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happy flower quilts blog hop ~ plus a giveaway!

Warning:  Super long blog post here.  Might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea and a snack before settling in ... ;)

Whew!  I think this book has got to be the most anticipated publication for people like me who can't get enough pretty-pink-sweet-floral-fun-cute-feedsack-Japanese-style sewing and quilting projects. :)  Happy Flower Quilts indeed!

I've owned the Japanese version (at least I think it's Japanese .. it may be Korean ... not entirely positive ... if you know please clue me in) that was originally published in 2009 for about 6 years now and it is my hands-down favourite quilt/craft book.  Until recently, I always referred to it as "That-Pink-Japanese-Quilt-Book".  And it took me a few years to connect the author as one of my favourite fabric designers, Atsuko Matsuyama (she designs for both Yuwa and Lecien).  It's like she crawled into my brain and my heart and wrote this book just for me.  I know she didn't ... we've never met.  But that's how much I relate to the lovely projects that fill the pages of Happy Flower Quilts.  I flip through it regularly, I fantasize about making everything in it, I study the delicious fabrics and the beautiful photography, and I've even made a few things from it. 

Fun fact:  I was hired as one of the technical editors for this book.  (Still can't believe I had the honour.  Thank you again zakkaworkshop for asking me!)  Kinda weird/marvelous how the universe works.

The invitation to be part of this blog hop was more like a gift because it gave me the perfect excuse/opportunity to make what I've always considered the best project of all ... the sewing kit. 

It is hard to pick a favourite ... all the projects are so pretty.  But there's just something about this kit.  I've spent a LOT of time studying it and enjoying the photographs. 

Fabrics ... I ended up using a whopping 23 prints for this project.  But I probably auditioned 3X that.  I heart my stash. :)  Most of them are by Atsuko and a good number of them have been in my stash for several years.  I followed many colour/pattern cues from the book.  I normally wouldn't even think of using a green/white gingham for a spool.  But that's what Atsuko used for hers and if it's good enough for her, it's definitely good enough for me. 

Templates ... there are several templates for this pattern.  If you're going to make this kit, please note that some templates have the seam allowance included and some do not.  Don't worry, they are all clearly marked.  The only "tricky" one is the pouch body.  But graph paper is so awesome.  Otherwise, it's super easy to simply add the seam allowance with your quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  No stress. :)

(Haha!  I just noticed that I photocopied the templates from my Japanese copy.  The new book is ALL in English, I assure you!) 

In the interest of full disclosure, I had plenty of "do-overs" with this one.  I was quite determined to make my kit as close to perfect as I could get.  After wanting to make it for so many years, I wasn't about to settle for anything less than my best.  Most of my redos were the result of my ever changing mind ... and too many fabric choices ... if there is such at thing ;). 

I "committed" to the cover feature fabric 5 times and changed my mind on the cover border fabric two or three ... once after I'd made all the spools.  But now I get to make something with the leftovers ... yum!  :)

I changed my mind 3 times for the ruler pocket fabric (and messed up once because I had the rectangle going in the wrong direction) but I know I finally got it right.  I also found that the bit of lace for the pocket didn't look right with the lacy, vertical stripe print I chose, so I simply left it off (after much hemming and hawing, because you know me and lace ...).

I had to unpick and resew the zipper like 4 times too.  If you don't get it exactly centered, the two sides close a bit wonky and the corners don't line up.  Mine is still just ever so slightly off, but I finally had to leave that one to Jesus. ;)

Also, just a quick note, the pattern doesn't explain how to deal with the closed end of the zipper when you're installing it.  And there isn't really a clear photo of it in the book.  It took me some fiddling around, but I finally got it.  So here are a few photos of mine for reference, if you need it. 

And don't even get me started on the covered buttons!  LOL! 

At one point I even asked my husband for his opinion.  Of course he picked wrong, tee hee.  But oh are they ever fun to make and I'm going to enjoy finding ways to use the spares. 

I went with these ones because of the zipper.  That zipper is an "ok" pink (not perfect, but it was literally the only option available), but it doesn't match anything else in the case.  So I found this print (cue the angels) to help the zipper pink play nicer with everything else.

That said, all my nonsense is really one of the most fun parts of making - for me.  It's not a waste of time.  I love playing with fabric.  I enjoy that balance of technical, creative, and emotional exercise that comes with making.  I like discovering what works and what doesn't - according to my eye.  And I'm happy to say that at the end of the day, I wouldn't change another thing about my beautiful sewing kit.

Speaking of changing things, I did alter the pattern a bit to suit myself.  Nothing major, just a few little things.

