confusion is that silks are sold with two forms of measurements. That’s centimetres and inches. And also different countries measure differently too – metric and imperial.

I don’t know about you but when it comes to things I am a terrible judge of size – make of that sentence what you will – when it comes to magnets, coins, sponge balls etc.

I began thinking recently that I need to make a size chart. A quick, simple and visually easy way to reference to remember. Otherwise I might seriously start me loose my marbles in my next order!

Let’s start with what’s important

I decided to begin with the silks. The Important one’s first. Starting with what I currently use in my shows. making a small list. For me there is really only two types of silks I use.

The “square” silk handkerchief which looks like this.

And the “diamond” silk handkerchief which looks like this.

When making my personal silk chart I thought that I should put the silks known measurements first. As how else will I learn them. However, until I learn them I thought it might be good that I match each silk size to something recognisable.

I decided to use my body as a reference. So that when I think of each silk I can visualise it’s size by linking it to something I know.

Before buying I now use these visuals as reference. (I should say that my measurements below are taken along the edges of the square i.e. the perimeter – I learnt a new word today!).

  1. A hand as reference for the smallest size. 28cm or 12” Squared.
  2. My middle fingertip to elbow as reference for medium sized. 45cm or 18” Squared.
  3. A full arms length as reference for large sized. 58cm or 24” Squared.

I only need three as I only use three sizes of silks. Anything smaller than that or bigger will be specialised.

A collective effort to change

Maybe this is something that we as magician’s need to collectively do. Not only for ourselves but for dealers also. I feel more checking is needed to happen in shops before orders are sent – particularly on silks. But a reference point could be made for sponge balls, silks any prop that comes in multiple sizes. In particular props where it matters when ordering a size for the effect! There is nothing more disappointing than paying for an order and getting something you did not ask for.

I may not have solved the problem entirely and lots more work may need to go into this but already with my makeshift reference list above, I feel so much better about my next order of silks handkerchiefs for my performances!


  1. To make things even more complicated, some producers measure silks diagonally rather than along the sides, so if it says “30 cm silk”, it can mean a square silk with 21 cm sides.
    Also, it is usually measured before hemming, so the hem eats up some too.

    I’ve found these two pages to be informative:

    Silk Sizes Explained:

    Silk equivalency Chart:

  2. I have a drawer full of silks that I ordered the wrong size of at various times, and yet, nothing in that drawer is ever the right size for what I need on subsequent projects. Magic!

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