Feminine Grunge – A Nod to My Style of the ’90’s

When I was a teenager, I went through that grunge/punk/emo phase where all I wanted to wear was black or camo… you know, to match my mood (“I’m so goth it hurts”). Since then, my style has evolved – into what, I’m not sure – but I still have nostalgia about my style of the past.

As a 34-year-old, I don’t think I can get away with baggy black t-shirts and jewelry from Hot Topic, but with the magic of sewing I can pay homage to my style of the ’90’s and update it to fit who I am now.


A little more polished, a little more feminine, but still bad-ass!

I am working on having more neutral separates in my wardrobe and I think this Grainline Lark Tee and Colette Zinnia Skirt check those boxes.

Let’s talk about the Lark Tee first.


This is now my new favorite T-shirt pattern! I absolutely love the slightly relaxed fit and other than taking 1 1/2 inches off the hem for it to hit just above mid-hip, it fit perfectly. I made a straight size 8.

The fabric is this cool Black Grunge Stripe Jersey Knit and is a good medium-weight fabric. It’s very comfortable and is high quality – I’m not expecting any pilling or fading with this one!


The Zinnia Skirt is something I’ve had my sights set on since I saw Colette’s chiffon version when the pattern came out a few years ago. Chiffon is one of those fabrics that most sewists are scared to sew with, and I don’t blame them! It’s slippery, finicky, and can run easily if you’re not careful.

At first, I was thinking of making a chiffon skirt in a blush pink or a similar uber-feminine color. Then I saw this Olive Green Chiffon and decided I needed a little more edge in my wardrobe, plus olive green is a wonderful neutral color that’ll pair with just about anything.


But of course I couldn’t make a chiffon skirt without a lining! (I’m not that daring…) So I used this Black Cotton Lawn to help keep things decent. The lawn is easy to sew, but that chiffon is a different story.

I cut the chiffon out on the floor to keep it from shifting too much. I then sprayed the cut pieces with fabric starch. I laid them out on a beach towel outside and sprayed one even coat on all of the pieces. After they dried, the chiffon was more manageable and wasn’t too bad to sew!

I used a universal size 10 needle for the whole skirt and it worked well. I did have to gently pull the chiffon through the machine with both hands (one in front of the feed dogs and one behind) when sewing a single layer as it wanted to bunch and pucker. I only really had to worry about that while sewing the hem. I sewed a 1/4 inch line from the edge and used that stitch line to press a fold. Then I turned that under again. pressed, and sewed. I don’t have a rolled hem foot, so this is the technique I have to use on sheer fabrics. The starch really helped as my hem came out almost perfect!


For the Zinnia Skirt, I sewed a straight size 10. The only measurement you have to worry about is your waist, so it’s an easy pattern to fit! It’s the perfect high-waisted skirt and I love that I can finally wear crop tops and stay decent.

I sewed Version 3, which has pleats at the waist instead of gathers, but I was worried about trying to pleat the chiffon (although the instructions have you pleat both the lining and shell fabrics together as one to make it easier). I get a little messy with pleats, so I gathered the chiffon instead. I didn’t want too much poof, so I sewed the lining fabric with the pleats. I think it worked out well!


I like the back closure of an invisible zipper and button. It looks like I should have eked my zipper up a tad, though! Oh, well. I used a salvaged button from one of my husband’s worn-out work pants.

The only other change I made to the pattern was instead of sewing the lining and shell fabric as one for the back seam, I kept them separate below the zipper. I wanted hardcore twirly action and I knew having the fabrics separate at this seam would make it so.


I’m happy the ’90’s style has made a comeback (yay, chokers!). I’m also happy that I’m not dependent on ill-fitting mall fashions and I can make this style fit my body and lifestyle. Thanks, sewing!


So tell me, has your style changed over the years? Do you miss your teenage style? What fashion era do you want to see make a comeback?


You can follow more of Rachel’s adventures in sewing and cat wrangling at sewredy.wordpress.com!


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16 thoughts on “Feminine Grunge – A Nod to My Style of the ’90’s”

  1. I love it! We had a grunge theme month on the Sewcialists once, and it was so much fun to look back to what made us feel like badasses as teenagers! πŸ˜‰

  2. Love your outfit! I’m a huge fan of Grainline too πŸ™‚ I have Jen’s cardigan on the way now for fall. But your skirt is BEAUTIFUL! Love it πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you!! Grainline is definitely awesome – everything I’ve made so far has been perfect except for some Maritime Shorts (yet to be blogged)… they’re wearable but I have to make more adjustments to fit that booty perfectly, LOL!

  3. I love this whole look! (And YES, olive is such a fantastic neutral.) The skirt is especially lovely, and your hem looks beautiful! The chiffon being longer than the lining adds a delicateness to the whole skirt, which makes it that much more fun to wear with Tough Girl shoes. πŸ™‚ Glad you found a reliable t-shirt pattern in Lark–that’s my go-to as well!

    As a kid, I was so enamored of grunge music and style but was far too young to play along. I also had an older sister who was studying fine art in college at that time, and to me, she was so cool it hurt! As a grownup, I still enjoy some of the 90’s styles and want to include them in my wardrobe in a way that works for my Actual Life. (Black jeans, flannel, short skirts and dresses, sheer knee socks and tights, big sweaters, tough boots, etc.) As for the music, I joined a 90’s alt-rock cover band because I still love it that much, haha!

    1. Thanks, Mads! Believe it or not, DD is still not sold on the skirt but I told him I love it and that’s that, LOL! Maybe it’ll grow on him…

      I was so worried about how the chiffon would work for me and although it took some patience, I’m glad it came out as well as it did. I think I’m a chiffon skirt convert now – I have to make a dress for my friend’s wedding next year and I’m thinking of a floor-length chiffon bottom… let’s see how that goes, lordy!

      I think it’s so cool how you’re in a 90’s cover band! You should get someone to record your gigs and post them online! I’d love to see you and your band rock out. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! Haha, I’m in love with these shoes! My mom got them for my birthday when we were shopping in Las Vegas. SO COMFORTABLE!

    1. Thank you! I don’t think I could have worked with the chiffon without that starch. Thank goodness for a little sewing help!

  4. Ah, it’s awesome! I love the olive chiffon and it was smart to use black as the lining – it really gives the color some great heft. You look like a tough cookie (which is always in a good way). My teenage years were characterized by either 1. peasant blouses and really really wishing I was an elf (I was never ethereal so that didn’t work out) or 2. dressing like Kim Possible.

    1. Thank you so much! Haha I try to be a tough cookie but I’m really a bowl of jello at heart.

      I’m super into the boho vibe, too – being an elf would be awesome! But for some reason I could never find boho clothing to suit me. I was never into Kim Possible but she DOES have a killer outfit! Cargo pants all the way! πŸ™‚

  5. As my wardrobe was a far cry from anything fashionable at all as a teenager, I do not at all miss my high school style! But I’m glad for chokers coming back! I love the olive, and man spray starch does wonders for chiffon. You described this look well because the skirt has that feminine quality that only chiffon can deliver but the color and the pairing with the tee is definitely a little punk.

    1. πŸ™‚ Now I’m curious about your teenager style! It’s funny, I’m currently re-working some old XL t-shirts I bought in high school to fit me better so I can wear them again. Teenager Rachel coming around again, haha! Lord help us…

      Spray starch is my new BFF for real! I want to make everything in chiffon now!

      1. Ha! There’s a line in Tom Sawyer that sums up my feelings about my teenager style: “Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.” Spray starch will change your sewing life. Who knew? If only there were more pretty chiffons in my colors…

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