Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Completed: Sew Dolly Clackett Dress

What is so great about Roisin is that she knows what she likes, she does it well, and this seems to bring her a lot of joy. In fact, this is why I read her blog -- to me, she radiates and embodies the pure joy of sewing. Mind you, her beautiful smile also has something to do with that. :-) Roisin gives me the sense that as long as we're sewing, things are going to be okay, you know? Also, she sews A LOT. Have you seen the number of dresses in her closet? Talk about inspiring!

Pattern: self-drafted lobster dress pattern, frankensteined with the very excellent Cami Dress by Pauline Alice. Fabric: synthetic mystery fabric from stash. It was my intention, with the full skirt and fun heels, to echo Roisin's style, in a way that still felt me. Also, this dress works pretty well with my figure, which is also to me what Roisin is all about -- knowing what works for you and having fun with it!

But now, tell me Roisin, do you really wear all those pretty heels to work? How do you do it?! My feet are killing me from just the pictures!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Completed: A Second Beyoncé Dress

I hope you're having a happy long weekend, and that it's just as sunny in your corner of the world as it is in mine! We are spending the weekend in the countryside -- it's amazing how a simple change of scenery can give a whole new perspective on things. That's why traveling is so important to me: for the perspective it brings, but also for stretching time. As Joshua Foer explains in this interview, routine activities can speed up time, and new experiences awaken our being. This is why, as children, time seems to trickle by, and as adults it flies.
Earlier this week, I made another second Beyoncé dress -- comfortable and flattering, as the previous one.

Fabric: medium-weight ponté knit from Moods NYC
Pattern: Vogue 1314
Successful? Fairly. In terms of the pattern, I wrote TNT (tried and true) in big thick red letters on each pattern piece with great satisfaction. :-) But I was surprised to find out that this particular ponté knit was less forgiving than the double knit I used last time, probably because what makes the double knit so flattering is its foamy propriety, which the ponté lacks. This foaminess not only follows the contours of the body, but also smooths it out. SO: My next make with this pattern will definitely be in an extra-thick double knit.

Tell me, what are you doing this weekend and is the weather cooperating with your plans?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Three Sewing Breakthroughs

I'm thinking a lot about learning these days, as I progress into my second month of intensive Swedish class. Learning a new language is a huge time commitment, and between that and a small business that keeps growing, it is often challenging to find time to do the things that I love -- sewing and blogging. I'm sure many of you will relate to this challenge!

As I learn Swedish, it's interesting how it's not just Swedish that I'm learning, but a new worldview (according to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, anyways, or the latest version of it). It's kind of exhilarating to feel yourself learning -- thereby transforming -- so quickly. Grown-up life can be mundane sometimes, between kids, work and everything else, so it's a real treat to be in a position where I'm still learning, and I feel very grateful and privileged for that.

So today I want to talk about learning. Learning to sew. And experiencing breakthroughs in our learning journey. Here are my three biggest sewing breakthroughs:

1- Embrace hand-sewing. I used to think: Hand basting? Pfff. That's what a sewing machine is for! Erm, actually, hand-sewing is quite important. It's the difference between off-the-rack, fast-fashion garments and high-quality, custom-made ones. Also, if you haven't discovered the handpicking method to zipper insertion yet, well... do yourself a favour. :-) I also started enjoying hand sewing a lot more when I realized how much of a difference it makes to wax your thread and then to iron your thread to seal the wax, preventing those annoying knots from forming. Then I found I could really appreciate the relaxing nature of hand-sewing as a true tactile experience -- feeling the fabric in your hand, the thread as it passes, and having full control of the fabric.
The thimble is actually made of moose skin, and made exactly to fit my finger. It is definitely among the most memorable gifts I've ever received, from someone who had spent a lot of time with the Cree First Nations of Abitibi, my home region
2- Always, always, always make a muslin. At the very least, make a wearable muslin. It took me all too long to realise this! With experience, it is possible to get away with measuring the pattern pieces themselves against our own body measurements. But more often than not, there are elements of a pattern to tweaks and perfect that can only be noticed with a muslin, even for an experienced dressmaker.
3- Fifty percent of your time should be spent by your ironing board. I had previously never heard of the three-step pressing, but that simple rule instantly took my garments from "Becky Home-ecky" to "designer quality". Really, this point is as much about realizing that sewing is just as much about putting different pieces of fabric together as it is about shaping the fabric with your iron. This is traditionally especially true when working with wool, and this is what tailoring is all about. But it is also true of all fabrics. (And this is why some garments can absolutely not be washed and must be dry-cleaned, at the risk of damaging the shaping that has taken place during pressing. Another thing that took me far too long to understand!)
Have you experienced sewing breakthroughs in your learning journey? I'm curious to hear about them! If you're fairly new to sewing, what are you finding the most challenging?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Welcoming Spring with Ruched Sleeves

