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Sew Geeky Episode II: RETURN OF THE GEEKS! Star Wars Edition

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.  And while I did get the pattern for free, all the opinions are completely my own.

Imperial March by Star Wars on Grooveshark

(a little mood music)

THE TIME HAS COME AGAIN...

As the video informs, we have returned for our next installment of SEW GEEKY!  What better day there is to celebrate than May the 4th?  So away we go!

Max and I wanted to do something big for the Star Wars theme. We went to one who has sewn many Star Wars wearables like a "Bossk". 

Seriously folks, if you love the Force and haven't checked out Girl Like the Sea then you are seriously looking for posts in Alderaan places! Tara is spaceballs, i mean, amazeballs.  And each of her kids are, legit, cute enough to make you join the dark side.

Go see what she made!!!

 So what did I make?  Well, I wanted to pay homage to a lesser recreated character from the movies: the Imperial Royal Guards to Emperor Palpatine.  

It was weird making my cheerful Azriella into a stoic evil guard.

Does she look foreboding enough?

I couldn't find the time to fashion a visor that would be breathable, so I used a bit of eyeshadow and Photoshop to give the effect I want ;-) 

The fact that she has a smiley little doll face does not make it any easier to make her look sinister.  But I think she looks pretty cool!

I drafted out what I thought the hood should look like.  If you follow me on Instagram then you saw some questionable pics of me in my muslin making! I added in a seam here and a tack there and made sure it sloped and peaked accordingly.

The cape is fairly simple: gathered at the shoulders, open at the sides, and blind hems. I didn't have the time to make gloves either so I did a little something fun to simulate the look.

What's under the cape you ask? (Because I couldn't just stop there!)

A Saffron Dress (pattern by Paisley Roots) made by me but in red vinyl.  I actually just had this realization that I do this all the time:

Challenge Accepted - fabric suggestions? Challenge Accepted!

I love crossing things off my sewing bucket list.  Other things crossed off: sewing a quilt, sewing lights in to a dress and sewing liquid in to a dress.  Vinyl dress? Check!  Now some may wonder how comfy is a vinyl dress?  Well, since the bodice is fully lined and no seams are exposed, it's pretty comfy!

I made a little steampunk button for the back of the dress.  Isn't it cute!?

One thing I have to say about it is that gathering vinyl is not for the faint of heart!

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She loves the dress, as do I, and I can't wait for a fancy dress party or a ComicCon of some sort to come through Portland so I have an excuse to dress her up in it again!  The vinyl gathers do make for a delightfully dense skirt poof.   Not only does the red vinyl in and of itself make a bold statement, but it makes for a very poofy skirt that requires no pettiskirt! I seriously love it!

Some things that I changed up a little:

  • I slightly extended the button flap on the back since Azriella is 6 and a half and her chest measurements were in the size 3 chest range, I think she needed just a bit more width across her back.

  • I didn't do sashes, I did a sort of belt look front but at the same length dimensions as Karly suggests.

  • Because of the vinyl, I had to really stretch the 1/4" elastic in the back to make it look gathered, so I ended up chopping off about 2 inches of the elastic to make it look right.

What is my advice to those considering sewing a fully vinyl dress?  Well, some people do the scotch tape under the pressure foot trick and some use special roller pressure feet too. But me?  Besides of course using a vinyl/leather needle, I use this stuff called Sewing Aid.  You can get it at any of the big box fabric stores.  It's a light oil substance that looks like a bottle of Fray Check but it's for making hand and machine sewing go a lot smoother.  You can use it on threads, needles, and you can use it on the bottom of pressure feet, which is what I did.  Worked like a dream.

We got a fabulous lightsaber that made her so excited and giggly which was not the mood I was going for. 

What the difference from with to without:

With lightsaber:

Without lightsaber:

She really started getting into it!  When I tried to offer it back to her she refused because she knew it was helping her stay in character.  So cute!

Does she look like she wants to steal your soul?

She's trying her hardest!

In the beginning she had such a hard time finding out how to be mean.  Bless her little heart, she doesn't have a malicious bone in her body!  It was either happiness or tears!

 

Can you all take it?  A smattering of geeky sewing delights?  A month of Star Wars puns and roundups? 

Max, Tara and I would LOVE it if you join us in the fun!

photo from Max-California of Max-Californina

There will be more goodies on Max-California & Girl Like the Sea as well, so stay tuned to keep up with it all!

