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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!


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