A Clockmaker’s Dream



Jennifer Blackman


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

"The Night Circus" (Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams) is a phantasmagorical circus which magically wanders the rural landscape around ahistorical Victorian London. It appears out of nowhere with no schedule and no warning. Every aspect is clad entirely in black and white from the Big Top down to and including the ground it stands on. Devoted followers call themselves "rêveurs" ("dreamers") and identify each other by clothing themselves in the characteristic black and white but with the addition of a single red element. Our fashion hero (or heroine in my Cirque reality) is Theissen who after being commissioned to construct a clock for the circus becomes enamored with not only the Circus, but the illusionist Celia Bowen who always wears a type of flowing gown. Thiessen creates a "dreamlike" black-and-white clock which itself has an illusionist type ability to change its appearance and Thiessen herself transforms into the presumptive leader of the 'reveurs'. My garment is my take on the dress Theissen would construct for herself to display her affiliation and affection for Le Cirque and Celia Bowen.

Outline the construction…

This gown had to be dreamlike and fluid just as the illusionist’s magic and Theissen’s clock. I found a black and white ombre silk charmeuse fabric. I had never worked with this fabric before but knew it was perfect. I had an image in my head of the finished gown and knew I would have to create my own pattern for it which I had never done before. I constructed my gown by taking pieces from three different patterns and drafted my own pattern. I quickly learned working with silk charmeuse was going to be a “growth experience.” I researched the best way to work with this fabric and implemented the techniques. I encased every seam on the gown. I used french seams on the main seams, and Hong Kong finished seams on the armscyes, and waistband. The buttonloops, parts of the collar, facings and all hems are hand stitched for a professional looking finish. For the touch of red I used two items mentioned in the book. The capelet to represent a ‘reveurs’ winter fashion, and the rose brooch for the summer fashion. I used silk velvet and a 1930’s pattern to make the capelet. Sewing the angles with this fabric was difficult and time consuming as was learning how to do a bound buttonhole but the experience was thrilling, educational, and of course at times frustrating but I am so pleased with the result.




  1. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 11, 2021 at 11:22 pm

    I LOVE THIS BOOK And this embodies it so well! Gorgeous work!

    • Avatar devon dancy on March 18, 2021 at 2:23 am

      Oh this is so pretty!! I love your use of obre!

  2. Avatar Molly Weiss on March 12, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    Wow, getting that kind of fit and precision with silk charmeuse (especially the collar!) is a true feat!

  3. Avatar Kate Worek on March 12, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    I LOVE the flow of the skirt, and the red collar and buttons are beautiful! You should be very proud! 😀

  4. Avatar Desire Raven on March 13, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    The first thing that came to mind with your skirt, is when something simmers into existence and then fades away. Love it

  5. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 21, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    A lovely interpretation! The ombré dyeing on the skirt is a gorgeous effect. And I love your button choice.

  6. Avatar Kristina on March 22, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    I love flow of skirt! Thank you for coming to this competition. Your work is amazing and beautiful.

  7. Avatar Giorgio Ronchi on March 25, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    This dress is flowingly beautiful.

  8. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 27, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    I loved the clock Herr Thiessen made for the circus and how it helped him stay connected to everything. The writer obviously appreciates artistry in many forms (she pretty much describes the Worth ironwork gowns at one point, too!). Lovely job working with such fussy materials!

  9. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 29, 2021 at 11:18 am

    The FLOW! <3 Looks very well done, good job! I'm too scared to work with charmeuse just yet hah 😀

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