Saturday, January 30, 2016

Made By A Fabricista: Loungewear for Rainy Weekends

Hello fellow fabricistas!

Whereas California has been getting drenched by El Niño, and the East Coast is finally done digging out from winter storm Jonas, here in the Pacific Northwest, we've simply been dealing with a sightly chilly, very, very rainy winter for the past few months. Like most of you, I'm sure, cool, wet weather makes me want to bundle up in warm and cozy clothing. After enduring many rainy weekends this winter, I decided to treat myself to a new lounge/ athleisure outfit for my Fabric Mart project this month.

HotPatterns Pretzel Sweatshirt + SBCC Pinot Pants

First up are a pair of SBCC Pinot Pants, a yoga-style pull-on pant drafted specifically for petite women. If you're not familiar with SBCC patterns, they're designed for women 5'3" and under and use separate draft blocks for misses' and plus sizes. The size range for the Pinot Pants goes from a 32" hip (81cm) up to a 56" (142 cm) hip measurement.
SBCC Pinot Pants
For my version, I used one of the many Ponte knits available from Fabric Mart. The exact ponte that I used appears to be now sold out, but it's black in color and is a rayon, nylon, and lycra blend. It's been a dream to wear and has been holding up quite well in the wash. 

Based on the SBCC size chart, I sewed this pair in a size 2X. I do feel like these run a little large, at least in the plus size block, in that I was expecting them to be a little more fitted through the hips and thighs. However, I certainly think that they look fine and will be getting a lot of use out of them--just not quite as fitted in some areas as I was expecting. What's great about these pants is that with me being only 5'2" tall, I didn't have to shorten the legs or the rise at all. (I did add 1" to the CB seam, which is a common alteration for me to provide more vertical coverage over my ample rear end.) The pant legs do have a slight flare to them, so if you're short like me, there's no worrying about shortening your pant legs in multiple places or trying to figure out where the flare starts to preserve its look or anything.

SBCC Pinot Pants

I also used the free patch pocket add-on that Betsy released for these pants. You can download the pocket add-on from SBCC:

SBCC Pinot Pant Pocket Add-on

The pockets do not gape at all while being worn and are large enough to easily and securely hold my phone.

I'm quite happy with how these pants turned out, and I can definitely see using this pattern in the future as a TNT pattern whenever I want to whip up a pair of athleisure pants.

New athleisure outfit - Back view
My second piece this month is the relatively new HotPatterns Athleisure Pretzel Sweatshirt. The HP Pretzel sweatshirt is a relaxed-fitting sweatshirt designed for medium-weight drapey knits. 
HotPatterns Pretzel Sweatshirt

For my take on this pattern, I used this cobalt blue Ponte knit, which still has some yardage available. I think that ponte was a great choice for this pattern; it's hefty enough to make the sweatshirt feel cozy, but has enough drape to really show off the twist detail at the hem.

Per the size chart and my previous experience with HotPatterns, I sewed a size 18 through the neck and shoulders, grading out to a size to through the bust, waist, and hips. The final sweatshirt fits as expected.

HP Pretzel sweatshirt

You know how some projects are just fun to sew? They go together quickly without any real tricky bits or drama, but have some sort of design detail that elevates them above being completely basic? This is one of those projects. I was able to construct the entire top on my serger/coverstitch combo machine, and I was able to complete the sweatshirt in about 2.5 hours (including fabric cutting time).

The twist detail at the hem is fun and elevates this sweatshirt over your basic sweatshirt pattern. The pattern also includes suggestions for contrast top-stitching (which I omitted).

Overall, I love my new outfit! It's both comfortable and practical for the mom-on-the-go role that I take on over weekends, and it's also warm and cozy for lounging around the house on a rainy day with the fireplace on.

~ Michelle from Happily Caffeinated 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: The Classic Red Coat.

It started snowing in time for me to add atmosphere to my photos!
I am beyond thrilled to write this post!  Over a month ago I spoke with the folks at Fabric Mart and told them that I had made a decision to make a coat for my January make.  I asked if they had any coating fabric coming in to their store, since while I liked a lot of the coating options on the site, they weren't "wowing" me.  They got back to me and told me there was this gorgeous red wool coming in, and sent me a photo of it.  (There are a few yards left in the regular section, but they also have pieces of this brighter red wool from Halston available, too.  You need around 3 yards.)

