Large Tote with Rounded Opening

I always use totes.  For carrying books to the library, blankets and snacks to the park, clothes for an over-nighter, towels and swimsuits to the lake, etc.

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My kiddos even snatch them and haul around stuffed animals, baby dolls and their favorite blankies.

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I guess totes are something you can never have too many of.   So it’s a good thing they are pretty simple to make.

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While I was at the store the other day, I saw a tote up on a billboard, advertising something that was coming out of the tote…..but the tote had this great rounded opening.  And I decided right then, that a new tote was my next project.  And the other projects sitting on my sewing table would have to wait.  Even though some are half done.  Ack.  My poor table overfloweth.

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And the tote is great as is……..but I just had to throw a few flowers (from this tutorial) on the front.

But, of course, they’re optional.

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And added a printed fabric for the lining.

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The bottom corners are squared, proving more room in the tote.

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And that’s that.  They’re quick to make, easy to carry, and big enough to stuff full.

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Would you like to make your own rounded opening tote?

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First of all, my outer fabric is called Duck Cloth.  It’s super thick and sturdy canvas-y material that gives totes a great shape.  The inner fabric is just a woven cotton. (Bought them at Joann’s)

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To begin cut out two 19 x 19 inch squares out of your outer fabric and two 19 x 19 inch squares out of your lining fabric.

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Then, find the center along one edge of your outer fabric and mark it.  Then measure out 3.5 inches in both directions and mark it with a pen.  (I measured out and marked 3 inches in both directions in the image below but then changed it.  Do 3.5 inches.)

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Now grab a bowl with about a 7 inch diameter (or cut out your own circle) and place the curve of the bowl between the 2 outer marks.

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I didn’t wanted the circle quite so rounded (a bigger bowl would have fixed this problem) so I left some room between the bowl and the outer marks………

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……..and then traced around the bowl, stopping about an inch before the edge of the fabric.

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I then curved the line more outward to give that section of the fabric a bit of a straighter line, rather than continuing with the curve of the bowl.  Like I said above, a larger bowl would have helped.  Darn afterthought. :)

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Now, cut out the circle shape…..

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…….and then place this main piece (not the cut out piece, in case you don’t center it just right) on top of the other square pieces and cut out the same shape.

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Now, place the outer pieces together with right sides together and sew them together along the sides and bottom (1/2 inch seam allowance).  Then zig-zag (or serge) the raw edges and trim if necessary.  Do the same with the lining pieces.

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Now, to create the bottom squared-off shape…….grab one of your bottom corners.

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And pull the front of the fabric away from the back of the fabric like shown……

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Then turn the fabric over on it’s side and make the tip nice and pointy while lining up the seam that’s now running along the top, even with the seam that’s running along the bottom.  Just feel it with your fingers and line both of those seams up.

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Now, measure down from the point, 2 inches and mark it with a pin.

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Then sew a straight line right across……..making sure it hits 2 inches down from the point.


**Do the same with the other bottom corner and then the two bottom corners of the lining.

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Next, cut out 2 long strips of fabric that are 22 x 3 inches.  Fold them in half lengthwise, with right sides together, and sew along the long side using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Turn then right side out and iron flat.

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Next, turn your outer fabric for your tote right side out and pin a strip to the curve of the front side of the tote and one to the curve of the back side.  Measure down 1.5 inches from the top edge and pin your strip with the raw end facing up.  (Make sure that the strip isn’t twisted at all.)  And pin the strip ends in place about 3/4 of an inch past the edge of the curve of the tote.  You’ll see why later.  (And use two pins for each end, to keep the strips from moving before you sew them in place.)

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Now, with your lining fabric still inside out, slide it over your outer fabric (that’s now right side out)…….

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…….and keep pulling it up until the top edges are even.  Make sure the handles are tucked down inside and then pin all along the upper edge.

Now sew all along the top, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance……….leaving about 5-6 inch gap along one side (near the side seam of the tote).

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Now trim the corners off at the top of each curve……

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……..and clip each curve.  (Read here for more info on trimming and clipping.)

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Now stick your hand down in the opening and pull out the outer fabric and shove the lining back down to the inside of the tote.

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Now, iron the upper edge nice and flat.  Be sure to tuck the edges of the opening down towards the inside a 1/2 inch and iron flat.  Then top-stitch all along the upper edge about a 1/4 inch away from the edge.

