Hunter's Design Studio Cool patterns + sassy stuff! And the home of We Are $ew Worth It! Wed, 17 May 2017 13:08:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hunter's Design Studio 32 32 79720629 Spring Clean Your Studio 2017 – New Studio! Wed, 10 May 2017 12:00:24 +0000 We are in the middle of this year’s edition of Spring Clean Your Studio, a fun blog hop devised by Cheryl Sleboda of!

I moved at the end of last year, so I have a new studio to share!

As I’ve written before, I’m a pretty tidy person in general, so what feels messy to me might look like like a clean space to you. I’m coming off an intense couple of months of sewing for Spring Quilt Market, so while that’s underway, I tend to stack things in piles on my biggest available surface – the top of my fabric drawers:


(I would have taken pix at the height of the chaos, but there was a lot of secret fabric in there that I’m not allowed to share until after it debuts at Market)

A lot of the fabric drawers were so tight that I could barely get my hands in them, and I find this really unpleasant to deal with; it makes me want to just not use the fabric in there, which then leads to shopping trips (and often to duplicate purchases!) Thus the first order of business was to re-sort the drawers, and then to file away all the fabric on top of them.

I have a lot of hand-dyed fabric, and while I don’t want to get rid of it (I use when I teach hand-dyeing) I don’t need it at the ready. I decided to pull it from the drawers and move it into storage tubs that can live in my office closet.

This freed up three drawers for shifting and filing the rest:

I still have some batting to absorb, but I’ll get to that soon – it’s destined to be frankenbatted into some charity quilts for my guild. I also want to have a good sort on the rack at the back of the picture, but that will have to wait a week or two while I finish up my market obligations.

I store fabric mostly by type/substrate (batik, cotton, barkcloth, canvas) and then by genre (solid, print, etc.) I have specific drawers for fabric with text, skulls, and robots/space. Some of the fabric is sorted by manufacturer – this is so that when I design with it, I don’t inadvertently mix in other companies’ fabrics. I also broke up all my fat quarter towers this time as then I’ll actually use the fabrics in them – seriously… I had some that are 4 or 5 years old that had never been touched.

I keep large cuts of solids in the drawers, but the main solid stash (mostly fat quarters and smaller) lives in smaller boxes:

I’m not a scrap quilter, so while I set aside scraps as I work, I periodically bundle them up to giveaway on Instagram (follow me here!) My next round of giveaways will include scraps from the quilts I made for this market season out of fabric that isn’t out just yet 🙂


I think the most important thing about fabric storage is to find what works best for you, and to do it in a way that makes your fabric available to you for both inspiration and use. If you can’t get to it, it can’t get used!

I don’t need to see all mine out on a shelf, so having it in drawers works fine. I also would never bother with storing it around boards as it would take up way too much space to do that. I store by type and color, but I know other people work well storing by size.

I’m also a fan of periodically sorting through your entire stash, both to sort in the new treasures and to purge the old. I think we all buy fabric that we outgrow before it gets used, and if you get it out of the house you have room to buy more! I send my no-longer-loved fabric to my guild’s robust charity quilting program, or our monthly Free Fabric table. Your local Project Linus group is always a good place for fabric you don’t want to keep.

The whole studio! I find tidy space so inviting!

Please check out the rest of the blog hop!

May 1 – Teri Lucas –
May 2 – Tammy Silvers –
May 3 – Emily Breclaw –
May 4 – Amalia Morusiewicz –
May 5 – John Kubiniec –
May 6 – Debby Brown –
May 7 – Melissa Marie Collins –
May 8 – Delve MIY –
May 9 – Misty Cole –
May 10 – Sam Hunter – (you’re here!)
May 11 – Dale Ashera-Davis –
May 12 – Sara Mika –
May 13 – Sarah Trumpp –
May 14 – Carma Halterman –
May 15 – Jessica Darling –
May 16 – Lisa Chin –
May 17 – Sally Johnson –
May 18 – Mandy Leins –
May 19 – Shruti Dandekar –
May 20 – Jane Davila –
May 21 – Ebony Love –
May 22 – Cheryl Sleboda –



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Star Wars Patterns – ChickTech Donation 2017 1st Quarter Tue, 04 Apr 2017 13:00:39 +0000 What can I say…. YOU ROCK!

