Tag Archives: kids’ clothes

Wee dresses (2022 edition)

I’ve slowed down on sewing for the twins, if only because they really never need clothes and my sewing has been intermittent this year at best. But when I finished the 80s dress, I still had a bunch of the fabric left over. And I have been missing a pair of dresses I made for them their first summer, a no-pattern, pillowcase style with pleats and a wee bit of lace in the front and bias tape finishing the armscye and turning into shoulder ties.

Original dresses, long outgrown

The original pair was pretty much my favourite thing I made the twins ever, but unlike some of the dresses I made them that summer, weren’t wide enough to transition into tops as they grew taller.

Shot of the twins in the original dresses, from their first birthday.

I actually have lots more of the original fabric in stash, so it would’ve been perfectly possible to recreate them in the original blue fabric, but using this style with the border embroidery fabric was just too tempting.

Determined not to run into the same issue, I made sure the armscye width and depth on these new dresses was ample. Maybe you’ve noticed they look a bit wide? No? Well, yeah, I overshot massively. Actually, the first one I cut might’ve been fine, but when I cut the second I had a brain fart and cut the armscye about 3 cm deeper, and then dumbly re-cut the first one to match… anyway, as soon as the twins tried them on I realized I had to take a massive tuck in each side to make the armscye work even a little bit. Which isn’t a bad look in a pleated dress, but definitely annoys me.

There isn’t a whole lot more to say. I made these dresses each 50” at the hem, and wider might’ve been nicer. I made them long so that they will still fit next summer. They took longer to sew than they should have due to “help” from the twins, but that still isn’t exactly long in the grand scheme of things.

I just love the combo of the pleats with this cotton pom-pom trim. My trim was white and the embroidery is distinctly ivory, so I did the fastest possible tea dye on the lace to get the colour at least a bit closer, and I think it worked.

I’m kind of in love with these dresses, I gotta say, more than I am with my own version of this fabric. And there’s just a little bit left and I have plans!

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Further diversions

I’ve been fantasizing off and on about making the twins wee little Regency style dresses. I kept talking myself out of it, but the idea kept popping back up to the surface like an old beach ball that just won’t quite sink.

I do have some white fabric in mind possibly, but my mother recently destashed a piece of somewhat vintage cotton with a lovely woven check and (don’t laugh) tiny old-fashioned selvedges. With selvedges like those, it just had to become something quasi-historical, and these aren’t the kind of colours I would wear myself. So.

Although my fantasies kept taking me over to this pattern from Virgil’s Fine Goods, in the end I went ahead and drafted my own, based on the Danish example linked in this post from the Oregon Regency Society. Partly because I was impatient but mainly I’m also cheap. Although I would love the period instructions for hand-sewing that would come with the Virgil’s pattern, which would I’m sure explain that everything I did here is wrong. But I knew I didn’t have time or inclination to fully hand-sew these dresses.

Gorgeous neckline. Less gorgeous waistline.

Anyway, I followed the pattern for the above dress pretty roughly, with several modifications due to the small scale and rapid growth rate of small children. I added gathering via drawstrings to both the front neck and the “waist” of the dress, for maximum adjustability.

Due to fabric limitations, I made the skirts from a single width of the vintage cotton, which in the end didn’t leave much extra gathering at the back, unfortunately. I really wish I’d had enough fabric to do at least two full-width panels for the skirts.

In theory, as the twins grow the drawstrings are loosened and the dresses keep fitting for a lot longer. If I’d had more fabric I would’ve added more length and put in some tucks for growth, too, but as it is they’re already ankle skimming on Tris. Which, I’m not really sure what the correct length for Regency children’s dresses should be—I’ve seen paintings with the dresses very long and others fairly short. Given the nature of children’s growth, I suppose some variation is inevitable anyway. I could also make drawers for underneath as they get taller.

I also made the sleeves puffy, again to accommodate future growth.

My “plan” was to have one version be as historically accurate as I can handle (meaning machine-sewn seams but everything else done by hand, and the other a quick ‘n dirty version with serged seam finish. In the end this actually doesn’t make much of a difference since the bodice seams are the least of the hand-sewing that was involved. But I did hand-overcast them in the second dress.

