Having studied French since I was tiny and after living in France for a few years, I love their style and have come to really enjoy incorporating my adoration for la vie française into my sewing life too – whether by using French patterns, following French sewists or slobbering after French brands I can’t afford.
One of them is Rouje, headed up by la reine de effortless chic, Jeanne Demas. Their designs are vintage inspired and Parisian to the core. One of my favourite dresses is the Gabin, which comes in at a cool 170€.
Staring at it (repeatedly) I realised that it’s quite a simple construction – a wrap dress with gathered sleeves, buttons down the side and a strappy tie belt. The website tells me it’s 100% viscose, oh and also it’s “the very essence of Rouje in a dress: Jeanne’s favourite, the essential of any wardrobe, a timeless iconic piece.” Bien.
With perfect timing, Sew Over It were doing a live sewalong with the Eve Dress. This is one of the first dresses I’d ever made and I’d flouncily announced I wouldn’t make it again after the torso sewed up too short, I used too tight a zig zag on the raw edges and my hem was uneven.
Two years later with more sewing experience behind me, I gave it a go and am really happy with the results!
Of course to maintain loyalty to the original I had to use French fabric so I used Atelier Brunette Dune viscose in ‘Chestnut’, from Dragonfly Fabric who gave a really great service. This was my second time using Atelier Brunette fabric after my comfy WFH blouse.
To achieve the Rouje look, I shortened the length of the hem by about 8 cm. In retrospect, I also wish I had taken some of the swing out of the skirt by making the piece a rectangle rather than it’s original circular shape, but shoulda woulda coulda.
I also shortened the long sleeved version sleeves, meticulously and mathematically by folding the pattern piece in half and saying ‘that’ll do’.
As we’re in lockdown I didn’t have enough time to get enough stay tape so just had enough for the chest pieces and yoke. However I also had ordered matching bias tape so used that all the way around the bodice, folding it in and topstitching so it’s not visible from the outside. This really stabilised my fabric and I would recommend this to anyone making an Eve in addition to the stay tape.
Next up was the buttons and I used interfacing on the back to stabilize the buttonholes. I’m often guilty of not doing this but it really helps with the shape and you can tear away the excess after completing the button hole. These large wooden buttons are cute and from Calico Laine, i’m happy with them though wish I’d gone a little smaller!
Finally I added a press stud to the inside to keep the dress in place, and a rouleau tie around the middle. I used the handy tip from Tilly and the Buttons to do this, wow what a difference it made and you can call me Rouleau Sally from now on, I’ll be making ties from everything in sight!
The only other issue I had with this was the bottom of my hem line warped terribly after sewing the sides. This has only ever happened to me with Atelier Brunette fabric and I imagine it’s because it’s so soft. I left the dress to hang for two days hoping it would even out but sadly it didn’t so I took shears to lop off the uneven bits before hemming. It worked out fine, but I’d like to avoid this in future. I’m sure it’s my sewing pulling the viscose too much and making the fabric stretch, so if anyone has tips I’d love to hear them!
So what do you think of my DIY Rouje dress? Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out, it’s ridiculously comfortable and makes me feel sassy at the same time which is a great feature of any outfit. I’ve enjoyed the process of making a copycat of RTW so will try another Rouje or even Vampire’s Dress in the future!