corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Sucker for Sales 2

And here we are again…… fabric sales purchases and what to do with them. This time it’s a fluffy, soft knit made with a remarkable combination of fibres such as cashmere, mohair, a bit of silk and a few sparkly threads and from – yeah, you know where – Joel and Son…..a cut length of 1.5m.

The fabric is sort of like a boiled wool; it’s a knit, like a proper knit with no fraying but softer with a right and wrong side. It’s primarily grey (my favourite) but has tones of violet/lilac – more of a heathered look that is not readily recognisable in my crappy photographs. The inside is sparkly and I suppose could have been used the other way round for evening wear. I choose day wear. Believe me, this is a complicated fabric.

I pressurised myself into making something that warranted the price: not sure I achieved that goal but I did get a very serviceable skirt and top: that can be worn together and also separately which stretches the serviceability.

Skirt pattern is Vogue, Katherine Tilton 8837 (OOP). This skirt has four seams with a hip yoke, elasticated waist(!) and curved hemline with small splits. The instructions are for lapped over side seams but I ignored that bit.

Easy to sew up and easy to wear. I serged the seams for extra strength as it’s a pull on skirt and it looks nice in the inside too.

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The top pattern is based on Burda 0521012 /101, cut short due to fabric limitations and whatever serviceable piece was leftover was used as a pocket.

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I had a bad experience with this dress pattern previously but I’m learning to love it and see the potential in many other ways apart from a sack-like shift dress.

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I just used the selvedge edge of the fabric as the top’s hem. The deep V neckline was stabilised with some black satin ribbon to keep it from stretching any further. It is not a top to wear on its own….

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This little outfit has a relaxed, yet ‘pulled together’ look, I think. The skirt is very comfortable and worn with the top, it creates an outfit. Best worn with a white shirt underneath for contrast and to break up the solid grey. Perfect for wearing under a coat as it keeps me warm without creating bulk.

It may not be the most flattering combination for my body, but sometimes (often) practicality and comfort are the priorities.

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So, elasticated waists in trousers was first and now in skirts! The real benefit of elasticated waists is that you can wear either the trousers or the skirt high up at actual waist level or pulled slightly down to hips, which changes the length.

The other day, one of my students asked if she could ‘touch’ my skirt – such is the tactile, fluffy and comforting appeal of this fabric – just like being wrapped in soft, delicious natural fibres. I let her……..

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Well, the winter holidays are finished – back to work tomorrow and half-way through the academic year. Marking papers will intensify from now on and hence, sewing time is reduced. Blogging will also therefore be restricted but I’ll do my best, after all, sewing keeps me grounded, sane and clothed!

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I often think that I could survive wonderfully on permanent holiday – like retired – but I am actually looking forward to going back to work. I love my job, I’m lucky. I like the routine, the pressures and even the stress – it pushes and challenges me. Sewing is my escape. Without the constraints of employment I don’t think sewing would mean as much to me as it currently does. We are constantly learning about ourselves – see Felicia’s honest assessment of herself, her 2016 review of sewing and her developing style to get you thinking……..


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Sucker for Sales

dscn6825If you’ve never been on Joel and Son website, then you need to set aside four or five hours, lock your credit/debit card in the glove compartment of the car and lose the keys or give both card and keys to a responsible adult and then be prepared to drool, dream and digest the fabulous fabrics.

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Here’s one for Jungle January – from £495 down to £240 for 4m. Quick girls, quick.

 

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For that special occasion how about the laser cut embroidered butterfly fabric that you’ve been hunting for ages: a mere £2,500 p/m

 

10186bOr for that ever more special occasion how about an ivory lace appliqué on a printed organza with gold anthracite stones dotted throughout;  yours for £7,500 p/m

It does my heart good that such retailers are still around and selling the most special and unique of fabrics. I’m also glad that fabric weavers and mills are still producing these beautiful fabrics. I’d like to be able to buy said fabrics and have loads of occasions to which to wear the finished garments but that is not my life.

Thanks to our U.S. cousins, Black Friday is now a common occurrence in UK and for a while between November and December my email inbox was full every quarter of an hour with ‘offers’. One of the offers came from Joel and Son and like so many of you, I couldn’t resist.

