The Free Motion Quilting Project: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mosaic Quilt Design

I've had this massive craving for mosaics ever since walking through Minneapolis and enjoying the mosaics that seemed to be around every corner:

I've debated on all the ways to use this inspiration for a quilt and finally found an easy way to plan an mosaic style design:

Yep, construction paper and glue baby! I feel like a kid in kindergarten and I'm having such a blast!

Can't wait to show you what this turns into next!

Let's go design!

Leah Day

Monday, June 29, 2015

Free Motion Quilt Egyptian Fans - #443

I've got a craving for new free motion quilting designs and I've decided to turn Monday's post into a special new design day. Don't worry, we're still going to learn beautiful walking foot designs every Wednesday! Let's check out the new free motion quilting design for today:

This is Egyptian Fans, an elegant quilting design created with simple curves and soft echoes to fill your quilts with beautiful texture. It's a Pivoting Design, but this particular combination of angles and curves has never come easily for me. I have trouble changing from an inner to outer to inner curve easily because my hands want to make all inner curves. Watch the video to see what I mean:

When a design doesn't initially feel natural for you, the best thing to do is draw it. Draw it on EVERYTHING and draw it ALL the time! It might begin to feel repetitive and boring and that is actually the point. You want to get so familiar with those shapes and angles that you can draw (and eventually quilt) that design in your sleep.

At some point you'll be able to stop concentrating so hard on the specific shapes and just be able to kick back into the flow of quilting the design. So give Egyptian Fans a try today and let me know if this design felt natural to you and where you plan to use it in your beautiful quilts!

Looking for more free motion quilting inspiration...maybe in a handy spiral-bound book form? Check out 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, the perfect book for anyone searching for free motion quilting inspiration!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Have Permission to Quit

Do you struggle to quit a project, even when it's making you miserable? Do you wish you could just set it aside, or even better, chuck it in the trash?

You're definitely not alone! Here's a little Light Up Your Life videocast on giving yourself permission to quit:

Must. Keep. Stitiching...

I've previously wasted a lot of my life stitching on projects I hate. It's miserable to work on something you're not really into, and even worse when the project really isn't working, isn't pretty, or is quite painful to work on.

I've learned over the years that it's unrealistic to expect to be absolutely in love with EVERY project I work on, but I do have a new rule - I have to actually LIKE what I'm working on and WANT to finish it. If I don't have that, why bother?

And to carry this theme beyond quilting, if a situation, job, or relationship isn't working - why keep banging your head against a wall?

I believe many people stay in painful, toxic relationships, or grind away at jobs that positively eat their soul simply out a lack of understanding that you really can quit, walk away, and start something new.

Yes, it's challenging to quit and there's a lot of inertia in our lives that keep us trekking the same path every day, day in and day out. To truly quit and begin again, you have to also release the feelings of shame, guilt, and fear that accompany your action.

But Quitting is WASTEFUL!

Yes, quitting is by its very nature wasteful, but does your time and energy count for nothing? You may throw away a few yards of fabric, but you'll be saving yourself the time and effort of finishing a project you don't like.

For some projects, quitting just isn't an option. Chucking a fully pieced and partially quilted queen sized, paper pieced, heirloom quilt in the trash is wasteful. If you can't bring yourself to work on it, put it in time-out for a few months (I did this with Duchess Reigns), or pass it on to someone else who would happily finish it.

However I know from firsthand experience that there are those unique times of catastrophic project failure that no amount of stitching, fabric, or glue will fix the project, and the idea of passing it off to someone else is just impossible. When this happened to me, I simply set the quilt on fire.

Smaller projects like my little braided cord shouldn't be such a big deal. Why was I agonizing over a $3 length of chain? Why couldn't I just take it off the loom, chuck it in the trash, and move on to the beautiful green art yarn I really wanted to braid?

I had to give myself permission to quit with no strings attached. I wasn't going to judge myself or feel guilty for the waste of money, but at the same time, I've learned a valuable lesson - I hate braiding with rough chain!

Watch Out for Chronic Quitting

There is a double edge sword of giving yourself permission to quit, however. You need to be careful not to quit too quickly or too often or else you may become a chronic quitter.

