In this paper, we present a semi-automatic approach to efficiently and robustly recover the characteristic feature curves of a given free-form surface. The technique supports a sketch-based interface where the user just has to roughly sketch the location of a feature by drawing a stroke directly on the input mesh. The system then snaps this initial curve to the correct position based on a graph-cut optimization scheme that takes various surface properties into account. Additional position constraints can be placed and modified manually which allows for an interactive feature curve editing functionality. We demonstrate the usefulness of our technique by applying it to a practical problem scenario in reverse engineering. Here, we consider the problem of generating a statistical (PCA) shape model for car bodies. The crucial step is to establish proper feature correspondences between a large number of input models. Due to the significant shape variation, fully automatic techniques are doomed to failure. With our simple and effective feature curve recovery tool, we can quickly sketch a set of characteristic features on each input model which establishes the correspondence to a pre-defined template mesh and thus allows us to generate the shape model. Finally, we can use the feature curves and the shape model to implement an intuitive modeling metaphor to explore the shape space spanned by the input models.