Handmade 10×10 challenge

I’ve been reading more and more about capsule wardrobes recently. On one hand, it’s a fairly seductive concept; who wouldn’t want a small, cohesive wardrobe full of beautiful, luxury garments which all match and make getting dressed simple? On the other hand, its a fairly ludicrous idea for me, I love making and wearing all sorts of clothes and I can’t ever imagine paring my wardrobe back to that extent! So I thought I’d dip my toes into the capsule wardrobe world by trying a 10×10 challenge. I’d seen this idea on various fashion blogs, where you choose ten items of clothing to make up a capsule wardrobe to wear for ten days, but when I listened to the Love To Sew podcast episode on trying it with a handmade wardrobe I decided to jump in (along with Emma from Emma’s Atelier). This is the capsule I put together:

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One dress: The Mito Cami dress from Papercut Patterns in teal rayon crepe (unblogged)

One Skirt: v1247 in indigo cotton

One pair of trousers: Flint Pants in viscose twill

One long sleeved top: Melilot shirt in chambray

Two tops: Willow Tank and Ogden Cami

Two tee shirts: Lark Tee (unblogged) and Plantain Tee

Two pairs of shoes: Leather sneakers and gold flats.

I decided at the beginning of my planning that what I really wanted was to shake myself out of some wardrobe ruts that I often find myself in. Obviously I could have made this really easy by picking a pair of jeans, 7 tee shirts, a Driftless cardi and some lace up shoes, which is what I wear about 70% of the time anyway, but that isn’t really the point! So I purposely didn’t pick jeans or a cardigan, and I also tried to pick items that I tend to wear as part of specific outfits to force myself to find new ways to wear them.

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This is what days 1-5 looked like. Nothing terribly exciting, to be honest, but I managed to wear every item in my capsule except for the Ogden Cami, and I felt like I had enough separate pieces to put together 5 outfits that didn’t feel limited or boring or repetitive. I had a couple of small cheats, on day one I was unexpectedly invited out to a fancy restaurant for dinner that night and I decided to wear a pair of heels with my Flint Trousers and Willow tank to dress them up, and on day 2 I was at the cricket all day and I took my raincoat along (luckily, as it started to rain that evening). Even though none of these outfits are groundbreaking, even small changes like tying my tee shirt or shirt at the waist made them feel a bit different and is outside of what I would normally have done (I usually just tuck things in, easy but lazy!). I especially like how my Plantain tee looks tied over the waist of that skirt. This was also the first time I wore my Mito cami dress, which I had been feeling a bit ambivalent about, and I was pretty comfy in it!

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Days 6-10 carried on in much the same way! My outfit for day 6 was basically pyjamas for lounging around the house, and day 7 annoyingly ended up being the only repeated outfit of the 10 days as it suddenly got chilly and I wanted long sleeves! Days 9 and 10 were probably the only days that I branched out, I know it sounds silly but I struggle with mixing prints and even the combination of navy and white stripes with the navy and white abstract pattern on the skirt made me think twice. I think it looks fine though, the pattern on the skirt is so minimal it barely counts! I was also glad to see that the Ogden cami works pretty well under the Mito dress, which is good because it’s a much breezier combination than a tee-shirt under the dress. the other combination I considered trying was the Willow Tank over the Mito dress, and the shirt open and tied at the waist over the dress (or over the Ogden/Flint outfit). I did try throwing the shirt on unbuttoned over the tee shirts, but I just felt a bit silly. I think the Melilot is too shaped at the side seams to look right unbuttoned, and I felt a bit swamped in fabric between that and the billowing Flint pants.

