Category Archives: Sewing

Happy Friday + Sewing for Me: Really, More Grey?


Happy Friday! To the question, “Just how many grey dresses do you need?” I respond, “You can never have too many grey dresses”. This is dress “q” from the book that I’m giving away (there’s still time!), and it’s unusual in that it is fully-lined. Most Japanese patterns do away with linings for some reason, and it’s always been a mystery to me.


This is the same charcoal chambray I used for my first Tova, and for this somewhat vintage-y dress, I cut the size 11 without any modifications. It looks pretty good from the front, right? Love that pleat detail. Like the pleat, the subtle gathering of the sleeves surprised me. The pleat and gathers really don’t show up much in the book’s photo.


The front may look decent, but the back tells another story. I obviously need to add a few inches to widen the bodice, and I seriously thought K wouldn’t be able to pull the zipper up. Said zipper is straining mightily as you can see, and there’s a bit of digging happening under the armpits.


The tight bodice does keep everything tucked in nice and secure though. This is what floating in nothingness in a too-snug frock looks like:


And really, if I’m able to nimbly dodge an on-coming, crawling-at-the-speed-of-light kid, I’d say this dress is more than adequate in the fit department.


(I need to point out that it was school pictures yesterday and she managed to find the two things that I haven’t sewn to wear – sigh. They’re from a couple of years ago…).

So I’m trying something new. For almost two years, I have been diligently posting pretty much every week day, and I’ve been loving it. Sometimes, however, I think it’s important to take a break and I’m going to do just that. I’m taking all of next week off to spend spring break with K (M has to work all week) and to get going on my piling non-blog to-do list. I have been trying to sew for KCW and I’ll share some outfits when I get back!

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you back here on the 21st, when I will announce the giveaway winners! In the meantime, I’ll keep it open. I love all the comments!! I can’t believe I didn’t include reading as part of my list of things I’d never get bored of. Some of you asked some questions, and I’ll address them either directly as an email or as a post, depending on the question. Stay tuned.

Have a good one all!
Though a week off will be weird
It’s time to recharge

dress-q5The camera caught me blowing a kiss to K… 




Monday Outfit: “Artist” blouse + Cargo half-pants


Good morning! We hit a milestone this weekend! K had her very first non-relatives sleep over, and it was a roaring success. My friend and wonderful neighbor took it upon herself to entertain five girls on Saturday night and generously offered to captain K’s maiden voyage into the land of sleepovers. Since they live only two doors down, I fully expected a call or knock in the middle of the night, but nope. K made it! You could see the confidence brimming in her when she returned home.


Moving along to the Monday Outfit. I’ve been sewing with mostly printed fabrics these last few weeks, but this weekend, I felt compelled to return to my roots: linen + solids. The mustard linen blend should look familiar from the Debbie dress. And the cargo shorts/half-pants are made out of scrap vintage natural linen. It’s been washed so many times, it already has that soft, worn-in feel of well-used tea towels.


The top is from this book and is described as the type of smock an artist might wear. I can see that, though it would be a shame to splatter paint all over such a stylish blouse.


K thinks it’s the bee’s knees. Or maybe that’s the sign for “phat top, dude”.


The cargo pants were an afterthought. I’m pretty sure I was drawn to the pattern because M almost exclusively wears this utilitarian design, a carryover from the 90s. I hear it experienced a minor resurgence last year, but my sources are a little sketchy.


The pattern is from this book and was surprisingly easy to make. The 100% linen stretches and warps, so it was tricky to get the crispness I’d hoped for, but I find the boyish look charming paired with the girly top. Unexpected, don’t you think? Wait, I’m getting a memory flash that I have, in fact, made the cargo pants from Oliver + S before, and that was a serious labor of sweat, tears and love. Maybe that’s why it was so easy to construct these pants due to some kind of muscle memory.


I finished the outfit just as the sun was starting to set, and I eked out every bit of light from our west-facing master bedroom. As I bribed K to take photos for this post, urging her to hurry because the sun was setting, I briefly acknowledged the ridiculousness of myself. I obviously take my Monday outfit posts very seriously…perhaps too seriously. Anyway, a well-loved outfit has been completed, and I’m feelin’ good.