Chronic quitting is easily recognizable - you simply never finish ANYTHING! As soon as a project gets challenging it goes in a bin and you're off pulling out new materials or shopping for more fabric.

This was the cycle I became trapped in with beadwork back in 2000. Every project I began was subject to intense scrutiny and judgement. Understandably, I ended up hating everything I made and ripping it apart long before it was finished.

I never wasted the beads, but I wasted tons and tons of time, energy, and self esteem. For this reason, I don't see chronic quitting as an issue of being miserable with a specific project, but being miserable with yourself in general.

So watch out for a desire to quit every project you start, but also understand that it's okay to take a break or flat out quit any project that is making you crazy. Life is too short to hate what you make!

 What do you think? Do you have a project in the works that is really "working" for you or feeling more like a struggle? Have you ever chucked a project in the trash? Share your experience in the comments below!

Let's get moving - let's try something new!

Leah Day

Friday, June 26, 2015

Filming in the new Crafty Cottage

It's been a whirlwind the last few weeks, flying to Denver to shoot a new class for Craftsy (details coming soon!) and then flying back and immediately jumping into filming in the new Crafty Cottage.

I've been working all week on a new Video Workshop - a new term I'm using for when I package a lot of videos, instructions, and a pattern together. It's exciting to be able to film without interruption, and to finally be able to see some progress on projects that have been in limbo for months.

This first video workshop will be Quilting a King on Your Home Machine - a video series filled with tips on quilting very large quilts on a small machine. I cover basting a quilt in sections on a small table, quilting five beautiful designs, and then multiple videos about setting up your tables, shifting and dealing with the quilt bulk, and applying the designs to the quilt top.

New Filming Learning Curve

Learning how to film in this new space has also been an adventure! I've been using a lavalier microphone (pictured left) for the first time this week and it's been a challenge to remember to turn the mic on AND hit the record button.

I've ruined two great videos because I forgot one or the other and ended up with no audio. You'd think that would be a lesson I'd only have to learn once, but no, I repeated the exact same mistake a few hours later!

My video this week on Zigzag Path with a Walking Foot featured probably the worst audio in my history of making videos because somehow the recording got deleted and I didn't have time to film the whole video again. I had to use the echo-dominated audio from one of the video cameras which, judging from the negative comments on YouTube, it was pretty terrible.

Yes, it's a free video, and it was a freak combination of events that forced me to publish it, but yeah, it does sound pretty terrible...

More Filming Adventures!

The more I videos I create, the easier it gets and I'm already developing a routine that is working great as I blaze through the videos for the King video workshop.

Right now I have just a few more videos to shoot for the this new project and then it will be ready to go! I can absolutely say this is the BEST film making I've ever done!

So now that I can shoot new videos with ease I really need to know what YOU'RE interested in watching. More quilting design videos? Piecing videos? Other craft videos like knitting, crochet, weaving, or spinning?

I'd love to know what you're looking for so please share your opinion in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Egg Shortage and the Avian Flu

Josh here, and today we have something completely different for you!
Our eggs, ranging from brown, pink, green, blue, and white.

If you live in the U.S., you've likely experienced rising prices on run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs, both white and brown. A virulent strain of avian flu spread through industrial sized chicken farms in the American midwest and west coast earlier this year, with the latest outbreak occurring in Iowa about a week ago.

The good news, at least according to this USDA map linked here, is the epidemic is clearly slowing down. The bad news is tens of millions of factory chickens were put down in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, and many states, including North Carolina, are taking wise precautionary moves and stopping poultry shows and auctions for the rest of the year.

The carton of eggs above were not purchased from a chain grocery store, nor were they bought from a local farmer. They were laid by our very own small flock of hens, of various breeds and funny hybridizations. I started keeping chickens in the spring of 2010. I now have nearly two dozen birds which range on our one acre property, foraging off the land after a breakfast of supplemental feed.

My birds are all healthy and thriving. However, I have not introduced any new animals to the flock and have been very careful to not visit other back yard flocks or be around other poultry. I prefer to keep things in the family...