I was immediately intrigued, but nervous, since red is one of the colors that looks terrible with my skin tone.  The only way red works is if it is a "true red" or a red with a bit of yellow in it (think of a ripened tomato).  And since I have some red in my hair, I was a bit apprehensive there, too, since reds and reddish hair doesn't normally work. 

When I received this wool, though, all thoughts of it not working went out the window.  The red was a "true red," one of the four universally flattering colors (see this for more info on that).  Anyone reading this could try this coat on and find the color works for them.  :-)  Yay!

I had in mind a very particular coat that I wanted to make, but before I decided on it, I did carefully weigh all my options. 

Did I want a double breasted trench coat like this amazing specimen from J. Crew a few years ago

Did I want a double breasted a-line coat like Duchess Kate, Prince William's wife, is wearing here?

Did I want a more modern twist, like this cocoon shaped coat?

I did a lot of ebay and etsy hunting, and while I loved many options, none of them sang to me, and dang it, if I was going to spend hours and hours on this coat, I wanted to ensure it was on something I knew I would love.

One night, I wore this coat out to eat with the family (you can see it on me here).  Though that coat looks nothing like the coat I  made, it did remind me that I needed to look at what I already have, and the patterns I already have, to determine what I would love for years and years to come.

And then it occurred to me that I already had a winner in my closet that I wear and wear again and again, my J. Crew Sybil coat from 2007.

I own it in yellow, and have had this one since January of 2008.  I was lucky to have picked it up for a very good price all those years ago, and literally, every time I wear it, I have people asking me where I got it.  Including my father-in-law and a construction worker.  No joke!  I was poetic about it here at this blog post, if you want more info on it.

I loved it so much in yellow that when I saw it come up in purple (almost a cobalt blue) on ebay for another ridiculously good price, I jumped.  Since color is my favorite thing to wear, I knew I wouldn't shy away from wearing this one out, either!  I speak more to this one here at this blog post.

To make my decision even easier, they also produced this coat in a red.  Kismet!

One thing I did determine, though, is while I love the style of the coat, especially the color, sometimes I wish for a different style bottom, since the original is a more fitted silhouette through the skirt of the coat.

Having decided my inspiration, I got down to picking the absolute perfect match for a pattern.  Turns out I decided on two.  And I somehow successfully married them.  The collar was taken from the McCall's 7024 pattern (without the drawstring and a whole bunch of interfacing to keep it "standing up"), and the rest of the coat was taken from Vogue 8626.  

I was not about to begin this very involved journey without a muslin fitting.  I would say 1/4 of my total time on this project was spent on this muslin.  I figured if I nailed the fit in a non-stretch ugly light tan fabric, then I could definitely make it work in a very pretty, slightly stretchy, felted wool fabric (it does have a bit of a mechanical stretch which surprised me).  (I call it felted as this is the closest descriptor I can give it.  It isn't the crafty felted wool, it just has a similar hand.)

I decided on the size 10 A cup.  I briefly contemplated the 10 B or the 12 A, but as soon as I sewed up the 10 A, it literally fit like a glove.  I often have to sacrifice the upper bodice fit with conventional patterns since I am an A cup and most pattern makers cut for a larger cup size.  This most often manifests itself in wrinkling right above the upper part of my bust, below the clavicle.  It's not unattractive, and no one notices, but I know why it is there.  Given cup size choices do help, and while the fit of this McCall's Lisette top is not perfect without my addition of the padded bra, it is better than the fit I often get when there are no cup size choices.  Lesson learned.  Apparently A cup/princess seams mean I will get the best fit for my body.

The skirt portion of this coat is very generous, but because I wanted to ensure the pleats fell properly, I graded out from a 10 waist to a size 12 right at the pockets (they are in the side seam).  I didn't technically need to cut a 12, but they back does fall very nicely on the finished coat.

The pleating at the back princess seams is okay, but I didn't want it favoring the side towards the center box pleat, so I ended up using the same markings, but turning the pleats into another set of box pleats, so my back has a very prominent center box pleat, and two smaller box pleats.

