Humans come with many curves in many places. When it comes to drafting a clothing pattern, you can’t just use a straight ruler. You need a curve ruler that can help you measure out necklines, waistlines, armholes, and more.
So, what are the best curve rulers for sewing? The best curve ruler for sewing, traditionally referred to as a French curve ruler or hip curve ruler, is made of sturdy material, has clear markings in your preferred measurement system, and is the right size and cost for your projects and budget.
In this article, we’ll give you all the details you need to know for finding the best curve ruler to help you master your sewing patterns.
What Are Curve Rulers?
Curve rulers are exactly what they sound like: rulers that have a curve at the end with clear markings to help you measure curved sections of a sewing pattern.
There are a few different types of curve rulers: French curve rulers, hip curve rulers, and flexible curve rulers. French curve rulers are sometimes also referred to as hip curve rulers, but these two are different.
A French curve ruler is in the shape of a comma, with one large round head at one end and a long section that tapers off at the bottom.
Hip curve rulers offer a wider bend to help you capture the wider curve of a hip.
Flexible curve rulers are very different. Rather than being a stiff piece of plastic or aluminum, flexible curve rulers look similar to straight rulers, except they can be bent to make a full circle or whatever angled curve you need.
What Are Curve Rulers Used For?
French curve rulers are used for the smaller curves on the body, such as armholes and necklines. You can also use them for a contoured dart, depending on the size of the dart.
If you’re working on a child’s clothing pattern, you could use a French curve ruler for the waistline and hipline too. These are typically smaller curves on a child and would be too small to fit on a hip curve ruler.
Hip curve rulers are used for exactly what you’d imagine: hips! They’re a wider curve so they’re best for wider areas of the body such as the hip, or depending on the pattern, the waist, too.
You can use a flexible curve ruler to help you with sleeves and pants. You can bend it into a perfect circle to measure how large a sleeve or pant needs to be before sewing. Each of these rulers can also be used to help with seam allowance, as well.
Seam allowances are an important part of clothing construction because if you don’t budget for the seam space, you’ll end up with a clothing product that’s too small!
Ruler Sets Vs Single Product
Sometimes you can get a set of multiple rulers all in one, or you can buy individual rulers based on your need. For new sewists, it could be difficult to know which is the better deal.
The ruler sets will often come at a better price per unit, but the quality may be lower when you get a bundled set.
However, sets aren’t always low quality. Many of them are great quality and can be a steal of a deal. Be sure to read reviews before purchasing so you know if it’s worth it.
On the other hand, for experienced sewists who already have a lot of rulers and tools in their bags, it may be better to buy individual rulers as needed.
There’s no sense in buying a whole new ruler set when all you need is one hip curve ruler. Consider what you need and make the right purchase for your sewing box!
Curve Rulers – Buyer’s Guide
When you’re looking for a good curve ruler to add to your set, consider the qualities below.
Curve rulers should be good quality. Whether you’re buying a French, hip, or flexible curve ruler, the material should be durable.
Some curve rulers are made of cheap plastic and break into pieces the first time you drop them on the floor. That kind of low quality will leave you without a curve ruler when you need it, and buying replacements all too often.
There are still good curve rulers made of plastic, just make sure it’s a durable plastic.
You can also find curve rulers made from aluminum instead of plastic. These will typically be longer lasting and more durable, though they come at a higher price.
Still, if you can afford the increased price tag of an aluminum ruler, we highly recommend it!
Rulers aren’t just used to draw straight or curved lines, but they’re used to draw measured lines.
With a curve ruler, you need those curves to be clearly marked. It doesn’t help you make your pattern if the measurement markings brush right off, or are unclear to begin with.
Many plastic curve rulers will have pink or red markings. These work great, as long as the color is saturated and clearly visible.
The black markings are best because they’re the easiest to see when looking at the ruler. Most aluminum curve rulers will have black markings.
Regardless of the color of the markings, it’s important to make sure that they’re clearly visible to the naked eye. If you can’t see them in the product picture, you probably can’t see them in person, either.
Another thing to consider with a curve ruler is whether it’s the right measurement system for you. If you’re in the US, you’re probably using the standard measurement system, which uses inches for measuring.
However, if you’re in another country, or if you’re working with a pattern that originated from another country, you may need a curve ruler that has the metric system. This would give you markings in centimeters instead of inches.
Many Americans use the metric system for patterns or recipes because of where the pattern or recipe originated. But, if you know you use a lot of patterns that originated in another country, like the UK, then it would be best to get a curve ruler with the metric system.
Additionally, it’s important that you’re getting a ruler with an accurate measurement system. When your ruler comes in, hold up a straight section of it next to another ruler and see how the measurements compare.
A little bit of difference is expected based on different manufacturers, but if your measurements are more than ¼” off from your other ruler, one of them is very wrong!
Don’t be afraid to return that ruler and try a different one. Incorrect measurements can throw off an entire pattern and ruin hours, or even days and weeks, of your hard work.
When it comes to curve rulers, the size matters a lot. If you’re working primarily in children’s clothes, then you can probably make do with a simple 12” French curve ruler.
