Day 10: Pillowcases

On the Tenth Day of Sewing…

One of our favorite gifts to make throughout the year is pillowcases. If we have visitors from out of town, we make them their own pillowcases using some Washington themed quilting cotton and then let them take the cases home when the leave. A small keepsake of their trip to Seattle. We are also guilty of having a whole shelf in the linen closet full of pillowcases we have made over they years. There might even be one for every season/holiday but we would never actually confess to that… A custom pillowcase is something handmade that you can enjoy everyday. The pattern, the fabric, all of it just puts a smile on your face when you crawl into bed, especially after a long day.

Our Handmade Pillowcases

Our Handmade Pillowcases

This holiday season we are kicking our handmade pillowcases up a notch- trying some other fabrics besides just flat cotton. How about lawn, voile, double gauze or even some textured cottons? All of these fabrics would make amazing pillowcases to gift this holidays season- so soft and more unique than just your standard pillowcase.

Over the years we have the art of perfected pillowcase construction and we thought we would share our steps with you! Quick and easy, you can have a half dozen of them made in an evening.

Pillowcase Tutorial

1. Supplies & Cutting

  • Main Fabric – 3/4 yard (1-1/4 yards if the fabric is directional)
    • For Standard Pillowcase: Cut to 25″ x 40″
    • For King Pillowcases: Cut to 35″ x 40″
  • Cuff Fabric – just shy of 1/2 yard – Cut to 14″ x 40″
  • Accent Fabric – just a few inches – Cut to 2″ x 40″
  • Our fabric choices: Lawn Floral, Handcrafted cotton, stash fabric.
Cut fabric pieces for our pillowcase.

Cut fabric pieces for our pillowcase.

2. Preparing Pieces- Press the Cuff and the Accent pieces in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.

3. Attaching the pieces- With the Main Fabric wrong side up, layer the folded Cuff and then the folded Accent piece on top along one edge matching up all the raw edges and pin and place. Stitch along the pinned edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam toward the Main Fabric.

Layered and pinned fabrics.

Layered and pinned fabrics.

4. Finishing the Accent Piece- Press the Accent piece toward the main fabric, covering the seam from the previous step. Topstitch in place.

Topstitched accent fabric.

Topstitched accent fabric.

5. Sewing the Pillowcase- Fold the pillowcase in half widthwise, wrong sides together matching up the seams and pinning along the unfinished side. Stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance, backstitching at the beginning and end. Press seam to one side.

6. French Seam- Turn the pillowcase right side in and stitch along the same edge, this time with a 1/2″ seam allowance and backstitching at the beginning and end.

7. Finishing- Stitch along the bottom edge of the pillowcase using a 1/2″ seam. Finish edge as desired. Turn the pillowcase right side out and press well. Finished!

Finished pillowcase.

Finished pillowcase.

How easy was that? Just 5 simple steps and only sewing straight lines!

We went ahead and made just one more out of some different fabrics. For this one we again used a lawn for the Main Fabric but paired it with a wonderful woven cotton for some added texture.

Finished pillowcases in different cotton fabrics.

Finished pillowcases in different cotton fabrics.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 10th Only! Save 20% on Cotton Lawns, Shirtings and Double Gauze. Also one of our favorite secret weapon notions, Fuse ‘N Gather, is just $6 today only! Shop Here

Day Eight: Guest Post with Girls in the Garden

On the Eighth Day of Sewing…

We are very excited to have a guest blogger for today’s 12 Days of Sewing post! Lori, writer and seamstress of the Girls in the Garden, is joining us today with her most recent Style Maker Fabrics creation, the Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Magazine. Lori has been a Style Maker customer from nearly the beginning and we always love seeing the amazing garments she creates using our fabrics. Today, she took one of our plush new sweater knits and yet again turned it into an incredible creation!

Hop on over to the Girls in the Garden and check out Lori’s post for Day Eight. Here is just a little preview… isn’t it stunning! Read her post HERE.

Oslo Cardigan by Lori from Girls in the Garden

Oslo Cardigan by Lori from Girls in the Garden

The Oslo Cardigan is not only a perfect garment to make for yourself to enjoy in the cooler months or to wear to some of your holiday parties, but it is also a great pattern to make as a gift for others. It is loose fitting and flattering on all body types, making it a great choice due to the flexibility in the sizing and fit.