Such a beautiful, sunny day in Goteborg today. The days are getting longer, the streets are smelling of fresh earth, and before we'll know it Spring will be here! (At least for us in the Northern hemisphere.)
With Spring on my mind, I'm finding myself reaching for this shirtdress these days, which has already gotten a lot of wear in its 18 months of existence.
And my ruched sleeves tutorial (with Part Two here) is now the #1 most popular post of AS+AS, which is making me very proud, too.
If you have made anything with ruched sleeves, why don't you post a link in the comment section so we can all admire your work! And get inspired!

Happy sewing everyone!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Wardrobe Strategy in Pictures

Hello little chickadees!! I've missed you!

After a wonderful time in Toronto where I've accomplished a lot on the work front, it's good to be back in my things -- namely, it's good to be back in my sewing things. :-)

I've spent a lot of time thinking about sewing these past weeks (rather than actually sew, ahem) and I've really developed a clear picture of what matters to me overall. As I was playing around on Photoshop one day, it all came to me in the form of this graphic, which I think sums it up pretty completely. Lol.

In line with that, I've just gone through a huge purge in my closet to get rid of anything I wasn't wearing -- including handmade items... I'm SO excited to focus on simplicity, functionality and quality from now on. I know many would say this is the Scandinavian influence rubbing off on me, but I would answer that the Scandinavian was in me all along! Rather than talk about my aesthetic, though, I'm eager to SHOW IT to you with real, sewn garments!
Neat and orderly 3
I know a lot of you are taking part in the Wardrobe Architect project over at Coletterie and I've been enjoying reading your style and wardrobe posts. For the rest of you, tell me: has been helpful to sit down and actively plan your wardrobe and define your aesthetic? Or do you find something is lost in that process, the spontaneity and experimentation side of it?

Happy sewing everyone!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chanel Shorts

The sewlution trousers didn't happen people. But look! I made shorts! I tell myself that spending quality time with my friends and family (i.e. Project Runway marathons with mom!) were more important this month than meeting a sewing goal. Why I had to wait until the very last month of 2013 to start thinking about my sewlution, I'm not sure, but I do know that the trousers will get made sooner or later. If anything, because my wardrobe is in urgent need of some comfortable and chic black pants. Hells, my wardrobe is pretty much in need of everything!
The Chanel shorts: My idea was to make these simple shorts in order to perfect the fit of my pant bloc before cranking up the volume on the trouser complexity. All in the name of perfect fit, three muslins were made, each more disastrous than the next (we just about had a second crotch growing out of the side on one of them) only to return to the original version, which frankly embodied godly perfection next to its monster cousins. (Cousins not shown -- not that they were not deserving of pictures, but we were concerned with protecting the sensibility of our more delicate sewist readers.)
The fabric, purchased at Mood's in NYC, has NOT spent the entire year of 2013 being cuddled and sweet-talked by its proprietress (no way). I don't think the photos here can convey the extent of its beauty (black is always tricky to photograph) but it's a synthetic bouclé woven with strands of lurex -- black lurex on one side and silver on the other. I chose to work with the black side for a less flashy (and tacky?) effect. I freaking love this fabric.
The best thing about these shorts is that they require next to no yardage. The temptation to pick up gorgeous brocades from the Toronto fashion district and whip out a few more of these will be strong, I know!
What would I do differently next time? The fabric is quite loosely woven and not very thick, so I would actually interline it with either silk organza or muslin. I would also make sure to use a zipper with a "stopper" that would prevent it from accidentally coming undone. I was able to partially solve the problem with a hook and an eye, but it still doesn't feel 100%.
A note about the background: whenever in Toronto, I love to visit my sister at Bobette and Belle, where she works. I know the Quebeckers among you will probably think "what an unfortunate name choice" seeing that "bobette" in Québec parlance means "undies". Nonetheless, this name has not stopped the business from becoming one of the most established cake decorators of the city, and, in my book, the perfect place to have a coffee and a slice of cake on a Sunday morning. So cool that my sister works there. *cough* discounted macarons *cough*
Can you imagine spending your days surrounded by these beauties? Dream job! Though, how my sister maintains her vavoom figure in this environment is a mystery to me. Featured: chocolate ganache cake, a.k.a, the Ferrero Rocher of cakes a.k.a the best cake EVER.
Happy sewing everyone! (Are you suddenly hungry for chocolate cake? I know I am!)