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 Star Wars Part II

We'd love to see what you make!  We'd love it for everyone to tag all the geeky things they sew with the hashtag #sewgeeky !!!

Keep that geeky, nerdy, fandom fire ablaze!  And thanks for stopping by!

Outtakes:

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a little chibi easter. 2014

So I had a crazy week last week. So crazy that, in fact, I didn't think I'd have anything special for the girls to wear for Easter!!! We're not a church going family as I have mentioned before, but we really love holidays and celebrate them thoroughly!  We do a big Easter egg hunt in the backyard (heck I was surprised that the Easter Bunny hid eggs in the front yard as well this year ;-)  And we have a tradition of hubby making authentic Italian Easter foods!  Unfortunately I am off eggs for the duration until little miss Akira can handle them in my breastmilk which made the holiday a little heartbreaking for me!  We had a lovely holiday otherwise!

The dresses.  I had much more grandiose plans for everything originally, but who would have thought it, having a newborn makes things really hard to get things done!  It's especially hard since we are an anti-pacifier family who hadn't even brought up the swing until a week ago!  We had a good run at not needing contraptions for the first month; never lasted this long before with the others!  But sweet little thing that she is, needed to be in just the right conditions for me to get some sewing done so promises could be fulfilled.

My secret to surviving that week:  swing, tucked with blankets, lights off, and Blossom Dearie on constant rotation.  Hey, you do what ya gotta do sometimes, am I right?!

So let's dissect these outfits:

Alas, the headbands and other accessories I was hoping to make proved to be impossible to finish in time.  My love of sewing occupies a vast amount of my time and mental capacities, but I allow myself to completely unwind and enjoy what's around me, which is why I am such an infrequent blogger.  Heck, I'm embarrassed to check when the last time I did a post that was not obligatory!  But I am a perfectionist about content so, blogging is an event for me every time. So no accessories :-(

Let's start with Akira

I wanted a fuzzy romper of the animal persuasion and allowed my husband carte blanche on the color scheme.  I wanted the gold, and since the colors he chose were on the more masculine side, I added pink fuzzy dots.

I also drafted this romper from scratch, having hoped to share a pattern for it but it needs to be tweaked so perhaps someday. No promises, but I really would like to.  

I wish you all could have held her in person in this thing!  It was on the snug side (fits but not gonna get a ton of wears out of it) and when you held her, it felt like you were passing around a doll or stuffed animal!  Soft, compact, and tiny...it was so amusing!

For Azriella's outfit, I started with a very basic bodice that I highly modified from A Sunny Spot.  Then I decided I wanted all the other elements:

  • concealed button placket
  • peekaboo bunny feature
  • Easter egg pockets
  • simple but outstanding colors
  • full, layered twirly circle skirt with swoops
  • drawstring open back bodice

The peekaboo bunny feature was a necessity because if it's not fun to wear then I feel a failure.  I basically did this: 

  • made a buttonhole through the bodice main and lining
  • sewed on the pocket
  • fusible webbed a bunny together and stitched a ribbon 18" long to the bottom of the bunny
  • sewed a buttonhole through the skirt layers
  • sewed the pocket on. finished the dress
  • threaded the ribbon through the buttonholes and tied a knot at the end once it was threaded into the skirt pocket.

This was the first time I had done a concealed button placket!  I feel like a ninja!

The flutter sleeves make me so happy... The yellow was a last minute decision because I had realized I cut out sleeves from two colors... looks amazing to me now!  

In fact, I have declared my new favorite color combo mint and aqua!  Don't be surprised when you see it again in a bigger arena here!

As much as I don't like to play in to the princess mentality, she was so pleased to "feel like a princess" and that makes a maker mamma's heart happy.

Finally Sephira.

In a word: piecing.

I wanted a mosaic look that utilized scraps from Azriella's cut outs and pockets that could be disguised as just part of the design.  This was mostly self drafted again, but also, once again, I used a pattern from A Sunny Spot as a platform for my vision.  For hers I also didn't want a full twirly skirt,  I wanted a more playful look.  I went with a layered half circle skirt look with a shorter length to give it a younger feel.

As always, the buttons are handmade.

I have another tradition:  Easter Egg Hunt dresses.  Time to pass the torch to Sephira!  There are a total of six pockets on her dress.  Have you find them all?

So that's that!  

  I can't believe how fast my girls are growing up these days!!!  

