Bias Binding Tutorials

bias binding tutorials

There are lots of ways to sew a bias binding to finish a garment, so I’ve put together a series of tutorials to walk you through three of my favorite options! You’ll see these demonstrated on my Gemma sewing pattern, but you can use these techniques for any necklines, armholes, or hems that you please! Click on the photos below for each tutorial.

bias binding traditional

bias binding topstitch

bias binding tutorial, french method - Made by Rae blog

And here’s a bonus if you need some hints for making your own bias binding:

how to make bias binding

http://www.made-by-rae.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/bias-binding-tutorials-made-by-rae.png
bias binding tutorials | made by rae blog

Gemma…as a DRESS!

Gemma Dress!

I’m pretty excited about this one! I love to hack patterns, and the simplest hacks are sometimes the best hacks. Since releasing the Gemma sewing pattern last month, I’ve wanted to try making it into a dress (the basic pattern is a tank). My pattern hacks don’t always work, so I was happy that this one worked out nicely!

Gemma Dress

Gemma Dress!

Gemma Dress!

I chose this light blue Anna Maria Horner voile that has been sitting in my stash for years and years. It’s a bit sheer on its own, so I wear a short slip underneath. I think it also looks great with a belt and this purse that I got for my birthday!

Gemma Dress!

There is more than one way to extend a bodice pattern so that it is longer. In this case, I wanted to keep the “S” shape at the hem, but exaggerate it more so that it had a better proportion relative to the dress and didn’t just look like an accidental uneven hem. I started by tracing the basic Gemma pattern, front and back. Then I extended the side seams from the hip by 11,” extended the Center Front by 13,” and connected them with an “S.” Since I also wear a larger size on my lower half than my top half, I ended up having to bump the hip out by 2″ to accommodate my large-ish derrière (my bodice size is medium). You can see all of this in the photo below, which is the front pattern piece, but of course I also did the same to the back.

how to turn the Gemma Tank into a dress

I wore it out for sushi with Mr Rae and Elliot and Clementine for my birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago when the weather was still seriously hot. For fall, I’ll just add leggings and/or skinny jeans and a sweater.

Gemma Dress!

What do you think? Do you like Gemma as a dress? I’d love to know if you give it a try!

Jess’ Rayon Gemma Top

jess's tomato rayon gemma

Look!! Jess made this awesome flowy Gemma tank out of Field Study rayon which I would steal but it’s not my size. I am also coveting her hair. Moving on. She used the french binding method (tutorial at that link!) to finish the neckline and armholes without adding an extra seam allowance (more details on that in the tutorial). You can see here how the straps come out narrower as a result.

jess's tomato rayon gemma

This is Jess doing her “Rae” impression, below. Har har.

jess's tomato rayon gemma

I love this view of the back here:

jess's tomato rayon gemma

If this fabric looks familiar, I made a Bianca and a Washi maxi dress out of the same print. Do we love it or what? It really is great, and so comfortable.

Rayon is one of my favorite fabrics for sewing garments because it is super comfortable to wear, and if you buy higher quality rayon (Free Spirit and Cotton and Steel are two manufacturers I like) it’s actually quite easy to cut and sew. The same is not true for cheap rayon though…no fun!!

jess's tomato rayon gemma

The Gemma Tank sewing pattern is available in my pattern shop, and you can access all three binding tutorials from the Gemma Page if you need them for future reference!

Posted in gemma
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Bias Binding Tutorial (french method)

bias binding french

This is the third and final tutorial in my bias binding series. Many of my women’s sewing patterns, including the Gemma tank shown in this post, use bias binding to finish the neckline and armholes. There are so many ways to attach bias binding! Here are the methods I have shared so far:

  • Traditional Method – my preferred technique and found in the sewing instructions for Gemma, Ruby, and Josephine
  • Topstitch Method – another great technique, easier than traditional, and the reverse of traditional

This third tutorial will show you another fantastic bias binding technique called the “french method,” which creates a lovely invisible finish. This involves folding the bias binding in half, attaching it to the outside of the garment, flipping it completely to the inside, and stitching it down from the inside. This method is wonderful because you won’t see the binding at all when it’s finished, which can look very sharp and professional!

