a diamond jersey Bettine

Hey there! So, here is the first of two Bettine’s I’ve made – the second one I will post about as soon as I take the pictures, which will happen sometime in daylight when it’s not raining. That is a bigger feat than it might sound like in Rain capital here!

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Fabric: 1,3 m polyester and viscose jacquard sweater-weight jersey from Stoff og Stil.
Pattern: Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons.
Techniques: Jersey fabric, neck and pocket binding, serged seams, single-layer pockets.

First off, this is like socially acceptable pajamas. Made up in jersey, it is one comfortable dress! With pockets. I mean, pockets rule. Here is a close-up shot of the pocket:

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Ok, I’m going to back up here for a second. I taught a youth sewing class this fall (like I’ve done several times before), and I had the brilliant idea of combining all the demos I usually do into an actual garment.  Very smart. I had a laundry list of techniques I wanted to demo for the kids, and I found the Bettine dress to be the pattern that had most all of those techniques. So in between helping the participants with their jackets and skirts or whatever project they had chosen to work on, I would take 10 minutes to show them something different each class; elastic waistbands, or pocket constructions, or bias binding, or hemming. It worked quite well, and at the end I had a dress! Ahead of time I made this jersey dress as a test-run, so I’d be familiar with the construction steps and what-not.

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Now, some words on the pattern and the fit. Going in I was worried about the fit – I’d read several reviews that highlighted problematic aspects about the pattern (this one I found particularly helpful, with the side view), and Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow pointed out that the skirt front and back is cut from the same pattern piece. From the pictures I’ve seen around the interwebs this has a tendency to make the back hem rise up, since the back skirt piece hasn’t been made longer to compensate for the extra travelling distance over the butt. At the same time I noticed in pictures more excess in the back bodice pooling over the elastic waist than in the front, probably for the same reason – the front bodice is not made longer than the back despite the added volume of the bust.

After printing out the pattern and assembling I could see why these issues were happening. The skirt piece and the two bodice pieces all have straight waist seams. Being a beginners pattern I assume the same skirt piece is used front and back to make things easier on novice sewers, but I’m having a hard time justifying the non-curved waist seam. To my pattern-maker-trained eye it just looks wrong, and results in uneven amounts of pooling around the bodice (front to back, center to sides). Also, it makes the skirt hang unevenly. Frankly, I was disappointed to see this in the pattern. I also don’t understand why the sizing has to be unconventional and run as sizes 1-8 rather than the European or American sizing convention, but that is a mere annoyance that doesn’t really affect the outcome of the garment. Uncurved waistbands do, however.

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So, I made changes! I did a small FBA of 1″ total which also gave a little extra length in the front (shown in progress above – I finished by drawing a straight line from the center waist hem to the center neckline and cut away the excess). I’ve never done an FBA on a kimono-sleeve, so this was the educated-guess type of slash-and-spread. I think it worked out! I also shortened the back by 7/8″ from the waist up to reduce the amount of pooling going on in the back.  I used the pocket version skirt pattern as the front, and lowered both back and front pieces at the center by 1/2″ to get my beloved waist curve. On the back skirt pattern piece I added a 3/4″ horizontal wedge from center back to the hip mark at the side seam. This added some length back in, but also meant a center back seam (for the next version in cotton sateen at least, for the knit I decided I could just cut on the fold). Finally I reduced the exaggerated side hip curve by 1/2″ – I know this is a stylized design feature, but I have fairly narrow hips so I just don’t need all that much wiggle room.

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I drew inspiration from Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’s fun and summery Bettine, and made single layer pockets. The jersey probably would struggle a bit with the weight of the pockets, so single layer it was! I’m pleased with how they turned out. I had the brilliant idea of using a thinner viscose jersey in a matching color (yey stash!) for binding the neckline and pocket edges rather than self-fabric, and mid pocket-construction, before turning the binding over to the wrong side to stitch down, I realized I really liked the bit of detail and variation of a contrastic fabric. So I left it. That means the binding on the inside of the pocket is exposed and unfinished, but it seems to be holding up just fine after several washes and lots of wear. I mean, as comfy as pajamas and ok to wear in public? Weekly usage. I’ve had one issue moving into the colder weather of late though, which is that I don’t find it an easy dress to layer. I guess I could layer underneath? The cuffs and slightly wider sleeves tends to look quite lumpy under my cardigans. So non-layering-situations-dress it is.