 

Now, while the fabric might be discounted and it’s an offer too good to miss new problem are encountered; what to make and what to wear with it? It’s like being back in RTW land and purchasing that fabulous blouse because it was in the 50% sale but you’ve got absolutely nothing that coordinates with it and therefore a total waste of money. From last summer and Black Friday I have bought but not sewn quite a few metres, including:

2.5 cut length of wool crepe with Lycra, pale coral/terracotta – Dec 2016

4m of fine cotton print in reds, greens, burgundy and shades thereof – July 2015

Cutting into fabric from the hallowed Joel and Son is a daunting experience: you know how expensive it is and therefore you don’t want to waste it or make a Horlicks. I always think long and hard before making anything from my precious Joel and Son stash. I’m the type of home sewer who first thinks about a garment and then seeks out the fabric – when Joel et al are involved, it’s the other way round. Hence some fabric lies in wait for a very long time……until now…….dscn6826

 

The long cardigan is a terracotta fine knit from MyFabrics (probably also in a sale) and although made, I had nothing to wear with it apart from black…..but that’s not the star of the show.

There are high waisted trousers and then there are HIGH waisted trousers and these are they. No longer are waistbands hanging low on the rear but sitting where they should be – at the waist. These ones, however, go way beyond.

Vogue 8604 is a long time in my pattern box. 8604

Wide legged, front and back darts with a couple of front pleats into the bargain, back zip closure and in-seam side pockets. My fabric is somewhat robust, almost heavy althodscn6829ugh fluid and drapey at the same time. The side pockets were made but swiftly removed because they just didn’t sit flat and these trousers need a smooth silhouette.

The high waist is supported by a facing that I interfaced with canvas for extra strength as my post-Christmas tummy needs some restraining.

An invisible zipper in the back would be the best option but as my notions box is practically empty and I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops for a single zip I had to use a regular red one and put it in a lapped style.

To show off the very high waist, one’s top should be tucked in and deciding on a suitable pattern was a small challenge, considering I’ve hardly any buttons hanging around.

I opted for Vogue 7876 – five versions of a wrap blouse. All the pattern options have waist ties to keep the wearer of the blouse decent, but that wasn’t going to work with these trousers. In overcoming the tucked in without ties and acres of ease of the wrap blouse I may just have solved the age old problem of gaping too. Mostly I made version E.

Add buttons! No honestly, it’s that simple. Do not cut out the ties but make your blouse without them and try on. Pin the wraps well to where you think it looks best and bend, stretch, make the bed and change a car tyre. If the blouse is still in place after all this then you’ve got the sweet spot. Pin mark and make two button holes and sew on two buttons – job done!

The buttons are so discreet that no one will see them and you get a very reliable blouse. The space behind the button holes and button is reinforced with fusible interfacing on self fabric as the cotton is very fine. See irrefutable proof below

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To finish version E blouse flared sleeves, I gathered the hems into  narrow bias cut bands. I’m having a 1970 revival at the minute and gathered sleeves are forever in my memory of my early teens’ clothes.

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There’s something Agatha Christie about the style of trousers; totally cruise ship, lounging and swanning with cocktails and cigarette holders.

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So, the first outfit of 2017 is completed: trousers, blouse, cardigan and leftover’s scarve. I keep putting my hand on my waist, just to show you where it is as it can get lost in the high waist.

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Thanks to Thornberry for promoting the outfit-not-orphan sewing idea and if we all did this, then there would be no more random fabric purchases or 50% off RTW blouses in our wardrobes that don’t go with anything else, well, maybe…………..

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I’m glad I saved the patterned cotton for when I needed it and when I had a fabric that coordinated instead of sewing some random stuff.

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I’ve informed my husband that I have a new outfit and that I’m ready to wear it out to dinner anytime……. really, W. anytime at all!

A review of Pantone’s new colours revealed that this shade of red/terracotta/coral pairs nicely with teal and sea green  etc – my goodness, don’t I have a coat in that colour?

fd0720234bfb0150a538293f1cac9831What are your opinions of trousers waistlines, if you have one? I mean, for years I swore I’d never wear elasticated waists and, guess what?


