Finished object, Me-made, Sewing

I ate’nt dead*

Oops. Once again, I didn’t mean to disappear! A busy schedule has meant that my photographer has been otherwise occupied on the weekends, not to mention that it seems my camera battery is not long for this world.  A remote and a new battery are definitely on my to-do list! (These photos are a mix of DSLR and iPhone, so apologies in advance for the mismatched colour and quality!)

Robson Coat - July 2014

But enough excuses… This coat has been in progress for such a long time. I went out and got the Robson Coat pattern as soon as it was released, started it with the best of intentions and then promptly ran out of winter. It has sat in the UFO pile (along with a lot of other things) giving me the side eye ever since, until Brisbane finally decided it might try this winter thing out again a few weeks ago.

And yes, everyone who likes to tell me that winter in Brisbane is not really winter, I know. This sub-tropical weakling can’t cope when the mercury drops below 20C, but in my defence, yesterday morning was the coldest it has been in Brisbane for 103 years. There was almost frost and everything :P

Robson Coat - July 2014

I went a bit rogue on this pattern really. Size-wise, I went with a 6 at the bust blending through to a 0 at the waist and hips, partly because I am not the pear-shaped person this pattern is designed for, and also because I wanted this to be reasonably fitted. I made it shorter, because I don’t really need a long coat, and after reading a few reviews I also moved up the pockets a little. I’d move them up even further next time I make it as they still feel a little low to me (and I am planning quite a few more of this pattern because… well, I like coats. A lot.) I swapped out the tie belt for a buckle belt as well, as I think they look smarter.

Robson Coat - July 2014

Another major change I made was to ignore the fabric recommendations: I went with a medium/heavy wool coating which is lovely and SUPER warm, but did mean I had to hand wheel the entire topstitched section along the collar because my machine was not having a bar of it. Despite its bulk, the coating was far too drapey for this pattern as well, which I didn’t realise until I had sewed the body together, so I had to retrofit in a whole lot of interfacing to get it to sit right (I forgot to do the storm flaps, which is why they are flopping all over the place in these photos). As you can imagine, this made the inside a red-hot mess so I decided that I would have to line it.

Robson Coat - July 2014

I am so happy with the look of the lining though – silk is always nice and luxurious and it is a nice pop of colour on the inside. After talking to other people who made this as well I’m quite happy that I didn’t have to sew in 50 thousand miles of binding! If I lined again I would add in some extra room in the lining for the sleeves, because (at least in this make) there is a lot of strain at the elbows and it is definitely damaging the fabric there.

Robson Coat - July 2014

One small problem I haven’t solved yet is finding some matching buttons for the shoulder tabs – I was one short (so frustrating!) and I really, really wanted to use these buttons (lion heads!). I’ve been hunting through etsy and ebay without luck so far, and given I got them off the sale table I don’t think I can get any more from where I bought them. The shoulder tabs are hidden under the collar so I’m not super worried about it but it would be nice to finish it properly. For the moment it can be our little secret.

Robson Coat - July 2014

One thing I do want to point out to anyone who wants to make this coat – buy LOTS of thread. More than you think. The combination of triple stitch and so much topstitching (and honestly, unpicking) meant I finished this with 6cm to spare (I think I had about 4 rolls, so 1000m). The backs of the buttonholes are done in black because I had nothing left (the buttonholes are a mess anyway, my machine was really over the layers and just massacred them). There is nothing quite as stressful as watching your thread run down and doing all those mental calculations as to whether you’re going to make it.

But it is a lovely coat, and the pattern is great. I’ve always been happy with the quality of Sewaholic patterns and the instructions and this is no exception. Tasia has a way of stepping you through quite involved makes so it all feels easy. The finished result looks smart and I have been wearing it a lot. I’ll certainly be making this again soon (in the Orla Kiely waterproof fabric I got the other day perhaps…)

Bonus photos: looks good with jeans too.

Robson Coat - July 2014

The details:

* Granny Weatherwax is my guide in all things, and I thought it was fitting to have a Pratchett reference as a footnote.