A couple of weeks ago I released my latest Star Wars pattern, General Organa, and made it a pay-what-you-can pattern. I designated the proceeds to Chick Tech, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce, and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers.

Your response has been SO lovely! Many of you donated beyond the suggested price, and when the sales were totaled I was able to make a $221 donation to the organization today!

Thank you for your part in making this happen – it makes it possible for me to keep designing Star Wars patterns for a great cause!


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Close Your Blade Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:00:41 +0000 “Close your blade!”

Anyone who spends any amount of time sewing with me will hear this, and hear it constantly if you’re one of those people who leaves your rotary cutter open when you put it down.

If fact, last week, at my quilt guild’s lovely charity sewing day*, I got told by a member that I was being micro-managing because I was being a hawk about open blades.

Well, I am a hawk about open blades, ESPECIALLY in a group setting. This particular group had over a dozen people in it, and we were all wading through piles of scrap strips to make string blocks. Imagine what would have happened if an open blade was buried under the strips someone grabbed. Yep – there could have been an injury.

Getting hurt on your own turf, and through your own misfortune is one thing, but taking your bad habits to the quilt store is negligent, and let’s face it, somewhat arrogant: you are more than welcome to risk your own hands, but please don’t risk mine. I need both of my hands to be fully operational to run my business and enjoy my life. You have no idea which medical conditions your friends might have that can be compromised or exacerbated by a cut. And let’s face it, NO ONE has time for an inopportune injury, and I daresay the unexpected medical bills that would accompany it will give most of us a bad case of the sweats, if not kill off the next fun thing we’re saving for.

We obey plenty of laws for the common good, so adding a good blade closing habit to your skills shouldn’t be something to resist!


I’ve had several friends do battle with rotary cutters and lose big time. One friend recently gashed her palm while changing blades and was off work for the better part of a month over it. Another had to see a hand surgeon to re-attach a finger tendon that got sliced right through (did you know that those tendons can snap back up into your forearm?) Several friends have had stitches. Personally, I sliced the side of my finger off one night when I was working late (and tired) and because I was on blood thinners at the time, it took over an hour to get it to stop bleeding. And that finger is still skinnier along the side I sliced.

Rotary cutting is a major innovation for quilters, but these blades are dangerous and need to be respected.

I was fortunate to be taught by a great teacher who made sure that we learned to close the blade from the very first class. If you can’t get your head around closing the blade you MUST buy a cutter that will do it for you. There are good cutters out there that will close automatically when you release them:




Olfa makes this one – you squeeze the handle to uncover the blade and it retracts when you let go.



And Dritz makes this one – it’s pressure sensitive, so the guard goes back as you press down to cut (and FYI, if you dropped this on your foot the blade would probably come out and cut you – so you’d be better off learning to close your blade on one that can’t do that!)







And for my tips on maintaining your rotary cutter, read this post Slicing, dicing… and oiling.

* More about this to come… I’ll be interviewing the amazing woman who runs our charity sewing it in the next couple of weeks.

Links are NOT affiliate!


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Inside My Studio Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:00:12 +0000 Come take a peek inside my studio!

A couple of years back, Heather Powers of HKPowerStudio interviewed me about my studio space. Back then, it was a slender room in a friend’s bigger studio. I recently moved, and dedicated my new, larger living room to be my studio. When I told Heather about it, she asked me to give her an update about the new space.

She split the information into two posts that you can read here and here (and the original interview is here). She asks a lot of great questions… not just how I do things, but the philosophy behind my choices too!

I’ve had studios both in my house and outside, and I find they both have their benefits. I really like being able to look at something on the design wall while my first cuppa of the day is brewing, so having it in my home is a great solution for me. It can also mean that it’s hard to stop working though, and sometimes if I can see my messy kitchen from the sewing table I’ll get tempted to go clean up!