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The Woman on the Tube Train

Not quite The Girl on a Train, but will show that you can get inspiration for sewing from anywhere – trains, the Underground, books, TV, movies, each other……

Not blogging doesn’t mean not sewing: I’ve been doing the latter but not the former so in an attempt to rectify that here’s a few recent makes.

First up is the Anderson blouse from Sew Over It. Inspiration for the pattern came from Gillian Anderson’s character in The Fall. Her wardrobe consisted of silk blouses, dark pencil skirts and Louboutins,  ’cause you know how easy they are to wear all day, every day!

Previously I made this blouse in a very fine pale peach wool but the colour was all wrong for me and although it was a thin wool there was no drape and the whole thing was a waste of fabric and time. Needless to say the pattern went to the back of the pile.

I read lots of reviews about the Anderson blouse and every one of them stated that a fluid, drapey fabric is a must: there’s also a consistent wardrobe malfunction with the front wrap over – with varying methods for dealing with this – from wearing a camisole to wrapping the fronts high up to the throat. Here’s a super version by Heather but I don’t think one sewer didn’t make some alteration or adjustment to the pattern. The conclusion from all this research is that is a blouse that MUST be worn tucked in…. and tucked in tightly! If you don’t like tucked-in stuff, then this is not for you.

I came across this digital print poly satin on Croftmill in greens and pinks and decided that I’d give the Anderson a second chance. My notions box is quite depleted at the moment, so any pattern that doesn’t require buttons, zips, hooks and eyes is an attractive option.

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Leaving off the drawstring hem and cuffs, this was quickly sewn up on the serger and as long as I stand erect with shoulders back and the fronts well tucked in, the front doesn’t gape at all.

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Always there are leftovers so I decided to line a coat with them…….

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One day while I was visiting London earlier this year, a woman got on the Tube and sat opposite me. She had on an apple green jumbo corduroy coat, 1970s style, a black shift dress and apple green opaque tights. The coat looked so lived in and comfortable that I quickly determined that it must have been a favourite item in her wardrobe. She wore it so well – casually stylish; effortless.

Once home the hunt was initiated for jumbo cord in green – found at long last on Croftmill. Not in apple green but sea green instead.

The pattern is Vogue 1266: semi-fitted, lined, slightly flared coat, above ankle length, princess seams, two-piece sleeves and back centre split. Lots of variations with collars, pockets and cuffs.

I went for view B – double breasted but with the front welt pockets with flaps from view A and the cuffs from view C. You need a whopping 4m of fabric for this coat.

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I just love the way the corduroy nap creates different shades of green.

 

I cut my usual 14 but ended up doing alterations by nipping in tight at the waist and raising the shoulders/sleeve heads by about 2″. I wanted a more close fitting coat.

dscn6802It’s not perfect – I messed about too much with the front princess seams and they’re wrinkling and stretched but then I also wanted a coat that looked like I’d had it for years and had that well worn look, just like the woman’s on the tube.

dscn6813This is intended as an everyday coat not special occasion and I’m hoping that with more and more wear it will soften and mould and last for years.

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There’s a puckering/wrinkle in two places on the hem that I just can’t figure out. It looks like the lining is caught but it’s not and there are no stray stitches either. Another good pressing may be in order.

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c57d989594c64506123ee3b90765053fIt billows out as I stride along and reminds me somewhat of a WW1 great coat.

This coat was worn by officers and was usually made from heavy wool and tailored specifically for them by their Savile Row tailors.

Obviously much better made than my humble version but there’s a historical link here. Check out the development of the trench coat, for example.

I had contemplated adding epaulets and a belt but was too impatient to get the coat finished and worn that I never did.

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Now, you all knew that the coat came first, didn’t you? dscn6811

I haven’t done a Best /Worst 2016 post but this coat, despite all its flaws, is definitely one of my favourites; the Anderson blouse  – not so favourite…….

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And to finish the 2016 sewing blog posts : Cat endorses WW1 great coat/1970s corduroy inspired by woman on a tube train coat.

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Thank you very much for all your support,encouragement and feedback in 2016.

Thank you also to all of you who read my previous post and donated to MS. Truly, you are generous and big hearted.

Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and may all your sewing dreams come to fruition in 2017.


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A/W ’16 Mustard

My husband, before he became my husband, used to tell a very rude joke and the punch line was “mustard, custard and you, you big sh***!”  Anyway………he doesn’t tell the joke anymore and my next outfit for autumn/winter is complete.

