Nine Must-Sew Items for 90s Nostalgia
The 90s are back in vogue and the high street is full of pieces that hark back to a time many of us hold so dear. As someone who lived my childhood through to my teens, I thought I wasn’t ready to embrace the looks I once love but I have to admit, nostalgia has got the better of me and now I want to sew up my entire list. I read a really interesting article on the Stylish website that’s titled ‘This is why we’re obsessed with 90s and 00s Nostalgia Right Now‘ and it really resonated with me. In a nutshell, it explains the psychology of the movement and that when the world is a mess, we look longingly back to ‘better times’ and those nostalgic pieces make us feel better about things.
As I write this I am listening to a Spotify playlist titled ‘All Out 90s’, so I can say that this is having quite an uplifting effect so maybe there is something in it! I also want to share a favourite account of mine with fellow Instagram users – @knee_deep_in_the_90s. It’s like a bingo of my childhood and does make me smile with every post.
So, let’s get onto what we’re all here for – the sewing! We’ve selected nine comeback items to sew for 90s nostalgia. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did pulling it together!
Find our 90s Nostalgia inspiration images on this Pinterest board.
Remember when spaghetti was not just a foodstuff, but a fashion feature you’d find in most wardrobes? The strappy vest tops were something I remember well. I bought my first one from Tammy Girl… I think it might have had a pig on it (Babe the movie was big at the time!). The jersey strappy tops were a favourite basic of many 90s closets – and the look was layered over a tee (think Cher from Clueless). I think this humble basic still very much has its place in our wardrobes today and my top pattern pick is the True Bias Zoey Tank. The soft front V and low scooped back neckline works beautifully in a ribbed jersey. Maybe I’ll have to add a pig to mine for old-time’s sake!
Cargo trousers were king in the 90s. Full of sass, street style and attitude, cargo trousers were worn with simple tanks and band tees to grunge them up a bit. We have seen quite a flurry of sewing patterns popping up that revive and evolve this look. Our pick for a comeback into the wardrobes of today has a slimmer, more modern silhouette that gives you the look (and the nostalgia) without being literal. The Maison Fauve Tremplin Trousers are the chic way to do cargo pants. comfortable yet tapered, with extra leg detailing and three bottom cuff finishes to choose from (straight, elasticated, or closed with a buttoned tab). The pocket details at the front and side legs are a very Fauve touch.
Skinny jeans dominated the denim area for a couple of decades but there has been a definite shift towards a more relaxed fit that sits high on the waist. Enter Mom jeans – a revived look from the 90s that have made themselves at home in my wardrobe the past few years! They are high rise, skim the hips and taper in at the leg. You have a great range of movement but can easily tuck tops in to get a nipped-in waist and look ultra cool with a bit of a turn-up at the hem. 90s moms knew how to dress for comfort AND style! My pattern pick for this look is the Helen’s Closet Brooks Jeans. They have the signature mom high rise, tapered leg and all the denim details you could hope for. I you’ve never sewn a pair of jeans before, Helen’s detailed instructions will help you every step of the way.
I must admit that the slip dress is an item that has never really left my wardrobe. It has always been there in some way, shape or form because it is just so versatile. For full 90s nostalgia, your slip dress should be layered nonchalantly with a t-shirt underneath. You get bonus points for checking off another typical 90s detail – a cowl – with your slip. With that in mind, my pattern pick is the Sewing Patterns by Masin Sicily Slip Dress. Not only does it have 90s vibes, it is one of the most popular patterns in the shop so you know you are picking a much-loved pattern! If you want the classic cami-style slip, I recommend the Friday Pattern Company Saltwater Slip. It was so hard choosing between the two of these!
As a child growing up in the 90s, I desperately wanted a bomber jacket. They were just so cool. When I was allowed to choose one from Benetton, I felt about 10 feet tall and oh-so grown up. A bomber is another great little nod to the 90s that does feel like a chic, grown-up piece to have in your wardrobe. The cropped silhouette looks great with high-rise trousers and jeans and over longer dresses (like the midaxi length that is so hot right now!). My pattern pick is the Trend Patterns TPC4 Bomber Jacket. It has all the details I remember and some interesting pockets. It looks fab in this luxe fabric.
Overalls were everywhere in the 90s. They had a relaxed cut, were made in stone wash denim and were worn with plenty of layers. I remember admiring everything worn in a childhood favourite TV show, Clarissa Explains it All – especially those dungarees. Friday nights were Friends nights in my house and I dreamt of a Rachel Green wardrobe – especially those overalls. I have never really fallen out of love with dungarees, but I fancy making some with 90s styling, like the True Bias Riley Overalls. They have the 90s relaxed cut and feature slightly utility pockets. I also think the Fibre Mood Constance Overalls are a great option.
Grunge was huge during the 90s and meant that a checked (plaid) shirt was pretty much always tied at the waist of every ensemble… just in case? My So Called Life‘s Claire Danes made the plaid shirt a staple of teens of the 90s and the resurgence in the mid-noughties has meant a checked shirt has never really left my wardrobe. You can’t go wrong with a checked flannel shirt to layer over pretty much whatever you’re wearing for a little extra warmth. Or tied around your waist as an accessory… you decide! My pattern pick for this is the Vikisews Cynthia Blouse. I think it’s perfectly oversized and would look nice and grungey made in a brushed checked fabric.
Button-front dresses were a mainstay of the 90s woman’s wardrobe. A crucial detail for the dress was lacing at the back to shape the loose flowy silhouette. The look was often completed with floppy flower hats (the TV icon Blossom was never seen without one). I had a black velvet one with a huge rosette in the middle. They were most commonly seen in floral fabrics and paired with Dr Marten boots to make them more grungey and less pretty. It’s a look that I still very much love today and I must get around to making the Friday Pattern Company Hughes Dress as I would wear it so much! Another great option is the True Bias Shelby Romper and Dress.
Remember those 90s waistcoats? They are back in a big way! We’ve seen loads of waistcoat patterns cropping up lately and are loving the fresh styling that brings them up-to-date. Just like in the 90s, they are being styled on their own with jeans, or with co-ordinating tailoring for a head to toes streamlined look. I love the way Phoebe from Friends wore them as an extra layer over her outfits, it’s a great way to maximise their wear. My pattern pick would be the Merchant & Mills Miller Waistcoat. It delivers all those terrific tailoring details and would be a sewing project that would ease you nicely into the techniques.
This post may have been titled NINE items, but I couldn’t resist giving you a little bonus section for accessories as I know these pieces will be close to so many fellow 90s kids’ hearts. They are great projects for using up scraps and sewing a piece to match your ensemble if you so choose.
First up is a scrap-busting scrunchie – potentially the most 90s accessory there is. Try the FREE Juliana Martejevs Scrunchie pattern which comes video tutorial so is great for newbie sewers.
Next is the bucket hat – which has come back in a very big way. Practical and cool, your bucket hat will happily be thrown in your bag for summer adventures. The Patterns Room Child/Adult Hope Bucket Hat is my pattern pick!
Bum bags (or fanny packs if you’re in the US!) have made a slow and steady comeback. They are worn across the body now rather than just around the waist and are actually very handy for stashing your essentials while staying hands-free. The Sew Over It City Bag Set has a brilliant bum bag in the collection that is ideal for recreating this look.