I was lucky that I picked a 10 day stretch of pretty settled, warmer than average summer weather, a capsule wardrobe for standard Wellington weather would need to be considerably bigger than this one! I also think I picked a pretty good selection of items. Keeping to a limited colour palette and choosing all separates definitely helped, and I felt like I had plenty of options. Ultimately, I don’t think a capsule wardrobe is for me, I was feeling pretty over all of those items by the end of my 10 days! I also found that it killed my urge to sew, because I knew I wouldn’t get any instant gratification by sewing and then wearing something immediately (I feel like there’s a bit to unpack in that realisation, do I do the sewing equivalent of fast fashion? I’ll have to think a bit more about that…). I am glad that I found a few new ways to wear some things, and that I took a small step outside of my comfort zone, so it wasn’t a wasted experience!

Do any of you stick to a capsule wardrobe? Have you tried anything like the 10×10 challenge? I’d love to hear what other people think about this sort of thing!

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Not-quite-basics

I made this outfit up in that weird, limbo-ish period between Christmas and New Year, when I wasn’t reading my Christmas books or watching the cricket. Historically, I’ve been productive in the last week of December, but I’ve also made a bunch of stuff that has been ill-judged or that have just been total wadders (most haven’t made it to the blog). Fortunately, this Christmas I made two things which I’m totally in love with!

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This is the Kalle shirt from Closet Case Patterns, made up in linen from The Fabric Store (second item in my Summer of Linen series!). This is technically the second time I’ve used this pattern, but it’s the first time I’ve used it as drafted. I picked the cropped version (obviously), with the full length exposed button band and the full collar. there are a lot of options with this pattern, I love it! This linen has a much crisper hand than the rayon crepe I used for my first tee shirt version, so it holds the shape of the body and hem much better.

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I love that back pleat and the kimono sleeves and cuffs! I’m also really pleased with the length at the front, I think its perfect to wear with anything which sits at my natural waist. I’m slightly terrified to wear this shirt anywhere that I might come into contact with any food or drink or anything else which might stain it…I’ll need to get over it though, because it’s an excellent top to wear when it’s all hot and sticky and I don’t want anything to touch my skin.

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I think this is one of the neatest collars I’ve ever sewn, mostly due to the linen I think! It just holds a press so beautifully, and is such a lovely stable fabric. I was surprised by how high the collar stand was though, it’s almost twice as high as the one from the Melilot shirt. I don’t mind the way it looks, but it feels like a more formal collar. It definitely sits up a lot more! Irritatingly, I managed to get that top button hole slightly too far from the edge of the stand, and the top button looks really off centre. I never manage to get that one in the right place! I extended it as much as I thought I could get away with (after I had sewn and opened the original buttonhole), but it still isn’t where it should be. I used my favourite 1/2″ shell buttons, I like the subtle shine against the linen. It’s also just long enough to tuck in, if I ever want to go totally preppy!

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While most of this post is about the shirt, this skirt is one of my favourite things that I’ve made recently! It’s my favourite skirt pattern, v1247, and the fabric is a gorgeous indigo dyed Japanese cotton that I bought at Ray Stitch in London when Katie took me shopping last year. I bought it intending to make a Kochi Kimono out of it, but I once again forgot how narrow Japanese fabrics are and I couldn’t tetris my way out of not having enough fabric this time. I’m slightly sad about not getting my indigo kimono, but I’m so happy that I thought to make it up as this skirt instead! I lengthened it the same amount as I did  for my denim version, 4″ in length with a 1” hem, which I think puts it at the perfect length.

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I bound all of the seams with some vintage turquoise bias tape, and blind hemmed it. I felt like I should pull all of the stops for this gorgeous fabric! I have another length of the same fabric, but with crosses woven into it rather than the dashes on this fabric. I bought it to make a pair of trousers, but maybe it’ll become the kimono/lightweight jacket I wanted this piece to become…

I’m really happy with both of these garments, I think they fit really well into my summer wardrobe, and both are things I really want to wear! I’m planning so many versions of the Kalle shirt, I want to make another cropped version but with the hem straightened off, and a version of the shirt dress inspired by this stunning version made by Sasha from Secondo Piano (ok, it might just be a straight copy). I’d also be really keen to make a long sleeved version of the tunic length one if I could find some wool flannel or something for winter…

All the linen over here please!