You will need: 
1.25″ wide bias binding* (see my handy tutorial to make your own)
a garment with an unfinished neckline and/or armholes
iron + ironing surface
(optional) clear quilter’s ruler
your sewing machine

*also called bias tape or bias strips

Before you begin:
Since this method involves folding the seam allowance and bias binding all the way to the inside of the garment, the armholes and neckline will end up 1/4″ wider, and the shoulders 1/2″ narrower than they would using the other binding methods. If you’re ok with those changes, proceed to Step 1. If you’d rather preserve the same proportions, add 1/4″ seam allowance to your pattern pieces along all the neck and armhole lines. Do this by marking dots 1/4″ away from the pattern piece edges, then connecting the dots to make a new cutting line. This is shown in red on the front and back pattern pieces of Gemma here:

add seam allowance

Step 1. Press binding in half lengthwise
Using your iron, press the bias binding in half lengthwise with wrong sides facing.

Step 2. Make sure you have enough
Place binding loosely around the neckline and armholes before pinning. Since the binding will not be visible from the outside, it is not essential to make sure the seams in the binding are strategically placed.

Step 3. Staystitch
If you haven’t already, staystitch the neckline and armholes. Use a regular stitch to sew around the openings 1/8″ away from the edge. This will prevent the edges from stretching out when you add the binding.

Step. Pin binding to neckline/armhole.
Instead of overlapping the ends of the bias binding as in the other tutorials, I’m going to show you how to sew the two ends of the bias binding together before sewing it to the neckline. This results in an even smoother finish. With garment right side out, pin binding to neckline with raw edges aligned. Begin 1/2″ before one shoulder seam.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Pin all the way around, and allow the end of the bias binding to extend past the starting shoulder seam. With chalk or disappearing fabric marker, mark both ends of the bias binding at the shoulder seam line.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Trim the end of the bias binding 1/2″ past the shoulder seam. If necessary, remove the pins on either side of the shoulder seam. Unfold the ends of the bias binding and pin them with right sides together and seam marks facing.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Stitch the two ends together with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Open up the seam you just made and finger press to smooth.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Fold the binding back in half and pin to neckline. See how the seam lines right up with the shoulder?

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Step 5. Press in place
It helps to give your bindings a quick press after pinning to encourage them to curve along the neck or armhole opening.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Step 6. Sew!
Sew the binding to the neckline using a scant (that means just a hair under) 1/4″ seam allowance. For my machine, this is not the same as where the edge of my presser foot is, so I have to keep a close eye on the marks on the throatplate to make sure I don’t go over 1/4”. It’s really important to go slow, keep the edges even, and not go over 1/4″.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Continue sewing around the entire neckline or armhole.

made by rae french binding

Step 7. Press binding to inside of garment.
Press binding up, away from garment (not shown). Flip binding all the way to the inside of the garment and press, allowing the the outer fabric to roll slightly to the inside for a nice clean look. With the 1.25″-wide bias tape folded in half as shown, the binding should be sufficiently wide to cover the seam allowance. If you’re using narrower bias tape, or have trouble hiding the seam allowance, you may need to grade the seam allowances to 1/8″ before pressing.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Step 8. Pin binding to inside of garment
Turn the garment inside out and pin the binding all the way around. If you’d like to add a tag to the back of your neckline, now is the time to pin it into place.

Tip: Pin with the pins pointing clockwise; this will make it easy to pull them out as you sew!

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Step 9. Edgestitch
Stitching from the inside of the garment and removing the pins carefully as you sew, sew along the folded edge of the binding.

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

Step 10. Press
Give your binding a final press, step back, and admire!

