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Quick disclaimer: I'm a StackOverflow regular and completely out of my element here...so go easy on me.

Just wanted to ask if anyone know of a simple way to measure or calculate the volume of clothing?

It would be easy to get the clothing's weight (mass) and maybe a little harder to get the "true" dimensions (height, width, depth).

Any suggestions, or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

UPDATE #1: I read about using water for irregular shapes. Measure the water without the item, then measure the water with the item. Is there similar method that doesn't involve getting the clothes wet?

UPDATE #2: Am I making it more complicated than it really needs to be? Should I just fold the clothes and measure height, width and depth?

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You mean of the cloth or of the entire thing (including all the air or person etc. that might be inside it)? If you just want the volume of the cloth, find its mass and then find or estimate the density of the material. –  Qiaochu Yuan May 31 '11 at 16:44
    
Chemistry.....? –  Aryabhata May 31 '11 at 16:46
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@Update #2: There could be significant error if the dimensions are very small (hard to measure). You could reduce this error by stacking several copies of the same article of clothing, finding the volume of the stack (length x width x height), and dividing by the number of articles in the stack. –  Austin Mohr May 31 '11 at 17:25
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There's a lot of air in clothing, as anybody who's squashed down a suitcase to get more into it knows. See also those vacuum-storage bags that are advertised on late night television. –  Michael Lugo May 31 '11 at 17:49
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I don't think that this question deserves the two downvotes it has received, particularly since they are unexplained - related discussion available at this meta thread. –  Chris Taylor May 11 '12 at 7:32
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2 Answers

Dunk the clothing in water and measure the displacement.

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Depending on the material, won't this underestimate the volume since water will soak into it? –  Qiaochu Yuan May 31 '11 at 17:00
    
Sorry, posted my update, before I read this. –  timborden May 31 '11 at 17:01
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Seeing his comment now about the folded volume motivates his question a little further, so you are right. In this case, you might fold the clothing, wrap it tightly in thin plastic, and then place it in water. At this point, however, it seems like the clothing might well enough be approximated by a rectangular prism. –  Austin Mohr May 31 '11 at 17:03
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@Qiaochu, so use some non-wetting liquid, like mercury, instead of water. Did I happen to mention that I'm a pure mathematician, not applied? –  Gerry Myerson Jun 1 '11 at 0:19
    
@AustinMohr: I think what you said in the comments about measuring the volume of a stack of items was probably better. –  Tara B May 11 '12 at 8:54
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We were taught in our school a simple method to find the dimensions of a non-linear object.Based on it I am suggesting the following procedure: Fold the piece of clothing to the required size and place it flat in a rectangular plastic tray so that the clothe touches the two adjacent sides of the tray. Place a flat plate on top of the clothe, press it down level and measure its length, width and the gap between the bottom of the tray and the flat plate and multiply the measured values. I hope this method serves your purpose.

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Nice approach....thanks! –  timborden May 11 '12 at 14:32
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