Adrienne xo

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Sewing Year in Review: 2013

It's been really fun to reflect on how I've progressed this year. I've started out thinking I hadn't really progressed, and then realized that I had actually accomplished a lot! It goes to show how important it is to stop to see how far we've come sometimes!
2013 was the year of sewing breakthroughs for me. It's been mostly an internal process, rather than a change that manifested itself in the actual things I've made:

1) I've finally realized my dream of taking a college-level course in pattern drafting this winter and I'm so incredibly happy I did. The ironic thing about it is that it brought me closer to commercial patterns. Fit for Real People and my sewing guru, Lorraine Henry, have also contributed to this big time, but for a variety of reasons, 2013 has been the year where I've suddenly had the revelation and the skills to pick up pretty much any pattern and work with it. It's felt like a world of possibilities!
2) But a world of possibilities can also feel overwhelming sometimes. And I've had to stop and think about what it is I wanted to make. I've slowed down the actual sewing in the fourth trimester to take a step back and refocus my sewing aesthetic. I'm so excited to report that my vision has never been clearer and I look forward to aligning my sewing with this new vision in 2014.

New direction in snippets:
- Quality over quantity.
- Lux fabrics.
- Cohesiveness.
- Dress shirts, wool blazers, classic pants and smart, structured dress in neutral colours.
- More to come on that later!

Other thoughts about this year:

Sewing Friendships
It was sad to leave Toronto just as I was getting to know so many local sewists after organizing the sewing meet-up with Gillian of Crafting Rainbow in February. That said, the beauty of our community is that it's transnational, so I've been able to enjoy keeping up with all of you on your blogs. I've also slowly been building a sewing community of my own in Sweden, meeting up with Joëlle from Handstitched Files, fabric shopping in Kinna, in addition to joining my local sewing club. I'm so grateful for these friendships.

Blogging Consistency
I've been keeping this blog alive for three and a half years, so I know something about consistency. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement! The ability to stick with something for a long period of time is a good skill to have in all areas of life -- whether professional or personal -- so I really want to work at it. One strategy that's proven effective for me is to plan my blogging a couple of weeks in advance, and I want to do more of that going forward. It's less about the blogging per se (because, let's face it, posting 2, 15 or 45 posts a month won't really make a difference to anyone) as it is about the exercise of developing consistency and dedication over a long period of time. 2013 has been the most consistent so far, so I hope 2014 will be even better!

More Sharing
I still find it difficult to assess how much of my life to share with you guys here. How I've dealt with this in the past has been "if it's not sewing, don't share" and "whenever in doubt, don't share." But your positive reactions to posts about snippets of my life in Sweden this year have made me reconsider. And I really do enjoy reading those kinds of posts in other blogs. After all, it's not as if the sewing is happening in a vacuum in our lives! Of course, there is a balance to everything (don't worry, I won't start blogging about my dog's eating habits. Although you'd be surprised at how interesting that would be!) and defining that balance is a very personal thing. All this to say: in 2014, expect to read more about the elements of my life that are intertwined with the sewing.

I'm going to conclude this post (and this blogging year!) by thanking you all so much for your continued support. I deeply appreciate your visits and comments and I'm sending you all my best wishes for a new year filled with love, peace, community... and productive sewing!