Yes, the pattern put me in a grumpy mood, and my ideal dresses can be layered, and I turned the elastic casing into the bodice instead of the skirt so the pooling isn’t as elegant as it’s supposed to be (oops! My bad, I went rogue on the instructions), and I only realized after struggling to get pictures taken during post-sunset low lighting that the cuffs were all askew after taking my cardigan off (and I really could not be bothered to re-shoot). It might not be the biggest hit, but I’m still pleased with the dress.

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hemlock maneuver

Made: Hemlock tee.
I can’t decide if I think my post title is clever or just cheesy. Regardless, this is my third Hemlock! In my previous Hemlock post I waged that my third attempt would be “just right” after a couple that were almost right. I’d say I’m there – I’m pretty damned pleased with this one!

Fabric: Remnant piece of viscose jersey from Stoff og Stil. I think the piece was 1,5 m, but I didn’t use it all, by far.
Pattern: Hemlock Tee from Jen at Grainline studio.
Techniques: Jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

Made: Hemlock tee.

Made: Hemlock tee.

As you can see, I tried photographing this shirt just as the sun was setting behind that mountain in the background. While the yellow light and crazy sunflares made for really atmospheric photos, they didn’t really show the tee very clearly! So I waited the 5 minutes it took for the sun to move out of frame, and tried again. Direct sunlight makes it really hard to photograph! I’m reading Gillian’s Better Pictures Project with a great deal of interest, and next after using the Portrait mode on my camera, I’m now trying to figure out the lighting situation for my balcony, aiming to turn it into my tried and true photo spot. Now I know having the sun in the frame is a no-go, which means no photos between 3pm and 5 pm, this time of year at least.

Ok, so I don’t know if there is much to say about this particular iteration, construction-wise. The sleeves and bottom are hemmed with a twin needle, and as always I sort of eyeballed the neckline band width and length. I used the twin needle on the neckline as well, straddling the seam. You can kind of tell in the close-up photo of the fabric right above – I think it’s a nice little detail. Oh, in my need-to-make-something-right-now-mode I cut into the fabric without having pre-washed it, which meant that… yep, it shrank in the first wash! Just in the length it seems, and I actually really like how it turned out! You can’t tell in these photos since I’m being all cool and tucking the front, but the shorter length hits in quite a flattering place I think, right above full hip width. So that was a successful neglecting of prewashing fabric.

Made: Hemlock tee.

I love how easily this tee goes from casual to less casual. I changed my shoes, and then bam! I was serious business lady. I found it hilarious how hard it was for me to smile after putting the heels on. I carried myself totally different too! So, all in all another Hemlock success – the other two shirts are still in regular use, though starting to look a little tired. Thankfully this is such a quick project that they can be fairly easily replaced when it’s time to take them out of regular rotation.

Made: Hemlock tee.

hanging on to summer with a mint-colored dress

mint_ruched_dress (6)I look a little sullen (which I wasn’t!), but I get a sort of cinematic vibe from the whole “big sky, posing on the balcony, framed by the doorway”, so I’m posting it anyways. Let’s just call it my serious look.

Yes, yes – I am hanging on to summer even though it’s October. I’m going to Barcelona this week – a trip with a couple of friends from school last year, and a trip we planned in February. You see, I therefore expect to get just a little bit of summer in before submitting myself fully to fall (which is totally here, leaves dropping and everything)! I finished this dress last week, and it’s a copy of a RTW dress I tried on in the beginning of summer and loved, but for several reasons didn’t buy. First of all, it was made in a soft t-shirt material that draped beautifully, but almost exaggerated any little lump and bump on my body. Second, it was so sheer I could see through the dress that my underwear was striped that day! I figured it was an easy enough dress to copy, so off to the fabric store I went.