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Finished object, Me-made, Sewing

Jaywalkin’

So, I’m not one for competitions. They tend to stress me out, and that’s the exact opposite of what I want or need in a hobby. So when I read about Tessuti Fabric’s Jaywalk competition, I thought that it was a good opportunity to get some fabric I had been eyeing off super cheap and that I wouldn’t necessarily worry about entering. I got some in both colour ways and figured I could use the light version to make up a Moneta dress, and the black looked like a perfect fabric to knock off this dress that I pinned an age ago. No stress. Just simple, wearable sewing.

Long story short: one Sunday afternoon later I had my super cute little stripey dress. Me Made May taught me that I love wearing knit dresses on the weekend and I needed some more: job done. A few days later I was telling The Mister about all the cool things that had been entered into the comp so far and how my dress was far too simple for competitions. His response: “screw it, just do it, because what’s to lose?”. At this point I may have mentioned something about my derpy photos and the internet, but sometimes my husband is more stubborn than me, and so a competition entry it is.

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

So here it is. Let’s call it my hidden pocket knit dress. Can you see them?

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

And there they are.

This make is a mash up between my Renfrew tee dress, with the pocket structure from Vogue 1247 (which I sure as hell am getting my money’s worth from). I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure the pockets were properly hidden in the black stripe and I’m pretty happy with the result. To stop them flipping about I lined the front with some swimsuit lining and also added in some fusible interfacing along the tops to keep them from sagging down. In wearing it so far that has worked to keep them where they are supposed to be. Once the pockets were in, the whole thing could just be sewn up like a t-shirt, and I did my normal method which is basically as per the Renfrew instructions (I think the double handling of machining than overlocking means it is all super durable and I like my clothes to last).

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

No head in this picture because apparently a recipe for looking very unhappy is to eat a giant pasta lunch and then try and suck in your food belly for photos. Eh, pasta is SO WORTH IT.

BUT I am pretty happy with my stripe matching down the sides, it took a bit of wrangling (and unpicking a lot of lightning stitch) but I got there in the end with only a few stripes out by a tiny bit. In the spirit of stress-free sewing, I’ve decided I don’t care because unless you are sitting there obsessively checking my side seams it is not noticeable, and fifty-thousand times better than what I could buy in a shop.

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

The dress still felt like it needed a little something something, so I added in a fake button placket (?) on the shoulders, and I think it turned out pretty cute. Expect to see this detail on some t-shirts very soon.

Don’t think I can add much more to this: stripey dresses are pretty much always a good thing in my books. But it feels good to get something off my Pinterest to do list (only 600+ things to go!) – how many of you find Pinterest to be both a blessing and a curse?

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

Outfit details:

  • Dress mash up of the Sewaholic Renfrew and Vogue 1247
  • Fabric: Jaywalk in Black/Natural from Tessuti, swimsuit lining from stash (i.e., no idea)
  • Buttons from Spotlight
  • Voodoo wool tights
  • Jane Debster boots
  • Lean courtesy of sloping driveway
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Blogs

A very late Liebster

Liebster Award

 

I am so late with this but the lovely Emily from Dressing the Role nominated me for a Liebster Award last month. Don’t let my tardiness be mistaken for apathy – I’m dead chuffed (I hope that means the same thing other places than Australia…). You may have seen this award around the blogosphere – it is a really nice way to recognise smaller blogs (less than 200 followers) and find some new-to-you blogs to read (ALWAYS a great thing as far as I’m concerned), as well as find out a bit about fellow sewists. I’ve been given 11 questions to answer, and then I put together my own Q&A for 11 other bloggers that I’ll pass the award on to.

First up: the questions!


1. When did you start sewing?

I don’t remember exactly when I first started sewing, but when I was a little kid in primary school (maybe age 10?) I sewed soft toys for my friends, and I did a little in high school as well as part of our home ec classes. I dipped in and out of sewing after that, made a couple of things for weddings or my sister’s formal (prom) dress (can’t believe she let me do that!), but only seriously took up sewing again 5 years ago. And since then, I’ve been sewing with a vengeance!

2. What is your favorite pattern?

If my Me-Made-May is accurate, I think it must be the Sewaholic Renfrew - I must have made this about 30 times.  But I’m guessing I’m not alone here, but my favourite pattern is always the next one I’m going to make!