It’s so hot. So muggy. So unlike Wellington. We’re all wandering around in a sticky, grouchy, slightly stunned sort of way, totally not used to weather like this (we’d move to Auckland if we wanted humidity!). Obviously this is the perfect weather for a Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan in crisp linen from The Fabric Store.

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I picked up this 1.5m remnant of linen last time I was at TFS (I can never help myself, their remnant bins are so good), and decided I would use it to make a test run of the Charlie before I used the gorgeous piece of Japanese double gauze which I bought specifically to make view B of the pattern. I opted for view A for this linen, as I thought the architectural pleats would work better with it’s crisp hand than the gathers.

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Charlie was an enjoyable dress to sew! I love the kimono sleeves, and the faced neckline. The waistband insert was enjoyably fiddly to sew, I think sometimes I sew too many basic-straight-line garments so I should push myself more. I used the higher armholes, though you can still see my bra through them. I’ll just make sure I’m wearing a black bra with it, I’m not overly bothered! I also added the waist ties from view B, which I’m glad about. The dress itself is pretty straight up and down, and I like the hint of shape that the ties give. I also like that they’re long enough to tie in the front, the linen ties into a lovely crisp bow which I think looks really cute with the insert and the pleats.

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to tie it, I quite like it tied together in a bow at the front without wrapping around my waist. It gives the dress a little bit more shape than not being tied up at all, but is more cocoon shaped (which is great in this heat!). I don’t think I’ll ever wear it untied, simply because I don’t know what I’d do with the ties! Maybe when I make my double gauze version I’ll make the ties separate, or figure out a way to make them removable.

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Tied in front
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untied (with tails)

I’m really liking deep V necklines at the moment, surprisingly enough! I’ve always preferred a scoop neck, but I’ve sewn a couple of things with this shape neckline lately and I think its really pretty. Good for showing off some of my shorter necklaces too!

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The only issue I have with this one is that it’s a touch snug at around my hips, but luckily linen is pretty forgiving and it’s already relaxed and become more comfortable! I could have let the seams out a touch, but then I would have had to mess with the pockets, and I was too lazy. it isn’t that bad, I’ll just need to remember for next time!

Linen is having a definite moment in my summer sewing, I’ve made 3 garments in it so far with two more in the pipeline. I could have more, but I’ve put a few restrictions of my fabric buying for the next wee while, and I don’t have any more in my stash! I’m going to try to sew 3 pieces of fabric from my stash before I’m allowed to add a metre, so we’ll see how that goes. If I start counting from the beginning of my christmas break, that gives me 1.5m of new fabric owing…I’ll just avoid the Fabric Store for a little while!

2017 in review

Happy New Year! I’m not joining in with Gillian’s Top 5 challenge properly this year, but I’ve rounded up my five favourites from this year, and from past years, and I thought I  might as well follow up on my 2017 make nine progress as well. Hopefully not too much navel gazing for you, so early in the new year!

Ok yes, I’ve cheated slightly with my top 5 of 2017. I couldn’t choose between my Safran and my Ginger jeans, especially after they’ve been on my to-sew list for so many years! I also couldn’t choose which pair of Flint trousers I like more, so I put my black and terracotta pairs in. It’s the same pattern, so it barely counts right? I also had to include my sandals, for sheer novelty factor and the immense satisfaction I got from making them. My Kelly Anorak also makes the cut, it’s been one of the most useful things I’ve made this year and was a great garment to take on my 5 week trip to the UK (if it had been slightly waterproof it would have been perfect!). My final pick is my Bronwyn Sweater, which was one of the most challenging and fun things I’ve knitted so far. I knitted most of it in 2016, looking at my ravelry page, but it was finished in time for winter 2017 so I’m counting it. I love all those cables, and it was lovely and warm throughout our crappy winter. Honorable mentions have to go to my merino Driftless Cardigan, which gets worn most days, and to my long sleeved Melilot Shirts, which also got a heap of wear this year.