The most unexpectedly labor-intensive part was rolling the casing for the top drawstring. I knew I wanted to use the 1/4” stay tape for my drawstring, but I wanted to keep the casing as narrow as possible, and if I didn’t want visible machine stitching on the outside I definitely had to roll it by hand. It turned out that this was doable, but required sewing the casing with the tape already in place, and due to the narrowness, I had to check at EACH stitch that I hadn’t caught the tape with my needle. This took forever. And ever. That being said, I’m very pleased with the look it created.

First dress on the right with bulky waist gathering. Second dress on the left, less bulk but very high on the bodice.

I was a lot less pleased with the casing for the waist seam of the first dress, which I machine-stitched to the seam allowance since it didn’t show. I’m not sure if it was just that my casing fabric was a bit stiff, or if it was too many layers of machine stitching, but the whole seam is stiff and doesn’t gather nicely. I can’t imagine it’s too comfortable against the skin, either, but the twins are fairly stoic about their clothes for the most part, thankfully, and haven’t seemed bothered. For the second dress I used a lighter fabric for the casing, with one edge stitched to the seam allowance and the other to the bodice. This is a bit nicer feeling but does shift the gathering a little higher on the bodice—only by the 5/8” width of the casing, but when your bodice is less than 3” long that’s a fairly big shift.

The dress opens in the back and I cut the edges of the back bodice on the selvedge, and of course the skirt is the full width of the fabric again so the entire back seam was selvedge as well—yay to no finishing required, and an opportunity to show off that lovely vintage selvedge, although I have no idea if it’s actually accurate for a Regency time period. This is an easy closure for a kids’ style, but it does tend to leave a bit of a gap at the back, so I should probably make them some kind of little shifts to go underneath. Feel free to place bets on whether that actually happens.

My biggest departure from historical accuracy (other than the machine sewn seams) would probably be that I decided to put elastic in the hems of the sleeves. I considered both gathering to a band (harder to adjust) and adding drawstrings again, but I also wanted these dresses to be comfy to wear for toddlers accustomed to modern clothing, so I went with elastic. It doesn’t show and doesn’t look particularly different than a drawstring would, I think.

After all this work to make the dresses adjustable, I wound up having not quite as much fabric for the skirt length as I had hoped. While they’re long enough now, I had hoped to have a few extra inches of length to put tucks in that could be let out later. I also would’ve liked to have more fullness for the back of the skirt. But, such is life, and I think I made pretty good use of the two yards of fabric.

While they’re not as long or as full or as “historically accurate” as I might have hoped, I think they still turned out pretty cute. And Tris has actually requested to wear one instead of regular clothes at least once, so I’ll call that a major win!

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Pre-Christmas presents

A few weeks ago my husband started cooking with the twins, and since then he’s been badgering by me to make little aprons and chef’s hats for them.

Since I ended up with a free Saturday afternoon when the older girls took the twins to spend time with their Auntie, I figured I could whip up a couple of chef’s hats and aprons for Christmas presents. Some digging in the stash unearthed the rest of the white poly-cotton twill I used to make the twins these pants, so I got to work.

Of course, since the twins were gone I didn’t have them around to take measurements. I did Google around and found a diagram for a kids’ apron (size 4-7) and basically took an inch off everywhere.

They are pretty basic aprons, but the size turned out PERFECT for my rather runty two year olds, and they’re just what I wanted. My husband would’ve preferred a loop around the neck to the ties, but I wanted them to be adjustable and also a loop big enough to go over baby heads would put the bib quite low on their chests.

The angles edges are finished with double-fold binding (made of the same fabric, so they’re a bit bulky… twill tape would’ve been a nice alternative in hindsight). The top has a teeny facing, which I stitched on the right side, which fortuitously turned out almost the same width as the waist band/ties and the bottom hem. The other edges I just turned under twice and hemmed. For the waist ties, I knew I wanted them wider but less bulky, so I serged the edges and just turned them under once and topstitched down. Then I topstitched them onto the front of the apron. I like it.

The hats were even more slapdash. I did Google “size 2 hat” to get a circumference for the band, but other than that I just kinda made it up. The circles are about 30” each since I cut 2 from a 60” wide fabric.