The studio I have now is probably my largest, and I’m loving having a huge design wall, and the ability to have a half dozen friends over to sew on the weekends. I’ll be teaching small classes from here soon (local Portland OR peeps, watch this space for a special signup to be on that list).

I’ve also written some posts about how I store things inside my studio (lots of ideas for small spaces):

Studio Process

Storage ideas – Part 1

Storage ideas – Part 2

And twice I’ve participated in the Spring Clean Your Studio blog hop hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of for the last couple of years – I hope she does it again this year as the people who participate always have some great tips for tidying up!

My 2015 Spring Cleaning

My 2016 Spring Cleaning

What’s your biggest studio organizational challenge?


The General Organa Quilt Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:00:31 +0000 I have another Star Wars quilt for you! This one is the General Organa quilt, and is my homage to the late Carrie Fisher.

The original Star Wars movie’s Princess Leia Organa was one of the few movie heroines of my youth.

She wasn’t just “the girlfriend” and she didn’t fit the “helpless damsel in distress” model of the cartoons I grew up on. She held her own against the bad guys, and gave the good guys a solid run for their money. I loved that she was sassy and resiliant, and could tongue-tie the ever-so-cool Han Solo.

When she came back in the most recent movie, she was now General Organa, and like many women of my generation, I took pride in her rise to that rank. Luke ran off to hide and sulk; Han ran off to continue being a scoundrel; but Leia stayed and kept fighting.

I also respect Carrie Fisher, the actress who brought Princess Leia to life. I liked that she just told it like it is with easy, yet pointed, humor, especially in the PR frenzy before The Force Awakens. I admired how she pointed out that we, as women of any age, are held to impossible standards of youth and beauty, as if they are the only things that matter.

She was so much more. As are we.

The General Organa Quilt has paper-piecing patterns for two versions of the words:

It also includes both paper-piecing patterns and templates for the parts General Organa herself that have odd angles. The printed pattern is lengthy (all those letters!) so be sure to read it through before you print or you’ll be wasting paper 🙂

The General Organa quilt pattern is available here in my shop. It’s listed as “pay what you can” and I will be donating all proceeds from both this pattern and The Droid is Not for Sale (Rey & BB-8) to Chick Tech, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce, and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers.

And may the Force be with you!

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Quilt Talk – a book for ANY word quilts Wed, 15 Mar 2017 13:00:14 +0000 Those of you who’ve followed here for a while might be familiar with my book, Quilt Talk. It’s a book of letter patterns for a full paper-pieced alphabet, with a dozen projects included.

Word quilts are making a resurgence, and I want to tell you how this book can help you make them, whether you use its alphabet or one of the many other alphabets that are available in our quilty world.*

First of all, Quilt Talk has a FULL alphabet: uppercase, lowercase, numbers, punctuation, special characters (all the ones above the numbers on your keyboard) and all the accent characters for Spanish and French languages.

It includes a chapter on how I do paper-piecing without using special rulers or tools, and how I pre-cut for paper-pieced letters to minimize fabric waste. I’ve had a lot of people write me about how easy my paper-piecing instructions are to follow, especially for paper-piecing newbies!

But the most useful parts of the book are probably the sections on how to SIZE your words and space your letters. Most letter patterns come in sizes that quickly get big, and if you want to say more than a few words you’re likely to end up with an unnecessarily huge quilt. This book covers the easy math for making the words come out the size YOU want them to be. And here’s the bonus… these concepts can be adapted to ANY alphabet patterns.

The book also has a great section on how to choose your fabric values and pattern textures for maximum impact. If you’re going to take the time to make a word quilt, let’s make sure it can be easily read!

So even if you’ve found another alphabet you want to try, Quilt Talk will help you make the best use of it!

If you’d like to own a copy, please shop here, and get free shipping using the coupon code QTFREESHIP for the rest of March 2017 (US addresses only) and at the time of writing this post, this means it’s cheaper than buying it on Amazon!

For a more detailed description of what the book covers, read here.