Happy New Year everyone!
Adrienne xo

Friday, December 20, 2013

Gone fishing... or skiing

Lake Louise (source)
I hope you're enjoying the holiday season as much as I am, here in Canada. :-)

I'll be away from home until the end of January, so I'll be posting less frequently because I want to spend quality time with my family and friends. But I won't be thinking of you any less and I will continue to read and comment on your blogs. You can also find me on Pinterest if you miss me too much. :-)

Happy sewing everyone!

Adrienne xo

Friday, December 06, 2013

PVC clear elastic tape for the shoulder seams?

First of all, I just wanted to thank Dibs from Dibs and the Machine for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the wrap dress sewalong! I've been a huge fan of her and her blog since we met in 2011. Believe it or not, she is just as funny in real life as she is on her blog, and maybe more, if that's even possible. Her sense of humour is a big reason why we love her and her blog so much! Do check out her blog if you don't know her, and you can also have a look at my guest post "how to make your own Catherine Middleton engagement dress". :-)


When I was making the dress, I wanted to try clear PVC elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams.
Frankly, I don't know how much it needed stabilizing, but it was nice to try this notion -- and realize how easy it was to work with. Useful to know for when I actually need it...
Like, uh, I don't know, maybe for the crotch seam of my SEWLUTION TROUSERS????

BAD sewist, BAD.

Will Adrienne manage to accomplish her sewlution before the year's end?Mission Impossible Theme by Mission Impossible on Grooveshark

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

How to do a SBA on a Wrap Dress or Wrap Top with a Shawl Collar

Looking at those unusual pieces for the front panel pieces of Vogue 8827 left me scratching my head... How... will I do... a Small Bust Adjustment... on that?

Thankfully, it's not too difficult. Today, I'll be sharing a way to adjust pattern Vogue 8827 for us ladies of modest chestal proportions. :-)

It goes without saying that this method can be applied to any wrap dress or wrap top with a shawl collar, cowl neck, or any other collar variation directly connected to the front pattern pieces (you'll see what I mean in a minute).

First things first: How do you know you need a SBA on your wrap dress or top? You'll know because the front piece will be too long. Make a side dart as shown, and measure how much you need to take away. In my case, I needed to take away a good one inch of extra fabric. Make sure you write this down.
Before we dive into the minutia of the procedure, let's pause for a minute to think about what this piece IS exactly. We're looking at many pieces all connected into one, namely, the bodice front piece, the collar (pink), the collar facing (orange), the bodice front facing (purple), the skirt (yellow) and the skirt facing (blue). Phew. Many pieces.
Now that we know what we're looking at and where everything is, the first step of our pattern adjustment will be to separate the collar piece from the bodice front piece and the skirt front piece, in order to be able to adjust the bust. We'll do that by cutting along the lines, as shown in the picture bellow, and cutting ALMOST all the way at the shoulder, leaving the patterns connected a bit there for pivoting.
Don't cut all the way up
Note: This is what I did and it worked well for me, but I realize as I'm writing this tutorial that, strictly from theory, I could have cut along the point where the bodice front meets the collar, instead of cutting between the collar and the collar facing as shown above and bellow. I don't know how overlapping the pieces would have worked out in this case, but if anyone tries it, let me know.
Same idea for View A and C.
Just remember that you'll have to adjust the collar facing piece separately for these views,
since the collar facing comes as a separate piece
Pinch out the excess fabric at the bust according to what you measured earlier on your muslin, and "smoosh out" the dart -- meaning, press flat (either with your hand or your iron) the bubble created by the dart. Now, you'll see that the front collar and the collar facing will be too long, so it needs to be overlapped with with skirt and skirt facing.

Tape everything in place and ignore the gap in your pattern when you're cutting.

There you go! It's not more complicated than that!

Happy sewing everyone!

The method is a combination of the "Smooshing Out Small Darts" section of Fit for Real People (see page 147) and Lorraine Henry's presentation on performing a SBA on a princess seam as seen at the Creativ festival in the spring of 2013.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Completed: Vogue 8827

The original inspiration for this dress was Sallie Oh's magenta version, but when I finished sewing it as per the instructions, it somehow didn't end up looking right.