Made By Rae | French Binding Tutorial

A note about thread color: I used white thread for this tutorial so that you can see the progress of each step. Choose a thread that matches the garment to make this method’s stitches virtually invisible.

made by rae | french bias binding

Want to see another example of this method in action? Check out Jess’ Rayon Gemma top; it looks amazing!

bias binding tutorials made by rae

Bias Binding Tutorial (topstitch method)

bias binding topstitch

This is the second tutorial in my bias binding series. Many of my women’s sewing patterns, including the Gemma tank shown in this post, use bias binding to finish the neckline and armholes. There are so many ways to attach bias binding, so I thought it would be great to share a few of my favorites! The first tutorial outlined my preferred technique, the “traditional method,” which is used in the sewing pattern instructions for Gemma, Ruby, and Josephine.

This second method I’m calling the “topstitch method,” and it involves attaching the bias to the inside of the garment, flipping it to the outside, and topstitching along the folded edge to finish it (so basically the reverse of the traditional method). This method is great because it’s a bit easier than the traditional method, so it’s nice if you’re a beginner just learning to sew with bias. You have more control over your folded edge as you sew it down because it’s on top, so you don’t have to worry whether you’ve managed the catch the edge of the binding on the inside or not.

So why isn’t this one my favorite? I have a few reasons: I don’t love that the stitches are visible (just a personal preference), I find it a bit harder to get this one to look smooth (with careful pinning and pressing, though, this is hardly noticeable), and I just love how the traditional method looks with rayon and lightweight fabrics. But don’t worry, this one is still great!! Many people prefer this one, and you may too!

You will need: 
1.25″ wide bias binding* (see my handy tutorial to make your own)
a garment with an unfinished neckline and/or armholes
iron + ironing surface
(optional) clear quilter’s ruler
your sewing machine

*also called bias tape or bias strips

Step 1. Press 1/4″ under along one edge of your binding
Using your iron, carefully press 1/4″ towards the wrong side along one long edge of your bias binding. If you’re new to using bias binding, you may want to have a clear ruler handy to help you figure out how wide 1/4″ is. This is something that goes slow at first, but will go faster and faster once you get the hang of it. You can see the bias binding in the photo below has one edge folded under by 1/4.”

Step 2. Make sure you have enough
Take your garment and make sure you have enough length to go all the way around your neckline and/or armholes. (Note: for this tutorial, I will use the neckline.) Notice that I’m also checking to see where the seams in my bias will land on the neckline. This is important; since this binding is visible from the outside, you want to try to position your bias binding so that the seams don’t land in the very middle of the neckline. I often trim the binding before I begin so the seams will land where I want them to.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 3. Staystitch
If you haven’t already, staystitch the neckline and armholes. Use a regular stitch to sew around the openings 1/8″ away from the edge. This will prevent the edges from stretching out when you add the binding.

Step 4. Fold under the starting end
Take your binding and fold the end of the bias binding 1/4″ toward the wrong side. Turn your garment inside-out, and place the folded end of the binding at one of the shoulder seams. Make sure the right side of the binding is facing the wrong side of the garment. Note that the folded edge you pressed in Step 1 is on the left side, and the unfolded edge is on the right. If you are binding an armhole, use the side seam as a starting point.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 5. Sew!
Keeping the edge of the garment lined up with the edge of the bias binding, sew them together using a scant (that means just a hair under) 1/4″ seam allowance. For my machine, this is not the same as where the edge of my presser foot is, so I have to keep a close eye on the marks on the throatplate to make sure I don’t go over 1/4.” It’s really important to go slow, keep the edges even, and not go over 1/4.” I don’t pin, and I don’t try to stretch the bias out as I sew; maybe just a tiny bit to get the bias nice and even with the curve of the neckline. If you feel more comfortable pinning, that’s fine…I just haven’t found pinning to work any better than just going for it.