I also knew that a 1/2 shoulder pad was the best choice for this pattern as the look without the pads was less than perfect, just a touch of wrinkling at the shoulder.  Again nothing that anyone would notice, but I would, and can't have that.  ;-)

The collar, btw, because it is a McCall's pattern, and I used its sister Vogue for the coat, perfectly lined up at the notch points.  I don't know if I was lucky, or if all of their coats use this base notching system.  Regardless, I am very pleased with how well the two worked together.

After the tedium of muslin making was done, it was time to get all the pieces cut for the coat!  Obviously I cut the fabric, but I also cut quite a bit of interfacing, as well.

Technically the pattern only calls for interfacing at the front piece that attaches to the front facing, and they only call for fusible interfacing.  (I guess that is their way of keeping the Very Easy rating, but phooey on that, even kept "very easy," this pattern as is calls for full linings, pockets, princess seams, and the like, I think "very easy" is "very inaccurate.")

I decided to try and keep the tailoring of my coat as close to traditional as possible.  I actually sewed in hair canvas on the front pieces (you'll see that next), but to save a bit of time, I chose to buy some fusible hair canvas for the back pieces that I knew needed to be interfaced as well.  (The back and shoulder seams get a lot of wear and tear from putting on and taking off the jacket and need the extra support.)  The back of this coat is very fitted, and I wanted to ensure the natural stretch of the wool was not lost after applying the interfacing, so I cut all the back interfacing pieces on the bias, which you see in the photos above.  I then cut the pieces to fit the back without the seams, because I knew that those seams would be SUPER thick if I didn't get the interfacing out of there.  (I wouldn't be able to grade them after since they were fused, as well.)  I checked the stretch after the fuse, and it was perfect, just a touch of stretch, which means the coat gives a little in the back when putting the coat on and taking it off.

I also placed the interfacing of the collar (the non-pleated part) on the bias, too.  Though I don't need the stretch there, it gives that portion some flexibility, which I figured I might need when shaping it on the coat.

Above is a collage of all the action under the lining, which I am glad never to see again, lol.  It took a long time to properly baste all the batiste underlining to the side fronts and back skirt.  I also sewed some batiste onto the front facing, just in case.  Don't know that it was necessary, but I figured if it was, and I didn't, I would be made at myself for not doing it.

I also basted in the sew in hair canvas on the fronts, but unlike the fusible interfacing, I DID NOT apply it on the bias.  I want to make sure the front is as stable as possible since that is where the buttons/buttonholes would be placed.  The structure through the front is very important, which is why even in "Very Easy" Vogue, they make sure you at least interface that bit.

I also added some woven fusible interfacing to the front hem part of the fronts, and the upper shoulders/chest area of the side fronts.  Keeping the upper part of the coat as stable and structured as possible was my goal, and I knew the batiste wouldn't be enough to support the upper chest through the side fronts.  The hem portion was to allow the structure to continue in the front, but I knew that the garment didn't need as much structure right there, so I definitely didn't sweat it when I discovered that my yard of hair canvas wasn't long enough (I needed 40 inches from neck to hem, and had around 37 inches).

Part of why I did all this was because I watched both Steffani Lincecum's classes on tailoring (the jacket one is here and the coat one is here), but also because I own a handmade coat from the 1960s that was based on a Vogue Couturier pattern (Vogue 1472 seen here).  Someone was offering it for 99 cents, with $10 in shipping, so I put a bid in thinking that maybe I'll get it, and crazily enough, I did win it.  I did NOT buy it to wear it, but to keep it as a piece to see what seamstresses in the years before fusibles and automatic buttonholes did.  This coat is fully underlined with proper hair canvas (sew-in, of course), lined with a flannel-backed satin, hemmed with bias strips and hand sewn, and has little weights to keep the hem weighted.  It is a marvel.  It must have taken that person a LONG time to make.  I could wear the coat, it fits, but I just sit and stare at it, to be honest.  :-)

Although I recognize that princess seams really do fit me best, I HATE sewing them, because I always think I am doing it wrong, and it stresses me out to cut into the side that is shorter to fit the side that is longer.

Having said that, an A cup means that the sides are nearly equal (I know, I know, lolololol), so I only had to do the most minute of cutting.  I still sweated it, and on the back there is more of a curve (why!?!), I definitely had to be very precise.  I took a lot of time and the results are awesome, so do the same.  It is worth the extra energy properly marking the fabric (or in this case the interfacing) to ensure everything lines up just so. 