For my top 5 garments from previous years, I had to start with my Genoa tote from last year. I use it every day, and it’s still going strong! I love the size and the leather and the handles, and the toggle inside for my keys has saved me hours of useless rummaging every evening. Next is my Wickerwork pullover. It’s still my favourite jumper, I just love the texture and the colour so much. I wish I had knitted it in a nicer wool than Cascade 220, but I’ve learned my lesson! It gets a regular shave with the de-piller to keep it looking nice. This winter I unraveled the neckband and knitted it a bit higher, and bound it off tighter, and I’m so happy with how it sits now. No more cold droughts down the back of my neck! I’ve worn my first Driftless Cardi so much that it’s getting bald spots at the elbows and hip (where my bag rubs), so I had to make a new one this year so I could alternate them. My Waver raincoat is another item that gets a bunch of wear, even though I can see so many mistakes I made whilst sewing it (whyyy did I shorten the sleeves??), and the lining is shredding along the raglan seams. I’m planning a waterproof Kelly Anorak for this autumn, so this one might get retired this winter, but it’s had a very useful life! Finally, my knit Scout tee from the very beginning of 2015. It’s made in a bamboo knit from Blackbird Fabrics (I think it was from their opening week!), and it’s still going strong! I must wear it about once a week, I love how soft and comfortable it is. I should really look for more bamboo knits…

Finally, this is what my #2017make9 collage looked like. After not really succeeding with sticking to the specific plans I made for myself in 2016, I thought I would try a more flexible, mood-board style approach for 2017. It doesnt seem to have worked much better though! I didn’t make the velvet tee shirt (though I have plans for a black velvet Kobe Top for later this summer), or the moto style jacket, or the wrap skirt or midi skirt. I did make a sheath dress, jeans (two pairs! have I mentioned that? once or twice? I might be a bit pleased with myself), a woven wrap dress, a tee dress and some high waisted shorts (which haven’t made it to the blog yet). So it wasn’t a total failure, but I’m not going to bother doing it again this year. I know what I want to make now, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll want to make them later in the year! There are too many new patterns coming out, and my style seems to be fairly changeable these days too (who knew at the beginning of last year that I’d be all about the cropped trouser trend by the summer? Not me!). 2018 is also going to be pretty busy for me, I’m going to be working on the research project that is the final step in achieving my Masters in Information Studies this year, which I imagine will keep me occupied! Anyone who wants to know about the information seeking behaviour of Registered Nurses in a clinical environment, come and talk to me…

Finally, thanks so much to everyone who reads my ramblings, and who leaves comments and encouragement and advice! I appreciate it so much. I love being part of this community, it must be one of the nicest corners of the internet (and that means a lot, especially these days). I know 2017 has been pretty rough on a lot of people, so here’s to a happier, kinder and just generally better 2018!

Big Orange Trousers

I didn’t intend to be posting again so soon, but I realised I couldn’t let the year end without blogging about one of my favourite garments of 2017! It should come as no great surprise that it’s a pair of Flint Trousers, a pattern which has become quite the TnT for me. I loved the pattern as soon as Megan Neilson released it, but I’ve surprised myself with how wearable I’ve found them, and how much I love swanning about in them. I thought they’d be an occasional wear when I made my first pair, but I’ve now made four pairs (three sets of trousers and one pair of shorts, yet to be blogged), and I’ve been living in them this summer. My black swishy ones are a favourite for the hot, humid weather we’ve been having, but these ones are a surprise favourite for dressing up or down, or whenever I feel like I need a bit of extra confidence!

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The fabric is a gorgeous cotton sateen from The Fabric Store, which I bought in winter intending to make some high waisted pegged trousers (I still can’t find a pattern for what I want, suggestions appreciated!), but changed my mind and made these when I got back from the UK after seeing cropped, wide legged trousers on so many stylish ladies over there. I finished these in October, I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get photos of them!