That's me, our son James, and our two sweetest and broodiest hens, Sweet Pea the silkie chicken (held by James) and Umcka the blue wyandotte. These two girls are our best mothers, with Umcka having hatched and raised the majority of our past and current generation of hens and three docile roosters.

Sweet Pea is currently broody at the moment, sitting on a clutch of her very own (and 100% silkie!) eggs.

If you're been affected by the rising costs of eggs, or are concerned about the quality of the eggs and chicken meat from industrial chicken farms, perhaps now is the time to check out your local farmer's market or reach out to a trusted friend who keeps chickens. 

Free range and ranged eggs are infinitely better than factory eggs. The yolks are actually orange, and the fullness in flavor is hard to describe. To put it simply, once you try a true free range egg, standard grocery store eggs will always pale in comparison.

Until next time, let's go... make an omelette!


Monday, June 22, 2015

More Zigzag Path with a Walking Foot

I'm giving Zigzag Path another try, this time in my latest T-shirt Quilt Block! Find the article and video right here.

Up until February this year, I hadn't touched my walking foot in more than 8 years. I figured free motion quilting could do everything walking foot quilting could, so why bother switching to that big, clunky foot?

Having machine quilted with a walking foot a lot more over the last few months, I can definitely say my attitude has changed. I do find this style of quilting much, much easier for managing stitching in the ditch and straight line quilting.

Yes, it can be challenging to walking foot quilt in tight spaces, or when you need to rotate the block a lot. I believe this is all part of project design - don't tackle huge projects with really fiddly, direction changing designs. Instead bite off a smaller project like our T-Shirt Quilt project and experiment with lots of textures and designs on a smaller quilt block.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Amazing Time at Hero Con!

Yesterday I shared how easy it is to confuse the strong emotions fear and excitement. This weekend I had a great opportunity to practice feeling and expressing excitement during Hero Con!

princess zelda costume | zelda twilight princess
I'm Princess Zelda from the video game Zelda: Twilight Princess. The game is mostly about the hero, Link, that slices and dices bad guys through multiple levels in order to save Princess Zelda from the resident bad guy Gannon.

There were actually a lot more Link characters in costume than Zelda! Here I'm posing with a cute little girl who made her costume herself:

princess zelda costume | zelda twilight princess
This is what I love the most - seeing kids jump into sewing just to make a cool costume. Costuming really opens up lots of creative doors - sewing, 3-D sculpture, painting, shading, decorative leather work, embroidery - you name it, I saw it this weekend!

Dressing up as a video game character might seem like an odd thing for a 31 year old woman to do, but I honestly had SO MUCH FUN! It was a creative adventure to build the costume, and even more fun to dress up, put on my funky ears, and pose for people to snap photos on the convention floor.

princess zelda costume | zelda twilight princess
I also loved snapping pictures with other cosplayers dressed up as my favorite characters. This guy was playing Oliver Queen from Arrow, a very entertaining show you can find on Netflix!

Back in high school, I know I couldn't have done this. My self esteem was once so low, I would never have allowed myself to pick a pretty character like Zelda to dress up as. I either wouldn't have dressed up, or I would have completely hidden in a massive metal suit.

Attending some lectures and panels with other cosplayers, I began to see just how affirming and confidence-building cosplay can be. Yes, you're going to find some Cosplay Police, just as we have Quilting Police, but for the most part these are adults interested in having dressing up and having a great time.

Cononel Sanders Costume
Cosplay is fun for all ages!

I feel encouraged not just to improve my Zelda costume, but to venture into the more popular Marvel super hero arena. Storm was my favorite X-Men character as a child, so she will be my goal for next year!

Let's go Cosplay!

Leah Day

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fear or Excitement? Emotion Confusion

It’s Saturday, my new favorite day of the week because it’s time to share another Light Up Your Life video and post! I can’t tell you how much this new series is lighting up my life and I have a fun story to share with you this week about fear and excitement.

Feeling Fear

I’m no stranger to feeling fear. No matter how many online classes I teach, no matter how many times I shoot a video, I always feel a kick of fear before jumping into a big event.