*And here’s a shout out to a few other alphabets available:


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Jessica’s Squilt Thu, 09 Mar 2017 14:00:03 +0000 My son’s squilt (special quilt) wasn’t the only quilt that came home with me last summer, looking for a little help. It was joined by a squilt made for his wife, Jessica, by her Great Grandma Bethel some years ago.

The poor thing was loved to pieces, and Jessica asked me if I could rescue it for a few more years of cuddles. Challenge accepted!

As before, a disclosure: I know little about professionally restoring and conserving quilts, so please don’t look to me for authority. I just try to solve the problem with the resources I have, and we’re not trying to keep these things in museum display condition! We’re just trying to love them a little longer 🙂

The first thing I did was to separate the layers. It had a thin flannel sheet in the middle as batting (that had mostly turned into shaggy handfuls of lint) and the backing flannel had long since given up most of its fuzz. It was once tied through with something akin to perle cotton, but most of the ties had torn through or come unknotted.

The front was mostly polyester (you can see that some pieces were once garments – they had seams in them!) and a few squares of velour, now shredded to pieces.

I tossed the middle, and put the back and front through the wash. That polyester is bulletproof… when the apocalypse comes this quilt, the cockroaches, and Keith Richards will be the only things left standing!

I found some vintage polyester on Etsy (a trendy Kelly green with white polka-dots), and replaced all the velour squares with it.

Preserving the alpine print flannel on the back was important to Jessica. It was terribly threadbare and full of holes, so I culled the best chunk of it, and appliquéd it over some new green flannel.

And then added another flannel layer to it for batting, and sent it off for a quilt spa day with Nancy Stovall.

The quilt was originally envelope (or pillowcase) bound – no binding, and tied. Denser quilting makes the fabric in quilts last longer, but there’s no way to long-arm something AND envelope it. So we went with traditional layering, and I went shopping for polyester to make a binding.

The quilting proved challenging… all those chunky poly seams and intersections did not want to glide under the machine foot unattended, so Nancy ended up hand guiding it into swirls that artfully missed the problem spots.

I found a navy poly, and cut a 3” binding from it. What an adventure… it didn’t want to press in half, nor turn nice corners.

It’s back home with Jessica and Steve now. And I hear their pup is thrilled to have it on the bed!


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Quilt Talk Bonus Pattern – Nevertheless Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:00:19 +0000

I made this quilt recently, and when I posted it on Instagram (follow me here) a few people asked for a pattern. This isn’t exactly a pattern per se, but close! You’ll need my book Quilt Talk for the letter patterns, but I’ve done the rest of the math for you: measurements and construction notes are below!

Begin by choosing the colors for your words. If you have a fat quarter of each you’ll have plenty. You might squeak by with a fat quarter of background, but I’d recommend having a half-yard on hand in case you decide to get fancy with how much background you put around the word block.

I chose my colors in a gradient, light to dark. I chose to make NEVER and THELESS in the same color to bring that word together, despite it being split across two lines. I don’t have KONA recommendations for you as I used a mixed bag of fabrics from my stash, and there are at least three different companies’ solids in my house! Make it your own – you’ll love it more!

If you haven’t already switched over to newsprint for your paper-piecing, this would be an excellent time to start as you’ll appreciate it on the smallest letters. It’s more see-through than regular copy paper, and tears off with far more ease. I use the Carol Doak Foundation Newsprint by C&T, but any newsprint that will go through your home printer will do.

The words are 17” wide (finished) and the interior word panel is 28” long (finished). I added a 2” border all round to make it 21” x 32”.

All the letters are CAPITALS.

The kerning/K-space (space between the letters) is a bit fussy, but happily, these things are easy to stretch a little with a hot iron, or ease, as needed.

Start by copying the letters:

  • SHE x 2 – copy at 170% for 6.4” tall (just a hair bigger than 6 3/8”)
  • WAS WARNED – copy at 50% for 1 7/8” tall
  • NEVER – copy at 100% for 3 3/4” tall
  • THELESS – copy at 70% for 2 5/8” tall
  • PERSISTED – copy at 57% for 2.14” tall (just a hair bigger than 2 1/8”)

Measure your letters as you print them to make sure you maintain size, and adjust accordingly if they’re off. See Quilt Talk p12 and 13 for printing and sizing tips.

