Previously posted 2009 - updated to a page
I make miniatures for my primary hobby. For those friends who don't make miniatures, here is an explanation.
I prefer to work in 1:48 scale. This means that a real life item that measures 4 feet long would be 1 inch long. Some people use the terms 'quarter scale', 'quarter inch scale', '1/4" scale' or '1/48th scale' to represent the same thing.
All of the terms except 'quarter scale' are correct. True quarter scale would actually be 1:25 scale or one quarter of real life. In the example of a 4 feet long item then would be 1 foot. One foot versus one inch is a major difference. I have been guilty of using this term, but I don't anymore.
Other scales I have created in are:
1:12 also called one inch scale, inch to the foot, 1/12th and dollhouse scale
1:24 also called half inch scale, 1/24th
1:144 also called micro-mini, 1/144th and dollhouse - dollhouse scale (meaning a piece that would be a dollhouse inside a dollhouse)
When working with scale, I believe it is important to stay in scale relative to other items. In real life our world contains all sizes of things. There are small sofas, bigger overstuffed sofas and formal couches for example. Tables can be in various heights depending on it's use. Beds can be lower to floor or have massive headboards and footboards. Then add to the mix is the people who have things custom made to fit their size. I'm short so I don't want to have my feet dangling when I sit down, so I have couch that is lower to the floor. But if I had difficulty getting up, I might consider a higher seat level.
All this means that things can be different sizes and be perfectly acceptable. What makes them work together is whether they fit together. In real life a dainty side table will look out of place next to a overstuffed couch.
Sometimes in miniature, we miniaturists will make a room with higher walls. This is generally either due to a Victoria style house or just to make it easier to see or play inside the room. In real life we find 12 foot walls but not in most houses.
In miniature it is very common to have a 12" wall for 1:12 scale or 3 inch walls for a 1:48 scale room. For these rooms, it is possible that a smaller sofa will look out of place in this room because it is low. It doesn't necessarily mean it is truly out of scale. However when we make miniatures everything looks better when all the items are in scale with each other.