Monday Outfit: Necessities


Good morning! I hope you had a delightful weekend – ours was busy but happy. What you see above is a small segment of K’s wardrobe, “small” being the operative word here. There is a dresser stuffed with more knits and pants/shorts/skirts, and at least one large basket brimming with K’s outfits, waiting to be laundered.

It’s becoming a situation. A quasi-problematic one.

I’m all for slow fashion, but I have a feeling that I’m slapping that whole concept in the face and upside the head (have I written that before? I feel like I have). Admittedly, the pile-up is due to the fact that Japanese patterns are inherently generous in sizing, and in some cases, she’s still able to wear clothes I made two years ago. So that’s both good and bad. Good because longevity is totally sustainable and cool. Bad because then I feel guilty for making more clothes that are not strictly necessary (the necessity ship sailed a long time ago for me, I realize, but I do think about it. Sometimes).


If it were up to me, I would sew up fanciful, vintage-inspired-yet-modern outfits made out of linen and double-gauze every week. However, there are times when I have to be practical. Faced with the increasing number of wedgies K seems to suffer through, I sighed with resignation and pulled out the underwear pattern she loves so much. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern is awesome — if somewhat boy’s briefs-esque —  and the fit is amazing. K has declared them the most comfortable underwear ever. It’s just that it falls under the dutiful/pragmatic section of my patterns like pajamas and long sleeve tees that are fun but not as fun as, say, a dress with multi-directional stripes or a reversible coat.

undies-take2-1So I’m making undies again. I have a bin that is chock full of knit scraps, and K has chosen these below (she said she doesn’t like the butterflies or the gold dots, which is a tad hard to see up there, but I think she’ll end up loving them):

undies-take2-2And this incredibly plain, nude-colored one is also one of her picks, currently under construction:


Here are a few others fabrics I’m planning on transforming to cute underpinnings. K loves stripes.


It seems that the pattern is no longer for sale, but I just discovered that Anna of Noodlehead made the darling-est versions without the front panel – must try!! I also must get my hands on more whimsical knits – those dogs are fantastic! Have you sewn any underwear lately? I think it might be time for me to attempt grown-up ones very, very soon…

Sewing for Me: The Easiest Top


Picasso and Mondrian would be proud of me for my abundant usage of blue and color-blocking. I’m calling this the easiest top ever because it’s literally four rectangles plus two ties. This top was part of my pre-spring plan, and hey, it’s solidly spring now and I’m finally ratcheting up my sewing mojo to make the plan a reality.

After all that body-hugging business with the Lady Skater dress, I’m back in my comfort zone and frolicking in loose, hospital/maternity garb. Here’s what the top looks like in the book:

tsukute-kitai4Here’s the back of my version:


Isn’t the fabric lovely? It’s a Nani Iro Muji — and I think it’s a gauze, but it’s not double-gauze. The texture is absolutely luscious. Light and floaty and ethereal. It already came color-blocked, but the white edges were along the selvage so I had to cut the skirt/lower bodice section cross-grain.

It’s pretty hard to mess up four rectangles, and I believe it took me all of one hour from start to finish (no pattern to trace!). The other key factor that made this effortless was that I used the selvage for the sleeve edges and hem. Perfect.


I get sad every time I see the chicken coop that’s in the background. The former occupants (three hens) became dinner for raccoons, and it just isn’t the same without them clucking around our yard.

Anyway, I already have plans to make this top again with a silk I’ve been hoarding, and I just might be able to share it next week! We shall see…Many thanks to my my capable photography assistant, who couldn’t help but photobomb time and time again. Notice anything different about K?



Monday Outfit: Oliver + S Garden Party Dress


Good morning! Since this new spring pattern from Oliver + S is called “Garden Party Dress“, it seemed necessary to find some kind of floral fabric. I’m trying to challenge myself more these days, so I ventured into my bin labeled “silk and silk-like stuff”. As soon as I saw these bright orange poppies, it was a done deal.


Back in the days before I was trying to bust my impossible stash and when I used to buy fabric (a trickle of nostalgic tears here), I would take K with me to one particular fabric store. It’s a small shop nestled in our former neighborhood, and there is a big table smack dab in the center of the store with all the catalogs splayed out. K and I had a routine: she would plunk herself down at the table and start paging through the catalogs, looking for kids’ costumes. I would then run around the store to snatch at whatever fabrics caught my eye — I usually had approximately 10 minutes before K would start an epic meltdown.