Paper-piece away… I recommend looking at Quilt Talk for the section on pre-cutting (p13) for letters as it will speed things up for you, and save you fabric.

How I paper- piece begins on p15 if you need a refresher. I like to peel the paper from my letters before I set them – if yours feel wobbly give them a spritz of starch or sizing.

Kerning/K-space (listed in descending order of size):

  • SHE x 2: cut 4 @ 6 7/8” x 1 5/16”
  • NEVER: cut 4 @ 4 1/4” x 1”
  • THELESS: cut 6 @ 3 1/8” x 7/8”
  • WAS WARNED: cut 5 @ 2 3/8” x 3 /4” and 1 @ 2 3/8” x 1 5/16” for between WAS and WARNED
  • NOTE: There is no K-space between W and A in WAS or WARNED (this tucks the A next to the W more gracefully)
  • PERSISTED: cut 8 @ 2 5/8” x 3/4”

Put the K-spaces between their letters, and give each word a hearty press, with steam as needed, to make it 17 1/2” long (including the seam allowances).

Cut 5 @ 1 1/2” x 17 1/2” to put between the rows of words. You could experiment with reducing the word space between NEVER and THELESS for more impact.

Border, quilt, and bind as desired. I recommend something simple on the quilting so as not to dilute the words. I find a simple cross hatch to usually be quite effective – I did a diagonal diamond cross-hatch on this one, one inch apart, basing the diagonal on the interior angle of the V in NEVER. If you choose to make a wallhanging remember that, because a wallhanging doesn’t get the wear of a quilt that gets cuddled a lot, you can afford to be simpler/less dense about your quilting.

This is for personal use only – please don’t sell what you make.

Please post yours on IG – and tag me @huntersds and #neverthelessquilt so I can see it!

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Try a Little Tenderness Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:05:38 +0000  

Friends, sewists, quiltmakers, lend me your ears!

The last few weeks of political upheaval in the United States has definitely shortened a lot of fuses, and sadly, it’s bleeding out in how we’re treating our fellow people.

My colleagues and I in the quilting industry have seen a notable uptick in the hostility of emails coming our way, and I want to appeal to everyone to just take a moment, and BREATHE.

Take a big, deep, breath, and a nice, slow exhale. *

And another.

And one more for luck… BREATHE.

There we go.

I’d like to tell you a wee bedtime story about the life of a small business owner in the quilt world. We are entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs, which means we get to choose which 18 hours of the day we’re going to work. For the most part, we wear all the hats, or at least all except the ones we can afford to hire out, and in quilting, the profits at our end of the food chain are modest enough that hiring out hats is a financial challenge. To say we are stretched thin is a king-sized (with hand-appliqued scalloped borders) understatement.

So when we get an email demanding that we do something RIGHT NOW OR ELSE, it’s hard to take. And considering we’re talking SEWING here, not a hold-up or a hostage situation, perhaps it’s a bit over the top.

First of all, please don’t start at DEFCON 3. It doesn’t leave us much room to solve the issue. You are welcome to be upset about something, and certainly welcome to let us know you want a different outcome from the one you’re getting, but starting at a heightened level of escalation, and then threatening me, is not likely to endear me to your cause. My most recent example of this was someone who wrote to tell me they didn’t like the roll-over newsletter sign-up thingy on my site. I appreciate that she wrote, and as it happened, it’s not working correctly so I have batted it over to my website guru (at $75 an hour) to sort out.

But at the end of the email, whose subject line was “Shame”, the writer closed with “Very annoying. I won’t buy any more of your patterns.”


I’d clutch my pearls if I actually owned any. No doubt this Lady of Perpetual Discontent righteously believes herself to be a genteel woman, sending me some shame.

Bless her heart.

This is not the first communication I’ve had in the last few weeks that resembles the short, barking tweet style of the current commander-in-chief, and I can’t say I think it’s a pretty thing for us to be modeling. Quilting is primarily built on the shoulders of kind women, helping other kind women to do kind things with needle and thread. I believe we are handily capable of rising above barking tweets at each other.