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I love the colour so much! I’m surprised at how wearable I’ve found this pair, given how big and orange they are. I love them with my cropped Willow Tanks, but they look good with any of my striped tee shirts, and with most of my Ogden Cami’s as well. Maybe terracotta is a secret neutral? I wore them to my work Christmas party (the one I made my Eve dress for, but which I couldn’t wear because the weather was rubbish) with this striped Willow and some black heels, and then I wore them again for Christmas day with my cropped black Willow (I was planning to wear my Eve dress then too but the weather was, once again, rubbish). I felt pretty fancy and very comfortable both days!

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I had a terrible time trying to find a pair of buttons that worked on this colour, until I remembered that I had two bamboo flower buttons from Arrow Mountain left over from another project. I thought they might be a bit small, but I think they work OK. I did make the buttonholes a tiny bit short, so squeezing the irregular shape of the flowers through them can be a bit of an effort! They’re loosening up with wear though, thankfully…

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I’ve got a wrinkle of fabric just below the waistband on this pair which doesn’t show up on my crepe pair. I think it’s because this is a stiffer, more tightly woven fabric than the poly crepe of my first ones, so it doesn’t drape nicely around my sway back. I didn’t notice it until I had hand stitched down the waistband, and it doesn’t bother me that much, so I haven’t fixed it. I did take a wedge off the top CB of the pattern, tapering to nothing towards the side seam, before I made my black pair, and that seems to have fixed it! I really don’t have anything else to say about these that I haven’t said in my other Flint posts, I just really like them and wanted to get them up on the blog so that I could include them in my Top 5 favourites post…

I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season, however/whatever you celebrate. I’ve eaten way too much over the past few days, finished one of my christmas books already, watched Die Hard and some Harry Potter movies, and napped with the cats in the sun. It’s been good so far! Happy holidays and see you in 2018.

 

Level up: Making Sandals

A couple of weekends ago I had an awesomely fun two days at Shoe School, which has recently moved to Wellington from down south. I’ve been looking at their classes for over a year, so I was so excited to see that Lou was relocating her business up here! 



I attended the two day sandal making course, which was timely as we’re having a beautiful hot summer this year! There were four of us in the class, all making fairly different styles of sandals. There were patterns we could use, but I decided to go rogue and copy a pair of sandals I saw on Pinterest. They’re just straight straps, so it wasn’t too tricky for my first attempt!


This was my inspiration image, though I knew I would be making some changes. I hate things between my toes, so I knew I’d be changing the toe loop to a strap right across my toes, and I wanted something a bit more padded than just a hard leather sole. Happily those requests were met! I had planned to make two tone brown sandals, as I thought that would be a nice neutral look for summer, but when I was confronted with all of the gorgeous leather at Shoe School I threw out that idea…




I found a tiny piece of gold patent leather, and decided I might as well try to get my main straps out of it, even if it did mean I would be copying the Kate Spade sandals a bit more literally than I had intended. I chose a soft cream leather for the narrow straps, and picked out some beautiful chestnut leather to use if I couldn’t fit my pattern pieces on the gold. 


We drafted our pattern pieces and an insole piece, and then used the insole (cut out of a thin board) to build our sandals on. That involved standing on a table as Lou fitted the sandal pieces to each foot, ensuring they were tight enough and they were in the right place before marking everything on the pattern and insole. Then we got to move on to the fun stuff, the leatherwork!


As you can see, I managed to squeeze my straps out of the gold. I’m really happy about that, I would have liked the dark brown but I really love the gold with the cream! I lined each strap with the same super thin cream leather that I used to cover my insole, it adds a bit of strength to those thin straps and makes everything look lovely and tidy on the inside. 


Making the insoles and soles was more complicated than making the uppers for my sandals. The others all used the industrial sewing machines in the workshop as well as glue, but mine only needed glueing as they’re a pretty basic design. I would have loved to try out the industrials, but it was definitely quicker only using glue! The insoles were cut out of insole foam using the pattern from earlier in the class, and that was then covered in a thin piece of leather. A slightly larger pair of soles were cut out of  more insole board, and an edging of rand glued on (that’s the border of thick tan leather in the picture above). I then punched holes and cut slots in the insole board for the straps to fit through, and glued them down before sticking the insole in. 