But one day, I decided to let K choose fabric. “Whatever you want, honey,” I said magnanimously, and then proceeded to say no to the leopard fur, the shiny (and outrageously expensive) silks, and the garish cartoon-ish prints she inevitably gravitated toward. Finally, at the sale corner, she spotted the poppies and the $5/yard price was acceptable.



This is actually lining fabric and some kind of cheap-o polyester. As such, it’s sort of plastic-y and sheer, but it looks a lot like silk if you don’t stare at it too long. Using the front bodice from the Garden Party Dress as a base, I quickly assembled a slip because I couldn’t be bothered to attach a lining to the dress. I figured that since I make so many sheer dresses for her, she ought to have something to wear underneath.


I’m starting to sound like a broken record with how excellent the instructions are, etc., but what was interesting about this dress is that I’ve made one that is extremely similar from a Japanese pattern book before here. Oh, that jacket – I love it so. Anyway, the dress was not a success, and I remember having a bear of a time understanding the instructions and couldn’t get the gathers quite right. K rejected is as itchy and I was very sad to have wasted that beautiful pink linen.


This time, the fit is fantastic and K was eager to try on the dress. Huzzah. She even chose the button for the back, and I approve of her choice wholeheartedly. This here is a size 7, and I used far less than the 2 1/4 yards of fabric required. So effectively, this dress cost less than $10 if you don’t count labor. We won’t think about the labor, though making it hardly felt like work. And maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s boutique-worthy and looks pretty expensive. K wore the dress to a birthday party that was held at one of those ceramic painting places in the local mall – as we walked through the fancy, enormous mall, I was surprised by how many people stopped to compliment K on the dress.


Another awesome pattern from Oliver + S! So fun to sew up and this one came together even faster than the hide-and-seek dress since I didn’t attempt any piecing together. I’m so grateful whenever I get the chance to try out these amazing patterns. Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t branch out from my Japanese sewing books, and how sad would it be to miss out on all these fabulous indie patterns? Thank you, Liesl!

Side note: K is reading Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events right now and is completely immersed. She refused to put down the book, but obediently followed my instructions to turn, give me a side profile, sit, etc. The girl is a professional.

Sewing for Me: PPP // Lady Skater Dress


I don’t mean to assault you with images of myself this week, but I was very excited about finishing this dress and wanted to share. I’ve seen various versions around the web, and had been admiring the pattern from afar, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to participate in the Perfect Pattern Parcel Tour. I had always planned on sewing both the Summer Concert Tee and the Lady Skater dress by Kitchy Koo for the tour, but time got away from me, and I couldn’t get it done by my scheduled date.


But I had a good window of time to complete the dress yesterday, and I am so proud of the neckline. So proud. This was the first time I used this method of leaving one shoulder open to attach the neckband (attaching it flat vs. in the round), and I love it. K saw me in the dress and cried out, “Mommy! It’s beautiful!! I want one, you need to make me one NOW.” And then she reflected for a moment and said, “But I have to grow some breasts first. That dress looks really good with breasts.”


Feelin’ a little self-conscious, I must say. You all know that I don’t wear a lot of fitted clothes, and though I may have boobs, I don’t have a waist so these types of garments tend to accentuate my barrel-like torso. But the dress is very comfy — I wore it all day and felt great in it.

Another reason I couldn’t get it done in time is because I erroneously cut out only one skirt piece instead of two and ran out of the navy print knit. This meant I had to go scavenging in my cavernous bins to find fabric that would match, and this solid navy was all I could find. It almost helps to create the illusion of a waist, so that was a boon. What I didn’t realize was that was this knit stretches to infinity and after I took these photos and wore it all day, the skirt was a veritable maxi. I’ve chopped about four inches since, and it’s much less “country western/yee-haw” as M opined.


You can see the skirt’s downward descent above…


The dress is easy-peasy to sew and again, the neckline! It’s the most professional finishing I’ve ever done. I’m loving the 3/4 length sleeves and I should mention that I decided to cut one size smaller than my closest measurements, and that worked out really really well.