3. Do you have your own sewing space?

I have hijacked a section of our living room for my sewing space (I do have a study where I was supposed to set up, but I got creeped out sitting up there by myself) which means I can have company as I sew, or I can watch TV or DVDs. Of course, my fabric stash has started breeding and encroaching out of this space onto lounge chairs and tables, and my poor husband hasn’t seen the top of the dining table for 6 months. Someone tell me this is normal!

4. Do you do other types of crafting (knitting, crocheting, card making, etc)?

I like to dabble in lots of crafty pursuits: I do a bit of painting and illustrating and hopefully soon some screen printing (doing a course, woooo!). I’m also the world’s slowest knitter. Like 30cm of scarf after 2 years slow.

5. How do you balance sewing with work and family?

I work long hours a lot of the time which does curtail greatly on sewing time, as well as drain my energy levels (but does pay for fabric, and my house I suppose :P) but I’m lucky to have a pretty undemanding husband and furry children. The Mister is quite happy to indulge his gaming hobby as much as I will let him get away with, which means he is pretty tolerant of sewing dominating my time, and we can both pretend to ignore the messy house.

6. What are some of your sewing strengths?

I’m going to go with two answers here – firstly being a bit of perfectionist means I will unpick and unpick until I get something right (with much swearing however) and secondly, my stubbornness means I will often bite off more than I can chew. I feel that constantly challenging yourself is the best way to become better at whatever it is that you want to do.

7. What are some of your sewing goals – new skills, different patterns, etc?

I want to keep trying to challenge myself, so I think that some of the next things I want to tackle are pattern drafting and also a really elaborate boned dress. Also, jeans, and making a pair that fit as nicely as bought ones.

8. Do you tend to sew with a plan, or do you wait until inspiration hits you and run with it?

I keep lots and lots of lists, especially now Pinterest is around, because there is just so much inspiration and I want to make everything all at once. My theory is, that if I can’t work out what to do I just have to pick something off the list. But saying that, I usually get struck by something and just go with it.

9. How often do you sew, and for how long?

I will get withdrawal pangs if I don’t get to touch my sewing machine for more than a week, but I at least try to get a couple of hours over a few week nights, and an afternoon (4-5 hours) on the weekend if I can get it. But like most things, it is often feast or famine – I spent last Sunday sewing, but it was the first time in weeks.

10. What project are you the most proud of?

Always the next one! But I am proud that I just made jeans (soon to be blogged, I promise). I’d been putting it off because I thought it would be too hard, but it wasn’t actually that bad (thank goodness for Grainline’s fly tutorials!). Hopefully soon I can perfect them and get them fitting right.

11. What project are you least happy with?

I am always unhappy if I cut too many corners or do a lazy job on something. If I know I can do better, I will be upset at myself.


And now for the funnest bit – nominating some new blogs. Now, with this, I had no idea how to find out how many followers a blog has, so I have gone for some great new-to-me blogs that I’ve discovered in the last few months. I feel bad because I am the world’s worst commenter, so this is a great chance to let people know that I read and appreciate their posts. There won’t be 11 though, because I am feeling rebellious against arbitrary numbers…

First up: Trial and Erika, who hasn’t been blogging for a long time but has super awesome style and a great writing voice.

Zoe Livana Handmade: another lady with awesome style. Check out this awesome Belladone!

A Handmade Wardrobe: Chantal makes some *beautiful* things, and also has made shoes! Shoes! I’m so impressed.

Sweet Alchemy: I am jealous of people who can knit as well as sew, what can I say? :) So many lovely sweaters!

Seems Right to Me: Look at this coat. Need I say more?

And last, but certainly not least, Lady Stitcher. So many patterns have moved up my sewing list because of her great bold colourful styling, and also: fox skirt. Foxes are awesome.

Okay, here are your questions!

1. What’s your earliest sewing memory?

2. Where do you get your sewing inspiration from?

3. What do you watch/listen to while you sew?

4. Do you snack and sew?

5. What’s the latest you’ve stayed up just to finish a sewing project (or what other crazy sewing deadline have you had)? Just one more hem….