Fabric: 1,5 meters (roughly – I didn’t measure) of aqua courtelle jersey from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Self-drafted, based on this dress pattern from (yet again) Stoff & Stil.
Techniques: Overlocking, binding, twin-needle hemming and ruched side seams with elastic.

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Not wanting a super sheer fabric, I ended up with this ponte-like courtelle jersey. The basis for the bodice is a pattern I’ve had success with before; this navy knit dress with zippers, and the emerald-green one with a v-neck. From there I raised the neckline and extended the skirt from the waist, to allow for the gathers. I also lengthened the front part of the bodice only across the bust – the gathers at the side seam gives more length over the bust, so they end up having the same function as a bust dart would have, more or less.

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I could turn this into a massive list of all the stupid mistakes I made trying to make this dress (I mean, it took me two months from RTW-inspiration to finishing this!), but that might get a bit boring. So, let’s look at the things I learned instead! (keeping it positive, folks.)

  • Use a pattern that is suited for the type of fabric you’re working with. A positive ease, slouchy t-shirt pattern will make a ponte knit dress look ridiculously frumpy. Fitted thicker knit garments like negative ease.
  • Thicker fabrics can handle less gathering before getting lumpy. The inspiration garment was a thin t-shirt fabric, with tight-looking ruching that skimmed quite flatteringly over the body. I re-learned that ruching creates volume, so now I have some unintentional and unnecessary volume especially across the stomach. I get why maternity clothes use this design element!
  • Knit fabrics need different techniques than woven. Elastic fabrics need elastic constructions, which is why I finally ended up ruching the side seam by serging the two layers of fabric together along with a length of elastic pulled taut. The elastic is added to the seam only from about the waist and down.
  • Peg the skirt and attatch the elastic all the way to the bottom edge of the skirt – or else the bottom part of the dress will flip outwards in an unflattering way.
  • Ruching the layers together instead of separately and then joined together, makes for a more even result (um, duh!).
  • Wow, quality of elastic makes a huge difference. Use elastic with good retention that doesn’t stay stretched out after zig-zagging. It was a total trial and error which ones of my elastics held up and which ones didn’t – which explains why there are three different ones used here, and two layers of elastic. Yep.

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I like this image above for showing all the ruching at the side. Also, I was sort of inspired by Gillian and her Better Pictures Project to find natural lighting and an outdoor space. My little balcony overlooking the local soccer field might be stretching the definition of “outdoor” a bit far, but I’m quite pleased, and I might make this a regular spot. Yey for the natural light at least, and my goodness – using the Portrait mode certainly helped!

Finally… this last year. It’s been a crazy one. I’ve written about going back to school to get my teachers certification, which was demanding in terms of work load, and challenging in terms of getting to learn and practice just a small part of what it means to be a teacher (such a huge, and important job – and so much consideration goes into it!). In this past year there was also the end of a long-term relationship (you might have seen John’s face here on the blog – he’s been the recipient of a number of things I’ve made over the years). Bookended between my 30th and my (this past week) 31st birthday, it also saw me move 6 times, hold down a new part-time job teaching sewing (mentioned here in my post about the kimono I made), and now (happily sort of successfully!) a new job market. I have been doing temp teaching through an agency, and I have loved it – teaching among other things swimming (!) and geography to 7th graders, math and science to 9th graders, and English to 10th graders. The latest work-developement is that I am doing a 2-3 month part-time gig at a high school, teaching “Design and architecture”, and I can’t wait! The thought of just having a string of temporary jobs would at one time have terrified me, but right now I’m excited about the different experiences I am getting to have, and I believe fully that a more permanent position will come along at some point.