On the cover, I flipped the direction of the word "Sewing" so that it would be right side up when the kit was closed.  And I prefered the border edge with the pincushion so I switched the borders.

I quilted the inner lining because I know that after time and use, the center fold line will get creased.  Quilting the layers together will minimize that inevitable crinkle.

My scissors don't stay put when I open and close the kit.  I made my scissor pocket slightly taller to accommodate my 4" gingher scissors, (they are the best looking pair I have for this kit, plus they work great for fabric, as well as thread when I'm on the go) but that didn't quite solve the issue.  So I'm going to remove the ribbon tab and replace it with a tie for the handles.

I was having a hard time making the corners on the scissor keep and ruler pocket nicely (perfectly) squared.  So instead of making one front and one back of each piece and then sewing around, leaving an opening, and turning right side out ... and then trying to make the corners perfectly square, which I rarely am able to do even when I clip the corners and trim the seam allowance inside ... I did this:

Worked like a charm.

Instead of buying a strip of leather for the thread holder, I used a satin ribbon from my stash.

The pincushion is supposed to be held in place with velcro (loop and hook fastening).  I've never been a huge fan of velcro.  Stuff gets stuck to it and as a mom, I now associate the sound of velcro separating with little people's shoes.  LOL!  I used a sew-in magnet instead.  The pattern also calls for plastic to form the pincushion bottom.  I didn't have any on hand, but I did have some kraft-tex.  It worked great.  I'm thinking you could also use thin cardboard like from a cereal box.

One note about the pattern - the book doesn't include how much to overlap the petals on the pincushion when you're gathering them together with a running stitch.  My overlap is 3/8".

Oh, and I stuffed my pincushion with ground walnut shells (you can find it in a pet store under reptile bedding ... gross, I know) to make it nice and hard.

I used a sew-in magnet for both the little pouch closure and the fastener to hold the pouch to the kit.  I figured that pressing on a snap would be cumbersome if there was - for example - a thimble in the pouch.  But a magnetic snap is easy peasy to deal with.

The literalist in me needed to have silver pins in my pincushion and these ones make me deliriously happy!  I used this fabulous COSMO silver thread.  I know, I know, metallic thread is NOT fun to stitch with, you're probably thinking.  And before I used this product, I would have agreed with you whole-heartedly.  But this stuff is different.  I don't know why or how, but it's a total dream to use.  Honestly.  And then finding these silver beads that I bought years ago for some long forgotten project - probably something I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine once upon a time - was like finding a pot of gold silver at the end of a rainbow!  Don't they make the perfect pin heads?  I started looking for pink beads, but I found these hidden in the same box.  (Not going to tell you how long it took me to even find my bead stash ... ugh!)  But it is moments like these when I nod my head in thanks to the younger crafty me who wasn't afraid to try new things and managed to stock my craft room with many treasures that really do "come in handy some day".

The same literalist tendency led me to these perfectly silvery/gray prints (Lecien's Flower Sugar) for my thimbles.  We all know someone who has/had one of those super cool china thimble collections, right?  For me it was an aunt, who ironically didn't even sew.  Well, that's kind of the look I was going for when I fussycut the fabric for this coordinating pair.

These simple buttons are the result of a ridiculous number and combination of auditions.  Lordy.  I originally had a red heart button that ... ok, it was perfect.  But then again, it just wasn't quite right for some reason.  Can't explain why.  No logic, just a feeling.  So on the 147th dig through my button box, I came across this sweet little flower from my daughter's red cardie (circa kindergarten, sniff!) and that makes me so happy to have it here now.

Another tip: Add the buttons after you've sewn the cover patchwork together.  The buttons can make it difficult to sew perfect 1/4" seams.  Just sayin'.

Oh, and one more thing, the little flower zipper pull you may be wondering about?  Sorry, but if you ask me where to get one, I am of no help.  I bought it at Quilt Market 6 or 7 years ago and I can't remember the name of the vendor.  If you want to find something like it, I recommend looking for leather zipper pulls on Etsy or eBay.  But it really is the sweetest little accessory, isn't it?  If anything I've ever made deserves such a thing, it's definitely this kit!

And now - after all that, plus 6 years - I have THE perfect sewing kit for the Happy Flower QAL I'll be hosting with my friends and fellow Atsuko fans, Wynn and Melissa

(Yes, I've already make a few blocks ... shhh!)

We're starting on March 6th, but I'll be sharing more details in an upcoming post soon.  Hope you will join us!