I brainstormed for a couple hours and finally found a solution I couldn't be happier about! :-) Stay tuned for my tutorial on how to modify a basic wrap-dress pattern into a "Catherine Middleton engagement dress knock-off" over at Dibs and the Machines later this week. Dibs is hosting a wrap dress sewalong right now!
Before I get into the details of this make, I thought the shadows above were a nice invitation to answer some questions I've had recently about photography. :-) I take all my photographs with a tripod and camera remote. :-) As of May of this year, I use a Canon EOS T3i, which has perform extremely well.
Now, onto the dress!

Pattern: Vogue 8827
Fabric: Jersey purchased on Goldhawk road in London. (Probably cotton with a small percentage of rayon and lycra, but can't be sure, it was purchased so long ago.)
Adjustments to the original pattern:
- Small bust adjustment (I'm preparing a separate post on how to do this on this pattern, by the way. A bit tricky).
- Added 1,5 inches to sleeve length.
- Graded the side seam from sizes 5 under the arms to 12 at the hips.
- Raised the lower point of armscye by 1.5 inches and moved it 0.75 inch inwards towards bust point.
- Removed 0.5 inch from shoulder width.
- Other modifications unrelated to fit will be explained in my guest post at Dibs and the Machine!

In the end, I found the best way to tie my belt was to tuck the edges underneath at the back!

I would definitely recommend this pattern, if you're looking for an easy wrap dress.
Happy sewing everyone!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Perfect Pin Cushion

So I was mentioning that I have more time to sew these days.

Here's what I discovered today: a cork pot mat makes for the best pin cushion. Perfect!

Happy sewing everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Favourites of the Fall

I can't believe fall is already pretty much over! More and more, I feel the urge to document things, so I don't forget the best moments. I started thinking "What were the best moments of the fall?", and I thought I would share them with you, if you allow me. :-)

French -- This fall, I decided to make an effort to incorporate French into my daily life. Yes, French is my mother tongue and, yes, I write in French everyday as a translator, but since moving to Sweden I hardly speak or read French anymore and I missed that. I decided this needed to change. I borrowed French books from the city library, went to cinéma français at least twice a month with Mr. AS+AS and francophile friends, and traveled to France. Although the trip was admittedly not primarily for the purpose of reconnecting with the French language, it felt good to speak French as well as replenish my "new words" little notebook. I also realized during our trip that, despite what Mr. AS+AS says, his level of French is quite impressive and that there is no reason, aside from habit, that we should not speak French at home.
Foodie Pleasures -- It's also been a foodie fall for us. We picked tons of berries and plums in August, and made jams of all sorts this fall: black current, ginger-lemon-plum, and cinnamon plum butter. Then, apple season started, and we spent many afternoons making dried apples, and... Mr. AS+AS made 150 litres of apple cider! Anyone fancy a bottle of homemade cider?
Cycle commute -- I cannot believe it when I hear people from Gothenburg complain about how "bad" the bike paths are. If only you knew! If only you knew how horrible the bike paths are where I come from! (i.e. Toronto) I thank the Lord every day for the luxurious segregated (segregated!) bike paths I get to employ every time I head to the city center. And with the colours of the fall, my bike commute has been even more spectacular.
Trail Running -- Fresh air, the leaves changing colour, the sense of community from running in a group.... I've continued to enjoy training in the forest with my running club this fall, with the added enjoyment of discovering a sauna tucked away in a corner of the showers. Ah! I'm a complete addict now. And feel myself becoming more Swedish each day. This fall I was able to celebrate the end of my marathon training season with the Nice-Cannes marathon, and I'm finding it pretty nice now to have the pressure lifted and to be able to run for pleasure without worrying about speed. It also means I now have more free time to do other things... namely, sewing. :-)
Cozy up at home -- Swedes have perfected the art of cozying up the home, with different traditions that make darkness fun. I've enjoyed lighting candles and brightening up our apartment with those colourful lamps. I've also not been feeling too guilty about spending evenings catching up our TV series, wrapped up in my big duvet and drinking liters of green tea. (Yep, in case you were wondering, this is what's happened to my sew-jo.) Nice thing is, the cozying up season is far from being over. The best has yet to come with cinnamon-ginger cookies and mulled wine season only beginning this weekend.