I think we might be forgetting that there’s a living, breathing human on the other end, who is actually doing her level best to do a good job. Emphasis on HUMAN. Which means we goof stuff up sometimes, and that stuff breaks sometimes, and that life gets terribly in the way sometimes. It means that it might take an email from you to let us know this thingy was broken because we don’t spend hours of our day looking for wiggles in our websites. The chances are we leave a periodic cookie offering to the internet angels, and the rest of the time cross our fingers fervently that it doesn’t all go haywire at a desperately inopportune moment. And even then, that doesn’t always work – I’m writing this to you from a coffee shop, slogging through my 8th day without internet service in my studio, and I bake a helluva lot of shortbread for people.

I do care that this thingy isn’t working properly, and I do care that my customer let me know she was having a tough time of it. But really… shame and a threat?

May I point out that we’re offering PATTERNS and FABRICS, not cures for cancer (if only a quilt could!) and that all this anxiety-laden urgency is just not useful. Truly, operating at that level is going to rust your insides, blow up your heart, and give you unattractive frown lines. Take it from the heart attack survivor here that it’s just not worth it. It gets up the hackles of the people you need on your side, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is far from her best when put on the defensive.

So please… BREATHE for a moment before you hit that keyboard. Perhaps even brew a cuppa** and think through your words before you type. Give us a chance to help you out before loading up your weapons, OK? We really DO care about you – why else would we be doing this?

Oh, and for those of you who send kind emails and attagirls… you cheer captains keep us going with your kindness, and it absolutely makes our days to receive your sweet missives. Keep ’em coming! THANK YOU!


* My favorite phone app for breathing is CALM

** I was drinking Tazo Zen while I wrote this. Hey, I can hear you laughing!!

My favorite version of Try A Little Tenderness is this one, by The Commitments.

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WASWI: Asking for better than you get Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:00:33 +0000 Here’s part of an email I just sent to a company that buys patterns from me. Yet again, my payment was not made in a timely fashion.

I sadly deal with more than one company who doesn’t start processing my payments until they are on the cusp of due, which means by the time the check is cut, signed, stuck in an envelope, mailed (usually on a Friday) and finally in my mailbox, it’s about 10 days overdue.

Imagine using this rationale with your credit card company. Right.

I don’t understand why a company would choose to build a process that essentially abuses their suppliers.

Their business is built on people like me making the things they want to sell. I’m the little gal at the end of the chain. I suppose I could short my long-arm artist, or screw over my assistant or printer to make up for it. But I’m not going to do that. I need what these people offer to the success of my business. Besides, it’s not who I am. I can do better than that.

And so can they.

Imagine an industry built on respecting each other, and making agreements that help EVERYONE rise. If we can create a $4 Billion industry out of the passion of hobbyists, surely we can create supportive and kind business practices.

Dear (person at company)

Thank you for your efforts to track this payment down. I appreciate it.

My agreement with you is for Net 30. This means that this invoice should have been paid in time for me to receive it by January 29th, not cut on February 2 and then mailed (and still not received as of today’s mail delivery on Feb 9)

What can be done to prevent this delay from happening again? I’m sure you can relate to my needing to rely on income coming when it’s supposed to, not to mention the cost of the time I have to spend chasing down payment that could be put to far better use – like making more things for our customers.

I realize a lot of companies in the quilt world have gotten by on this type of slow paying, and obviously suppliers like me are at your mercy.

But I’d like not to be. I’d like our agreement to be respected as a partnership where we both do what we say we are going to do, and we do it in a way that supports each other’s business goals, and respects what we have to offer each other.

My responsibility is that I make something that you can make money from, and that I ship it when you ask for it. And may I point out that you make DOUBLE what I make on this transaction (your profit is about $7, mine is about $3.50). Without designers making patterns for your customers, your business will eventually peter out. Yes, we will lose your sales but we still have other avenues through which to sell.

Your responsibility is to pay me in such a way that it honors our agreement and partnership. I truly don’t understand why your would create a process that essentially abuses your partners. Why would you want to?

And my hope is that you can change it.



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