Until now, we have been sharing mostly accessory items that don’t necessarily have a size, they are more one size for all. If you want to go that next step and make more fitted garment to give this holiday season you do need to think about the sizing and fit. One option would be to have the recipient’s measurements or know their size exactly.

If you have more of a rough idea about their size, you probably want to stick to pieces like the Oslo Cardigan where the fit is more relaxed. That way if there is a little variation in the sizing, the garment should still fit nicely and all you hard work and love will not be wasted.

Here are a couple other great garment patterns with a more relaxed fit you also might want to consider for holiday gift sewing…

Links to the patterns shown above:

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 8th Only! Save 20% on Sweater Knits. Plus, save $3 on our Professional Pattern Notcher (a must have tool for garment sewers)! Shop Here

Day Seven: Fringed Scarf & Throw

On the Seventh Day of Sewing…

We are giving the sewing machine a break again today and making a simple, but very cozy, fringed scarf. On trend for the cool weather, this scarf can be made from a warm flannel, wool or other plush woven. Anything that is soft and warm and that you can separate and pull the threads to make fringe. We have found there is something very therapeutic about fringing fabric- once you start, you just want to keep going- Fringed scarves for all!

Fringed Mammoth Flannel Scarf

Fringed Mammoth Flannel Scarf

For our scarf, we cut a square of this wonderfully thick Mammoth flannel. It is roughly 44″ wide, so start with 1-1/4 yards. Next, cut off both selvages and square up the piece. It is very important that the grain of your fabric be square, otherwise when you go to fringe the edges, your fringe will be all different lengths and will end up crooked.

Close up of one corner on fringed scarf.

Close up of one corner on fringed scarf.

Once you have your piece all squared up, carefully start separating the threads at one corner (Note: If you need a little help getting started or along the way, the point on a good seam ripper can be very handy). You will basically unweave the fabric along the edges. Get a thread or two, going one direction, separated from the rest and pull them all the way out. Repeat this process a couple threads at a time until the fringe is the desired length. We gave all four sides of our scarf 1″ fringe. Note: If you wanted to add fringe to a particular side- take care to only pull/remove the edge threads running parallel to the desired side.

For the flannel that we used, we didn’t find it necessary to secure the threads in any way due to the tightness of the weave. If you feel your fabric might continue to unravel, use a row of short machine stitches just above your fringe to secure things in place and prevent any further separation.

Completed fringed flannel scarf.

Completed fringed flannel scarf.

Like I said, fringing can be very addicting- after completing our cozy plaid scarf, we took this “project” a step farther and created a soft throw to use during the holiday season. Again, we only used 1-1/4 yards, creating a throw approximately 45″ x 58″ (Note this was a wider fabric). You can make your scarf or throw any size and the fringe any length- it is all personal preference and what will suit your desired use or look. Our official “Blog Dog,” Toby, kind of adopted the finished tartan throw as his own… he loves anything that is soft and cuddly that he can snuggle up with! Guess I know what he is getting for Christmas…

Fringed throw with our official "Blog Dog."

Fringed throw with our official “Blog Dog.”

Either of these projects would make great gifts this holiday season. And so easy to finish when you have some down time- a perfect TV or movie project!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 7th Only! Save 20% on All Plaids and our Favorite Seam Ripper is just $3.50 Shop Here

Day Six: Tote Bag

On the Sixth Day of Sewing…

We took inspiration from one of our favorite fabrics in the shop. This tape measure canvas has been calling to us for some time now to make it into a tote bag and today was the perfect day to do just that. You can never have too many tote bags- especially adorable ones like this! An easy project to complete in just a few hours, this handy tote bag would make a great handmade gift for anyone on your list.

Gift Idea: Canvas Tote Bag

Gift Idea: Canvas Tote Bag

Here are our instructions and tips for sewing this amazing tote bag. It includes one of our favorite methods for bag construction- a bit unusual but it will change you sewing life! At least it did for us when we first learned it.

Tote Bag Tutorial:

Note: All seam allowances are 3/8″ unless otherwise noted.