Note: if you’d like to add a tag to the back of a neckline, you need to put it in now (not pictured)! Pin it in place before you start sewing, then remove the pin and sew it to the neckline along with the binding when you get to it.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Continue sewing around the entire neckline or armhole.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 6. Overlap the ends and trim
When you get to the point you started at, continue sewing until your stitches overlap the folded portion you began with by about 1/4″. Backstitch to secure your stitches, then trim the end so that it’s even with the edge of the folded portion.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 7. Press binding away from garment
Press the binding and seam allowances upward, away from the garment. Be careful not to un-press the folded edge. Notice that there are two lines of stitches; the top one is the staystitching, and the bottom one is the binding seam.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 8. Pin binding to outside of garment
Turn the garment right side out and fold the binding to the outside of the garment so that it just covers the seam you just sewed. Pin all the way around, and tuck the overlapped ends together at the shoulder to reduce bulk.

Tip: Pin with the pins pointing clockwise when viewed from the outside; this will make it easy to pull them out as you sew!

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 9. Topstitch
Stitching from the outside of the garment and removing the pins carefully as you sew, sew along the folded edge of the binding. 

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

Step 10. Press
Give your binding a final press, step back, and admire!

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

A note about thread color: I used white thread for this tutorial so that you can see the progress of each step. Choose a thread that matches the binding to make this method’s stitches blend in.

Bias Binding Tutorial | part 3

A note about those ends: In this case, the ends of the bias binding are simply overlapped and stitched down. In the next tutorial, I’ll show you how to join the ends before attaching the binding so you’ll get an even smoother finish. Ready to sew up a level? You can try it with this technique, too!

made by rae | topstitch bias binding

Want to see another example of this topstitch method in action? Check out Jess’s linen Gemma with yellow binding; it looks fantastic!

bias binding tutorials made by rae

Bias Binding Tutorial (traditional method)

bias binding traditional

I’ve been excited to share a few bias binding tutorials with you ever since I released my Gemma tank sewing pattern (which also happens to be the tank shown in these pictures)!

Gemma is a Presto Pattern and my goal was to keep the instructions short and sweet, so including three different ways to bind the arms and necklines in the pattern seemed like too much. BUT…I also wanted to emphasize that you don’t have to do it the way the pattern suggests…it’s nice to have options, right? It probably comes as no surprise that experienced garment makers have their personal preferences when it comes to binding; I know I definitely do!

This first tutorial shows my preferred and default method for binding an edge with bias strips. I’m calling it the “traditional method,” because it’s a classic binding technique. This method involves attaching the bias to the outside of the garment, flipping it to the inside, and stitching in the ditch from the outside to finish it. If that made no sense whatsoever, don’t worry, the step-by-step is coming right up…

You will need: 
1.25″ wide bias binding* (see my handy tutorial to make your own)
a garment with an unfinished neckline and/or armholes
iron + ironing surface
(optional) clear quilter’s ruler
your sewing machine

*also called bias tape or bias strips

Step 1. Press 1/4″ under along one edge of your binding
Using your iron, carefully press 1/4″ towards the wrong side along one long edge of your bias binding. If you’re new to using bias binding, you may want to have a clear ruler handy to help you figure out how wide 1/4″ is. This is something that goes slow at first, but will go faster and faster once you get the hang of it. You can see the bias binding in the photo below has one edge folded under by 1/4.”

Step 2. Make sure you have enough
Take your garment and make sure you have enough length to go all the way around your neckline and/or armholes. (Note: for this tutorial, I will use the neckline.) Notice that I’m also checking to see where the seams in my bias will land on the neckline. This is important; since this binding is visible from the outside, you want to try to position your bias binding so that the seams don’t land in the very middle of the neckline. I often trim the binding before I begin so the seams will land where I want them to.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 3. Staystitch
If you haven’t already, staystitch the neckline and armholes. Use a regular stitch to sew around the openings 1/8″ away from the edge. This will prevent the edges from stretching out when you add the binding.

