How to DIY the new Rouje x Liberty collection

I think one of the common misconceptions around sewing is that making your own clothes will always be cheaper than buying RTW. This is categorically not the case! Yes, you can often pick up bargain fabric at the thrift store, rag markets or ebay and find a fab pattern in a charity shop. But if you have a specific print or good quality fabric in mind (£30+), invest in a decent sewing machine (£200+) and go to buy an indie sewing pattern (£8+) then remember it needs a zip (£1.80+) you realise that a dress that is £20 in New Look could cost you £40+ to begin with and that’s without the machine!

When sewing is much cheaper than RTW, and in my opinion the most satisfying, is when you can look at a really expensive garment and think, I can make that!

The new Rouje x Liberty collaboration made me think just that. As I’ve written before I love Rouje’s designs and have even had a go at making my own DIY versions. The latest Rouje collection is a collab with fabric powerhouse Liberty in their flagship tana lawn, a high quality cotton lawn. In the collection are summery pieces that scream French summer picnic, from sun dresses to shorts and cute shirts.

The collection is new – in fact, so new that the majority of pieces aren’t on their website yet but instead are being hinted at by influencers on Instagram in what will likely be a social media takeover!

However, they are spenny. Like, 115 euro for a pair of shorts expensive. Whilst I believe in getting what you pay for in haute couture for example or small designer collections that are produced in house and individual tailoring; Rouje is one of the companies that does not disclose where their garments are made and, from what I read the majority are made in large production in China so I would assume a lot of the markup goes into marketing and retail.

Knowing that Liberty tana lawn retails at £25pm, someone handy with a sewing machine could easily make a pair of short for £40 rather than the retailed £140+. Here are some of Rouje’s latest collection and patterns to sew them yourself!

Pauline Shirt vs McCalls M7811

The Rouje Pauline shirt features a close fit, princess seams, button close and back yoke with a waist tie.

There’s not too many princess seam shirts around but I think view A from the McCalls M7811 fits the bill, with a princess seam, button placket and if you were to shorten the sleeves and add a waist tie you’d be very close!

Maggie top vs Ariana dress from Style Arc

The Rouje Maggie top is a button down close fit top with a shirred back and wide straps.

The Ariana dress by Style Arc would be a great match for this top. To hack the pattern to match you’d just need to widen the straps and use larger buttons!

Jurgen shorts vs Arden pants by Helen’s Closet

The Jurgen shorts appear to be a very simple elasticated waist cotton lawn shorts. The Arden Pants are one of my favourite new patterns and Helen recently hacked them into shorts which I think look great and would work so well in a cotton lawn!

Shirt dress vs Sew Over it Penny

I don’t know what this dress is called yet, but it looks like a shirt dress with a tie around the middle

The Penny dress by Sew Over it is one of their most popular patterns, it is such a gorgeous vintage style and would be beautiful in a cotton lawn. Add a waist tie to complete the Rouje look.

Rouje blouse vs Fibremood Norma

Another as yet unnamed blouse I can’t find on their website BUT this blouse just screams Norma, doesn’t it? With a relatively high neck and voluminous sleeves these are a great match.

Loulou scrunchie vs your own pattern

This is the piece that made me want to write this blog post. A scrunchie is 17 euro. SEVENTEEN. To make this, you need a 40cm x 15cm strip of fabric. Liberty is £25 a metre. This is a pattern accessible to even the most beginner of beginner sewists. Do the math.

Match the fabric

Liberty lawn is not a cheap fabric by any means but can be purchased very easily especially in the UK and around the world. Liberty are of course a huge stockist and in general you will find it retails at £25 per metre both with them and in their stockists. However some places such as Abkahan and Fabric Chicks have sales (I recently found lawn in Abakhan at £10pm) and you can also find a HUGE selection, the biggest in the UK in fact, at Shaukat fabrics. I’ve had a look and found the following similar prints to the Liberty x Rouje collection (click the image to go through)

I hope you found this blog post useful! By writing this, I am not saying people shouldn’t buy Rouje or that their pieces are overpriced. But as someone who loves to take inspiration from RTW fashion into home dressmaking, I couldn’t look at a 17 euro scrunchie and not know I could make it for about a £1!

If you have any ideas or inspiration off the back of this please let me know and if you like DIY designer roundups, Alice May from @thestitchedit does a weekly round up on a Sunday helping you to recreate your favourite brand looks!

DIY Rouje Dorine dress

Earlier this month I used the Sew Over It Eve dress to recreate one of my favourite designer brands, Rouje. I really enjoyed the process of this, and not just because I love a bargain (and man, DO I) but because it helped to really focus my pattern and fabric planning. I don’t know about you, but I get really overwhelmed in a fabric shop, let alone the internet where the options are limitless and you flit from denim to georgette to poplin and back again within a few tabs, forgetting what you actually logged on for.