Thanks for allowing me to share my favourite things of the fall, and I wish all of us a wonderful and productive winter!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Pinafore Dress

I mentioned recently I was working on a custom dress.

Julia came to me with a request to make her a pinafore dress. A what?? A pinafore dress! I wasn't familiar with this kind of dress either. :-) For many years, her pinafore dress was her favourite, but one day it just disappeared.
In comes Adrienne! After exchanging sketches and pictures to make sure Julia and I were on the same page, I proceeded on drafting the bespoke pattern from her measurements. A muslim fitting later, and we were in business! Well, pattern-wise, at least...
Finding the right fabric proved to be a little more challenging. Julia wanted double knit in a shade of blue with a little purple in it -- simple request, I thought. Wrong. After looking almost literaly everywhere in Sweden for such a fabric, we finally turned to Gorgeous Fabrics online (thanks to a Reader's suggestion!), to find a crêpe textured double knit in Royal Blue.

The trickiest parts of construction was probably to sew the round pockets. This fabric was quite thick and bouncy, and didn't really respond to pressing (like, at all). This meant that creating a nice, even curve in the pocket was really, really difficult. After several failed attemps, careful and precise basting turned out to be the solution.

All and all, I really like how the dress turned out I expect it will look fabulous on Julia.
Now, is taking custom orders something I want to do more of? Mister AS+AS asked this question over dinner the other night and I was surprised to hear myself say that I wasn't sure. I always thought of bespoke tailoring and custom dressmaking as THE best job anyone could have.

I found out that the stress and pressure of meeting your client's expectations does take away a bit from the fun and pleasure of sewing. It's not longer "lah dee dah, I'm sewing!" if you know what I mean. Not that Julia was a difficult client -- far from it! She was the best first client I could have asked for. But it was still a bit stressful. What if I mess it up?

But of course, the other side is that there is something extremely rewarding in allowing people to feel confidant and beautiful and enabling them to go out in the world and do the things they want to do. Not that I would be pretensious enough to think that I'm doing that with my dress, but I imagine it's how the tailors of Savile Row feel at the end of their work day. :-)

Thank you for allowing me to share this sewing milestone with you. It's Sewing Club tonight, so I'm leaving you on an extra happy note.

Happy sewing everyone!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sewing is Back! (But we knew that)

Good morning everyone!

So nice to see our own Kristiann from Victory Pattern in the biggest newspaper in Canada today.

Don't you love to see our amazing community being written about in mainstream media?

Enjoy reading the article and congratulations to Kristiann for the feature!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Sewing Gods Strike Again

I must have done something right, Readers, because the sewing gods seem be looking after me, still. If you recall, in Spain, a screwdriver flew down from the sky to land on my terrasse, and I was finally able to repair my sewing machine.

Well, the other day, I came into my building and there she was...
To whom did she belong to, and why would someone abandon her in the hallway? You bet I made it my priority to find out.

Fastforward a couple months and this dressform is now... in my sewing studio. :-)

Turns out it belonged to the organiser of the neighbourhood sewing club (because yes, we have a sewing club in our community -- pretty amazing, I know). Matilda, the organiser, had no use for the dressform and wanted to know if I would, perhaps, be interested in borrowing it... indefinitely? Hum, YES.

What is this sewing club about, your ask? I've been going for the past month now, and it's a group of women (men are also welcome, but none are joining us... for now. I'm working on convincing my partner to come. ;-) ) together to chat, have coffee and sew. It's been so nice to get to know other women who love sewing and to have access to quality sewing machines (namely, Husqvarnas, capable of sewing through eight layers of jeans like a knife through butter) and a serger. The organiser has studied both fashion design and tailoring, and even has a masters in textile arts. But best of all, she's very willing to share her knowledge, which means we'll be learning a lot in the months, in spite of the club not being a class per se.
You might be wondering what's on my sewing table at the moment! Well, I've just finished a custom-made dress, which I'm pretty proud of. But my sewing daydreams right now are totally dominated by Anne Klein's Vogue 1223 in the fabric shown on the mannequin. I'm trying hard to reign in this vision -- or, at least, to postpone it until the spring -- because it's totally impractical. What I need right now are fall and winter clothes, not another summer dress. But every so often, I turn to my dressform and... and... the fabric is just so pretty....
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