6. An important one: cat or dog? (Or, if you are feeling rebellious: tortoise, or snail, or moose…)

7. What’s the make you’re most proud of?

8. Sewing for others – yes or no?

9. Pattern first, or fabric?

10. How do you get yourself out of a sewing rut?

11. If you could sew one thing, where money, skill and time were not limited, what would it be?

The End!

(Thanks so much again for the nomination Emily!)

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Finished object, Me-made, Sewing

A feathery Meissa

Perhaps there is some sort of sewing collective consciousness? How else to explain that the lovely Amy from Sew Amy Sew beat me to posting her fantastic Liberty Meissa blouse by just a few days? I feel like such a copycat now, but as the weekend was full of Mother’s Day celebrations and Eurovision (magnificent Conchita!) I haven’t had a chance to photograph anything else. Such is life and all that.

Feather Meissa – Apr 2014

What to say? This was one of those impulse sewing things – I had a hankering to make a shirt and I wasn’t sure this feathery Liberty print was quite suited to a Grainline Archer. I’m not entirely comfortable wearing large scale prints like this, and I thought the extra detailing in Papercut’s Meissa blouse might help stop it from wearing me (as opposed to the other way around), and besides, I was feeling bad that I hadn’t sewn up anything by Papercut yet.

Feather Meissa – Apr 2014

To help moderate the print even more, I took inspiration from something I have been itching to do since I saw something similar on my husband’s shirts (which I was reminded of because of Lauren’s equally lovely version), and used grosgrain ribbon as a detail behind the buttons and in the cuffs. I would have run it around the inside of the collar stand as well except I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to wrangle the curve at the end. I also topstitched in navy but you can’t really see it at all (oh well).

I made an XS and I’m pretty happy with the fit. As others who’ve made it attest, it has a special type of sleeve placket situation happening that makes it virtually impossible to scrunch up the sleeves, and given I will never wear a shirt without scrunched sleeves, I added in a placket as per the Grainline Archer (I would’ve attempted a tower placket for the first time, but I had barely any scraps left after over-enthusiastically cutting out a Datura from the remains of the fabric). I would recommend doing this BEFORE you set in the sleeves, because if you forget (*ahem*) then it is a massive pain. Massive. And yeah, you have to remember that this will change the size of your cuffs as well. Ask me how I know all this? Let’s just say fixing the sleeves was somewhat of a scramble and involved cursing and sulking.

If I did make it again in another similar fabric (and I take this small moment to attest to how lovely to sew with Liberty is, each and every time) I would make a few changes to the way the gathering sits – as drafted, the gathering I feel starts a little too close to the underarms, so it can look a little funny in fabric that has this kind of ‘body’. It would be an easy fix, just to compact the area the gathering occurs in. In a slinkier fabric, I think you would not have the same problem (and it would look fantastic).

Feather Meissa – Apr 2014

While I’m pretty happy with the look of the final shirt, and I will be making another Meissa, I’m not 100% sold on how well this version fits into my wardrobe. This could just be that the shirt looks too summery for me to judge properly while I get deeper into my winter black and grey fest, so I’m going to put it away for 6 months and see how I feel at the end.

Details:

And… I haven’t forgotten the Liebster either – I will respond very soon I promise – just want to give it the attention it deserves!

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Finished object, Me-made, Sewing

An ode to black

I wonder if you’ll indulge me in a little rant here?

I read a post the other day talking about someone’s experience at one of the big US sewing conference things, where a speaker gave advice along the lines that black should never be worn at all by anybody.

What the?

Quite apart from the fact that I think there is no call for anyone to tell anyone else how they should dress – DRESS HOWEVER YOU LIKE PEOPLE (I call this the Tilda Swinton principle, because, well, Tilda Swinton is THE BOSS) – black is fantastic. It can be dramatic or fade into the background. It is versatile. It goes with pretty much everything. It makes other colours pop. If you have an office tan like me it is the difference between ‘porcelain’ and ‘pasty’. Black is the best. Besides, I’m a designer by day therefore wearing black is practically mandatory.