The DIY Rouje Gabin experiment worked so well for me that I decided to try again, this time with their popular Dorine dress. Initially I would never have tried this on in a store; as a curvy lass I would have seen what looks like a scrap of fabric on the hanger and immediately written it off as a hanky.

The Rouje Dorine dress costs a cool 165 euro

However by doing my research, looking at their website closely at the cut and fit of the dress and checking the #roujegirls hashtag as well as their tagged photos, I saw women of all shapes and sizes absolutely rocking this dress and thought if I could get the sizing right, it might just work.

After having a quick look through my usual resources (The Fold Line pattern directory, googling DIY hacks, browsing John Lewis pattern section), I found it. McCalls M7116. And even better, it was on Facebook marketplace! I’m a member of a few buy and sell and swap fabric and pattern groups on Facebook and always have a glance to see what’s available. This pattern looked to have the same shape in view A – bias cut skirt, spaghetti straps and round neckline – and was available uncut for £3.50. Bargain!

Whereas with the Gabin dress I’d gone straight in with an Atelier Brunette viscose crepe from Dragonfly fabrics, this time I wanted to make a wearable toile before buying expensive fabric to try and match the original. I was THRILLED with this cheap as chips georgette from Pound Fabrics at just £2.50 per metre. It is much more opaque than expected and lovely quality.

Even in a toile, I wanted to try and get a flowery pattern as so often used by Rouje

I found this pattern really pleasing and quite simple to sew. The skirt is cut on the bias with the bodice and straps cut straight. You cut bias binding from the same fabric for the arm holes and the casing for the elastic is just folded down from the neckline.

I cut straight from the pattern for my measurements based on the body measurements but this was a rookie error. The bodice on the finished garment measurements was listed as huge in comparison to the waist – and that’s exactly how it ended up! I ended up having to tack the excess fabric whilst trying it on, shimmy out of the dress and overlock the side seams, cutting away the excess fabric in the process. This actually worked really well although when I next make this, I’ll size the pattern down.

The other issue I had was with the hem. I haven’t sewn on the bias before and in the process of overlocking, managed to stretch it so that one side of my dress drops lower than the other. This is a common mistake I make that I’m still working on so will watch in the next attempt, however I actually quite like the accidental asymmetric hem on this toile! It makes it feel really Spanish for some reason.

Trying to be sexy -forgot my ironing board is in the backgrond

I also didn’t use a zip as I’d read in other reviews of this pattern it wasn’t necessary, which for me was true. It slips on really easily so I won’t use a zip for the next make either. Finally, I made a rouleau tie and popped it on the front as a bow to match the original dress.

Overall I am really pleased with my second DIY Rouje dress! At a grand total of £10 including fabric, pattern and delivery it is a total bargain compared to the original price tag of 165 euro. I’ve found myself wearing it a lot since making it – whether to nip to the shops with a denim jacket over the top or sunbathing in the garden. Next I need a soft cardigan to complete the Rouje look – true to form, I’m currently top bidder on a cashmere cardigan on eBay….

Sew Over it Eve Dress

So. We all know of my borderline creepy francophile obsession with French style and its place in my #MeMadeMay2020 objectives.

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.

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Today I’m starting the Sew Over It Eve dress and revisiting this one I made a couple of years ago when I first started sewing, to see if I need to make adjustments. The answer is yes, yes I do 🤦‍♀️ First issue is that the sleeves are VERY tight so I’ll need to make them a bit wider for this one. I’m using the long sleeve but cutting it down to have a tea dress style sleeve and match the spenny Rouje dress I’m using as inspo. Secondly the torso is a little short on me so I’ll need to lengthen it as standard. There is some armhole gaping which is a common issue for me but to be honest the Rouje dress is very floaty and loose so I think a looser armhole won’t look bad when using my drapey viscose from @atelierbrunette. This viscose crepe was from @abakhan_liverpool but at the time I didn’t have an overlocker so zig zagged the edges, this caused the fabric to bunch up and affect the neckline so I’m hoping this is resolved in this make with my Scary Yet Useful overlocker. Stay tuned for progress! Wearing my @palmairasandals here which arrived this morning and have made my day – taking me back to when I lived in Spain and could walk for hours and hours in the comfiest avarca sandals. Can’t wait to be able to visit Spain again soon ❤️ • • • • #sewoverit #soievedress #evedress #handmade #handmadewardrobe #lovesewing #happiestwhensewing #lovetosew #memade #memadewardrobe #diywardrobe #slowfashion #stylefrançais #diycouture #jecoudsdoncjesuis #faitalamain

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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!