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Until then, I am really enjoying the fact that my current (more permanent) living situation offers me not only a balcony with a view to soccer practice (my favorite. Not really. But I don’t mind them too much – and I really love the openness of the space!), but also a decent amount of table-space for my sewing machines. Having lived quite temporarily in this past year has taken a toll on my sewing time, but lately I have been able to sew more and even finish some old projects, and it feels very good! And now I will pack my bags and go on my mini-holiday tomorrow – of course bringing my summery aqua-colored dress with me. Vayamos!

sewing for my teaching exam

Well, hello there! Big news – I am now a certified teacher! For the last year I’ve been doing a practical-pedagogical course at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, called PPU (praktisk pedagogisk utdanning). This, alongside the bachelor degrees I already have, allows me to teach art in public schools grades 5-13. I can probably teach in private schools too, but private schools only make up for 5% of the student body here in Norway, so it’s not too pressing of a matter if it turns out I can’t.

Ok, anyways! Being a practical-pedagogical program, it was only fitting that we had a practical portion to our exam as well as an actual practicum (I did 7 weeks with a 11th grade art class). First we submitted a written theoretical paper, along with a devised classroom plan based on our thesis from the paper. I wrote about how the national achievement goals outlined for the art subjects for the class I had my practicum in favored learning hand-fast skills more than it did an aesthetic type of learning (oh, I will do it injustice trying to explain that briefly, but I mean the type of “intuitive”, bodily learning that usually involves some type of creating or expressing. Like – a group of kids putting on a play about trolls can encompass and express learning about social rules and what happens if you don’t follow them. For example).


The classroom project I outlined in my paper was pretty much the one I did during my practicum, which was to have the students work through a design process by being inspired by a painting, do some research and brainstorming around the artwork, sketch designs for a sweater, and finally make the sweater. I had a really good time doing this with the kids (well, teenagers), and they produced some nice and fun and cool interpretations of their artworks in sweater-form.

So the next part of the exam, which you see here, was to create something within our own field of expertise, that could be used in the classroom to visually aid the instruction. All the students in my class ended up using only three pretty basic sewing techniques, which were an elastic straight stitch (I insisted they only used jersey fabric), a twin needle hem, and finishing necklines, sleeves or the body with a folded band. So I made up three matching samples, which in real life in a classroom setting I would sew during a demo for the students, and then the samples would be there for them to look at afterwards as a reference.


And then the really fun part! For my exam presentation I then made three garments using only those three basic techniques (also limiting myself to only using knit fabrics, since that’s all my students were allowed to use), which works to illustrate how many different things you can do with having the basics down. The imagination is the limit! I tried to make three distinctly different garments stylistically, but also tried to use those basic techniques in different ways. I realized the day before the final presentation that the only way I had used the twin needle hemming, was to… hem. On each of them. No necklines, no sleeves finished with a twin needle! Oops. The goal was to spark imagination by showing really different ways to use the techniques. I did manage that for the folded band though!

First up the Sherlock Holmes meets Lisbeth Salander cape-thingy:


 Draped right on my roommate, scuba-jersey for the neckline band, which is so wide that it turns into a collar. I had fun making this one! I think draping lends itself really well to letting the fabric dictate what happens, and less conventional solutions to basic shapes. This has a couple of deep pleats around the neckline to allow for the shoulders, and the separating zipper opens fully.



This might actually look familiar to some! It’s a jersey version of my Ireland dress, which I made a few years ago. It was nice to work with a familiar pattern, and to remember the construction decisions from last time. The armholes are finished with a technique I familiar with from the Sewaholic blog. It’s a bias binding technique, but works pretty well with jersey as well! And, of course… look how lovely the neckline falls – the beauty of jersey! The high-low hem is totally a product of minimal yardage since this was a piece of fabric from the stash, and I had to cut out the back bodice from somewhere! I think it looks perfectly nice and a smidge more casual, combined with the jersey fabric.


