Australia Day & an Ilsley Skirt

It’s a glorious 31 degrees today, the perfect weather for celebrating our sunburnt country’s favourite day of the year, Australia Day.  I started the day out finishing my sewing project, and then we decided to mark the occasion with a big family walk from our house to Glenelg beach, via the picturesque Patawolonga River (the backdrop for my happy snaps below).  Family fun day was in full swing by the seaside. We stayed and played a few games & ate some hot chips on the grass, then called in at some friend’s house for a quick dip in their pool on our way home, and finished up with dinner at my sister’s place.

All in all, a nice, relaxing Aussie day for us, and the ideal kinda day to be wearing my latest make, a Marilla Walker Ilsley Skirt.  This is my first time making this pattern, after only discovering Marilla’s blog and pattern range for the first time last week when I followed a link from The Drapery blog about her Roberts dungaree pattern.  I immediately fell in love with the simple but stylish lines of Ilsley’s curved hem, and the myriad possibilities for fabric that would totally change the look and feel of the skirt. I knew I could get lots of mileage out of this pattern.


This first version was always intended to be a wearable muslin.  I used some leftover ticking fabric for the main skirt and cut the pocket facing from some Art Gallery scraps (leftover from my Colette Laurel shirt).  I cut a size 4 front and size 5 back, thinking that the this would give me just a little bit of extra wiggle room – I was worried that being a straight skirt, I would end up with it pulling across my backside. In actual fact, its very roomy, and I would consider dropping down to a straight 4 or even 3 front/4 back next time.  I didn’t add any length, I must have short legs as it covers my knees which actually suits me just fine.  I’m 5’7 but have quite a long torso.


I suspected the curved hems would be tricky and I wasn’t disappointed.  Frankly they confused the heck out of me and I pondered my strategy for hours.  I saw that a few other sewers had opted to add bias binding and fold the curved hem with the aid of the binding, but I really couldn’t be bothered with that for a muslin.  I really wanted to nail it as per Marilla’s instructions but without photos it was definitely tricky.  In the end, I have one side which is just plain messy, and the other I ended up clipping the seam to release the curve from the side seam.  This worked, but I’m concerned that I’ll end up with a side split at some point as the cut has compromised the stability of this particular fabric. After reading and re-reading an instagram post where @clairesews described a similar challenge with the hemline, I eventually worked out what I need to do next time….”you need to taper your (curved) hem turning, so the full turned hem doesn’t actually go all the way to the side seam notch”.  And Marilla herself added “the hem needs to blend out towards the side seem”.  So basically, I took my curved hem up too high, past the side seem notch which made it really difficult to sew my side seams.  Next time, I should not hem the curve too far.  This might be really obvious to a more experienced sewer, but it took quite a while for the penny to drop!!

20160125_151917Hem curve has extended too far up the side seam. It should have tapered out to the side approximately 2cm lower than what it shows in this pic.

Aside from the hemline – which felt weird doing first up, rather than last – I had to think a little bit on the instructions for the pocket as it had been awhile since I sewed pockets, but I worked it out after playing around for 15 minutes or so – it wasn’t so difficult after all.   From there on it was smooth sewing, and I’m really happy with the end result.  It’s a super comfortable, easy wear skirt which hits at the right point just on my knees.


I’m already planning my next Ilsley, and have some mulberry colour linen waiting in the wings which I will consider making up in this pattern. I would love it in a darkish chambray for winter as well, so I could wear it with tights. I also totally love jo_sews’ grey sweater knit version with a black hoody, black tights & trainers for winter, so cosy!! It’s 31 degrees celcius and I’m thinking about my winter wardrobe!!

How did you spend your Australia Day? Did you spend part of it sewing, like me?!

Garment Cost: $0 – both fabrics from my stash & purchased so long ago I don’t remember the cost!

Pattern Cost per make: $0 – this is a free pattern, what’s not to love about that!


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