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Then, create little squares with ‘X’s’ through them right below the edge where the straps were attached.  This will help make those strap more sturdy, especially if you’re going to put heavy things in your tote.

Now, fold your straps in half, towards the inside of the bag and sew right along the edge.  Start and stop about 1 3/4 inches from the end of each handle.

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This just gives the handle a better shape and make them easier to grab and hold.

Now, if you want to add flowers to your tote, make them just like the tutorial here.  However, I made these flowers using fabric circles that were 2.5 inches in diameter.  And I also didn’t hand sew the few extra scrunched circle pieces to the top, like shown in the tutorial mentioned.  I wanted the top of the flower to be flat…..so I left them off.

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And then machine sewed each flower right to the front, sewing through the center section of the flower.  You can also hand stitch them in place, if desired.

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And that’s it. 

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Your tote is done.

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And ready to be filled.

 

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Comments

98 Responses to “Large Tote with Rounded Opening”
  1. 1
    Tasha says:

    Love. Love. Love. I want to make this bag. Thank you for the free tutorial!! You are the best

  2. 2
    Emily says:

    LOVE this! Any tips on sewing with duck cloth? My stitches often wobbly, but only on duck cloth. . . .

  3. 3
    MissH says:

    Thank you so much for the great tutorial! I always have issues with the corners, and your explanation/image is by far the best I’ve seen so far, thanks again!

  4. 4
    Annie says:

    MUST. HAVE. ONE.

  5. 5
    Diane says:

    Beautiful! You could sew small black buttons in the centers of your flowers to tie in with the lining. Great design; thank for sharing the tutorial.

  6. 6

    Dang! That is 2 ~ 2 Cute!!!

  7. 7
    Julie says:

    Very cute, the only thing I would add is a pocket on the inside :)

  8. 8
    Emily says:

    Back to the fabric store for me. I have to try this (in pink of course) I have a question though, when you give the directions for cutting and folding the straps you say to use a 1.4 inch seam allowance, is the supposed to be 1/4?

  9. 9
    Missy says:

    I love this! I’ve been wanting to make a new bag, but didn’t know how to go about it. I think I can manage this. Just one question – You said sew the handles with right sides together, but then never said to turn them right side out… but you do, right? Sorry if that just goes without saying, or if you said it and I missed it… :)

  10. 10
    Ivy P Motuyang says:

    really, really loveee.. this tote.

  11. 11
    Irina says:

    Thank you for the nice tutorial! I can’t belive how easy you make it look!

  12. 12
    Wendy says:

    This is fantastic! Thanks for the instructions- off to Joanns!

  13. 13
    Andrea says:

    I totally love this! For the bottom squares, did you do that in the lining as well?

  14. 14
    Amy says:

    You inspire me and I wanted to let you know and hope that it would encourage you! God has gifted you with such an awesome talent and I am grateful that you are sharing it with the world!!

  15. 15
    Brie says:

    Love it. I just got fabric to make a tote and could not decide which one. I think this is the one!

  16. 16
    Regina says:

    What a beautiful tote and what a beautiful job you did making it! Your instructions were so simple to follow – I look forward to making one for myself. I agree you can never never have too many bags! Thanks for sharing your talent.

  17. 17
    Marsha Stevens says:

    Your instructions are so clear. I have been following your site for quite a while now. I just love your site. You are so very talented and I have admired all your work. I think I just might give one of these a try. Thanks Again!!!!!!

    Marsha Stevens

  18. 18
    VickiT says:

    Great looking tote! Love the flowers. I have TONS of duck which is screaming to be used in my sewing room too in all colors. Sadly, none of them are pretty colors. But, totes don’t have to be pretty all the time right? I’ll just have to use pretty lining and flower fabrics to brighten mine up more.

    Thank you so much.

  19. 19
    dee says:

    Now this is a lesson even I can follow…I am not what you would call a beginner sewer but I do hate to follow wordy directions, they just tend to lose my interest. But you have done a awesome job w/ the directions…Huge thank-you
    dee

  20. 20
    Melissa Udall says:

    You are amazing….I love the new bag! Can’t wait to make one!!

  21. 21
    Yifat says:

    U make it look so easy to do. I have to try it.