They’re pretty extra, but I was pretty sure that ridiculously oversized would still be ridiculously cute, and I was not wrong, if I do say so myself.

Ready to start their own cooking show.

For the bands (stands? Brims?) I was going through my box of interfacings when I found the remains of a package of thin bag-making foam, and I think it was perfect: soft, cushy, and unlikely to be damaged by two-year-olds mashing it around.

I decided I wanted them a little taller at the front than back, for a slouchy chef look, but not too high. I topstitched the foam to the inner part of the band fabric. I purposely made the foam a little short, and put a short elastic across the gap, so there’s some stretch at the back. I like how this turned out, but I wish I had made the bands just a little bigger. However, I suppose when they’re outgrown I could open up the back seam and add a little panel there, and just adjust the back couple of pleats to fit.

As it is, though, they’re wonderfully, ridiculously, over-the-top adorable. Despite my best intentions, we did not wait until Christmas to give them to the twins. They did get used for making some (not terribly successful) Christmas cookies and any number of other meals, however.

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Wee black bats

The twins came home from the NICU shortly before Hallowe’en two years ago. I was tickled by an impossible fantasy: tiny twin bat costumes. Well, those didn’t happen, and other costumes came our way last year but this year, the bats came home to roost.

It maybe starts with capes, though. The twins are getting to an age where they’re excited to dress up, but their motor skills are still about fifty-fifty whether they can put their own pants on. But capes—capes are easy to put on and off. (And also fairly simple to sew, which is bit an important feature in our current time-poor phase of life). Some of my older girls’ friends growing up had a dress up box filled with fancy capes their mom had made, a cape for every occasion.

So I’ve been thinking about capes off and on. And bats on and off. So maybe bat capes was inevitable.

First came the pattern. I wasn’t going to go out and buy one (although there are plenty available). A full-circle cape, while easy to draft, would be too fabric-hungry, especially if I’m making two. But I definitely still wanted a cloak feel, not a chincy superhero cape. Eventually I settled on a half-circle style, still plenty of swish but not quite as big of a fabric hog.

The clincher was the above diagram, which showed up in a Google image search from I don’t recall where. But it made it very clear how to adapt a half-circle cape from an existing shirt pattern. Which I already have, in a form complete with hood, in Jalie 3355, all traced out in the twins’ size (or at least size 2, which is close enough.)

The twins were, of course, terribly excited to help me out with the drafting.

So the only thing you really need from the original pattern is the neckline and the shoulder, which gives you the size of the dart to take to make the half-circle sit nicely on the shoulders. (I wouldn’t mind making a version that converts the dart into the top of a side seam, for more efficient fabric usage…)

And of course, the hood. I wanted to make sure, though, that the hood was nice and roomy. I’m a fan of a feature of the hood of McCall’s 6800, which is a dart that makes the oversized hood fit on the neckline. So I added about an inch of extra depth, to be taken out with a dart aligned with the shoulder seam, and then added about 1/4” of height as well, just in case, as the hood is designed for stretch fabrics.

My fabric of choice was a black polyester suiting, extremely drapey and exactly the kind of slithery, fraying, impossible-to-press fabric that I most loathe sewing with. But, it was in stash, and I was happy to have it not be in stash, and that was the main thing.

To bat-ify the cape, I made the hem reverse-scalloped, but the main thing is of course the ears.

I did a bit of googling of bat ears, and a bit more googling of methods for adding animal ears to hoods. I went with the “cut a slit in the top of the hood and sew the ears in, tapering to nothing” method. I free-handed a shape that seemed about right, directly on the fabric, and cut and sewed. Living dangerously, though honestly as long as they weren’t round I think they would be fine. They are a bit floppy due to the fabric; I thought about adding interfacing but since I wasn’t prepared to interface the whole hood I was pretty sure they’d fall down anyway. I think they’re still fun.

There is nothing much to say about the construction, other than the fabric was a bitch and every machine acted up on me.

