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The French Dart Week | inspiration

We are celebrating 5 glorious years of The French Dart this week!

Today, I’m going to share a bit of the inspiration behind the original French Dart, which was actually made about 4 or 5 years before I released her. Before she was even a twinkle in the eye of a pattern company!


 | One of the first French Darts! |

The beginning | I usually make with a purpose, so as with most things I make, it solved a problem. I needed a dress. More specifically I need a very tidy dress/outfit as I was working in a bridal shop, which involved spending a large part of my day on the floor fluffing hems, trains and veils. The upside is I can now tie a very nice chocolate box bow. 

Now, I am not know as a very tidy, formal, dressy person that you would expect to see in a bridal shop. And luckily for me they were a very relaxed shop, but there was a no denim policy. So that would be 90% of my wardrobe then. Hence, the dress dilemma.

So that was the actual inspiration…

  • a dress that could be worn to work that I wouldn’t really need to think about again
  • worn with leggings and boots (that shop was cold!)
  • I could move in it easily. 
  • And bend over in…without giving everyone in the shop an eyeful. 
  • And had pockets. 
  • Would be comfortable all day. 
  • Secret pyjamas for work before it was an Instagram hashtag. 

To design it I just worked backwards from what I needed it to do. 

And once you start combining that much need practicality of design with my influences – The French dart pretty much designed itself!

The first one was made in navy linen, and was worn until it could be worn no more (I love linen, but several years of wear frustratingly sent it into holes). This was replaced by a new navy linen a few years ago. Which will be replaced with another at some point I’m sure.

Influences | my design inspiration has always come from practicality. I like a design to function in everyday use. Something that you touch or use everyday shouldn’t be irritating; it should almost be unnoticed, wether that is your car, your fork or your dress.

Everything you experience becomes an influence. But a major one of mine is a lifetime of watching old films…I’d come home from school and my mum was watching the afternoon film – usually black and white, from the 60s, she favoured the British crime dramas and Ealing comedies. I was less fussy and pretty much watched anything – American or British 1940s – 1970s, no film is safe! The interiors were as inspiring as the clothes for me.  And just one more thing…should you find yourself at a loose end on a Sunday afternoon…I can confirm that Columbo is wardrobe gold.

So I naturally took a little inspiration from what I knew…Doris and Audrey…

Doris Day | Looking fabulous – images from Pillow Talk / Lover Come Back / Do Not Disturb

AUDREY HEPBURN | I admit to having a slight obsession with this jumper from Breakfast a Tiffany’s (1961). Givenchy is credited as principle wardrobe (not sure if that includes the jumper) with Edith Head as costume supervisor

And then we have this dress from How to Steal a Million (1966) again by Givenchy.

Ok, so there’s no actual reason for that hat and sunglasses to be here, just seemed rude not to include!

And now we have a little random assortment of inspiration from my Pinterest board (imaginatively entitled ‘Vintage’) that I have collected over the years. You can certainly see a theme had developed!


We would love to see your French Darts! Old or new, share (or re-share!) them with us on Instagram Remember to tag us @MavenPatterns #FrenchDartMaven