Same trousers as the burgundy ones but this time with added inseam side pockets and turn ups at the hem.dscn6753

I like cropped winter trousers: they remind me of plus fours and country living, and I can wear either boots or shoes. Worn today with the shirt you’ve seen before.

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Johnny Rotten as an English country gentleman

 

All fabrics are from Fabworks – I’m Fabworks head to toe today! (Not sponsored by them btw).

18 TwistThe trousers are Donegal tweed: Warm, mellow, sunflower, saffron and turmeric tones weave through this gorgeous Donegal Tweed herringbone, evoking memories of relaxed autumnal strolls and the resting evening sunshine. Woven with the ever-present charcoal warp to form a reassuring background of chevrons; the Donegal yarn sitting in the mellow sunflower and mustard warp has pale straw, saffron and honey coloured flecks. This 100% new wool has a reassuringly soft texture, but remains a medium weight with a great handle and drape.

I mean, really, how could you not not fall for that?

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An easy method to elasticate a waist is this:

  1. Measure the elastic to your waist, stretching a little, and sew the ends together to make a band.dscn6678
  2. Quarter this band with pins and then match each pin with the four seams, front, back and sides.
  3. Serge or small zig-zag this band (yes, that is bra strap elastic) to the inside of your garment, lining up edge to edge.dscn6679
  4. Fold the elastic over to the inside and zig-zag in place to form a waistband.dscn6683

Neat and easy

The trousers are lined too. The lining is slip-stitched to the ‘waistband’ and hides the serged edges.

Even neater.

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As Sunflower Chunky Ribbed Knit is a beautiful knitted all wool fabric from Avoca, it’s a superb, brushed fabric with a medium weight soft drape and handle, and due to being knitted rather than woven it has a good natural lengthwise stretch with some stretch on the width too! The beautiful sunflower coloured yarn with darker and lighter tones throughout, has been knitted in a double row ribbed construction that has alternating fine black bands knitted in between to create the chunky rib affect.

See what I mean? I fell for that one too.

The jumper is hacked from a Burda pattern for a cardigan. I prepared the pattern many, many years ago before I understood and realised that patterns require an organisational system  of their own. I can’t bring to mind the actual pattern number ….It’s the one with the girl standing in front of a barn door……..

I used the raglan sleeves and the back yoke and front (with a centre seam) but I just made up the V neck front and added a small patch pocket. I also made front and back different lengths and put small slits at the sides to mark the step.

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It was fun mucking about with the stripes on the pattern pieces creating some interest and directional movement. The sleeves are bias cut, the back yoke and pocket on the horizontal, the fronts and lower back on the vertical.

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To keep the V neck as a V, I faced it with some cotton bias binding as a stabiliser. The fabric doesn’t fray but I thought that narrow cuffs would be a nice finishing touch on the sleeves. All seams are serged just in case.

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And of course there were leftovers and cut-offs. I used these up in the form of a beret and a couple of scarves in preparation of anticipation of a cold winter.

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Other things….

The postman brought some lovely things recently, mainly courtesy of a Vogue pattern sale. Fabworks also sent me the checked cotton shirting (far right) after I ordered and paid for it.

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One plus one together makes this, not 2.

The selvage was too good to cut off and throw away so it was used as a trim on all edges; cuffs, collar, button band and hem.

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I had fun with the stripes on this fabric too and I do hope you notice the almost perfect alignment across the fronts!

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Life’s been quite busy recently including a very pleasant weekend spent in London, England. A few weeks ago I flew out early on Friday with plans afoot to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of money I did! The fruits of these purchases to be revealed soon. The highlight of the trip was dinner at Kate’s. Marijana was there too and we all wore our own individual, handmade, couture and unique versions of the Six Napoleon dress. We had a 6Nap party!

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I look like a giant in comparison to my petite and neat sewing companions. Additionally their dresses were so much better than mine. Both ladies are fabulous and I’m so pleased to have met them online and then followed this up in person. Thank you Kate and Marijana, it was so much better than sitting in a hotel room on my lonesome wearing a party dress with no party to go to.