  22. 22
    Ashlee says:

    So fabulous! I’m in the middle of a move and cursing the fact that all of my fabric is packed away (I’ve kept the machine out), because I sooooo want to whip one of these up! Lovely and thanks for sharing :)

  23. 23
    Heather says:

    I just wanted to thank you for your blog, and your cute ideas. You are amazing and I love looking at your blog. The time you take to share your talent is great. Thank You, Thank You, Thank YOU!!!!!!

  24. 24
    ira says:

    Dear Ashley, Thank you for sharing this tote tutorial!… Love it!.. I recently just created my own blog and featured you as this week’s artist spotlight Please see below link: http://live-love-and-be-creative.blogspot.com/2011/08/let-me-introduce-you-ashey-from-make-it.html – I am sure others will be inspired by your creative work! :) It’s lovely to found your blog! :)

    • 24.1
      Anonymous says:

      Wow, thank you so much! That really was so nice of you! :)

      Ashley

      • 24.1.1
        Amy says:

        I made the bag! I put an initial on the front since it is for a friend of mine that just got married. I wanted to show you here but could not paste the picture! Thanks again for the inspiration!

  25. 25
    jamieS says:

    What a wonderful tote tutorial! I cant wait to try to make a couple of these as gifts…
    ~JamieS

  26. 26
    amy c says:

    Great tote! Love the shape and the size (your fabric choices are lovely as well). Thanks for the great tutorial. I consider myself a novice so your pictures are really helpful. Can’t wait to try it!

  27. 27

    What an awesome tote! This is worthy to be on the shelf of any fancy boutique.

  28. 28
    Angy L says:

    Love this rounded tote.. nursing school starts soon.. lots of books.. love this idea.. thank you

  29. 29
    sanderson says:

    Loved the rounded tote, and it means i need to bring my sewing machine into the office so i can follow along with the tutorial.
    Thinking of the things piling up on your sewing table, perhaps you could send them out to your homies and see how well your followers know you. How will they finish them? Maybe a” finish my project” contest.

  30. 30
    Lisa says:

    LOVE this tote! I will definitely be making a couple for myself and a chosen few. I was also wondering if you allow the use of your pattern to make and sell totes? In limited quantity and made by me…nothing mass produced. I would love to offer these on my etsy shop, but will not use your design without permission.

  31. 31
    Brianne says:

    This may be a silly question, but when you square the corners of the tote, do you then cut the excess material off so it will lay better or do you leave it? I am literally in the middle of making one for myself and just got to this point. I’m adding large pockets to the lining so I can put diapers and things in there. I hope it works out, I’m a definite rookie when it comes to sewing (hence sewing with my laptop by my side so I can follow along step by step haha).

    • 31.1
      Jane says:

      Hi Brianne

      Did you ever get an answer to this question about cutting off the excess? If so, please share it as I too thought about the same issue!

      Feel bit nervous now over this one unanswered conundrem!

      Best wishes
      Jane

      • 31.1.1
        brenda says:

        I have made bags both ways — cut the triangles off or just fold them down. Not sure how much difference it makes on a thick bag, as long as you make sure the triangles lay flat in the correct direction.

        • 31.1.1.1
          Jane says:

          Many thanks Brenda for sharing your experience on this and will do as you have, try both and then decide which is best based on the fabric (and how it works for each method).

          Great to know and happy sewing.

          Jane

  32. 32
    Sandy says:

    I love some of the patterns on here but wish I could download the pattern to a pdf file or find a way to save it to my computer.

    • 32.1
      Tamara says:

      your computer has a ‘bookmark’ on your tool bar. Press it, and save your patterns there under their own folder. Mine is titled, “sewing”…hope you figure this out..and fill your folder:)

  33. 33
    Janine says:

    I like this bag, thanks for the tutorial

  34. 34
    Carol Ebert says:

    Instead of using duck for the tote, I used regular cotton print material and same weight for lining, and then added batting between the 2 layers of cloth. The result is a softer tote which is fine and is a change from the stiffer tote.

    I

  35. 35
    Esther says:

    I just love this tutorial and the flowers are great too!
    Esther.

  36. 36
    Maya says:

    I am making it tonight! So excited! I am also adding a small pocket inside, for keys and such. Thank you for sharing it!

  37. 37
    Molly says:

    Phew! Just got done turning the handles inside out. Is there an easier way of doing this or is it really just something that you have to just get through? It was by far the most time consuming, and hardest part of the project.