Maybe this waxing lyrical is all a little overkill, but honestly, life is too short to have people arbitrarily blanket statement out an entire colour. Rules, schmules. If you like black, wear it. If you don’t, then don’t. </rant>

Black Renreau – Apr 2014

In case you hadn’t guessed, I like black. I am gleefully planning a mostly monochrome winter wardrobe as we speak. This dress is one of the first items from that plan. I have been in desperate need of some comfy-yet-pulled-together items and a knit dress seemed to fit the bill perfectly. You are spoilt for choice for knit dresses these days (the Lady Skater or Colette’s new Moneta amongst many examples*) but being too lazy to paste together PDF pages I went with a mashup of my tried and true Sewaholic Renfrew, the neckline of the Plantain and the gathered skirt from Deer & Doe’s Sureau dress. I can’t take credit for this combination – Deer & Doe’s Eléonore made a similar thing here and she and I seem to have the same issue whereby an a-line skirt on a knit dress isn’t quite flattering.

Black Renreau – Apr 2014

This is a pretty easy thing to put together if you are comfortable with knits. I used a quite solid merino (with a touch of elastane), almost a double knit I’d say, which was super easy to handle, and is nicely warm. To make the skirt section have more body I added around 20cm of width, and I gathered it on some elastic to keep the weight off the top. I use Sewaholic’s method of treating knits like wovens, in that I always sew my seams twice, first with the sewing machine and then the overlocker, because I’ve found it makes things last longer and helps with keeping everything lined up. This takes a little longer, but with practice I find that I can make something like this in an hour and a half. I don’t even bother with a twin needle hem, because my stretch stitch is small enough that it looks fine as a finish (also, I am lazy).

Black Renreau – Apr 2014

I love this dress. I’ve already made up another variation just because it feels like otherwise I’ll wear it out too quickly. Can we have three cheers for lovely dresses that feel like pajamas?

Outfit details:

(*There are so many very, very similar versions out there. I am actually quite surprised that so many companies are bringing out what is essentially the same dress but all power to them. I should note I have bought the Lady Skater and the Moneta for no apparent reason other than, quite frankly, that I’m a sucker for new product. I’m sure they will be lovely when I make them but I really didn’t need either of them because I could just make the same thing with what I already own. But anyway, I do like supporting indie designers so…)

While I’m here, a little housekeeping…

It’s that time of year again: Me Made May. I’ve always watched with interest over the last few years but have never taken part before. But this year, I think it is time to take the plunge! Realistically I think the best way to handle it is to do a couple of round up posts so I’m not bombarding people, and I’ll probably Instagram my outfit every day.

I do wear something I have made most days, so in that sense it isn’t as much of a challenge as is intended, but the challenge for me will be a)taking photos and b)finding out what it is that I actually wear, and what I don’t, and why. It will actually be really interesting to record this data and I’m hoping that it will give me a clearer picture of what I actually need in a wardrobe.

So, without further ado:
I, Amy of What Miss Amy Did Next, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear one me made item each day for the duration of May 2014.

Also, The lovely Emily of Dressing the Role has nominated me for a Liebster Award (I’m so excited!). I think I will save that for another post as this one is pretty long now, but I’m looking forward to answering the questions. Thanks so much Emily!

I think that’s enough blabbering for one day! Off to watch Orphan Black

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Finished object, Me-made, Sewing

A floral Chloe

Oops. Didn’t mean to disappear for that long! Life huh…

I have been a busy sewing bee though – just didn’t have any good weather to take photos in (boooooo to fast approaching winter and getting home in the dark). BUT a long weekend and lovely autumn sunshine mean the backlog has been photographed and is blog ready.

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

Let’s start with the lovely Chloe dress by Victory Patterns. I have no idea why this took me to sew up (it has been out for a long while now surely?) – I had got as far as sticking together and cutting out the pdf pattern but then obviously I got distracted. I know I swore off linen after my pink skirt but this was too pretty to pass up – an impulse counter buy at The Fabric Store’s 50% sale earlier this year. I was intending to do a pencil skirt with it so only got a metre, but there was just enough to squeak out this dress (if I had had more fabric I wouldn’t have had the annoying repeat issue on the back panels that you will see in the photos below).

