Monday, July 20, 2009

Question of the Day...

Do we as garment sewists really need this?



Or have we become so willing to use a gadget instead of learning a skill? Seriously, unless you are a quilter and needs hundreds of yards of bias binding, why would you invest in that machine or this one?


Do we need to purchase every new tool, every new make it faster, quicker, easier accessory to sew with instead of just learning the time tested techniques that have made our art great and long lasting?

Seriously, how hard or time-consuming is it to learn to cut bias tape and then make bias binding or am I missing something here? So today's Question of the Day is, "Do we as garment sewists need these tools to sew better? If yes, why? If no, why not?"

Talk to me people because in these economic times I just can't see spending $79.99 for the cutter or $99.99 for the bias tape maker. If I'm wrong educate me...because I just don't get it!


60 comments:

  1. Hi Carolyn,
    I think these items are for those people like myself who cannot cut a straight line. I am thinking of giving up sewing because I mad a wadder that should not have been a wadder( it was a basic shell.) The neckline was completely out of shape and I could not figure out what to do. I am becoming frustrated with fashion sewing. :)

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  2. I agree with you, I saw this on the website, and was like it's a waste, plus you have to buy the different sizes of tape makers seperately. It's cheaper to buy the hand held tape makers and use your iron.

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  3. I can't believe it is that much money, no I wouldn't buy it. I could buy so much fabric with that!

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  4. I certainly wouldn't buy them. There is probably a place for them for the semi-professional sewer who makes/uses lots of bias binding etc, but for the home dressmaker? I don't think so!

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  5. As long as I can make an isosceles right triangle from a No. 10 envelope, chalk and a yard stick, I can successfully make binding.

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  6. I sew and quilt. I have made bias binding following the instructions in one of my sewing books without and I have used the hand held tape maker. No, I don't believe in wasting my hard earn moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

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  7. If it was cheaper, I'd do the basic one b/c I always burn my fingers when ironing the bias tape. I love making my own b/c I love bias tape on aprons.

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  8. By the time you've loaded up the machine and messed around with it, you could have made enough bias tape for a garment. I'm sure even quilters are so used to making bias tape with a ruler and a cutter that they can do it without needing a cutting machine.

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  9. I've never made a garment that needed bias binding however, I'm not interested in a machine that will make for me. I can take the time to learn how to cut fabric on the bias (with my rotary cutter and mat) and sew the ends to make bias tape. I have way too many books which will explain how to make bias tape and if I can't figure it out with my books, there's youtube videos. Quilts like to share :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNRqEb4WuTA

    I don't need gadgets to sew better. I need practice.

    CarlaF-in Atlanta

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  10. Add another IMHO useless notion.....The bobbin winder. Wind a few extras before starting a project and save yourself $25-$35.00.

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  11. No no no. Ridiculous. Unless, as you say, you quilt and need dozens of if not a hundred yards of the stuff. I don't even use my rotary cutter very often; just my shears. Which need to be sharpened.

    We don't need 10,000 single-purpose kitchen appliances to put dinner on the table either: just a good, sharp knife and a pan or two. And some food ;)

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  12. Sewing and quilting are FULL of expensive - and IMHO useless - gadgets like these. They are marketed like "magic pills" when the only real way to learn to do the work is by doing the work. Practice perfects.

    - Myrna

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  13. I have to agree, I don't understand the attraction. I quilt and making it isn't that hard or time consuming. It's part of the process. And from the reviews I'm reading, it's frustrating using this little gadget. And I need no more frustration in my quilting or garment sewing!

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  14. Amen....who designed this and who asked for it??? Quilters???
    They even have gadgets for $350 that cut your quilt squares now into perfect shapes using die cutting. Older ladies who find rotary cutting hard probably spend their pensions on these but for the little uses that bias comes into play....I don't think so. $99 buys a lot of fabric or cool buttons or thread that we can wind without an auxillary bobbin winder...jeez!