The one thing I would change is the fabric density next time. I got the rayon/jersey knit on top from here a long time ago, and the bottom knit was a small amount leftover from my summer maxi dress. Both knits I used are a little too thin and my “body shaper” undergarment had to save the day because the rolls were just too, too enhanced. In fact, it looked like I had rolls on top of rolls, and oddly, the rolls were prominent in sections where I don’t actually have them. So for my next Lady Skater, I’m choosing a thick, thick knit with excellent recovery. Alright, that’s enough photos of me for a good while, methinks.


Sewing for Me: Perfect Pattern Parcel 1 // Summer Concert Tee


There’s a reason that the Summer Concert Tee has been in the spotlight of the Perfect Pattern Parcel tour going on right now. Have you heard of PPP? It’s an innovative collaboration with multiple prongs, e.g. a name-your-price bundle, a charitable educational cause and a rally for indie designers. I’m a huge supporter of indie designers and educational causes, and I like the unique approach to pricing.

I chose the concert tee because it’s a quick sew, to be sure, but it also has the key elements I look for in a garment: comfort, style, and versatility. And that’s a plastic spider ring left over from Halloween by my feet. K “styled” the shoot.


At first glance, the dark olive knit I used probably looks as plain jane as can be. But no, it’s burnout knit! Do you remember the burnout knit trend back in circa 2007? The only reason I remember this is because I had an illustration client back then that paid me in trade. Since the client owned a boutique, she would send me of-the-moment clothes in exchange for postcard illustrations. I received a burnout tee that I absolutely loved and wore to death.


I received this fabric from my mom, and I really had no plans to use it. It’s super see-through and thin and the edges curl like crazy, and all in all, it spelled h-e-a-d-a-c-h-e. Yet, when Rachael invited me to participate in the tour, I couldn’t stop thinking about this burnout knit (jersey?) for the tee.


I’m not one to ignore siren calls from fabric, and I’m glad I used this finicky one. It drapes fabulously and the sewing was shockingly smooth. A few words from having sewn this pattern: I LOVE the style. It’s the kind I would shell out good hard cash for with its generous silhouette and flattering cut. The sizing, I discovered, is also extremely generous. This is an extra small I made, and I’ve never worn extra small in my life. It made me feel petite and dainty instead of like a sumo wrestler, which was an unexpected bonus. The instructions were clear and straightforward, but I did have a beef about the 1/4 inch seam allowance. With the challenging knit I was using, there was ample opportunity for disaster, so I fudged a bit and used a 3/8 seam allowance. Plenty of room in spite of that, as you can see.


I definitely recommend this pattern! I really like the asymmetrical hem, and lower neckline (I find that most necklines are too high for me). I considered adding some length to the front to accommodate my alien-esque long torso, but I opted to stick true to the pattern. I did leave the hem and sleeve edges raw because (a) I was feeling a little lazy and (b) I don’t mind how it looks and (c) I was afraid I would jinx my good sewing karma because I always mess up knit sleeve edges and hems. A wise, wise move if I do say so myself!


And that’s not all! I’m working on another goodie from the Perfect Pattern Parcel and here’s a sneak peek…



So. Onto the really good stuff. This is a cool project on so many levels, and there are prizes! The parcel comes with five top-notch patterns, and as mentioned before, you set your own price.

Additionally, there are over $200 worth of gift certificates available and you can enter the giveaway here. Make haste, friends, make haste.
Parcel 1 Collage


Perfect Pattern Parcel


And make sure to check the other lovely creations here:
One Little Minute
SeamstressErin Designs
One Girl Circus
casa crafty
the quirky peach
Sew Caroline
Fishsticks Designs
the Brodrick blog
sew a straight line
Adventures in Dressmaking
true bias
Idle Fancy
La Pantigana
Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts
Max California
la inglesita
Diary of a Chainstitcher
four square walls
Lauren Dahl
mingo & grace
Dandelion Drift
Sanae Ishida
Sew Jereli
Froo & Boo
a happy stitch
Disaster in a Dress
Things for Boys
mama says sew
sew Amy sew
Sew Busy Lizzy
Made With Moxie
imagine gnats

Monday Outfit: Oliver + S Hide-and-Seek Dress


Happy St. Patty’s Day! There is a marked dearth of green in the images I have to share with you today, but we’ll let that slide. You’ve heard the buzz, right? Oliver + S has several darling new spring patterns out, and I was lucky enough to be included in the sewing fun. There have been some amazing outfits popping up, and on this celebratory Monday, I’m adding my own spin to the Hide-and-Seek dress.