In high school I was a bass drummer in the marching band and we would regularly lead the band in cadence onto the field to compete. I got used to feeling afraid, but not letting that fear lock me in place. I really had no choice -  I could ruin the performance or keep moving and flowing with my feelings.

Just recently I had a new epiphany. I was getting packed up (always a stressful time) and feeling really overwhelmed and anxious and made myself stop and check in. Are my arms and legs still attached to my body? Is everything working okay? Am I having a heart attack? Nope. Then I’m okay. No matter what is going on, physically I’m okay.

Then I realized I’m also GOING to be okay. I’ll get through this stressful packing situation, I’ll get to Denver, I’m going to be okay.

So I just started saying that over and over: I’m okay and I’m going to be okay. 

Later I spent some time digging into the emotions I was feeling and began to digest a new idea – I’m not actually afraid. I’m excited! 

Who's that weirdo jumping with excitement?

Adults don’t show excitement, unless we’re wiling to look crazy and slightly immature. James shows excitement by jumping up and down, dancing around, throwing himself on the floor, and rolling around. I rarely express excitement more than a big smile.

So where is all that energy going? Clearly excitement is a POSITIVE way to feel, so why are we suppressing it so hard? Why not dancing around and punch the air – excitement is a rare, fun thing!

But it doesn’t get expressed, and tapping into how I was feeling this week made me realize – I might be running the risk of letting my excitement get misinterpreted as fear. Feeling excited makes my heart race and my hands sweat, but so does fear.

So that’s my story for this week - be careful not to misinterpret excitement as fear. Instead, let your freak flag fly and express it openly, with your whole heart (and arms, and legs, and voice) and relish the feeling of excitement.

I hope this post has helped light your life today! Share your thoughts and any questions in the comments below!

Leah Day

Monday, June 15, 2015

Machine Quilting Easy Echoes! Thank you all so much for your wonderful support of my new Light Up Your Life series! It's so great to hear your feedback and comments and I love hearing your perspectives on self worth.

Getting back to quilting - today I've shared a fun, easy design you can quilt with your walking foot - Echoing!

Click Here to find the post on Easy Echoing with Your Walking Foot.

This is a fun design you can quilt either with a walking foot OR in free motion. I have to admit after echo quilting two blocks with my walking foot that this style of quilting is easier. Nothing beats having the machine feed the quilt for you!

Don't forget to join our Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group and share pictures of your t-shirt quilt project!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Making Do and Wanting More

Yesterday my new lavalier mic from Amazon came in, which means I was able to film my first video in this new space today! I decided to shoot a personal video to share how this transformation has really rocked my world:

So what do you think of this new videocast format? I've been wanting to share this way for years, but hesitated and hesitated, and now I'm ready to commit and put my whole heart into this new Saturday series - Light Up Your Life!

 I love sharing about life and the things I've learned and how everything I've gone through has been a step towards a wonderful, fulfilling life. This spring I shared my goddess lecture for the first time at MQX and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that THIS is what I need to do, THIS is what I need to be sharing.

So I'm going to share it. Yes, here on a quilting blog. Why not?

Self Worth and Legitimacy

As you can tell from the video above, I've been busy processing the "stuff" that came along with building the Crafty Cottage. For a few days I wrestled with the feeling that I didn't really deserve the space, and that it would be snatched away from me immediately by a freak fire or falling tree. I mean, it IS located in the woods!

But as I wrapped my brain around it more, I felt a HUGE surge in self confidence and motivation. Having this dedicated space of my own really has helped me feel more legitimate. I have a beautiful, well-lit space to make awesome videos and I can now shoot ANY TIME I WANT! That is so awesome!

Making Do and Wanting More

For years I've "made do" with what I had. As a kid, I would literally use whatever spot I could find, most often the dark space behind a chair. When sewing became more of a focus, I transitioned to pulling out a machine and spreading out bins on the kitchen table.

I finally set up my first dedicated sewing space when Josh and I moved in together. I had around twelve square feet sandwiched between the bed, wall, and computer desk. I sewed 50 - 60 garments a week in this little space and made do with everything from no air conditioning to only one electrical plug working.