However, if you work with adult clothing in various sizes, then it’s necessary to go up to at least a 24” ruler. The size doesn’t just determine the length of the ruler, but the size of the curve – especially on a French curve or a hip curve ruler.
You need a size that’s going to work well to measure whatever curves you may need in your patterns.
If you work with both children and adult clothing, then it could be a good idea to get one small and one large ruler, or stick with just the large one.
You can generally adapt a large one for smaller sizes but you can’t adapt a small one for larger sizes.
With inflation constantly on the rise over time, cost of goods is more important than ever. When you’re searching for a curve ruler to add to your sewing tools, it’s important to find one that fits your budget.
You may not have the money to splurge on a $25 aluminum French curve ruler, so maybe try an $8 set of 2 plastic ones. On the other hand, if you have the extra money to spend on getting one of a higher quality and better durability, do it!
The important thing is that you find a ruler that fits your specific budget, rather than trying to stretch your money just to afford a single ruler. We mentioned ruler sets above, and those are always a great option.
Buying a set that includes a French curve ruler, a corner ruler, and other good sewing rulers can greatly help you if you’re working on a tight budget but can’t go without these valuable tools.
The Best Curve Rulers For Sewing
Now that you’ve considered all of the best qualities for a curve ruler, as well as learned about the different types and what they can do for you, it’s time to buy!
Check out our list of the best curve rulers for sewing below.
|1.||Fairgate Vary Form (French Curve Ruler) 24in||Made of lightweight aluminum, inches, clear black markings on both sides, 24”|
|2.||OkDeals French Curve Ruler Sewing, Comma Shaped 42cm||Made of durable plastic, centimeters, clear pink markings, 11.8” long|
|3.||5 Piece French Curve Metric Ruler Set||Made of plastic, centimeters, clear pink markings, small size, 5 piece set|
|4.||Dritz 24" Hip Pattern Drafting Clear Curved Ruler||Made of plastic, inches, clear red markings, 24”|
|5.||OlyCraft 36" Flexible Curve Ruler||Made of bendy plastic, flexible, centimeters and inches, clear black markings, 36”|
1. FAIRGATE Vary Form (French Curve Ruler) 24in
Your first option is the durable, high-quality, aluminum French curve ruler from Fairgate.
This ruler is 24” long and, as we mentioned, made of lightweight aluminum. This means that the ruler will last you long term, even if you drop it along the way.
It uses the standard measurement system, so you’ll be able to measure your clothing patterns in inches all the way down to 1/8 of an inch.
It has clear black markings that are easy to see and line both sides of the ruler. This can help so that no matter where the curve is or what angle you need, you can flip the ruler over to accommodate the direction of the curve.
If you’re looking for the best French curve ruler regardless of price, then you can’t go wrong with this one.
2. OkDeals French Curve Ruler Sewing, Comma Shaped 42cm
For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, check out this 2-pack of durable plastic French curve rulers from OkDeals.
These French curve rulers use the metric system, where you’ll see 42 centimeters clearly marked in pink along the edge with little half-marks in between.
The size in standard measurements of these rulers is 11.8” long by 5” wide at the curved part of the comma shape.
Unlike some French curve rulers, there are also markings along the inside of the comma, giving you the opportunity to use both the inside and the outside curve.
3. 5 Piece French Curve Metric Ruler Set
The last French curve ruler option is ideal for new sewists looking to get a lot of rulers for a good price.
This set comes with a French curve ruler, a triangular ruler, an L-square ruler, and two other round-shaped rulers that look a little like water droplets.
This set would be great for anyone who needs to get a lot of rulers all at once. You’ll get a lot of functionality from this set that will cover a wide range of products.
The measurements are all clearly marked in pink. This ruler set uses the metric system, so all the measurements you see are in centimeters.
4. Dritz 24″ Hip Pattern Drafting Clear Curved Ruler
Although French curve rulers are the most commonly used, you may find yourself needing a hip curve ruler too.
This hip curve ruler from Dritz is a great option. It’s 24” long, made from plastic, and has clear red markings for the measurements.
This one uses the standard measurement system, so you’ll get your markings in inches rather than centimeters. Like the first French curve option, these measurements go as far down as an 1/8 of an inch.
This Dritz hip curve ruler would be ideal for those working on wider bottom clothing items who need the wide-angle curve that hip curve rulers have to offer.
5. OlyCraft 36″ Flexible Curve Ruler
Finally, our last curve ruler is the flexible curve ruler! And this one from OlyCraft is the perfect choice.
Made from high quality plastic material with a metal strip for shaping, you’ll be able to bend this ruler in any curved shape you need.
Use it to make sleeves and pant legs, or use it to measure armholes, necklines, and even waistlines for children!
It has clear black markings against a white background making it incredibly easy to read.
Unlike any other curve ruler on this list, the flexible ruler has measurements from both the standard and the metric system. Inches on one side and centimeters on the other!
The inches even go down to 1/16 of an inch for incredible precision with your sewing projects.