 And finally, what I think might be my favorite of the three – this tropical-floral-neoprene-like kimono. I had a different plan for a more structured garment, thinking that the neoprene would really hold its shape. My fabric store totally sells garment-weight neoprene, which is a lot more drapey than the real stuff. I didn’t have a lot of yardage, but enough to squeeze out this basic kimono shape. I took everything I learned making my own kimono-style robe, and just simplified it a little. The black edge bands are from a wonderfully squishy merino-wool, and I think the rest of the metre I got is destined to be a casual raglan sweatshirt or something similarly slouchy. I bet it will be so warm – the wool fabric feels very lofty, almost a sponge-like quality to it! Which also is working well with the spongy neoprene. I really love the contrast between the neon-colored floral print and the rich black. I have a wonderfully colorful and cheerful friend, and I thought of her all while making this – first chance I get I will hand it to her, and I think it will suit her really well!


As I post-script I guess I should add that I did really well on this exam. I am relieved, happy and immensely proud of having completed this last year of study – it has been challenging and demanding and educational (hah, yes) beyond all I had imagined when I started. The first week I so often thought “Oh, my god – I can’t do this! What have I gotten myself into?!”. I totally did this, and I am now beyond a doubt totally a teacher – in heart, mind and spirit!

hemlock jaquard dress

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What better way to treat myself after another exam finished than to make an easy dress? By the way, I sometimes talk to my fabrics, asking it what it wants to become. This jaquard greek-ish ikat-ish jersey wanted to be a dress. Not any kind of dress, but a dropped shoulder shift-style dress.  A Hemlock dress!

Fabric: Jaquard jersey from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Hemlock tee by Grainline, lengthened.
Techniques: Overlocking, binding, and understitching.

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I put it on as soon as finished on, and I’ve barely taken it off. Well, to sleep and clean off the tomato sauce I got on myself making pizza sauce. Anyways, with the navy tights and mustard cardigan and brown oxfords I get a distinct 60s vibe, helped by the jaquard-like pattern and the silhouette of course. I wanted a bauteu neckline so I just cut the back piece twice. I also made the front piece shorter to improve the fit, and then I took the sides in a couple of inches to go from roomy to flattering.

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I’m very pleased with the neckline finish. With the bauteu neckline I didn’t want a visible band, so I did a Sewaholic-technique with a band folded double and understitched and topstitched. I love the way it looks – very clean! The wine-colored ribbon is to help me put the dress on the right way. Like I mentioned, the front is slightly shorter than the back. I once showed up to school with my dress inside out – the least I can do in making my own clothes is to try to wear them the right way!

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Also, I can dress it up! With summer approaching and days just getting longer and longer I’m craving lighter colors in my wardrobe. This fits the bill very nicely. Did I mention I am so very pleased with this dress? What do you guys think – should I make more Hemlock dresses?

twisted jersey ikat skirt (and a tutorial that is barely a tutorial)

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So! I made this skirt. It’s my second attempt at those twisted skirts that I’ve come to really like – I made the first one last summer. I had quite a hard time understanding how exactly to make that first skirt, even with tutorials I found, and I ended up taking it in several times so it would actually stay up!

I’m teaching a sewing class again this spring, and one of the girls in my group bought a pattern from Stoff & Stil for this type of twisted skirt. Once I realized the “pattern” was really just a few lines of instructions I couldn’t help myself – I wanted to make one too!

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Fabric: A viscose/cotton (I think?) jersey from Stoff & Stil, in an ikat print.
Pattern: From Stoff & Stil, but not on their website anymore. I guess they retire patterns every so often.
Techniques: Overlocking, Lauren’t elastic insertion technique.