Then it was time for the soles! I wrestled a pair of shears through a piece of heavy veg tanned leather to make a rough sole and heel piece for each sandal, and glued them on. Then Lou trimmed them down to size with a craft knife, which she made look easy but I imagine takes a lot of skill and effort! The final piece was cutting and glueing on a set of rubber soles, to add a bit of padding and to make me (hopefully) less likely to slip over on our brick footpaths.

And then they were done! And now you get to look at a hundred photos of the finished thing, because I am so damn proud of them…









…and some modelled shots…


Seriously, I am so stoked with these! I’ve become a bit blazé about sewing clothes, because I do it so often, but making shoes just seems like another level up. It was so much fun learning a new skill as well, I feel like I haven’t tried anything really new for a while. I’m all enthusiastic about it now, I’ve just bought a big piece of veg tanned leather to have a go at making some more sandals at home! I don’t have any insole board or rand (yet), so they’ll be simpler than these, but hopefully they’ll work out ok. I’d love to take some more classes at Shoe School, I’ll need to save my pennies (and my annual leave) and see if I can take the week-long shoe making course that Lou offers. I have visions of beautiful, perfectly fitted brogues dancing through my mind…

Here are a couple more photos of the lovely workspace at Shoe School, just in case this post isn’t image heavy enough! If you’re in Wellington (or fancy a long weekend here, which you should, it’s an awesome place!) and want to try something new and fun then I would definitely recommend this. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just really loved doing it and admire what Lou has built with Shoe School. I hope it’s in Wellington for good!


Summer Favourite

Just a quick post today to show off one of my new favourite dresses! At the end of my last post I mentioned that I was going to get some striped tee-shirt weight knit from Drapers Fabrics, and here is the resulting dress (I paid for this fabric, no collaboration this time). Drapers is still offering readers 15% off with the code FIFTYTWOFANCIES, in case any of you have your eye on any of their pretties!

So…this dress didn’t start off as a winner. I initially had a lengthened version of the Papercut Kyoto tee in mind, as I thought the dropped shoulder and ruffle combo would look really cute in the stripes, and it would be nice with a belt on hot days. Unfortunately, I completely disregarded the heft of this cotton knit as I was making these plans. It’s a lovely tee shirt weight, almost like a very lightweight ponte, but it was far too stiff for those shoulder ruffles, it was like I had little wings (and not it a cute way)! I always really like the idea of ruffle or big shoulders and sleeves, but in reality adding them on top of my proportionally bigger bust and my super short hair just makes me look like a pinhead. I sulked for a few hours, and then got out the scissors and McCall’s 6886


So much better! The weight of this fabric is much better suited to a dress which isn’t reliant on draping right to look good (so obvious in hindsight, I need to put a bit more thought into these things sometimes!). Because the Kyoto Tee pattern has straight side seams (which I had flared out slightly as I lengthened it), I had enough fabric once I had cut all the overlocked seams off to re-cut the narrower pattern pieces of M6886 from the existing front and back. Which meant I didn’t have to think about matching the stripes as I was cutting out, because I had already done it the first time around!


I cut the crew neckline again, same as my merino version, but as this is a 100% cotton knit I didn’t trust that turn-and-stitch method for the neckline. Instead I traced off a facing and used that instead. There is still a little bit of gaping around the neckline from it stretching over my head, but I can live with that.



I could probably do with a sway back adjustment for this pattern, or some fish eye darts, but given that it’s such an easy, casual, pull on dress I’m not really worried about a few wrinkles back there! 

I’ve worn this dress several times a week since I finished it, it’s been perfect for the incredible hot weather we’re having. I’ve been slack and had a couple of nasty sunburns already this year, so I love not having to worry about whether I’ve got enough sunblock on my chest and shoulders. 


Yay for not wasting fabric!