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  15. I agree with you. I don't have any really expensive gadgets. Seriously, that thing cost more than my sewing machine!! Granted, my machine is a >50 year old Singer, but still!! It took me over a year to finally take the plunge and spend 200.00 on a serger. So yeah, there is no way I would buy anything like that.

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  16. It is amazing the amount of gadgets and magazines that are available to the quilting world. Some of them seem so redundant. You can spend a fortune and never really quilt any better for it. Check out a Keepsake Quilting catalogue. It's mindboggling.

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  17. About the bobbin winder...I've got to say I disagree! I have one and LOVE it! But I guess to each it's own...but I really do love mine! *LOL*

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  18. I use a lot of bias tapes and pipings. The garment industry in Australia is so troubled at present that all the wholesalers are willing to sell smaller quantities to home sewers like me. Therefore I buy from the guy with a very big machine that churns out rolls of bias tape. On the other hand, I am a great believer in good tools. Using the right foot or needle can make or break a garment.

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  19. ummmm, no thank you. I'd rather do it myself.

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  20. Well I won't be getting either of them because I don't do enough of this type of work to justify it, but I can totally see that some people will think these are the best things since sliced bread!

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  21. I am with the majority here, I sew and quilt but wouldn't use either of them for either type of sewing. In fact, I own a quilt shop and wouldn't stock them in there either. It may not be good business but we only promote gadgets/notions that we know people will use again and again and that are good value for money.

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  22. I will just say "Amen" to all of the lovely ladies in this that know God gave them two hands and a mind to acquire the skills for making bias tape... I'm glad the desire to learn these skills and work with the hands hasn't disappeared.

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  23. Carolyn, I was just as clueless as to the need for these two new gadgets as you are.

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  24. not when I can buy a sewing machine a pr of scissors & a ruler all for $99 bucks. I don't even want the bobbin "side winder" for $25. To me all the extra special gadgets takes the fun out of the art of sewing & sewing techniques. Give me the basics.

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  25. Well, I adhere to the philosophy of low-tech sewing... An old machine, a pair of scissors, some pins and needles, an iron and tissue paper is all I use for my sewing. I don't even have a zipper foot, although I'd not recommend doing without one! That said, I have a lot of sewing books, not because I need them - one Burda Easy Fashion shows all the techniques one needs for the average garment - I just enjoy them. And there may be others who have the space, money and time to take care of all sorts of gadgets who enjoy them just as much. (As someone said, it's the same with kitchens/cooking. And a lot of people have an unbelievable amount of kitchen gadgets.)

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  26. I love gadgets. They are very helpful. For example, I would like to get the buttonhole cutter that comes with the wooden block. I think It would do a neater job and make it faster. But I would NOT pay that kind of money for the bias tape maker. I would have to be needing to make yards of the stuff to justify the cost. I would rather make it myself or buy a cheaper gadget. I like to learn how to do things without the gadget even if I have or plan to get the gadget. I think it's important to know how to do different techniques without gadgets.

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  27. Horses for courses, the companies out there seem to spend a lot of time thinking up new gadgets, and if you can afford them and want them, why not? But personally, I have sooo many things to spend money on, a bias tape maker (I've made quite a bit without it) is not something I want. It's the same cooking, there are some handy gadgets, but a sharp knife and a chopping board will do the job as fast, and it is soooo much easier to clean up!!

    Anon in Ire

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  28. How funny! I thought the exact same thing when I saw those items advertised in magazines recently. I can see them being advertised in a trade magazine for professionals perhaps, but not in magazines for home sewers and quilters. If a person needs those because of a time issue, and they are sewing for a hobby and relaxation, they are definitely missing the boat.
    On the other hand, considering what we pay for a top of the line sewing machine nowadays, I can understand why a company would assume we'd jump at the chance to pay these prices to make bias binding. Some people just like to spend money and have the latest everything, whether they'll ever use it or not.

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  29. Disclaimer: I'm the person who spent $15.00 on a hem gauge!