One of my all-time favorite tops that I made was this stripey pullover, and for a long time I’ve been wanting to do the same sort of multi-directional stripes with this pink and chambray blue fabric. I purchased a couple of yards of this wonderfully soft and drapey _______ (fill in the blank, since as usual, I have no idea what type of fabric this is) from here about a generation ago, and I’ve been pondering various patterns for it for months.


As soon as I saw the Hide-and-Seek dress, I knew I’d found the one. It had everything I wanted: various panels and yokes and cuffs, generous ease to showcase the bold stripes, the notch to accent the “V” I created by sewing the fabric together on the bias. I cut the size 7 and the fit is perfect.


Now, Oliver + S patterns are a commitment. As someone used to pumping out super quick Japanese patterns, I’m always initially taken aback by what seems to be innumerable steps. I’m also not used to understanding every single word of the instructions, and this too throws me for a loop for some reason. As much as it’s pretty much superfluous to mention how excellent Liesl’s construction guides are, it bears repeating. All the little steps add up to a pain-free sewing experience with so many lessons thrown in, I sit back at the end of it awestruck by the professional quality of the finished item. And all Oliver + S patterns are like that – to date, people still won’t believe me when I tell them I made the After-school pants.


The only snafu I ran into was when I accidentally lost my balance while serging (does this ever happen to you?), causing my hand to move the fabric in the wrong direction, and I overlocked a portion of the side panel onto the seam. It’s the section just above her right ribcage and I was horrified. Fortunately, the serger didn’t cut through the fabric and I was able to rip the stitches out. If you looked hard and long, you would be able to see a bit of raggedy-ness in that corner, but no major harm done. The fabric looks pulled just under the left welt pocket, but it’s really not that bad in real life.


K is crazy about this dress. When I tied off the knot for the last button, she came into my room and screamed (literally screamed) “I LOVE THAT DRESS!!!! I’VE BEEN WANTING ONE EXACTLY LIKE THAT!” After I regained my hearing, I explained that I still had a little more to do. See the little pointy edges created by the chevron/”v” effect? They bugged me. Weird things like that get to me, so I decided to add a few sashiko stitches to soften the angular effect a tad. So glad I did.


Because this fabric is quite sheer, I quickly assembled an underskirt. I meant for it to be hidden, but K adored the way it looked tiered, so tiered it was. I’m quite smitten with the look too. I used this same fabric for the yoke facings, and it’s some kind of cotton lawn I got from here. How is it that I always remember where I got the fabric, but can’t remember anything else?


Anyway, this one is a thorough winner!! I love this pattern and hope to make another one again. But before that happens, I was generously bestowed this pattern and this one as well, so these will be sewn up in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

Oh, and here’s the obligatory addition of green for luck.






Monday Outfit: Bleu et Bleu


Good morning! We had such a great weekend filled with fun. On Friday, K’s school had a “Family Japan Night” which involved getting dressed in kimonos, playing Japanese games like “fish the water balloons”, and eating Asian-style hotdogs (they were regular hotdogs with topping options of the fish flakes variety). They even had karaoke in the library, complete with disco lights. We had friends over on Saturday, and I cooked up a storm – I’ll be sharing some yummy recipes later this week. Sunday was mellow and easy, and I forgot to turn our non-digital clocks ahead so we kept getting the times confused.

bleu-et-bleu2 bleu-et-bleu3

I’ve been hankering for warmer weather with all this rain we’re having these days (good for the vegetation, not so good for bored little kids stuck in a small house), and this is showing up in my sewing. K keeps wondering why I won’t make her warmer clothes instead of warm-weather appropriate clothes — I’ve been telling her they’re awesome for layering.


I can never get enough of blue, as you can probably tell. This outfit was not originally on the docket since I was planning on skinny jeans and a button-down, long-sleeved shirt. My mind wandered to balmier places, though, so when I saw this ruffled, girly top in this book, I couldn’t resist. The fabric is a gorgeous lawn or voile or something of that ilk, a tiny little bit I had left over from my Washi.  I think this fabric is infinitely cuter as the top compared to the dress. It’s pretty sheer, so she’s wearing a tank top underneath.