There's a lot of applique and little bit of embroidery required for the QAL so this kit will be my constant companion throughtout the QAL.  Sorry not sorry if you see my kit a lot for the next year.  ;)

Ok.  If I haven't convinced you to get this book for your library (and quite honestly for your creative soul), there are a lot more inspiring projects and delightful eye-candy coming up for you to enjoy throughout this blog hop.  Here's the rockstar lineup of fabulously talented ladies, plus a fabulously talented gentleman, that you should follow on Instagram if you don't already.  (Oh my goodness I can hardly wait to see what they make.  I feel like a 7 year old on Christmas Eve!)


25 Lisa @aspoonfulsugar aspoonfulofsugardesigns.com
27 Sarah @Sarahedgarprettyfabrictrims alittlehappyplace.blogspot.co.uk
30 Minki @zeriano minkikim.com

1 Heidi @fabricmutt fabricmutt.blogspot.com
3 Clara @claralovestosew Instagram Only
6 Ange @alittlepatchwork alittlepatchwork.wordpress.com
8 Erin @whynotsewquilts whynotsew.blogspot.com
10 Lauren @transientart transientart.com
13 Sedef @downgrapevinelane downgrapevinelane.com
15 Ayda @cafenohut cafenohut.blogspot.com
17 Renee @sewnwithgrace sewnwithgrace.com
20 Heather @vintagegreyhandmade vintagegreyhandmade.blogspot.com
22 Melissa  @ohhowsweetco ohhowsweet.com
24 Greg @greydogwoodstudio greydogwoodstudio.com
27 Stacy @stacyolsondesign stacyolsondesign.com

1 Wynn @zakkaart zakkaart.blogspot.com



I'm really serious about getting as many of you as possible to join our QAL to make the quilt on the cover of this book so how would you like to win one of 10 - yes, TEN - copies of this book?!!!  Zakkaworkshop has generously agreed to give a free copy of Happy Flower Quilts to 10 Pretty by Hand readers.  To enter, please leave a comment here telling me what sewing project you're working on right now.  If you're between projects, tell me what you last finished or what is next on your list.  OR any one of your WIPs will also do.  That's it! 

This givewaway closes Friday January 28 and is open to everyone internationally.   I'll announce the winners next week.

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Reader Comments (278)

Wow, your sewing kit is amazing!! I'm currently sewing cute little pink and red hearts for a simple mini quilt, perfect for Valentine's Day :).
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha
Wow, your sewing case is beautiful. As usual, every sweet detail is sewn to perfection. I am working on my Quilty Fun Christmas quilt (early, a know - but I wanted to get it done so I can concentrate on the Hsppy Flower Quilt once the sewalong starts). I'm also finishing an orange Fancy Fox quilt and about to start on a Liberty version. I am so looking forward to this sewalong - it's going to be my 2017 challenge, and something different from my recent projects. Xx
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Ah youve made such a stunning workbook. Thank you for sharing your process. I recognize so much of it! The book is lovely and I cannot wait for the QAL. Love applique! I am currently working on a Rag Quilt. Not my favorite quilt, but it will be gifted to someone that I know will be very happy with it so all is good. I am also working on a piece of applique. My favorite! Thanks for the chance to win!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
I am making two shadow boxes, for my dearest friend and her daughter-in-law, who has become like a sister to me--such a blessing! I'm making dresdens for the interior of the boxes, and then backing them with lace my grandmother made, and adding instructions that they should display them with photos of beloved relatives (and suggestions of which they might want to consider, since I'm bossy like that and know lots of the family stories). It has been such a joy to work on these projects. I can't wait to pass them along.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeth T.
Your sewing kit is absolutely gorgeous. You do awesome detailed work. I am working on baby quilts for twin girls. I just want to jump up and down and say pick me, pick me.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTammy mcdonald
Your sewing kit is the cutest thing I ever did see...except for my (first) new little granddaughter Lily, who was born last Thursday! I just purchased fabric to make her a peek-a-boo quilt (I already made her a Winnie-the-Pooh crib quilt). I see some spoiling in her future! I would love to win this book, I totally understand why you love it so much. Count me in for the quilt along and blog hop! Can't wait to start!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBarb
So charming!
I'm working on quilting and binding a good number of finished quilt tops that I have piling up.
Thanks for the chance to win!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Quinn
The sewing kit is beautiful! I am currently working on a quilt for my niece's bridal shower.
Thank you for the giveaway!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMaria C
Ok, you asked....but it's not pretty. I have a gazillion pair of jeans to hem and patch. But as long as I get to sit in front of my sewing machine, hemming jeans won't be half bad. (Smile)