The coverstitch (which NEVER gives me issues—nor should it at that price point) was gathering everything no matter how I played with the differential feed. My rolled hem on the serger worked fine in tests but on the actual cape managed to miss catching the cut edge and then form a giant tangle of thread around the prong that the fabric is supposed to roll around, and which actually bent the prong. So I may never do another rolled hem again. Then the regular machine had the inner end of the thread on my nearly-empty spool come loose and tangle with the outgoing end.

It turned out that literal gremlins, aka the the twins, had gotten at the differential feed of the coverstitch, and cranked it to max. However, since I NEVER touch it, I actually forgot where it is and I kept adjusting the presser foot pressure instead. Facepalm.

But, I got them done. River got her first training in pulling pins as I sewed and putting them in the pin cushion (this was ALMOST enthralling enough to keep her from pulling them right back out). The older girls provided childcare (husband is sick as a dog with the non-covid cold the rest of us are just getting over) enough for me to get them finished, despite the recalcitrant machines. And they are utterly, battily adorable, if I do say so myself.

My mother-in-law has suggested Red Riding Hood capes next, but really the sky’s the limit, right?

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Dark Academia

Is apparently a thing? And the older girls want to assemble outfits and take pictures. So they have been collecting, among other things, pleated plaid skirts, which are apparently having a Moment again.

So they thought the twins needed some too.

A few months ago Tyo picked up an old plaid flannel duvet cover at Value Village, purely for the fabric. While flannel isn’t exactly ideal for this kind of skirt, I wasn’t going to go stash-diving, or sacrifice anything precious, for this quick make. Also, the edge where the buttons had attached was already hemmed.

So, I measured roughly what seemed like a good skirt length for a two-year-old, plus a bit for folding over elastic, and tore off the long, hemmed edge. Oh, I removed the buttons, too, in case you were wondering. Once I had a long, hemmed rectangle, I cut it in half (because twins) and started pleating. In the end I didn’t have quite enough fabric for fully-pleated skirts, so they have a flat front reminiscent of a kilt, which I am ok with.

The wavy hem is not my fault!

Once I had lengths a bit bigger than the twins’ bottoms, I stitched them up into a tube, and added elastic at the waist, so they pull on just like pyjama bottoms.

Action shot. Also: first fashion dolls!

The only hitch was actually that time-saving pre-finished hem from the original duvet. Of course the fabric was cut, and then hemmed, off-grain, while I had torn the upper edge of the skirt so as to be perfectly on grain, so the hems didn’t line up perfectly when I sewed the skirts into tubes. To manage this I unpicked a few inches at each end and then “blended” (aka fudged) the two lengths together, and the jog isn’t overly noticeable. They definitely won’t take home any sewing awards, but they’re still pretty cute.

I will add, I finished these several weeks ago and am still waiting on the older girls to put together their photo shoot. So, you get messy living-room action shots.

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Simple white T-shirts

(I made these shirts, and wrote this post, months ago, but never hit publish because I wanted better photos. I should never do that; it never works out. So if the twins look vastly different in age between pictures, that’s why.)

There’s been a debate in the sewing community over the years on the value of making tee shirts, when they’re so readily and cheaply available. Obviously I’m on “team make it anyway, at least if it’s fun for you.” But I did question my sanity a bit on deciding to make these. Surely there are plain white toddler tee shirts to be had fairly easily for a couple of bucks? But in the end I’m glad I made them.

I’ve honestly been wanting to make the twins shirts like these since I finished their Christmas overalls. I held off because, well, see above about tee shirts, and when we switched over to the 18-month clothes the volume of hand-me-downs in their wardrobe doesn’t even fit in their dresser, plus their dad has made a bit of a hobby of scouring thrift shops for matching second-hand baby outfits—he enjoys the challenge. Frankly he’s a better baby stylist than me. But he has increased the number of overalls in their wardrobe substantially, and one thing you are NOT likely to find at the thrift store is multiple white unstained toddler shirts. So these were actually a practical addition.

Look how much more hair River has now than when I took the pics with the overalls!

For the pattern, I used Jalie 2805, which I had traced the smallest size way back when I made the white sweatshirts. The Jalie size F (=2T, I’m told) is still pretty roomy on the twins, but this is also a pretty fitted style. I figured I’d start with the short sleeve because a) summer, and b) no worries about excess length.