There is also an overabundance of topstitching in this garment.  The results were really nice on the princess seams throughout, though I had a few wobbles that I had to correct, but once I moved onto the heavier back waist seam topstitching, the results were less than stellar.  Though I recognize why the topstitching is needed there, I had to cover it up (which you'll see later).

I ended up NOT topstitching the placket of the coat or the sleeve hems.  I managed, through very careful and abundant pressing to get the lower fabric to turn to the inside fully, which meant that the upper fabric was all that is seen from the outside of the garment.  It took a long time, but again, prefer that to my dodgy stitching over very thick seams.

Here are four things that I think will be helpful for you if you take on this coat (especially in a very thick fabric).

1. Changed the pleat's direction from favoring the center back box pleat to two additional box pleats.  I prefer this design.

2. I did not add a center box pleat in the lining.  This means, of course, that I can't hem the coat to the lining, but that's fine.  I left the hems free and plan to add thread stays/anchor tabs to keep the two together.

3. Like I mentioned above, the topstitching on the back waist was sad.  I kept in a fairly straight line, but the variation in stitching depending on the thickness of the fabric below it was varied from tight to regular.  My walking foot was not up for the challenge.  I do realize it would have been best for me hand stitch it to look like this, but all 20/20 hindsight.

4. To make up for the big glaring mistake, I decided to draft a Martingale belt for the back.  I didn't know this had a term until I was looking up vintage patterns for this post, but quite a few of them said "martingale belt" at back, and I was "aha!"  It is defined as a loose half belt or strap placed on the back of a garment, such as a coat or jacket.  Good to know.  I did a very simple draft, basically two big rectangles sewn at the top, flipped in, pressed, and then topstitched (with a lot less dodgy stitching because many less layers) at the bottom.  I then cut off the excess fabric, and because this is a dense felted wool, it does not fray.  Success!

Above are some of my favorite bits of this coat. 

1. Although the belt was added as a mistake "cover," I far prefer this back to the way it is drafted.  It gives the back a nice presence.  Highly recommend everyone add their own Martingale belt!  I also love the back pleats, those add such femininity to an otherwise austere coat.  The back collar is also very lovely, must remember to wear my hair up to show it off!

2. Speaking of the collar, although I knew it was a good match to my original Sybil coat (and these Bella jackets, also made by J. Crew), I needed to make sure I was on the right path.  Thanks to Sue, a fellow Fabricista, I found ONE review of this McCall's 7024 pattern, and it was hers.  After seeing it, I knew I would be in a good place when making my own.  :-)

3. The pocket is drafted to have a main fabric bottom portion and a lining top portion.  The floral peeking out is so cute.  You can't see it unless you look, but these are the details that show that you spent a lot of time and thought on the garment.

4.  I love the princess seams.  I hate making them, but I LOVE them!  The buttons, btw, are from Dill buttons.  They have a bumpy rocky "outer" face, but when I flipped them, they had a smooth, variegated face that suited the look of the coat.  I had bought buttons to replicate the J. Crew Sybil coat buttons, but I didn't want to be that derivative. 

My husband said I should flip the coat inside out and wear it like this since the lining is really special.  This is a poly charmeuse with stretch from my stash and the red florals in the lining are an exact match for the red wool.

I was able to attach the lining in a similar fashion to the directions.  I was able to control the beast that is sewing the facing to the fronts, but just.  I also had the beast of sewing in the set-in sleeves, so I knew that even though I might be able to set-in the lining sleeves, I would be more sane to ignore that option and follow the directions properly.  The bonus of doing the sleeves the way I have done them here is that I was able to hem the lining and sleeve together and it looks SO much better than any sleeve hem I have ever done (this jacket and this jacket).  I may have to move all of my jacket and coat making sleeve directions to this one.  It requires me to slip stitch the sleeve lining in place, but honestly, it was easy, looked pretty good, and could be done while watching reality tv.  Yes!

I may not follow my husband's advice of wearing it inside out, but I'll show off my lining to whomever asks, though.  ;-)

Closed, opened, hands in pocket, turned around, or to the side.  I LOVE my coat.

Especially the collar.  And the color.  ;-)

Enjoy your winter sewing adventures!