This was a tricky top for me, since the fabric kept sliding and my stitching got very uneven. You can see my drunken/undulating stitches on the ruffles above, and the bias tapes were a mere 2cm for the neckline and arm holes, and this required herculean concentration and a lot of seam-ripping. I found it interesting that the ruffles in the neck region are raw-edged. We’ll see how this holds up after the first wash. Oh, the button makes me think of a secret garden, and I heart it very much.


As for the skort, although I’ve made simpler version before here and here, I wanted to try the pleated version from this book. However, I had to modify it because I didn’t have quite enough fabric. I had to eliminate four pleats, and I’m really glad I did. I think the slimmer silhouette works well with the top. It’s a rich, dark blue, this linen, and though it will wrinkle like nobody’s business after two minutes, it’s super stylish. It’s a bit hard to see, but there are crest-shaped pockets on each side.

bleu-et-bleu5 bleu-et-bleu7

Not my finest work with the wonky, wavy stitches on the top, but it’s such a happy garment, I think I can be forgiven. These photoshoots are so funny. She’ll start off fairly reluctant and grumpy, like so:


And by the end of it, she’s doing the roger rabbit. Or the monkey dance. Or something.


Happy Monday, friends. I hope you had a good weekend!

Monday Outfit: Geometric Knit Cardi + Improved Khaki Pants


Good morning! Skateboarding was awesome. K rocked the skater girl look with a black tee, black shorts, black tights and even after two solid, sweaty hours, she couldn’t wait to go back for more. It was all very civilized, really. The youngsters get outfitted with pads galore for knees and elbows, helmets are provided (though K insisted on wearing her neon yellow bike helmet) and the first hour is devoted to a very hands-on lesson by hipster instructors. After a light snack, the second hour is “free skate” in one half of the space. K was gliding up and down ramps like a pro with her friend at her side by the end of the hour — how do kids do that?? She wiped out a few times, but dusted herself off without complaint and jumped right back onto her rented skateboard. The space itself is cavernous, but clean and roomy enough to accommodate several dozen kids zooming about. Very modern and chic, if you could call a skatepark chic.

One of the best parts was when there’s a sort of “show-and-tell” moment during snack time. The more confident kids got the opportunity to display their skills. I inexplicably got choked up watching a boy effortlessly slalom from one ramp to the next. He couldn’t have been older than four. Even the ones that wobbled and barely moved more than a few inches left me emotional because of their sheer bravery to try. The Winter Olympics were nothing compared to this. Like I said, awesome.


So. Monday outfit. I made a knit cardi in this cool geometric print last week, and now I know why I don’t wait to write about my sewing projects. My fishnet-stocking-like brain forgets all the details so I’m left staring at the screen at a loss for words. I vaguely remember it coming together pretty easily and the pattern is from this book. The fabric is from my mom — one of the few non-stripey and non-solid knits I own. They look like stylized monkey’s knots to me, but maybe there’s a proper name for this type of pattern? The cardi has an interesting pocket detail, which, due to the busyness of the print, you can’t really see. As I kept squinting at the cardi, I couldn’t figure out if it looked fresh and bold or if it looked like I ransacked a grandma’s closet and accidentally shrunk her cardigan. All that matters is that K likes it. She announced that it was comfy and that was that.


The pants should look familiar — I made them several months ago, but K never wore the pants after an unfortunate bathroom incident involving the drawstring ties tangling up and leaving her up the creek. It finally occurred to me last week to replace the drawstring with elastic in the waistband. Much, much better.


Lately, K is into trying different combinations of clothes for the photoshoots. Her obsession with the movie Frozen rivals her babyhood obsession with Elmo, and it’s relentless. I think I might have a nervous breakdown if I listen to the soundtrack one more time…Anyway, she put together this ensemble as an homage to her favorite movie, complete with a cape that is “ridiculously too short, Mommy”.


She’s requested a real-deal Frozen outfit, but sadly, I’m out of the metallic aqua that would be ideal. C’est la vie.

blue-knit-cardi8I don’t know, she looks pretty happy with the outfit, don’t you think?

And look at her go, my li’l skater girl:





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