And I already have the fabrics and the patterns, so might as well, right?

And the shirts are a little bit big, but that also means they’ll fit for a comfortable length of time.

The fabric is a beefy cotton interlock I bought at some point when thinking I would make tee shirts for my husband. It turns out he’s ridiculously fussy about tees, both fit and feel, and while I won’t swear that I’ll never try again (because finding him a tee he’ll wear at a store is also pretty hit or miss) it won’t be with this fabric, which apparently doesn’t “feel right.” I was actually looking for a cotton Lycra for the twins but this seemed pretty good for a start so I ended my stash search.

Other than that there’s not much to say. The construction is simple. I will brag a little as I think I’m finally making some progress with the precision of my topstitching on the coverstitch (although the hems aren’t quite as tidy.) The heavier fabric is a little puffy, but I also could probably have pressed better. Making a garment entirely on the serger and coverstitch still feels a bit like cheating, though.

Oh and they probably wouldn’t even be finished if I hadn’t needed to change the thread on the coverstitch to make Syo’s grad gown…. (But that’s another story for another day!)

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Camouflage pinafores

There’s a pattern by Helen’s Closet for a simple, pull-over adult pinafore, called the York Pinafore. I made one a few years ago, here. Well, a few weeks ago I got it into my head that matching mini Yorks for the twins would be adorable.

Can you spot the pocket?

I had actually started taking some measurements and drafting a pattern when I realized that I already had one—the stretchy overalls I made the twins over the winter are actually the exact same shape, minus the legs.

So I grabbed a kangaroo pocket in the twins size from Jalie 3355, and a yard of camo-print corduroy that I wasn’t sad to see go from the stash, and made them.

This was a simple project that would’ve been quick under any normal circumstances, but I can rarely “sew” for more than ten minutes at a stretch these days (Though the twins are very interested and excited to help me sort through everything, especially if it involves pins or pulling thread off of spools.)

For the bias tape finish I used some red quilting cotton tape I had made at some point for… something? Anyway it was in stash and ready to go. My application wasn’t particularly perfect, but I’m not going to fuss too badly about it. I do like the pop of colour.

My least favourite part is the hem; I did a quick blind hem on my machine, but in the black thread it’s not the least bit blind. I should’ve used a tan thread and just coloured the bits that showed with a sharpie. Or just topstitched the hem like the bias tape, which would’ve been easier. But I don’t think it will bother me enough to change—sewing time is too precious and summer is too fleeting.

Despite the cuteness these are a bit heavy for the weather we’re having, which has most days reaching higher than 30C, so I’ll just have to hope they still fit come fall…

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Unnecessary Jeggings

Or, Thing You Can Sew During Naptime

I haven’t been able to do much naptime sewing lately, but I managed a wee bit today, and for some reason, I made the twins jeggings.

I mean, I like jeggings. They have a couple of RTW pairs that that are getting pretty janky and are also nine month size (and the twins, while fairly shrimpy, are getting a bit tall for that at almost 21 months)

But they also have eighty million other pants and we’re fast approaching shorts season.

Anyway, as jeggings go these ones are pretty minimal—no pockets or back yoke or anything. I started with the same basic Jalie leggings pattern (2920), in the F size (size 2), which I’ve used for other leggings for them in the past. The only changes I made were to add a fly extension at the front crotch, to support the mock-fly topstitching, and to add about 1” of length and a bit of width to the bottom of the leg, for a more “pants” and less “leggings” fit.

The fabric is this glorious heavy “denim” knit I bought a ridiculous amount of back when I worked at Fabricland, and I wouldn’t mind making myself another pair of jeggings from it if I can motivate myself.

I did the topstitching again using the triple straight stitch on my vintage Elna, which is both ridiculously fast and better looking than the same stitch on my Janome, although it’s a little hit or miss. Since I was working with 1/4” seam allowances and the only way to topstitch the inseam on leggings is to sew up the inside of the tube, which is always a bit tricky, I opted for a single row of topstitching everywhere except the “fly”, and I’m pretty happy with that choice. (Also, a lot faster)

Anyway, they fit fairly “loosely” as leggings go, and there’s plenty of length, so even if they don’t get much wear over the summer I’m sure they will still fit come fall.