Only other thing I want to talk about is SEW GEEKY!!!  

Max and I are working hard to make our May Sew Geeky an Extravaganza to remember!!  And we are eager to get you all in to join the fun!!!  Email us if you would like to be a part of it in some way!  We are beside ourselves with bringing back our series!  We will keep you all posted with the goings on as soon as they happen!  But MARK YOUR CALENDERS FOR MAY THE FORCE, err, 4TH and check back here then!  

Until then!

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My Heavenly Valentine for Figgy's

My Heavenly Valentine for Figgy's

Today is such a special day! I was asked to be a part of the first ever Figgy's Blog Tour for Shelly's stellar (pun intended) Heavenly Winter Collection of patterns for 2013/2014!

I was outside of my skin when she asked me to test for it back in October... it literally made my night (which already awesome because it was Halloween ;-), but more on that later.

Shelly has lined up a rad-tastic group of bloggers to be a part of it, and I am kicking it off with a Valentine Collection!

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Pattern Anthology's Winter Wonderland Tour!

Season Greetings, Sew Chibi visitors!  I am so pleased to not only be a part of the amazing Pattern Anthology's Winter Wonderland Tour but to a part of the final day as well!  I take that as a responsibility to make something memorable; something that will inspire you to get creative with these terrific patterns!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.  And while I did get the pattern for free, all the opinions are completely my own.

I had many great patterns to choose from, but I decided to use the {affiliate linksHolly Trousers pattern and the Bonnie Top pattern (twice!)

It basically never snows here in Portland.  We get what is known as "the rainy season" which lasts from October to May.  With that being said, a proper raincoat is a high priority!  After having worn the last raincoat I made her almost to pieces,  I knew it was high time I made Azriella a new raincoat!

I had in my arsenal of holiday sewing ideas, one particular idea to make up something that would be a shirt made of different colored vinyls, pieced together on a diagonal to emulate a candy cane.

So considering my needs (a raincoat), my inspiration (candy cane vinyl look), and the Pattern Anthology Winter Patterns Remix, I designed this incredible (if I do say so myself) Candy Cane Raincoat, using Shwin&Shwin's incredibly versatile Bonnie Top Pattern!

Remixing the Pattern

First and foremost, I needed to acquire a minimum of half a yard of each color vinyl to make a looooong, diagonally pieced width of fabric. 

Cut into dozens of 2" wide bias strips, I sewed them till I felt I had enough to accommodate all of the pattern pieces and extra elements I wanted to add.  Then I went back and top-stitched all the seam allowances to one side, using matching thread.  If you don't do this, then your vinyl pieces won't lay flat (even with ironing, trust me), and it won't look as finished.  Then, I went and cut out all my pattern pieces, keeping close attention to the grainline since it was tricky without a selvage to follow.  I highly recommend doing it this way anytime you're using a technique that involves adding in a lot of seam allowances or tucks (like diamond tucks).  Yes, you will have some incredible scraps you may not be able to use, but it is way more reliable than trying to figure out the math and following your seam allowances exactly to make sure your pattern fits in the end.  I tell no lies; I have learned this the hard way (in the past).

Since I decided on making this a raincoat, the main things I needed to alter was adding a full length zipper to the front (not the back, like the pattern is made), a full lining,  and adding length to the overall pattern.

I have a hard time fitting things to my darling little beanpole, so for this remix, even though her width dimensions put my 6 year old in the 2T category, I went up to a size 4T and lengthened about 5-6" (to fit my detachable zipper length).  

Using an older raincoat as a guide, I noted and added a back zipper lap down the right side of the coat, behind the zipper. I made it fully lined in a soft flannel with all seams hidden, down from just above the cuffs of the sleeves to where I added a hem binding to the coat's edge.  This makes a surprisingly warm raincoat! Beyond that I moved the pocket down to waist length, enlarged, and duplicated it for the opposite side of the coat so she could shove her little hands into them when it gets cold.  The only thing it doesn't have is a hood, and that's because I didn't want to take away from the Peter Pan collar of the pattern.  The way I see it, she always has her little umbrella with her when it is raining so, her noggin won't be getting wet anyway.  

And I just think it's cuter this way!