When we moved to Shelby, we house hunted with the focus on dedicated office space for Josh and sewing / quilting space for me. Our house was definitely a fixer-upper, but the partially finished basement was just too good to pass up. We moved in, Josh got the back room for the office and I got the basement kitchen and partially finished bedroom for my quilting studio. Here's a studio tour from a few years ago that walks you through the space:

We've worked hard on the house over the years and now it's really beautiful and such a relaxing space to live in. Unfortunately, you can never really take the aspects of a basement out of a basement. No matter how many new lights I've installed, my sewing space has remained dark, with low ceilings that create endless filming challenges.

While this was by far the most dedicated space I've ever had, and I'm absolutely grateful for it, I had to admit this winter that I needed more. I was so tired of being interrupted, the guys were all tired of having to tip-toe when I was filming, and things just weren't working anymore.

But wanting a new space was hard for me to admit. A lot of times when I want something I get this immediate shut down reaction like "You're not supposed to want that." Shouldn't I be happy with all the space I have? Don't I have so much more space than the back of the chair I had as a kid?

Yes, yes, yes, but when things aren't working, they aren't working!

I've come to realize that YES, it's okay to WANT. It's great to make do for as long as things can "make do" but eventually you just have to admit when things stop working to make a positive change.

Will This Make Me Happy?

I'm honestly not sure... I've learned from experience and many, many situations that things like publishing a book, releasing a pattern, and winning an award do not generate lasting happiness.

It's a nice happy moment, but not lasting, deep rooted happiness because there is always another thing to do. Another book to write, pattern to design, award to win or not win. Really this stuff doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.

What really makes me happy is having a solid schedule to my day. I love to work hard and get a lot done by around 4 pm so I can kick back with James and Josh and have a wonderful evening with my family.

That is honestly the most important factor in my daily happiness - time to work, time to play, time to unwind and relax with the people I love.

If the Crafty Cottage helps me with that goal, then yes, I think it will contribute greatly to my general feeling of happiness. Don't get me wrong - the building by itself in my back yard doesn't make me happy. It's what I will DO with it that is going to make all the difference.

So what about you? Have you been "making do" or have you created an awesome creative space already? Do you have trouble allowing yourself to want more space or better gear? What is stopping you from making improvements?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Leah Day

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I’m Crazy for Batiks!
As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’m crazy for batik fabrics!

I love hand dyed batiks because they work so perfectly in a wide range of quilts. They often read as solid fabric from a distance, but when you get closer you realize there’s a swirl of lighter and darker shades that makes the fabric more complex and interesting to quilt.

Today I’m delighted to launch our new leap into carrying fabric! We’re carrying a small collection of twelve Island Batik basics, cut by the yard and shipped anywhere in the US. Click Here to check out the fabrics now!
We’re also offering precut fat quarter bundles so you can begin building your stash of beautiful batik fabrics. Click here to find a precut fat quarter pack for just $14.99.

Things to know about cotton batik fabric

Batik fabric feels very different than regular print or solid cotton fabric. The weave is much tighter, which gives the fabric a crisp, durable feel. I find piecing with batiks much easier because the tighter weave makes it so much easier to cut and piece accurately.

Island Batik fabrics are hand dyed in Sanur, Bali by artisans that have passed the techniques down from generation to generation. I love the vibrant colors and rich, mottled texture of these hand dyed batiks and I’m so excited to be able to share them with you. 

Keep an eye out for amazing new projects featuring Island Batik fabrics coming very soon!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, June 8, 2015

Machine Quilting Gridlines

Time for another machine quilting post for our T-Shirt Quilt Along! Today we're learning how to machine quilt gridlines with a walking foot.

So now that I'm getting into posting walking foot videos, I find I'm missing free motion quilting! I can't wait to get the darning foot for the Viking 6570 to see how this little vintage machine can machine quilt as well.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Casual Cam - Fun with a Viking Ruby 6570

I made the mistake of popping on Ebay the other day just to "look." Lol! I should have known better!

This is Ruby, a Viking 6570 vintage sewing machine from the 1970s. What first made me look (and drool a bit) at this machine was the beautiful red color. Sew pretty!