~Dina, My Superfluities.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Made By A Fabricista: A Spring Shirtdress

Simplicity 8014 was definitely on my radar when it was released this past fall. I love shirt dresses and definitely one with a full skirt! Unlike the rest of the free world, the bodice of McCall's 6696 didn't work for me, but I had a good feeling about this one. And, if you know me you know I tend to shun the muslin. So I went to work on standard adjustments.

I take a size 14 for chest measurement; but the finished bust was 39.5". I have a 39.5" bust! I did a 1" FBA to end up with a finished bust of 41.5" (I like a close fit).

I measured and decided to narrow the shoulder 3/8" and did a 5/8" swayback adjustment.

Another standard adjustment for me is adding 1" to the bicep. Well, I measured this pattern piece and the sleeve was exactly the same as the Burda project I'd just sewn. Sweet! Well, that garment was a  knit! Oops :) My sleeve is a little snug; I'll make a note to adjust it for next time.

The bane of my existence with sewing this pattern. The pocket. They have you do some convoluted craziness. The pocket attaches up to the waistline and then they have you go back and sew the side seam from waist to large dot. It was so bulky and awkward! 

Luckily, I had nice, well behaved cotton that took a press amazingly well!

I selected THIS cotton poplin, totally because of the print. How fun is that?!

I am so happy with the fit I achieved on the bodice! This fabric has no give -- as poplin is a tight, plain weave -- so I feel really good about my fit adjustments!

The fabric is so soft against the skin and the color is really bright and vibrant! I prewashed this in cold water, on the gentle cycle and dried it on medium heat. It was slightly wrinkled when it came out the dryer but it takes a pressing like a champ.

Let's check out the details!

-Front and back has tucks at the waistline
-I chose these soft blue buttons to compliment the print
-I added sleeve tabs with a non-functional button; I just love the sleeve tuck!
-Yoke and flat piping

I was going to add red piping but after doing the sleeve tucks, I decided to do some flat piping out of self fabric. I used bias cut strips that were 1.5" wide and pressed in half. I then used Wonder Tape (greatest stuff on earth) to secure and then sewed the seam. I think it's such a subtle but fun detail!

I've done this kind of sleeve with the tuck and the written instructions always confuse me.

-Traced the line while the sleeve was flat. After sewing the sleeve, I turned up the hem to meet the line and pressed in place.
-Then turned up again, at the traced line, and pressed. 
-Stitched on the folded edge - the pattern instructed 1/4" but I went slightly narrower (3/16") to more closely match the flat piping. 
-Unfold and press the tuck up into place.

I like it with an actual belt a bit more. 
The tie is one of the only aestheic things I'd change; I think it should be a bit wider

When I first attached the skirt and tried it on I was SO frustrated that I'd chosen this fabric + this pattern. I thought it was too whimsical and too '50s and the fabric has some body to it and it felt too poofy and just all around too..."not me". 

But once I attached the collar and the buttons and it was finished -- I LOVED it!!! I love the fit, the silhouette, the length - everything. The fabric is so soft and cozy (and between you and I think it would make an amazing pair of the piped pajamas that are trending) and the dress really feels fantastic on. 

There's quite a bit of this fabric left: HERE!

Spring is right around the corner, even for the tundra. I'll be ready!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: High Waisted, Wide Leg Denim Pants!

Hi Fashionistas!!!

I hope you are having a wonderful 2016 so far! I just finished making my very 1st garment of 2016... and can I just tell you that I am in love with it?

I got this super yummy delicious Denim Sateen from Fabric Mart.. I got a total of 4 yards so I am hoping to get a nice skirt out of it as well :)

This fabric would make a very cute dress as well.. I have to try to get my hands on a bolt of this fabric..I think I could design an entire wardrobe out of this :) 

The fabric behaved BEAUTIFULLY! I am on vacation in California and didn't have access to all my professional tools. I used a domestic iron to press the seams while sewing and the fabric responded so well to heat and steam. I did not have a tailors clapper, but one wasn't needed.. The fabric was a pleasure to work with. 

I get so greedy when it comes to fabric. When I love a fabric, I want to make as many garments out of it as I can..  Wouldn't a dressy denim jacket be so nice with these pants?