Thanks for the giveaway.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnneMarie
Your sewing kit is lovely! My most recent sewing project was a small project bag to house my knitting projects on the go.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle
I am finishing a pink and grey flannel rag blanket for my daughter's bed. I am ready for a smaller sized project!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDebbi
Loved your work. I am working on a quilt for my Grandson at the moment and am trying not to start anything else until it is finished. Always seem to have too many projects on the go. The book is just what I need. Small items are what I want to do this year
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMaye
I am currently finishing up a Christmas quilt that didn't get finished in time for this last holiday season :))))
I love the book and your sewing kit, my fingers are crossed!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterQuiltsqueen
Gorgeous!!! So excited to see more. Finishing up a Sashiko kit at the moment. I never know what to make my embroidery turn into when I am done!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! Today I need to finish a twin size quilt for a very ill friend and deliver it.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnn
Oh my goodness Kristyne this is absolutely gorgeous, precious, beautiful, perfect....I could go on and on. You and the book are a match made in Heaven. I have a small stash of Lecien pretties...pretty much because of you...and would love, love to win a book to begin the QAL. I am working on my Vintage Modern Hopscotch top right now...another stashed treasure from days gone by. Your work is perfectly, perfect! This will be a fun blog hop for sure. Lisa in Rx aka RxQuilter
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLisa in Texas
Oh I so want to sew along!!! My winter project is hand sewing a clamshell quilt,,,,,,and a couple of hand applique quilts are on the go,,,,I get sidetracked *squirrel* easily!!!! Your sewing kit is adorbs (of course) and this QAL is perfect to shake off this winter doldrums!! Looking forward to it,,,thank you for the chance to win a copy of this drool worthy book.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim L.
Great post and the kit is so cute.Yummiest fabrics.

I am playing between projects, and right now my goal is to finish the 365 challenger sampler .I have to sew three corners to add the last two borders to finish the top.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterrosa
I love this quilt and can't wait to start the QAL. I am just finishing up a Log Cabin Barn Raising quilt for my son and his family. In the white space in the center of the quilt I have put the Letter "
S" for their last name and under it "est. 2003" - Marriage date. Then I have appliqued each of their hands in black around the white band. The children are at the bottom with the parents hands at the top. I can add more children as they have them. It has turned out much better than I had planned and think it will be a great keepsake for their family.