Step 4. Fold under the starting end
Take your binding and fold the end of the bias binding 1/4″ toward the wrong side, and place it at one of the shoulder seams. Note that the folded edge you pressed in Step 1 is on the left side, and the unfolded edge is on the right. If you are binding an armhole, use the side seam as a starting point.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 5. Sew!
Keeping the edge of the garment lined up with the edge of the bias binding, sew them, right sides together, together using a scant (that means just a hair under) 1/4″ seam allowance. For my machine, this is not the same as where the edge of my presser foot is, so I have to keep a close eye on the marks on the throatplate to make sure I don’t go over 1/4.” It’s really important to go slow, keep the edges even, and not go over 1/4.” I don’t pin, and I don’t try to stretch the bias out as I sew; maybe just a tiny bit to get the bias nice and even with the curve of the neckline. If you feel more comfortable pinning, that’s fine…I just haven’t found pinning to work any better than just going for it.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Continue sewing around the entire neckline or armhole.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 6. Overlap the ends and trim
When you get to the point you started at, continue sewing until your stitches overlap the folded portion you began with by about 1/4″. Backstitch to secure your stitches…

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Then trim the end so that it’s even with the edge of the folded portion.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 7. Press binding away from garment
Press the binding and seam allowances upward, away from the garment. Be careful not to un-press (is that even a word??) the folded edge. Notice that there are two lines of stitches; the top one is the staystitching, and the bottom one is the binding seam.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 8. Pin binding to inside of garment
Fold the binding into the garment so that it just covers the seam you just sewed. Pinning from the outside of the garment, secure the folded edge of the binding by catching it with the pins just below the edge of the binding seam. Tip: Pin with the pins pointing clockwise when viewed from the outside; this will make it easy to pull them out as you sew!

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Tuck the overlapped ends together at the shoulder to reduce bulk.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Add a tag to the back of your neckline if you want. Aren’t these little logo tags cute?? Beth at Custom Labels 4U made these for me; their woven tags are fantastic quality and the colors are spot-on!

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 9. Stitch in the ditch
Stitching from the outside of the garment and removing the pins carefully as you sew, stitch in the ditch of the neckline seam, catching the folded edge of the bias binding underneath. This step takes some practice and patience! I sometimes gently push the binding just a tiny bit to the right before it goes under the presser foot so that when the binding relaxes back, the stitches will barely be visible.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

Step 10. Press
Give your binding a final press, step back, and admire!

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

A note about thread color: I used white thread for this tutorial so that you can see the progress of each step. Choose a thread that matches the garment to make this method’s stitches virtually invisible.

A note about those ends: In this case, the ends of the bias binding are simply overlapped and stitched down. In a later tutorial, I’ll show you how to join the ends before attaching the binding so you’ll get an even smoother finish.

Made By Rae Standard Bias Binding

bias binding tutorials made by rae

Linen Gemma with Yellow Binding

made by rae gemma tank

Check out this lovely linen Gemma with a contrast binding that we whipped up while Jess was in the studio last week! Using a different fabric for armhole and neckline bindings is a great way to jazz Gemma up. I think a solid tank with a printed bias binding would also be really cute.

UPDATE: We’ve now posted three bias binding tutorials and saved them under “Resources” on the Gemma page. We used the topstitching method for this tank.

This tank was a made with a linen from J0Ann (same linen as this Geranium, actually) that I’ve had for awhile, and a lovely muted yellow double gauze from Pink Castle Fabrics here in Ann Arbor. I think it’s Lecien? Not sure…

made by rae gemma tank

I love how linen is both crisp and flowy. It does have the tendency to wrinkle and crease, but it’s comfy and lightweight. Jess had already stuffed this tank into her suitcase before I got a chance to take photos, so she pulled it out and gave it a quick press before snapping these. It hardly seems worth it to fully iron linen, though. Embrace the wrinkle!

made by rae gemma tank

made by rae gemma tank

made by rae gemma tank

It’s been great to see your Gemma tanks popping up all over the place online!!  You can share your photos in my photo pool, on Instagram (use the #gemmatank tag so others can find it) and on Facebook (hey did you know there’s a new Made by Rae Facebook group? Request a join to share photos and get ideas and advice from the rest of the group!).