The pants are quite high waisted. I considered lowering the wait by about half an inch but decided against it.. I stand 5 feet 4 inches.. and love a pair of pants that makes me look tall :) I used Burda 7122 for the pattern

I like my pants long. I like to show a little bit of that cute shoe while I walk or sit, but I like the pants long.. 

Yup... had to throw in that bollywood pose.. as always..

I love these pants so much more than the original pants I made in gabardine. These one stretch with me and allow me to eat a big lunch.. The fabric has a stretch.. and is super comfortable. 

That is it for now fashionistas!! See you soon  with me next sewing adventure. 


Monday, January 18, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: Sewing for Sunny Mexico

Hola chicas!  My family and I just got back from a trip to beautiful Cancun, Mexico!  I've actually been learning Spanish for the last 6 months, and was so excited to have a chance to practice. Cancun is beautiful this time of year with gorgeous clear turquoise water and warm sandy beaches.  It's a nice break from the typical midwestern winter.  Before we left, I sewed up a few things for the trip, using, of course, fabrics from Fabric Mart!

I had picked up this Maggy London ITY knit fabric which reminded me a lot of the pottery that I'd seen in Mexico before.  It had a vertical stripe with multiple patterns in each stripe section.

I had a tough time picking out a pattern, but decided on Vogue 1234. This is a Sandra Betzina design, and I always enjoy making her patterns.  I thought it would be fun to play around with the stripes and the seaming on this, and the style was perfect for a casual vacation.

You can see that it has some really different seaming to give it what I call a Pineapple shape. The wind is pretty strong in these pictures, so it is blowing out those little side pieces.  If the wind isn't blowing, they drape pretty nicely.

I cut each one of the sections out of a different part of the stripe.  It was a really fun pattern to sew- I highly recommend it if you think you'd like this shape.  It does run super long though- I ended up taking 5" out of the entire length, and I am a tall person!

I had been to Cancun once before and had remembered that it got a little breezy and chilly in the evening, so I wanted to make a shrug to cover up my arms.  I found this Coral Burnout Jersey that went well with the print.  The pattern that I used for this was Butterick 5529, View C.

This is a great little pattern that has been out for a while.  Very easy to sew, and only took 1-1/8 yds.
However, this time in Cancun, it was so warm that I never wore it, so I don't have any location photos.

The last thing that I made for the trip was a camp shirt out of this adorable pineapple print cotton .

I really love this fabric- it is so bright and cheery and fun.  It looks like I cut it on the bias, but I did not- that is just how the print is. 

For it, I used Style Arc's Maggie Shirt pattern which had some nice features like the shaped hem and a fly front pleat.

Like any true Fabricista, I had to seek out local fabric sources to see if I could find any truly unique and fabulous fabrics.  So, while we were there I did convince my family to go to some fabric stores, but alas, the two that we visited seemed to be geared towards lots of shiny polyester fabrics that did not entice me to buy anything.  The two that we found were Modatelas and Assis and were in the real Cancun where local residents shop- not the tourist areas. 

Both stores displayed almost all of their fabrics on upright tall skinny rolls instead of bolts, so the stores had a completely different feel to them than your typical US store.  The prices were good, and the prices on notions were really good- my daughter bought a ton of zippers for about $.05 each.  I warned her that buying zippers ahead of time doesn't work- that you can never predict the right color or length that you'll need.  But, she argued that if she only uses one of them, she will have gotten her money's worth.  We will see!

 Lots of lace, ribbons and even mariachi trim!

Even though I didn't come home with any fabric, I did buy a beautiful handmade gauze tunic.  There are a lot of hand-embroidered dresses and tunics that you can find easily.  

 Every single stitch in this is done by hand- the seams, the embroidery- everything!  I will definitely be hand-washing this one.  I'm so glad that I got to take home a piece of Mexican craftsmanship, and will wear it with fond memories.

It's good to be back home, and I'm looking forward to wearing these pieces as it slowly warms back up here.  Although this winter has been a mild one so far, it is still a far cry from the 85 degree weather in Cancun!

Traveling is one of my family's favorite things to do together, and I really enjoyed sewing these pieces for the trip. If you like gorgeous beaches, incredibly good food, friendly people and warm weather, then I hope you can visit Cancun someday!  I didn't get to practice my Spanish as much as I would have liked, so I will hopefully go back again soon to practice more. 

Hasta luego!

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