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

I love these painterly flowery prints that aren’t quite your traditional style – they seem like a less ‘girly’ way to wear floral. I paired it with a mid-grey linen for the pocket and bindings, and lined the whole thing with some beige cotton/viscose I got when I was feeling responsible (buying linings is SO BORING yes?). The dress has a nice 60s vibe going and is quite forgiving of say, overly large meals and a lack of exercise. Also: pocketses. Pocketses are the best.

I made a straight size 6 and it fit pretty well – the only things I changed were to take a small dark on the back neckline and a extra tiny dart at the bust to tighten things up. As other people have noted (which I realised afterward) the armholes on this dress are drafted too large so you get a bit of bra showing at the sides. Next time I will fix that up before I cut out – the way the princess seam at the back is drafted means you can’t retrofit a fix for it without your seam showing. The other thing I would change is to somehow make the pockets one big kangaroo pocket instead of being separate – they have a tendency to flap about and sit funny and I think it would be neater to have the whole thing joined up (I tacked mine together at the centre as a quick fix). Other than that – this dress is super cute and really quite easy, especially if you machine stitch the binding (instead of painstakingly by hand like this idiot).

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

Outfit details:

  • Dress: Victory Pattern’s Chloe in size 6 (very small mods)
  • Fabric: 1m of floral linen from The Fabric Store, 1m of cotton/viscose from The Fabric Storefran, grey linen scraps from deep dark stash
  • Glasses by Frankie Dean
  • Frye Veronica Boots from Amazon (the best thing about cooler weather is I get to stomp around in these again, they are THE BEST)
  • Deck: has needed a damn good clean for 2 years now. Living amongst the gum trees has some disadvantages
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Finished object, Me-made, Sewing

Doh! A Deer!

A hipster deer?

Deer Vogue 1247

A little while back I was feeling very uninspired and blah about everything. I was spending a whole lot of time on Pinterest and not actually creating anything for myself, and I was feeling terrible. There was lots of moping about and a hellava lot of indecision, made worse by reaching Sunday night again and feeling like I did nothing but work and work and work. But then I read this post by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. She put into words everything I hadn’t worked out for myself, and the comments… well… there was one that just made me cry (way to get strange looks from your husband I can tell you). Lauren said: “This post was like having someone turn on the lights for you, when you hadn’t even noticed it was getting dark out.”

Yes: that.

Something had to be done. I still didn’t really feel that I could make a choice, but I could at least decide I could ask The Mister to pick something for me to make. I pulled together 2 or 3 options, things I’d made before so they weren’t too taxing, and got him to choose. Not really surprisingly, he picked this super cute polka-dotted, glasses-on-deer Echino print and the skirt from Vogue 1247.

All up, this took me 2 hours from cutting out to finishing – I was up past midnight but it was worth it. The skirt is a simple design but it is really lovely (albeit short) and it comes together really easily. The kangaroo pockets add an extra something, and if you don’t bother with the binding on the seams it is a very quick make.

Deer Vogue 1247

I put a huge amount of effort into matching the front up (look at those deer on the pockets!) and making sure the deer placement was even – but I overestimated my yardage when it came to the back and I had to squeeze it out any old how. I figure I don’t have to look at that side so I’m not too worried. The ‘grellow’ colour just makes me happy (it does look terrible on my skin tone so it will have to be worn with stockings – but it will need to be worn with stockings anyway given the length), and the little glasses-wearing deer? Swoon.

I have this fabric in the black colourway as well so expect to see more hipster deer in my future!

Outfit details:

  • Skirt: Vogue 1247 (skirt) in size 10 (no mods)
  • Fabric: 1m of Echino ‘Deer in Glasses’ in Chartreuse from Bolt of Cloth (linen/cotton and SO nice to sew)
  • Tee: Espirit (which reminds me – make black tees)
  • Shoes: Camper from Endless (which is now Amazon)
  • Antler necklace: from Wunderkammer in Melbourne

Let me leave you with this:

I’m not the only one who has this deer link indelibly embedded in my brain right?

Right?

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