    • 37.1
      Ashley says:

      Bummer…….sorry they are taking you so long. You could try making the straps a tad wider next time so that they are easier to turn. Hope that helps! Good luck!

      Ashley

    • 37.2
      Janelle says:

      My Gran did it very quickly by sewing the end and pushing it up with a knitting needle.

  38. 38
    IslandFancies says:

    Great tute – thanks very much for sharing this.

  39. 39
    Janelle says:

    I’m doing this as my first sewing project. I’m putting a padded patterned square on it as the decoration. I have hand sewn around the pattern.

  40. 40
    Cindy says:

    I’ve been looking for a different tote to make for my future daughter-in-law’s bridesmaids for my son’s wedding in September. Even though it’s a wedding, I will be using black duck cloth, the white flowers with a dark orange button in each button. Will use a black/white lining and put a pocket on one side. I have a home embroidery machine and will put their name or initials on the bag. I may even embroider the flowers and add the button. If you don’t like turning the handles, cut the fabric a little wider, fold in half to get a middle mark then press each side to the middle, then fold in half and press. I usually top stitch both sides. Because duck cloth is a heavier cloth, the handles are very sturdy. Also, use a new needle. Duck cloth dulls needles!!! I’m making the brides tote bag (different design) and ring bearer’s pillow from my wedding gown I wore in 1975.

  41. 41
    Loretta says:

    I made it yesterday and I love it. I wanted a Vera Bradley-look tote bag , so I found a really cute cotton print and a second print for the lining. I put batting between the outer fabric and another piece of light-weight fabric and top-stitched the three layers together to give it a quilted look (then used this for my outer layer) It turned out very cute but that was pretty time consuming – next time I’ll just do the duck cloth. Thanks for the pattern. There are many tote bag patterns out there, but what I loved about this was the rounded edge with the handles in there. I made my handles by cutting four inch strips, folding in half lengthwise, then folding each outer edge to the center and topstitching. For me, it’s much easier than turning the handles right-side-out and then trying to iron it with the seams correctly . Thanks for the pattern and great ideas. I’ll used this again.

  42. 42
    Christine says:

    Hi, I’m a beginner, love this bag and would like to try it as my home work project, would you please tell me how much fabric I need to get?

    Thank you.

  43. 43
    Lori says:

    I was searching the web looking for tote bags. I came across your site and found the bag I was looking for. I made your large tote and just love it. I quilted it and added pockets inside.

  44. 44
    Jasmine says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! It’s a beautiful bag and you make it seem so doable! I’ve been hunting for a bag that I can make for my kindy-going daughter, as she needs a large tote to bring home all her large pieces of artwork. May I ask, if I wished to make the bottom a little broader, what adjustments would I have to make?

  45. 45
    Anonymous says:

    Is this easy enough for a beginner?

  46. 46
    Dahlia says:

    Ashley , Thank you so much for this tut. Your step by step instruction is truly inspiring. I have been struggling to get the top and closure of my totes finished in a professional way. Thanks to you I have finally got the hang of it. Thanks very much.

  47. 47
    guna says:

    thank you so much for this brilliant tutorial (and that it is free =D). Made the bag and although I am total novice, it came out really really nice =) thanks again.

  48. 48
    Abby says:

    Really clear, simple instructions – I think even I can do this!

  49. 49
    Abby says:

    OK, am trying to make this, mostly everything is very clear and simple. However, I’ve encountered a major problem when trying to turn the handles the right way out after sewing them right sides together. Spent 1/2 hour battling with wooden spoon, screwdriver, etc and gave up when stitching broke. Is there a trick to getting the to turn out? For this one I’ve done a work-round sewing right side out with 4 lines of stitching to make it a ‘feature’(!) but would really like to do the next one with the handles the way you’ve done them. All hints and instructions gratefully received. thanks

  50. 50
    Molly says:

    Where can you get duck cloth?
    Thanks
    Molly

  51. 51
    safa says:

    thanks for sharing

  52. 52
    Claire says:

    Wow! These tutorials you do.are all so wonderful. I found your blog a couple of weeks ago. Maybe instead of those flowers, I’ll sew on a few of the fabric yoyo’s you liked a tutorial to. Thanks for all your great tutorials and patterns!

  53. 53
    Cindy says:

    Love the tote…I knew right away that I had to make more than one, so I did all the measurements on freezer paper. Now I have a nice sturdy pattern to work with.