It really is a super simple skirt to make, and I will tell you how. This is the tutorial-part of this post:

  1. Cut a rectangle measuring as wide as your hips, and as long as you want the skirt x 2, plus a few inches to account for the twisting and the waistband.
  2. Sew the long side up so you have a skinny tube.
  3. Fold the tube back on itself, so the two raw ends are lined up.
  4. Twist one end somewhere between ¼ and ½ of a circle depending on how much twisting action you want. This skirt is twisted about 1/3, after deciding the first skirt I made has too much twisting and is borderline too short in certain situations. Though, this second attempt ended up significantly longer (which I don’t mind), so the depth of the upwards v-shape isn’t too big of a deal.
  5. Sew in an elastic at the top edge. I used this technique that Lauren showed on her blog, and I think it came out very neat and tidy – just like she shows it. I used a zig-zag stitch because I couldn’t find a twin needle in the moment. I wanted to use a twin needle thinking that would look the nicest and most professional, but honestly – you can’t even tell there is a seam there at all with the print going on, so it’s all good. One note though – the elastic stretched while sewing it in, so I actually redid it once, and still I am not entirely happy with the amount of pulling in. This may or may not have to do with the quality of the elastic I used. Probably does.

Ok, so I guess that is borderline a real tutorial. Though, no pictures of the process, because really – it’s so simple. Rectangle, tube, elastic. Bam, you’re done. I like that there is no obvious front or back to this way of sewing the skirt. The print hides the only seam (which is slanted down the length of the skirt), so I can just pull it on without any adjusting at all. Yeah!

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So yeah! I’m happy with the skirt! I’ve attempted a half-assed spring capsule wardrobe , and this is absolutely one of my pieces. The rest is mostly grey, some navy and a couple of mustard yellow pieces. I say the capsule wardrobe is half-assed because there are several things I decided I needed to buy to fill in the gaps, like a grey pair of jeans, a lighter weight spring jacket, several more tops or blouses since I have about… three (in this capsule wardrobe at least!). But! I keep trying to go shopping, but when I do, I’m so picky I never come home with anything! Either it’s not the right color, or the right fit, or the material is crappy polyester that I don’t want to buy, or it’s completely out of my price range. My shopping trips usually last 10-15 minutes before I get aggravated and just go home. Haha! I’m not much for shopping for clothes I guess. Also, I’m not too concerned about doing  this capsule wardrobe thing correctly right now since I have a lot of stuff going on in my life – including having four exams over the next month! By the end of it I will be a certified teacher, so that is the incentive right there – I can’t wait!

Anyone else doing a capsule wardrobe? And succeeding? Or making jersey skirts? (come on, do it! So easy!)

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sewing-themed charms necklace

I have to confess – I’m not crazy about charms bracelets. It’s not the charms I don’t like, I’m just not a bracelet person when it comes to jewellery! I find them often just being in the way, I guess in the same way sleeves can be – more often than not I push my sleeves up to the elbow. I feel like I’m more concentrated and ready to work then.


Anyways! I got a charms bracelet from John’s mom a few years ago, and being sewing themed, the charms were adorable. I just had to find a way to display them that worked better for me! I had a vision of a necklace with a sort of bar with rings on it. I looked and looked, and finally came across TexasBeadz on Etsy, who has lots of jewellery making supplies, and was able to custom order the antique silver color I was hoping to find. It doesn’t look like she has the same item listed anymore (and I’ve already forgotten what the jewellery world term for this bar-thingy is! Anyone know? Please share if you do!), but the owner was very lovely and nice to work with so I wanted to mention her store.


I bought a set of jewellery rings from my local crafts store, and spent 10 minutes getting the charms on the bar. So now have a necklace with a sewing machine, ruler, scissor and iron on it! I’m not quite sure what the cog-looking thing is supposed to be, but it’s cute. The third charm from the left is a small freebie pendant I got to match a pair of earrings I bought through the Norwegian version of Etsy, which is called Epla. The jeweller is Sølvsmykkeriet, and she too had excellent customer service and ended up custom making a pair of earrings for me that I absolutely love. I don’t think I have a close up of those, but they should be in pretty much every post the last year since I hardly ever take them out!

Oh, and happy March everyone! At the moment Bergen is greeting it with heavy, wet snowfall. Isn’t March the first spring month? Anyone else having non-spring-like weather? Or – anyone else itching to start making spring-like things? I definitely am!

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