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Cottagecore Mini

To use up the last of the linen from my adventure skirt (and top), I decided to make the twins dresses. There was about enough fabric to make one dress, so this required bringing in a coordinating fabric. I dug out some more of the blue-grey shot cotton gauze I used for the bindings on the little top. Although it’s a very different fabric in terms of thickness, weave, and even texture, something about the white threads make them both work well together, I think.

I wanted something with a yoke and gathered skirt and no sleeves, and I basically found it in Style 1487. Thé only drawback was that it’s a size 2, which is still a bit roomy for the twins. However, they have this annoying tendency to keep growing so I figured I’d give it a try.

They are pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

All in all the dresses are definitely a bit roomy, but not catastrophically so. They’ll fit for the length of the summer for sure, and if I’m lucky still work next summer.

After a lot of quick knit projects on the serger and coverstitch, there’s something soothing about a classic 70s pattern with all the “traditional” home sewing touches. These are no couture gowns, but they were fun to make.

My only real irritation is that the “bodice” of the pattern is actually a yoke, which doesn’t come the full way down the armscye. I didn’t really think much about this at the start, but it means that the top of the armscye (in the sleeveless version, anyway), is finished by the lining, but the bottom has to be finished with bias tape. Either of these methods alone is fine, but I was annoyed at having to do both.

On thé other hand I really like the proportions, and the gently flared shape and square neckline and pockets. So it is what it is.

I wanted to make sure I blended elements of the blue cotton fabric into both versions of the dress, since the yokes were all of the linen fabric. One possibility was to add blue piping around the neck. I did a frankly terrible job of applying piping to the neckline, to the point where I decided not to try that with the other bodice. I’m a little annoyed with myself as piping used to be something I was fairly good at, but not enough to try to go back and fix it.

The lace is different between the two bodices as well, and applied differently—one before the skirt, and the second one after, as I realized that by applying the lace first I made it impossible to tuck the skirt seam in between the layers of the yoke. So the internal finishing isn’t quite as neat on that version. I still like how they both look, however.

The backs are meant to be finished with a centered zipper, and I chose to add buttonholes and buttons instead. I didn’t draft extra overlap for this, although I did sew with a very narrow seam allowance along the CB edges of the yokes, and they seem to accommodate the overlap well enough.

My biggest worry now is that I feel like the dresses are too “good” for everyday wear and I’ll want to save them for nonexistent special occasions. But hopefully I’ll get over that, because while they weren’t exactly couture they’re still a lot more work than knit leggings, and it took me several weeks of incremental sewing to get them to this point. I want the twins to wear the snot out of them.

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Oversized Sweaters

Long, long time readers may recall my husband’s enthusiasm for a simple white sweatshirt. If not, you can read up on it starting here. Anyway, it was probably inevitable that I would make some for the twins at some point.

In any case, this small chunk (not quite 1m) of just-slightly-off-white sweatshirt fleece presented itself to me a while back, but it took me a while to settle on a pattern. My vintage baby pattern is still MIA, Jalie 3355 only goes down to a 2T size, and my other option, a cute raglan sweater pattern from the 80s, the “size 1” was already bigger than the Jalie size 2. So Jalie it was.

There isn’t much to say about a sweatshirt beyond that. I did reverse-coverstitch the little V at the neck. I had a bit of agony over the choice of ribbing, since the just-barely-off-white fabric is right in between the colours of my white and ivory ribbing. I went with white, and I’m glad I did—in the never-quite-adequate light of my basement sewing area the colours are barely distinguishable, but upstairs in what passes for daylight the white is definitely better.

I very nearly added some Mickey Mouse appliqués Syo gave the twins for Christmas, but the packaging warned they weren’t washable so I may save them for a bag or a jacket or something.

They are a little huge, which hopefully means they’ll still fit next fall. This hasn’t stopped my husband and the older girls from stuffing the twins into them at every opportunity, so the laundry stain remover is getting a workout, but that was inevitable as we persist in the folly of putting white clothes on toddlers. I wish I had “better” photos, but here in toddler land I fear this is as good as it gets.

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