    Unless you make bias tape for a living, these gadgets are unnecessary. However, a quilter or someone who sews home dec may see these as invaluable. To each his own.

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  30. Nope. I make bias tape very quickly, so I wouldn't use this. I'd rather save my money for fabrics, notions and gadgets I do use. I'd be interested from hearing from someone who does own one. Do they find it useful after the first two weeks, and is it well made? It looks kind of cheesy from the photos, but they could be deceiving.

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  31. OMG YES!! I NEED one, says the gadget whore in me.

    OMG Hellz to the NO! Says the tiny Manhattan apartmentite and cheapo in me.

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  32. Sigh . . . I used to look at these kind of things and think "it's obvious we're all making too much money if we're buying these contraptions!" Well, with today's economy, that's certainly not the case! Professionals who use hundreds of yards of bias tape probably have a professional, heavy duty machine that cuts and folds bias tape . . . this looks like the $29.99 Veg-a-Matic home version that would malfunction after serious use. Oh, and the poster above who mentioned the buttonhole cutter with the wooden block, BUY IT! It's inexpensive, small (hardly takes up any room, doesn't require batteries or electric power to operate, and does a marvelous job!

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  33. When I bought my serger, the quality of my sewing went way down. Seam finishes on a straight stitch machine are much better. I just put it away and now I only use it for knits.

    For the past 2 years, I have had only a portable straight-stitch machine, and I have managed to make quite a few things.

    That said, I recently moved back to my big suburban house and got some sewing tools out of storage. Boy, is it nice to have my mangle and my industrial machine back!

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  34. I think the quality of my sewing has suffered by the use of all these gadgets. I used to use nothing more than the basics and turned out beautiful garments in a very short amount of time with nothing more than a pair of scissors, pins, a needle and a sewing machine. As time went on, and I got more and more gadgets, such as a serger and a blind hemmer and various other notions and I find that my skills have diminished significantly.I used to bind all my seams, now I just run them through the serger and wonder why my garments don't look as high quality as they used to! I have seriously thought about getting rid of all the extraneous things and going back to the bare basics and just experience the pure joy of sewing that I once had.

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  35. I think these are geared for avid quilters. I can see the need for them.

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  36. Well, I don't need one, but to each his own. I wouldn't give up my serger, or my bobbin winder, or my sewing machine.

    What do you think women said when they first saw a machine that sewed? What kind of gadget is that? Does a homesewer really need such an expensive piece of equipment? Think of all the lovely fabric I could buy.

    If people are buying these things, more power to the manufacturers. Do I need one? Nope.

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  37. I echo what the others say about not really needing something like this unless you're a professional quilter. But I do see the value of the right tools. The two teens I am teaching struggle more than they need to now simply because they don't have a lot of the tools—like a rotary cutter, different sewing feet, pressing hams, etc.—that make sewing so much easier.

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  38. I don't see the need for this; bias tape is so easy to make. I suppose if you needed hundreds of yards at a time, but you know you can just send the fabric off and have someone professionally cut it if you need an obscene amount.

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  39. Perhaps the value of these machine varies depending on whether you are a "process" sewer or a "product" sewer. For many, it's the process of sewing that they love. Coming out with a great garment at the end is a perk but not really the reason they sew. Others want a great garment but want the process to be faster so they can spend their time enjoying that finished product.

    I would not purchase either of these machines because I am developing a nagging concern about the reliance on "gadgets" in our society in general. We're losing the knowledge and skills of those who came before us because society views them as obsolete and unnecessary. Being self-reliant and making do aren't things we do well anymore. I suspect that all those "old-fashioned" skills would come in pretty handy about now!

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  40. I would so rather spend the money on fabric. I am a sewing notions girl, but I don't use enough bias binding to make these gadgets worth buying. A good, long metal ruler and a fresh rotary blade are enough for me.