1. Gather your supplies- cutting tools, matching thread and fabric amounts listed below:

  • 2/3 yd for bag exterior- we prefer canvas or other durable fabric (you can take a lighter fabric and fuse interfacing to the wrong side to strengthen it)
  • 5/8 yd for bag lining- this can be any weight woven
  • 1/4 yd for bag contrast- canvas or other durable fabric is preferred
  • 1/3 yd for bag handles- canvas or other durable fabric is preferred
  • Fabrics used here: Measuring Tape Canvas, Plaid Sateen, Brushed Twill Magenta, Cotton Twill Black

2. Cut out your pieces.

  • Cut (2) 18″ squares from exterior fabric
  • Cut (2) 18″ squares from lining fabric
  • Cut (2) 7″ x 18″ rectangles from contrast fabric
  • Cut (4) 2-1/2″ x 27″ from handle fabric
Cut tote bag pieces.

Cut tote bag pieces.

3. If desired- fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior pieces and (2) handle pieces. (We did this on ours for a more stable tote.)

4. Prepare the handles.

  • With right sides together, match up (2) handle pieces and stitch along both long sides. Carefully turn handle right side out and press. Repeat for other handle.
  • Topstitch the length of both sides of each handle using a 1/4″ seam.
  • Find the center of each handle and make a mark 2″ on either side. Fold the handle in half and stitch along the open edge between the two marks. This creates a nice hand hold.
Sewn handles.

Sewn handles.

5. Prepare other pieces.

  • Exterior and lining- cut a 2″ square out of the bottom (2) corners of each lining and exterior piece. This will be used to create the gusset/bottom of the tote during a later step.
  • Press contrast pieces in half lengthwise, wrong sides together- they should measure 3-1/2″ x 18″ when folded.
Preparing the Exterior and Lining Pieces.

Preparing the Exterior and Lining Pieces.

6. Attaching the handles.

  • Find the center of each exterior piece along the top edge. Center both handle ends along this edge, right sides together, spacing them approximately 4″ apart. Pin in place.
  • Lay a contrast piece over the top, unfolded, and pin along the top edge. The handles should now be sandwiched between the exterior and the contrast band. Stitch in place and press seam toward the exterior.
Attached Handles- between exterior and contrast

Attached Handles- between exterior and contrast pieces.

7. Attach Lining- stitch each lining piece to the opposite side of the unfolded contrast band. Press seam toward the lining. You should now have two halves of your tote that look something like this.

One half of the tote bag.

Completed one half of the tote bag.

8. Now for the cool part! Sewing the bag together.

  • Match up the two halves, right sides together and carefully pin all the way around. Take extra care to match up any seams and pin securely.
  • Stitch all four sides leaving a 4″ opening in the bottom seam of the lining for turning. Leave the (4) cut out corners unstitched.
  • Carefully press all seams open.
Sewing the two tote bag halves together.

Two tote bag halves pinned right sides together.

9. Creating the gussets.

  • At each corner, match up the raw edges and seams creating a new seam- pin carefully.
  • Stitch across each of the new seams being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end for security.

10. Turn bag right side out and tuck the lining inside the bag, folding the contrast band along the pressed fold. Topstitch around the top of the exterior fabric using a 1/8″ seam. Also topstitch each handle in place to the contrast band.

Topstitched exterior and bag handles.

Topstitched exterior and bag handles.

11. Hand stitch the opening in the lining closed and your tote bag is complete!

We hope you love this tote bag as much as we do. Isn’t that a cool way to construct a bag- two halves make a whole in a couple of easy steps! A great gift idea for fellow seamstresses, readers or really anyone who loves a good tote! Customize the fabric to suit their personality or how they will use it and this bag is sure to be a winner!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 6th Only! Save 20% on select twills and canvas. Plus, get 2 sets of our favorite pattern weights for just $35! Shop Here

Day Two: Zipper Pouches

On the Second Day of Sewing…

We thought we would share one of our go-to handmade gifts- a zipper pouch. They are easy to sew, don’t require a lot of supplies and are totally customizable to suit any recipient! All in all, a great gift idea that is sure to be used and well loved.

Matching Zipper Pouches in a variety of fabrics and sizes.