As most Quilters, this is only ONE of my WIP's and I hope to get lots more finished as the year goes by (of course I'm also constantly adding new one too)
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Godfrey
Lovely lovely project, someday I will make one too. Right now I am in FL and my machine is in MN, but.... I am working on adding to my fabric stash 😁 Thanks for the post and the opportunity to win!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMary Pat
Lovely sewing bag. I have read a lot about Japanese craft books but do not own one yet. Thanks for the opportunity to win this pretty book. I am currently working on a small pouch with a free motion macine embroidery side pocket . I am making it up as I go. K
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKiri
Sew Sew Lovely Perfection. I am currently working on a few Quilts For Kids.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLISA
What a beautiful book, and a stunning project from it! I am hand Quilting the borders of a needle turned appliqué double bed quilt, trying to get it finished for a local quilt show. Thank you for the opportunity to win this lovely book.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarole
This is simply the prettiest sewing kit I have seen. I am working on a hand sewn EPP quilt made from Liberty fabrics, it is coming together very slowly. Thank you for an amazing giveaway. x
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKay
I have this book on my Amazon wish list--it would be fun to win a copy! I'm working on finishing up an older Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt--removing some boo boos that occurred because I didn't write myself any notes on what goes where--lol!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKaren in Breezy Point
Your sewing kit is every bit as beautiful as Atsuko Matsuyama's in her book. Your fabric choices are spot on. Reading your post, I can see you agonized over choices wanting your sewing kit to be perfection. Well, you most definitely succeeded! I have almost bought this book so many times in Japanese.When I heard it was going to be translated, I decided to wait. Right now, I am working on a machine needle case with a zipper similar in construction to this sewing case.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Seltser
Your projects are the sweetest! No sewing for me right now as I am clearing out my sewing room to make a space for some inherited furniture. Hope to tackle my UFOs soon starting with a Jacobs Ladder quilt that only needs borders.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Halcomb
My current project is working on quilts for my very first grandchildren.....yes plural. My daughter is expecting TWIN GIRLS at the end of March. This book sure would be nice to win!!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
I am sewing up a few American Girl Dresses for my niece. Your sewing kit is perfection!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer D
Oh my gosh! I've loved Atsuko's strawberry fabrics from the moment I first saw them. And now a book to make her goodies! Thank you so much for the chance to win.
Your sewing kit is adorable. Quite a project. Looking forward to the blog hop.
Just finished a hand embroidered snowman for my daughter, and crocheted bunny hat for a granddaughter. Looking forward to making a table runner for my daughter in law, and a honey bee quilt is on the horizon. Will love to use my strawberry stash on Atsuko's projects. What great inspiration!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJudith
I most recently finished a few skirts for my daughter, and have a few diaper clutches lined up for my next project(s). Thanks for the giveaway!!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea M
I'm finishing up a Christmas quilt by thimble blossoms. I love your project & have to join this QAL!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStefani
Thank you, thank you for your photographs, post, and project! Putting all three together is a joy for me to read and to see! So thankyouverymuch for all of your week. It's a lovely project and I look for to this QAL or SAL and all the Happy Flower Quilt inspiration! <3
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSharrie
Loved this long and detailed post - thank you for taking the time! Your sewing kit is simply perfect, and I agree completely - it's the excitement of getting things 'just right' that makes a project like this so much fun! I see some serious stash enhancement in my future! I am a newbie quilter, and have a pieced top that I'm hoping to finish before I move on to something new ... guess we'll see how that works out! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book - I am looking forward to meeting more quilters through the blog-hop and seeing lots more of what's inside. :)
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJani
I just finished a "sweet" little quilt, and this book makes me want to make another. I love your work!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Ostrander
Swoon quilt in Tilda, lala lupin bunnies, hexagon lap quilt, and a Christmas crossstitch, whew, if only there was more time! Xxx love the needle case! 🌸🌸🌸
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLizzy
You do absolutely beautiful work. Your fabric selections are gorgeous and your photography is excellent. I am working on some 6 inch finished blocks from Lisa Bongean's website. They are so much fun and I'm in my happy place when I work on them. I'd LOVE to win this book!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey
What a lovely sewing kit you have made. Thank you for all your great tips and idess- I really like the magnet for the pincushion - I don't like velcro either. Thank you for sharing details from this lovely book. I think I need to add it to my collection. At the moment I have an ongoing slow sewing project -the Chapman coverlet, and I am also making a quilt for my mother's birthday -it is one of those 0 birthdays.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Ikin
Well, that is the sweetest thing I ever saw!! Of course, I do love everything you make! I'm currently working on a Dresden place mat! I think you left a string of pretty emojis on my IG post yesterday 😊 I would love to win a copy of this delicious book. But will most certainly buy a copy if I don't!!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
This looks such a great book!
I'm just finishing the binding on a baby quilt!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGill
On my to do next list is some pajamas using some lovely plum/purple fabric. The top is made from knit fabric and I've only sewn with this a handful of times.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJowyn Jenson
I've just finished Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt top. I would love to win a copy of this book!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
What a beautiful sewing kit, I especially love the choice of fabrics. I love all the intricate details.
Currently working on finishing up a bee quilt and doing some hand embroidery for a wall hanging.
Thanks for the opportunity to try and win a copy of this awesome book.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSandy
This sewing kit is SO cute! I was hoping you had made some for sale! But it sounds like it took a while to complete so that might not be practical. I'd love to win the book. My last sewing project was curtains and pillows for the family room made with blue check and blue toile fabric. I am thinking about making a dress - haven't done so for a very long time, but I have a hard time finding clothes I like ready made.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara H.
I just finished a jelly roll quilt, using my own design. I really like it. Plan to clean up my studio now, sorting thru the piles of left-over scraps & deciding what to do with them.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatti Jackson
Thanks for the giveaway. I love your sewing kit. I am working on a dinosaur quilt for my grandson.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDebra
Omg! I love your sewing kit. I'm working on my farmers wife quilt.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDeidra
WHAT an awesome to this blog hop. I know your love of this designer runs deep because I count myself lucky enough to have spent a whole year (2015 to be exact) reading every blog post going back to the beginning and have kept up every since.

I just finished fat quarter Christmas pillow covers using some crayon tinting and some preprogrammed embroidery stitches on my Elna and would love to be one of the 10 lucky winners!
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCFQuilter
I have soooo many WIPs! My favourites are a surprise epp hexies quilt for my teen, and my bee quilt. The ladies are making me cats for my crazy cat lady quilt ❤️

This book looks gorgeous! It's on my list! I'm looking forward to following the blog hop 😊
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHeidee
This is so incredibly adorable. I love reading your blog because as a new sewer I find it extremely inspirational and see projects to aspire to. I'm currently working on a hand sewing Jedi quilt project which may take a while to complete. I'm also in the process of prepping fabric to make mini quilts so I can practice the layering, quilting and binding techniques.

I'm looking forward to see what project will feature on your blog next. ❤️
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIsmet
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