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  41. I saw those and thought, why? I make my own bias tape and don't even use the little Clover maker, just do it like my Grandma did, iron it by hand. I quilt, too, small items and do that by hand, too. I have a serger and don't even use it as much as I could to keep in practice of french seams and other finishes. Sewing is, for me, a learning process and I like doing some of it old-fashioned. I agree with others, looks pretty flimsy, too. Bobbin maker, toss-up. Mine won't keep the thread spool on it well, but I have never gotten good at making bobbins on the Bernina. The old Kenmore, no problemo. So it is a necessity for now...

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  42. Once upon a time, someone said the same thing about sewing machines. ;-)

    Are they strictly *necessary*? No. Can they make life easier? Yes.

    I own a 19th century Willcox & Gibbs treadle machine in near mint condition. It works well, so I don't technically *need* my 1970s vintage Singer Athena 2000 with umpteen special stitches. Come to that, I don't even *need* a machine at all. I've got needles and thread.

    No tool will make you *better* at what you do for the tools do not the artist make. Or as my dad says, "just because you stick a paintbrush in someone's hand, doesn't make them an artist".

    That said, I probably wouldn't buy the bias tape maker in this economy, but if money were no object, I would.

    Think of all the things today that we consider normal/not a luxury...

    Cars, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums, crockpots, televisions, etc. Once upon a time - and even today - some of them were considered frivolous or luxuries or unnecessary.

    There's not enough money in the world to have me try to make my own bias tape. I've nearly sliced my fingers off with my rotary cutter SO MANY TIMES that I don't even reach for it anymore. To put it in perspective, I can buy the bias tape maker or pay a copay at the ER... They cost the same.

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  43. Initially I was ga-ga over it and just knew I needed it. Then thought I'd only used my clover bias tape makers a few times and with that scratched it off my list.

    Now I need to justify why I need a full fledge embroidery machine...hehe.

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  44. All the comments are very interesting. I particularly liked Llama's thoughts.
    As with most questions, it depends on who you ask. Most of the responders (I think) are garment sewers. I'm a garment sewer. So, for me, no, I don't see the need. But, this is a garment sewers' blog. Try asking hard core quilters what they think, and perhaps, I don't know, perhaps the answers will be the opposite.

    This kind of question is at the heart of what matters to everyone. Pointing fingers at 'stuff' and making derisive comments just because it doesn't matter "to you" doesn't make the thing any more or less valuable to someone else.

    I have an older model sewing machine. I love that thing. I wouldn't think of spending ten thousand dollars on a sewing machine, even if I could pay cash for it. But that doesn't mean that those who have purchased them are making unwise purchases.

    It's the old adage of one (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure.

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  45. Hi Carolyn... you know, I quilt and sew clothing. But I don't really need either of these to gadgets to get the job done! Now if I were making bias to sell maybe to get it done faster... but when I'm sewing I'm into the enjoyment not the rushing thru to get it done!
    Cooking has gotten to be the same way... you have to have this gadget to make sandwiches and this one to make hotdogs, coffee, popcorn.... it goes on and on. But, that is our American Enterprise... people figure something out or invent a new thing and away they go. People who are practical aren't going to buy this "gadget".... unless they really see a need.

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  46. They're useful if you have the money to spare and the space to hold it, but they also remind me of the hot dog cutter!

    http://www.liltulips.com/feeding-11/dinnerware-51/toddler-bites-sandwich-hot-dog-cutter-580.html

    I mean, who, WHO buys that?

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  47. I almost bought this last week with my Joann's 50% off coupon. I really have to say that I detest making bias binding. Call me lazy (I know it's the truth), but I just don't like to do it. I quilt and sew and I think this gadget has a big draw. The binding makes the difference in the professional look of my garments so I know I need it for most of my projects.

    Of course with that all being said, I didn't get it at 50% off, either. lol.

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  48. No way! I'm definitely from the old school of dressmaking and quiltmaking. That being said, I was won over to use rotary cutters and find that investment of numerous rulers and large mat to be very worthwhile and time saving. With those tools making bias binding is a snap.

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  49. In the gadget vs. tool category, I'd call this one a gadget. So no, I won't be buying this.

