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    DAVID   T.   ARTS    

       While visiting South Africa for 2 months I witnessed many merchants selling scarves in an array of colors and quantity that I had never seen before.  Seizing this opportunity I began collecting them and eventually had to carry a list with me of all the patterns and colors I already acquired so that I wouldn't buy any more duplicates than I already had.  After collecting about 80 of them containing a full spectrum of colors while browsing through over 3000, I decided it was enough and mailed them home by shipping freight.  

      Thinking how to display these scarfs took me years.  When they first arrived I couldn't envision of a suitable idea after toying with them, so I stored them in the closet.  About 6 months later I tried again to no avail.  I still kept a scarf viewable in my room to look at once in a while but no feasible concept popped up during that time.  After another couple of years I decided to give it another try by dumping most of the scarves on my bed.  I held one end of a scarf while the other hand gently glided underneath it until my arm stretched out further than the scarf's length.  The scarf then floated downward, and in that fluttering moment I was reminded of a long dress behaving the same way in the wind, or from someone walking briskly.  

      I had never thought about making a dress before..... I also didn't know, (and still don't know) how to utilize a sewing machine.  I did get the feeling that I could display these scarves vertically though to maximize the quantity involved if I could make it happen.  Although I had the option of learning how to use a sewing machine, I thought that there would be to many scarves involved and that it would be complicated to sew them all together.  I also wanted a free and easy feel and look to whatever I was going to make, not an object that was stitched up from every noticeable angle. 

      I looked online for dresses with patterned holes as I had once seen a shirt like that before.  Maybe I could slip the scarves though these open holes if they were large enough.  Eventually my online search led me to a 'Fishnet dress' hand made by a seamstress.  It was the only dress of this type I could find so I ordered it.  After it arrived I counted and marked the spaces and rows by using graph paper to map the locations of the holes as one page represented the front while the other the back of the dress.  Since the front and back are almost identical patterns, it was easy to think that a scarf from the front side could connect to a different scarf directly behind it on the back side.  I could also hand sew them together at the top where they met to keep them in place.  

      I decided that I couldn't have all of the scarves simply placed vertically like a mop, so I created this design by trialing patterns.  With the different varieties of widths I would have to separate the thick and thin ones so they would provide a complete covering all around while also color coordinating 52 scarves to display a balanced and pleasing spectrum.  The pink 'scarf belt' at the waist covers a connection point of the scarves going through the dress.  At the bottom I trimmed all of the scarves to an even length, hand sewed those ends and also shortened the cotton dress underneath by cutting so not to be seen. (The dress came longer than needed)

      This dresses length can actually be shortened yourself by folding upward the fishnet dress underneath and then inserting the ends of the scarves through the dress holes to keep the new length in place.  The bottom half of the dress design can also be altered by intertwining the scarves though different holes in countless ways.  Any or all of the scarves can be removed for washing if needed by pulling upward on them from the top ruffles as none of them are physically connected to the dress underneath.  This dress has never been worn so the material will conform to the shape of the person who wears it.  

      Originally I bought a bulkier mannequin without knowledge of size differences that actually stretched out the first dress. (Pictures can be seen on my 'Process' page.)  I then remedied that by ordering a new mannequin the same size as the seamstress used to crochet the dress.  I also requested from the seamstress a new lighter but still durable cotton string to make the attire weigh less and simply switched the scarves from one dress to the other when the new custom made dress arrived.

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