Matching Zipper Pouches in a variety of fabrics and sizes.

The best part about making your own gifts is that you can make them to suit the person you are giving them to. For these zipper pouches, that can be done in a variety of ways. Fabric choice is the easiest and most powerful- choose a fun print that matches their interests, their favorite color or a great pattern or texture they would like. Another easy way to customize them is size– think about how the person will likely use their treasured pouch and size it accordingly. You can even make multiple pouches in different fabrics and sizes for a whole gift set- perfect for traveling. Maybe slip in a treat or matching accessory for an added surprise!

After making a ton of these little pouches we have mastered the process, making it easy to follow and produce great results every time.

Here is our step-by-step tutorial for these adorable zipper pouches!

1.Gather your supplies-

  • Fabrics- We like to have between 1/4 yard and 1/2 yard of just about any woven fabric. Cotton, canvas, linen, suiting- experiment with different textures. Below we used a barkcloth, a tweed and a cotton.
  • Zipper- Choose a size larger than your largest pouch, you can always trim them shorter.
  • Fusible Batting- Single-sided fusible
  • Ruler, Rotary Cutter, Scissors, Matching Thread, Wonder Clips
Zipper Pouch Supplies

Zipper Pouch Supplies

2. Cut out your exterior, lining and batting pieces all the same size. The size is entirely up to you- these steps will work with any size. We find that 12-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ is a great size to suit most uses. Press the exterior pieces to the matching fusible batting pieces.

Cut fabric and batting pieces.

Cut fabric and batting pieces.

3.Prepare the zipper-

  • Trim the zipper to be 1″ shorter than the width of your pouch. (Be sure to move the zipper pull to the center before you cut… sadly speaking from experience!)
  • Cut a 1-1/2″ strip from some of your extra lining fabric for the zipper ends. Press it in half lengthwise, wrong side together, and then press the raw edges to the center making a binding.
  • Stitch the binding to either end of the zipper- sandwiching the end between the folded layers.
Prepared zipper and fabric pieces.

Prepared zipper and fabric pieces.

4. Attach the zipper- Center the zipper on one of the prepared exterior pieces, right sides together. Layer the lining piece on top, sandwiching the zipper in between and stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Wonder clips can be very handy to keep all the thick layers in place. Pins can kind of distort things a bit)

One side of the inserted zipper.

One side of the inserted zipper.

Press the exterior and lining fabrics away from the zipper and so that they are wrong sides together. Repeat for the other exterior and lining pieces. You should now have something that looks like this…

Attached zipper and finished pouch body pieces.

Attached zipper and finished pouch body pieces.

5. Stitch the Sides- Fold the pouch along the zipper so that the exteriors are right sides together. Match up all the layers and stitch around the 3 open sides- be sure to open the zipper a bit for turning before you sew. To make this step really fast, we serge around all 3 sides. You can also stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance and then finish the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch.

Sewing pouch sides- right sides in.

Sewing pouch sides- right sides in.

6. Creating the Gusset- Here comes the trickiest part… starting at one base corner fold the layers so that the side seam and the bottom seam line up. Basically fold the corner the opposite way that it currently is. Then, trim the corner off- the more your cut off the wider your pouch bottom will be. We usually cut about 1″ to 1-1/2″, measured from the tip of the corner. Stitch along your new raw edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance and finish as desired. Repeat with the other corner- make sure you cut off the same amount!

7. Finishing- Turn the pouch right side out and you are finished! Add a fun zipper pull for an added special touch. Fill it with goodies, another size pouch or whatever and you are ready to gift!

Finished Zipper Pouches

Finished Zipper Pouches

We hope that helps inspire you to make a few more handmade gifts this holiday season!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 2nd Only! Wonder Clips are only $5 per package of 10 clips and Save 20% on select novelty woven fabrics- perfect for pouch sewing! Shop Here

12 Days of Sewing + Day One

12 Days of Sewing

Over the next 12 days we will be sharing some great ideas for your holiday sewing. Small handmade items perfect to make as gifts for family and friends or for you to enjoy yourself this holiday season. Best of all we will only be using “fashion fabrics” or fabrics designed for apparel sewing. There are so many ideas out there that use quilting cotton, we wanted to share some great ways to use your favorite apparel fabrics like boucles, rayons, knits, flannels and lots more!

