Arcus Inimicus (Arch Enemy)
Latin, the language of philosophers and the pretentious, is the perfect foil for Sherlock Holmes’ arch enemy, Moriarty.
Ah, Moriarty! Vainglorious, decadent, meticulous and Machiavellian … a worthy opponent, indeed … and “the game is afoot”!
I have always wanted a “High Victorian Goth” costume, and this character gave me ample opportunity to push myself in ways I have not done before.
My first step was to scour “La Mode Illustree” for a style that suited the character. For easy access I used an eBay store, Au Fil Du Temps, because the seller has a considerable library of magazines that are scanned well and legible and made browsing a little easier.
It took eight solid hours to find the perfect inspiration from No 33, Sunday 16 August, 1891. Nestled in a bottom left corner was an artists’ impression of a reception gown. There was no actual pattern for the bodice, as the bridal ensemble was the “base” for the changes required to make the different outfit.
So the challenges began!
I decided to make the whole lot: combinations / petticoat / corset / bodice and skirt
The plan was to use ebay / Facebook marketplace / Pay It Forward / stash wherever possible to cut down costs.
The combinations and petticoat were made from cotton bedsheets, the corset from 100% stash, and the fabric for the bodice and skirt were from an ebay seller.
As I had only sewed one corset since my first entry into the FR comp in 2018, I decided to take things in stages. In retrospect I really needed to start much earlier because making the pattern was very much trial and error. I am an enthusiastic amateur sewist with no formal training other than taking lessons with Vanyanis after the first competition – something I HIGHLY recommend as it stepped up my skillset so quickly.
There were many “firsts” in this process:
- Tracing the complex pattern pieces and then sizing up from 24.5” waist to 31.5”. This was a slow process with many paper trials before making a mockup in fabric. The bodice pattern was a complicated shape with built in pleating around the neckline and a large inverted pleat forming a chevron to the waist.
- Using many vintage Singer sewing attachments I had not tried before… in particular the Hemstitcher, which created all the tiny stitched holes in the petticoat frill –22 metres.
I could not find any information on the peaked “Medici” collar so I purchased a second pattern and used the collar shape from a coat and adapted it to the bodice back.
The petticoat pattern was purchased from Etsy and came with zero instruction. I used every part of a queen size sheet (the entire top sheet was used for ruffles) and the bottom fitted sheet for the body of the petticoat.
The corset pattern was Symington 31300 also sized up extensively. The challenge here is that my torso is asymmetrical and I needed TWO patterns… one for the right side and one for the left. In the image pictured, you can see that my waistline is at two different levels! There was a huge amount of pattern adjustments to get it just right.
Using satin coutil for the single layer was very tricky. The satin wanted to show every pin hole, scratch and buff. It’s a pain to use, but the contrast between the satin and the lambskin looks so dramatic it was worth the slow sew.
- Lambskin is so soft that the bones are stretching the leather. I will be flossing all ends to hold the bones in place, using the existing needle holes for the flossing thread.
- The gown was completed for the photoshoot and is still to be lined. I have decided to keep working on it and add embellishments and beading to wear it to Ironfest Goth in October.
- The frill from sheer light Morgan+Finch double bed sheet for the combinations was cut along the long edge for maximum gather, but the light hits it differently and it looks more opaque. In future all the directions will be the same and seams are “fine… just fine”.
- “Patching” is a good thing! The back of the petticoat was disguised with some fabric ornamentation and the inside legs of the combinations was part pillowcase 🙂
- Vintage Singer sewing attachments are easier to use than they look! Ruffler, hemmer, buttonholer, hemstitcher all used throughout sew.
I had SO MUCH fun! I did so many new things, took my time to get things as close to correct as possible, and am super pleased with how much I have grown during this make.
If you have any questions you would like to ask (particularly about the Singers), just drop me a line.
Happy sewing, everyone !! xxK
Symington 31300 external boned corset – click on any thumbnail to enlarge and view in slideshow
Muslin Petticoat Pattern (Etsy purchase) – click on any thumbnail to enlarge and view in slideshow
Victorian 1890s Natural Form Gown
La Mode Illustree 1891 Reception Gown, image on page “concept only” – click on any thumbnail to enlarge and view in slideshow
Fully self drafted – click on any thumbnail to enlarge and view in slideshow