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Day by Day

Many of you comment how productive I am on the sewing front. I really appreciate each and every comment but I’ve never seen myself as being a quick sewer or producing a lot. If I don’t reply to individual comments please don’t take it personally – it means I’m busy, that’s all. Wendy from Boulder, Colorado sews for a living as does Mrs Mole; they have to calculate how long a job is going to take and charge accordingly. If you’d asked me how long a dress or pair of trousers takes me to sew, I wouldn’t have a clue.

I do sew, or do sewing related activities, nearly every day: sometimes I can relish in a dedicated couple of hours but often there’s only 15 -30 minutes available. Sometimes my sewing time is split over the day with a little bit here and little bit there. So this week I documented the making of a shirt, as much for your insight into my sewing week but also for me……….

Before Starting

dscn6610Fabric is draped on Doris for a day or two to help determine how it handles and what it should be transformed into. This helps me to visualise a finished garment and how much fabric I have to play with. When not staring at Doris, as I drive to work or go to sleep I’m thinking about patterns and design options. Once a decision has been reached – I stick to it and believe me, not all decisions are good ones!

Today we are focusing on the patterned piece under the mustard wool. A viscose jersey from Fabworks in mustard and pale lilac that I’m hoping will look like grey when worn with the right clothing. A retro 1950s design and would be probably be best used in a 2-way stretch pattern but I decided on a button down shirt.

Monday – 1hr, 45mins

Before going to work, I cut out the pattern pieces from the envelope and folded the fabric selvage to selvage. 15 mins.

Home from work and dinner in the oven, pinned the pattern to the fabric. 30 minsdscn6650

After dinner and a nap, back to sewing room to cut out the pieces.  Big scissors were then put away and small ones out, needles threaded with contrasting colour and settled down to tailor tack with radio on. Pattern pieces removed, darts pinned and a general tidy up.

Pieces pinned onto Doris. Nothing sewn. 60 mins.

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Tuesday – 20mins

Really heavy day at work – knackered. Cut out interfacing and just about managed to iron it onto the relevant pieces.  dscn6659Scanned the instructions in case there are any surprises. Threaded the machine and a bobbin. 20 mins.

Wednesday – 1 hr

At long last, sewing actually begins in the evening. Machined all the seams I could. This is where my sewing technique might slightly differ from others’. I don’t always follow the prescribed sewing order: after sewing all the darts for example, I then completed the sleeve seams and made the upper collar. I can go no further until the pieces are pressed. 60 mins

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Thursday – 1hrs, 50 mins

Before dinner (leftovers, so I have more sewing time) I began with pressing all yesterday’s sewing. 20 mins

After dinner, back to the machine to complete any other sewing that needs to be done; button bands, shoulder seams and collar attached. Then the machine is pushed aside and everything that needs hand slip stitching is done – inside collar, sleeve vents. Bit more pressing and everything pinned back onto Doris. 1hr, 30 mins

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Friday – 2hrs

Before dinner, sewed side seams and pinned in sleeves. 20 mins

After dinner, sewed in sleeves (one ripped out and sewed again, so that makes three!). Attached cuffs. Pressed. 1 hr.

Personal fitting: sleeves are too long so have created a design feature of folded back cuffs. I had already added 2″ to the length at cutting out stage and am happy with this. 10 mins.

dscn6670Searched in notions box for suitable buttons and found some forgotten items and interesting things, procrastination activity. 30 mins

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Saturday 1hr, 45 mins

Morning time in my jammies slipped stitched cuffs; made button holes, sewed on buttons. 1 hr

Before lunch sewed hem and pressed finished shirt. 45mins. And it took 3/4 of an hour to run a straight seam around the bottom of this shirt because….

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I swear the two fronts were the same length before I sewed the buttons on…..

Sunday

Wearing and photos

 

Total time = 7hrs

Fabric =£14.00 – 2 metres @£7.00 (Fabworks – superfine gauge single jersey in a lustrous and slinky, fluid viscose and elastane blend, printed with a Bloomsbury/modernistic style)

Time = £70 (@ £10p/hr)

Pattern = McCalls M6649 free with an Craftsy class that cost $19.99 (about £100 at today’s exchange rate!) or $12.50 for the pattern alone.

Total materials and making = £94.00

Sunday night – Write and publish. Go to sleep planning next project.

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Monday – Cut out something else……….