An easy way to make your own oversize French Curve

French curves come in all sizes but not big enough for this project. A large design like the one I am currently working on is almost all curves. The best way to smooth them out is to use a French curve. Remember how great it worked on the small drawing? I make my own French curves in just the size I need. An oversize curve works well on the actual size drawing.

Follow these easy steps to make a curve in a size that fits your project.

Trace the French curve on a piece of paper with a Sharpie pen or a Pigma pen. You need a fine, dense black line.

Scan the image into your computer. I use the scanner software that came with my printer. Import the scanned image into a simple drawing program. Windows-based computers come with a program, called Paint. Look for it under the “Accessories” tab. Nothing fancy here, just functional.

Decide how large you need a French curve. I find a 20 inch long curve and a 30 inch long curve good sizes to work with. They are large enough to give smooth, graceful curves, fit my designs nicely, and are easy to make. They easily fit on a piece of foam core or poster board.

Simple algebra or just using a proportional scale tells you how much to increase the drawings. Increase the original 9 inch drawing by 222% to get a 20 inch curve. Just round it to 220%. Increase by 335% to get a 30 inch curve. Round it to 340%.

Print out the pages and tape them together.

Transfer the drawing to a large piece of foam core board Use a permanent marker. Don’t use markers that run in water or graphite or chalky type pencils. Avoid anything that can brush off the paper later onto pattern pieces or fabric.

Cut out using a utility knife. Use a new, sharp blade and let the knife do the work. If you hold the knife with a death grip and only use your forearms and wrists you will soon hurt. A lot. The tension will stiffen your back and shoulders. What’s more, the curves will not be smooth. Relax. Use your whole body to make the cuts. Draw the knife towards you in long, slow motion. The lines curve gently. The curves are smoother.


Transfer the drawing to a large piece of poster board. Again, you can cut out the curve using a utility knife or a sharp pair of paper cutting scissors. Remember: When using scissors, turn the piece being cut. Don’t move the scissors. This helps make for a smoother cut.

You now have an oversized French curve to aid you in finalizing your design.

What size French curve worked best for your project?

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