Check back everyday for a new project idea. We will include tutorials here and there as well as some great tips and trick along the way.

Now, let’s get started!

On the First Day of Sewing…

We decided to start things off with a simple, but stylish, straight scarf. While the concept is relatively easy, there is a lot of room to get creative with your fabric choices and finishing techniques.

First, let’s talk about the fabric (our favorite part!). The obvious choice is flannel- We all love it, it’s warm and cozy and easy to sew with. A great choice, especial for the men in your life.

But what about the less obvious… a more fashionable woven like a boucle or other plush woven like this houndstooth we chose for one of our scarves. Look for bold patterns, large plaids or statement colors- something that will really pop when paired with the neutral outerwear we all own.

 

Woven Houndstooth Scarf

Woven Houndstooth Scarf

Don’t forget to also consider knits, while these are most often used for infinity scarves, thick or plush knits can also make a great simple scarf. Try a double knit or thick sweater knit for something cozy and warm.

Cozy Ombre Houndstooth Knit Scarf

Cozy Ombre Houndstooth Knit Scarf

Next, how are we going to make these scarves? For a long, straight scarf you typically need more than just the width of the fabric. You can get a longer scarf two different ways- 1) cut it lengthwise or 2) seam it in the middle. We made our scarves using both of these methods.

For the red houndstooth woven we cut 2 yards of fabric and divided it to make three scarves roughly 18 inches wide. If you are making multiple scarves to gift during the holidays this is a great way to go.

For the ombre houndstooth knit we cut strips roughly 14 inches wide and seamed two of them together to get the total length. This fabric comes in a panel repeat (1-1/4 yd) so it kind of a special case but a similar thing could be done with any fabric. Take 1-1/4 yard and cut into an even number of strips. You get the idea.

Once we have the scarf pieces cut, we finish the long edges. There are a variety of ways to do this so we have listed our favorites below:

  • Press under the desired hem and stitch in place using a cover-stitch machine or double needle on your traditional sewing machine. (We used this method on both of our scarves)
  • Don’t have a cover-stitch or double needle? Finish both raw edges of scarf using a zig-zag stitch or serger, press the desired hem and top stitch in place. For knits you can simply press and top stitch the hem in place if you aren’t worried about raveling or fraying.
  • Use a double folded hem and top stitch in place- this is probably our least favorite- the thicker your fabric, the more bulky these hems will be.

One of our favorite tools is the new Hot Ruler– it is heat resistant, anti-slip and makes pressing those long hems a breeze!

Pressing the scarf hem is so fast and easy with the Hot Ruler.

Pressing the scarf hem is so fast and easy with the Hot Ruler.

Now, the fun part, finishing the ends! Sure you can simply hem the ends like you did on the sides (we did this on our ombre knit scarf), but isn’t fringe more fun? Especially with some of these really cool fabrics, like a boucle or the houndstooth woven we chose, they are easy to separate, pull out those width-wise threads and create amazing fringe. You can make the fringe however long you’d like (we went with 4″) and you can knot it, braid it or just leave it as is. For added security, we top stitched across the scarf just above the fringe to prevent the scarf from unraveling anymore over time.

Finished Woven Houndstooth Fringe Scarf

Finished Woven Houndstooth Fringe Scarf

Easy right?! Take a simple simple scarf and make it amazing with some incredible fabric and professional finishing techniques. A wonderful gift that nobody will believe you made yourself.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 1st Only! Save 20% on select scarf fabrics and $3 off the Hot Hemmer or Hot Ruler. Shop Here

Cuddle Up with Sweater Knits

It keeps getting colder and colder here in the Pacific Northwest and I find myself gravitating towards warm, cozy garments to sew up and wear. Lucky for me we just received an amazing batch of sweater knits which are all now available in the shop. We even created a new category just for them! There is so much variety available in “sweater knits” that I thought I would run through a few of the different types, some tips for sewing with them and a few patterns they would pair nicely with.