  54. 54
    Var says:

    Hey Ashley, I love this tote! And you have inspired me to pick up a pair of scissors, needle and thread for the first time in my life. I am looking to creating a blog listing some great and affordable gift ideas, do you mind if I share this one? Thanks – http://www.acheerydisposition.com (I’m brand new!)

    Var

  55. 55
    Sherry says:

    I love this bag. I tapered the sides 1″ top to bottom. I also added a strap with a big button to ‘close’ the bag. I have made at least 4 for friends.

  56. 56
    shami says:

    ooh its really awesome …………………………..
    nice color combination . i love it……..

  57. 57
    Susanne says:

    Thank you for putting so much work into your tutorials! I’ve made several of your projects and I appreciate how carefully you explain everything. I was just searching for how to make a tote and found several other tutorials on the internet, and none were clear, so came back and searched your site and wasn’t disappointed.

  58. 58
    Carolyn Cat says:

    About those handles: Make them 0.75″ longer. Leave an opening (1.5″ in the side seam of the strap and sew across the bottom and the top.. Press the seam open. The end can then be pushed in, and up to the opening using a wooden spoon, unsharpened pencil or dedicated 1/4″ dowel. Same with other end. Duck cloth is heavy and this way one only has to push it half way. Pressing the seam open makes the seam really easy to lay flat and even. You can cut off the ends if you want or just leave it.

    About the triangle at the bottom of the tote, do not trim. I think it makes it sturdier.

  59. 59
    Allyson says:

    I made this tote, but mine is not as stiff as yours seems to be. My concern is using duck cloth. Did you wash your material first? Just curious as the cleaning instructions for duck cloth that I have seen says dry clean. Please advise

  60. 60
    Linda W. says:

    OK, here’s my thing. I make totes and sell them at craft shows. Yours seems to be fun to make, but … I would prefer to print the pattern and take it to my sewing room without all the comments – 65 pgs according to my computer. Got to pg. 50 and everything stopped.

  61. 61
    susie says:

    I made this last night. I thought it came out great. I love the half circle on it. I never want to lose this pattern. Because I plan to make more. Thank you for sharing and doing a good job of showing how it is done.

  62. 62
    Alice Grace says:

    After you turned the bag right side out, you didn’t mention anything about hand stitching the opening. Doesn’t it leave it a little odd from the rest of the opening. I bought some fabric and am ready to go but I wasn’t sure on this part. Thanks for sharing your great idea.

  63. 63
    zineb says:

    it’s very beautiful and I love hem thank u very mush md ashely

  64. 64
    Simone Molloy says:

    I LOVE this pattern! I made it as a birthday gift for my BFF, and featured my version on my blog: http://penny-pinchers-purses.blogspot.com/2013/04/its-tie-dye-for.html

    (I provided the link to my source of inspiration.)

    THANK YOU!!! :0)

  65. 65
    Karina Tene says:

    Excellent tutorial! really nice bag. Thank you for posting.

  66. 66
    lynn says:

    I love this pattern. The curved top makes it much more interesting that the general boxy shape. Thank you for posting and sharing. The duck cloth will be perfect for my project. I’m sure my book club will enjoy their Christmas gift this year from me.

  67. 67
    Payelhore says:

    Hi this is payelhore from india(new Delhi).i wanted to know what is a duck cloth and from where can I get it and what is a sturdy canvas ymaterial.

  68. 68
    J Adriawanti Rusdi says:

    Greattt,,,, it make me want to learn about sew

    thank u soo much for ur inspiration

  69. 69
    Kinda Kirkman says:

    Wow just wonder full going to try and make it thank you

  70. 70
    Kinda Kirkman says:

    just wonder full going to try and make it thank you

  71. 71
    Kinda Kirkman says:

    Very nice going to make it

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  5. [...] Next, turn the tote inside out and smooth everything out to the bottom.  Sew the bottom shut, from side seam to side seam, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  See the red dotted line below.  (If your bottom edges didn’t match up exactly, don’t worry, mine didn’t either.  It’s most likely because we sewed and turned the top and then ironed it…..and maybe it wasn’t exact after all that manipulating.  No worries.)  But just be sure that the shirt fabric isn’t bunching or folding when you sew the bottom shut.  You want it nice and smooth.  (And then zig-zag or serge the edge.)  Then make your little bottom squared off corners.  See the arrows below.  (A better explanation here.) [...]

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