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  50. You know me, what ever floats your boat.

    I can't justify the amount I would LIKE to spend on shoes, so if dropping a hundred on a sewing thing-ma-gig makes someone happy...go for it.

    It just won't be me though.

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  51. I have considered this purchase,but I rarely finish my sewing project so I would not purchase, mainly due to the price. I have noticed that many of the newest patterns require bias tape. I would then make it, you can never find the one in the store to make your project not look homemade and match your fabric

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  52. this is really not a needed item. If I was given one I would probably try and use it often, but I can not justify the cost.

    I do however love the bobbin winder. It is great for the old machine that my kids use which does not have the "pin" for the thread to be held onto while winding the bobbin.

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  53. Don't think so! I'd rather make my own than have another one job only gadget. My rotary cutter and mat are wonderful multi-taskers and cutting and making bias strips really isn't that hard. Just another gimmick if you ask me.

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  54. Carolyn, as a"hard-core quilter," mentioned in one comment, I can honestly say that I wouldn't want either gadget. For one thing, the binding on quilts isn't folded the way those things fold it. Properly done quilt binding is folded in a way that results in two layers at the edge of the quilt (where is receives the most wear). As for the cutter, I'd much rather use my rotary cutter, ruler and mat. They are like my big skillet in my kitchen; they handle lots and lots of jobs and store in a small space.

    Sherry in Little Rock

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  55. I agree they are not needed, but they might make the job easier for some. I don't know that the bias maker is more suitable for quilters. Someone earlier pointed out that the binding on a quilt is folded differently. Where it could be useful is for making a lot of bias tape for use in applique, like "stained glass" quilts. As far as the cutter, it could also be useful for other crafts, such as cutting many yards of fabric strips for crochet, knitting, rug making, etc. If you had to buy a rotary cutter & mat or a *good* pair of scissors, you could end up spending about as much as the cutter.

    For me - bias tape maker - no, the fabric cutter - I'm considering it.

    JustGail

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  56. Just one more thought - is it possible to make your own iron-on bias in 1 step with this? If so, that would be a point in it's favor. I know I've see the original style of tape makers with an extra slot to line up the adhesive, but I haven't seen anything on whether it's possible with the new gadget.

    JustGail

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  57. AlaskaBerninaGirlJuly 24, 2009 1:49 AM

    Nope, myself, I like making do with using the simple tools I already possess. I remember when I got my rotary matt & cutter as a gift, I didn't even use them for several years but do now! and I consider them as part of my 'simple tools' which also includes a simple Bernina machine, really nice scissors, lots of fabric abd threads...

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  58. I think to make these things viable, you have to do an awful lot of bias-tape making and cutting to make the products work for you. I sew professionally and I just use the old-fashioned manual method of making bias tapes....pulling it through a bias tape form, and ironing it. It works splendidly and it doesn't take up that much room in my studio. I really can't afford the space for more equipment in my studio. When the blind-hemmer came out a while ago, I resisted that, although look like fun.

    More gadgets, more things to go wrong.

    I sound like my old fuddy-duddy elders!!!

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  59. When I first saw the bias-tape maker at my local Hancock's, my thought was, "If my sister lived closer, we could split the cost of that..." but upon reflection, I really don't need even a time share with one of these. My sidewinder, which I got for $20 on a super sale, I love and wouldn't want to part with it!

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  60. I sew hundred's of yards of fabric using my trusty little metal bias tape maker. I was looking for something to save me time and maybe let me daughter help. (she wants to iron, but she's only eight and I'm not comfortable with that) I actually got to use one of these today and found it to be very frustrating, by the time you roll the fabric around the spool,unhook the metal bias tape maker from the base, force feed the fabric through the metal bias tape maker, then put it back on and reattach the heating element cover, you could have ironed several 3 ft long strips. I wish that I could find a heavier duty one that you could do different sizes in. You can only do one size on this one. Oh well, it was a nice thought for someone like me who makes yards and yards of this, but I wouldn't waste my money.

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