First, let’s check out the thick chunky sweater knits. A sweater knit is any kind of knit that you would use to make a sweater, cardigan, pullover, etc. They are usually a looser knit than say a jersey or interlock giving them that more hand-knit sweater feel. For the heavier sweater knits, these are the fabrics that are going to remind you the most of a knit sweater- they are plush and warm and may have larger stitches to go with the thicker yarn. Some chunkier sweater knits may have more of a felted texture making it feel more like a stable piece of fabric but still have that great density and warmth. <Learn more about the knits shown below HERE>

Any of these thicker knits don’t need as much special attention as others. You may want to still stabilize the hard working seams, such as the shoulders, to prevent stretching but you typically don’t have to worry as much about fraying or unraveling.

Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Issue #1

Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Issue #1

One of my favorite patterns for these type of sweater knits is the Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Magazine’s Premier Issue. This issue also included lots of great tips about sewing with all kinds of sweater knits- including those really loose lacy ones perfect for layering or during the warmer weather months. Check out all of Seamwork’s amazing versions of this cozy cardigan!

Jamie Christina's Lark Cardigan

Lark Cardigan from Jamie Christina Patterns

Another great pattern is the Lark cardigan from Jamie Christina Patterns. While you can use any type of sweater knit or any knit really, I think it lends itself well to those thicker sweater knits- especially the long version! So warm and cozy- pair it with boots for an awesome winter look.

Next, let’s look at the mid-weight range of sweater knits. These are typically your cotton and rayon knits that are a little bit heavier than a standard T-shirt jersey but have a similar drape and hand. These are the perfect knits for cardigans in any style. I’m partial to the more relaxed flowy cardigans that I can pair with skinny jeans and boots. Dress them up or dress them down- they are pretty much up for anything! A classic button up cardigan is always a wardrobe staple and another great use for these mid-weight knits. <Learn more about the knits shown below HERE>

For these more jersey-like knits you can probably still get away with just serging your seams if desired. If you are worried about fraying or unraveling, you might want to take a bit larger seam allowance (1/2″ or larger) and stitch using a small zigzag stitch and then finishing with the serger or another row of zigzag stitches. It might be helpful to test a small sample and see which result you like better.

Straight Stitch Design's Laurelhurst Cardigan

Laurelhurst Cardigan from Straight Stitch Designs

Straight Stitch Designs’ Laurelhurst cardigan is one of my favorite draped cardigans that comes with a few different sleeve lengths and variations. It looks great in stripes, textures or even solids. Another great option is the Beautiful Dreamer Cardigan from Shwin Designs. I love the back detail and this one is for sure on my list to make this season!

Beautiful Dreamer Cardigan from Shwin Designs

Beautiful Dreamer Cardigan from Shwin Designs

Thread Theory's Camas Blouse

Camas Blouse from Thread Theory Designs

One more pattern option for a classic button up is the Camas Blouse from Thread Theory Designs. I have seen some really cool versions of this pattern made out of a mid or light weight sweater knit for a perfect cardigan. Love the shape of this top and so versatile.

Last but not least, the lightest weight sweater knits. These often have a very delicate texture and can be very loosely knit or lacy. Although a bit more difficult to work with, these knits are quite stunning and often are able show off unique stitches in the knit better than the other weights. With these knits you want to take extra care as they do tend to fray and unravel due to the looseness of the knit. Add a bit more to your seam allowance and use your zigzag stitch for stitching seams and finish the edge with your serger or another row of zigzag stitches. A knit or mesh interfacing will also be your friend- especially when hemming to prevent fraying and stretching. <Learn more about the knits shown above HERE>

Aurelia Cardigan from Sew Liberated

Aurelia Cardigan from Sew Liberated

Any of the patterns listed above would be suitable for even these light-weight sweater knits. One more pattern I would like to throw in the mix though is the Aurelia Cardigan from Sew Liberated. I love how classic this cardigan looks- perfect for showing off a more delicate sweater knit. Rather than use a contrasting or matching fabric for the trim, I would use another layer of the sweater knit for a delicate layered look.

I hope that helps demystify all of the types of sweater knits and helps inspire you for your own creations. Now is the perfect time of year to really enjoy this fabric type! Be sure to check out all of the stunning sweater knits available now in the shop HERE.

~Michelle

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