Posted in gemma
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Ice Cream Birthday Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Clementine has been obsessed with her birthday since March when the boys had their birthdays. I had to make a rule that she couldn’t ask me about her birthday until June 30, one month beforehand, because I thought she was going to drive me absolutely bonkers with the persistent questions and birthday plans. It was seriously unrelenting. But of course that’s what makes birthdays fun at this age, right? It’s that golden age when you finally understand what a birthday is but you haven’t yet realized that birthdays also can be emotionally overwhelming and ultimately disappointing. How’s that for dark?

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

She decided she wanted an Ice Cream theme for her birthday sometime around April, which was right around the time that my friend Dana announced her new line of fabrics for Art Gallery, Boardwalk Delight. Talk about perfect timing! The entire collection is bright and adorable and Dana’s awesome bold and modern aesthetic comes through so clearly in this collection. I love it.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

I knew immediately that the “I scream, You scream” print was destined for Clementine’s birthday dress. I used the ever-popular Geranium Dress which is such a pattern chameleon; it seriously works for everything, I swear (I’m not biased, not in the least), and added a double-fold hem band to the bottom edge in the sprinkles print.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

For the lining I used the twinkle lights print, which adds a pop of fun mango orange color to the inside of the dress.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Clementine loves her dress! She wore it for her birthday party, which included a swim with a few friends at the city pool (in her ice cream cone swimsuit), ice cream sundaes, and an ice cream felt banner that we made together. She had a really wonderful time…as far as I could tell, no hint of Birthday Disappointment in this one yet.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Also pictured here: the Clara doll we got her for her birthday, which she refuses to be separated from. It’s neat because Hilary Lang’s blog, Wee Wonderfuls, was one of the very first blogs I ever followed way back in the day, so I was excited to see that she was licensing her dolls with Land of Nod. All of her dolls are so cute.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Fabric: Boardwalk Delight by Dana Willard (Made Everyday) for Art Gallery Fabrics
Pattern: Geranium Dress Sewing Pattern (size 7)

You can see more Boardwalk Delight over at Made Everyday and elsewhere across the Webs, as Dana’s Boardwalk Delight Blog Party is happening all this month and next!

BWD by Made Everyday

Gemma Sewing Pattern is HERE!

Gemma sewing pattern
BUY NOW

Gemma is here!! I’m so excited about this tank pattern, and clearly many of you are as well! It has a clean, sleek cut, beautifully fitted shoulders and bust darts, and an attractive curved hem. This is one of those garments that we can put in the “staple” category, but there’s something about Gemma that’s more special than that. It’s so versatile and comfortable and flattering; I’ve been wearing my test versions constantly this summer, and I’m sure I’ll layer them under cardigans for all the cooler months too.

Gemma is the second of my “Presto Patterns” collection. The idea behind Presto patterns is that they are simple and easy to make, drafted and tested with the same level of care as the rest of my patterns, but include more abbreviated instructions and only one view rather than multiple views (read more about Presto patterns in this post).

Gemma is available as a PDF sewing pattern, which includes print-at-home pages as well as copy shop files (in both A0 and US formats), just like the rest of my women’s digital patterns!

I’ve put together a Gemma Page where you can find all of the blog posts and related tutorials (coming soon!) for Gemma.

In the shop listing, you’ll find additional photos, plus all the charts for sizes, finished measurements, and yardage.

I’d love to see what you make with the Gemma Pattern! Please use the hashtags #gemmatank#madebyrae, or #raemademedoit on Instagram and Twitter to share your photos, or post pictures of your finished pants to the Rae Made Me Do It pool in Flickr and see what others have made! I also have a Made by Rae group on Facebook now, so if you’d like to join and be a part of the sewing community there, please request to join!

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Posted in gemma
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