Then I looked further and realized this Viking was a cam sewing machine. Learn about cams in this short video I shot with James:

I'm really curious about vintage machines and how well they can handle free motion and walking foot style quilting. So what would you like to see from these new machine videos? Let me know in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, June 5, 2015

Machine Quilt Three Fun Spiral Designs

I've shared another new article for Quiltmaker Magazine that is all about spirals!
I've shared a video on how to quilt these three designs right here. Learn more about free motion quilting these beautiful designs in the July / August issue of Quiltmaker Magazine!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Walking Foot Machine Quilting Basics
I figured for our very first post for the T-shirt Quilt Along, we're going to need to knock out the basics of walking foot style quilting. The wonderful thing about this style of quilting - it's so much easier than free motion quilting! 

Click Here to read and watch a video on Walking Foot Quilting.

I honestly never thought I'd return to using my walking foot, but these days I'm really enjoying the simplicity of letting the machine do the feeding for me. It's really interesting approaching walking foot quilting from my free motion quilting design perspective and I think we're going to have a lot of fun discovering new, interesting ways to quilt!

To support this free quilt along, we've just launched a big sale in the quilt shop so you can save 15% on your order over $20 this week only:
 We could really use your support with this quilt along so take advantage of this sale and save on the materials to make your own t-shirt quilt!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Learn How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt

tshirt quilt | tshirt quilt along
It's time to kick off our next fun quilt along project with a new T-Shirt Quilt Along! This January I pulled out two big bags of James's baby t-shirts, onesies, and jackets and began slicing and dicing to create a tshirt quilt.

Well, life got in the way (as usual) and I'm now ready to return to this project and I want to share the process with you! If you have a collection of t-shirts or memory fabric pieces like handkerchiefs, napkins, or even just your favorite quilting fabrics, now is the time to pull them all out and make a fantastic quilt!

tshirt quilt | tshirt quilt alongClick here to learn how to piece a t-shirt quilt.

I'm piecing this quilt in big 18 inch t-shirt blocks, but quilting a 16 inch square within using my tried and true Quilt-As-You-Go method.

Click Here to check out the materials list.

Writing a materials list for a pattern like this is a bit tricky. For one thing, we will all be using different garments, which are different sizes and shapes. So if you're worried about having enough fabric for your block fronts, just get 3 yards and you should have plenty.

tshirt quilt | tshirt quilt alongtshirt quilt | tshirt quilt along

Or you can just make a mishmash of multi-colors, scraps, and orphan blocks like mine!

I don't think there's a single way to approach this, so jump in when you want, however you'd like, and let's have fun making a memory quilt together. Share your progress and post questions either here or on the Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group.

Now for the quilt along part - each week I will quilt one of my tshirt blocks using a combination of walking foot and free motion style quilting. Make sure to swing by every Wednesday to find a new video on walking foot quilting posted to this page.

Now I'd love to hear what you think of this new t-shirt quilt along! Share this fun project with your friends so everyone can join in the fun and learn loads about quilting and make an awesome quilt at the same time!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #24 - Bubble Fern

Yes, it's time for the very last design in the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along! Today we're learning how to quilt Bubble Fern - a beautiful stem centered design with swirly bubble leaves.

machine quilting design | free motion quilting
While this is the last post I'm sharing about the Dancing Butterfly Quilt, remember the pattern includes 49 videos to walk you through every step finishing the blocks and binding your quilt. The pattern will remain available forever so never hesitate to grab a copy and join in and transform your skills for applique and free motion quilting!

butterfly quilt | quilt as you go quilt
I think this last Bubble Fern butterfly was one of my favorites! Let's learn how to machine quilt it together:

With Dancing Butterfly now finished up, I'm sure you're wondering what's next...

Our next project is a fun T-shirt Quilt Along! In this project I'm piecing a rather crazy, free form T-shirt quilt and exploring how to machine quilt each block with my walking foot.

I'm really excited about this new project and exploring the many things we can do with walking foot style quilting and FINALLY finishing the massive tshirt quilts I've had in progress for months.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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