And it wouldn't be much if I just made a raincoat, so I had to put together an ensemble that would keep my Christmas theme going!  We aren't a hugely religious family (we try to follow some Buddhist practices), but we celebrate the pants off of all the holidays!!!  I challenge anyone's Christmas spirit to go against my husband's!  He gets excited for it all year long; he's that guy blaring the Christmas station on the radio as soon as he finds one!  He's my holly jolly elf!   ^_^  

I loved the look of the pleated Holly Trousers by Andrea from Andrea's Notebook as shorts (which is a feature option in the pattern itself)!  I knew as soon as I set my mind on the raincoat that I wanted to make a pair!  I had hankering for gold pleather shorts and confirmed I wasn't completely insane by checking in with my partner in crime, Max California (who was also on the tour!) I liken her to being my South Eastern Hemisphere twin since we have similar aesthetics and love of fantastical geeky things.  She put my mind at ease that I was not insane but that now she wanted to make herself some gold lame' leggings for herself now!  I hope she does! 

To pull the whole outfit together, I decided to recreate another Bonnie top, in almost an opposite way from the raincoat. I made it a halter top in a white snowflake printed white cotton broadcloth with a custom vinyl Peter Pan collar with glitter and cutouts!  I omitted the sleeves, turned under the seam allowances of the armholes (serging them first, of course) and top-stitching them, and took the width in from the armscye all the way down at an angle to make the top not gape anywhere.  I changed the zipper back to a button and loop closure, mainly because I realized I didn't have a tiny metal zipper (as the pattern uses) and because I wanted to make a little matching button of my own to show off!  I added a hook and eye at the top of the collar so it stayed in place appropriately as well, considering I couldn't use the facing with the sleeveless option. 

It was super easy to make the holiday "confetti" mixed textile collar.  Applying them to two white vinyl collar pieces, I cut out Christmas shapes from the coat scraps and bits of gold vinyl triangles, and lightly adhered them with Mod Podge to stay in place, then sprinkled a little snow glitter.  After that, I learned a quick trick (by trial and error) to finish the clear vinyl to the collar by just using a pressing cloth and applying my vinyl collar pieces directly to the fronts of white decorated vinyl pieces.  The heat from the iron melds the two together, only be careful not to leave the iron in one place for more that a second or two, otherwise you'll have a melty mess on your hands!  Then, I just cut some gold pleather bias binding strips to cover the edges of the collar, top and bottom.  

I thought it needed a couple more splashes of gold, so I made a hem binding and the pocket out of the gold pleather as well.

As an almost afterthought, I whipped up a pair of matching shoes for Azriella an hour before we did the photoshoot.  I love them so much but her feet have apparently grown in the last month so next time I'll have to go up another size!  She has sprouted up so much this year! As a mamma who sews 95% of her wardrobe, I don't even want to talk about it.

So that covers it!  

My super smiley girl! We were discussing an elephant's birthday party!

Outtakes!  Stink face shots and Totoro photobomb.

I couldn't have done it without my newest bestie:

A Christmas-y outfit made entirely from these amazing patterns designed by the Pattern Anthology girls (Melly, Kate, Shauna, and Andrea) that's not only festive but comfy and functional too!  

Check out the rest of the tour here.

Thanks a million, ladies,  for inviting me to be a part of the tour!!!  It was a blast!

Season Greetings, everyone!!!


P.S.) For those wondering the gender of the newest little critter in my belly, it's... another girl!  Can you believe it!? More wacky dresses!!!

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Sephira's 2nd Birthday Dress! Behind the Seams!

Earlier this month, our baby turned 2!  

Sometimes, I just can't believe it!!!

But my darling Sephira Zen is a darling little girl.  And she deserves a dress that is truly one of a kind!

A dress that is its own playmat or treasure trove of activities, if you will.

I started with a simple Japanese pattern and drafted my own dress version to fit my little chibi princess.

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About the dress:

  • inseam pockets
  • hidden ball pockets
  • handmade rainbow glitter buttons
  • a peek-a-boo panel hem
  • candy hand-basted into the dress
  • an inset glitter gel playmat circle center

I'd like to note that I am not an avid designer fabric buyer.  I definitely do from time to time, but I save it only for special occasions.  Don't get me wrong:  I love certain designers with a passion and admire their work very much.  However, I tend to do some wild things and I feel mixing prints is a really tough thing to do properly and requires thoughtfulness.  I also like to challenge myself to take basic palettes and make my own completely different thing. So that's just part of my wacky sewing philosophy.  And with that being said, it was a painstaking day filled with exasperation, crying children, and whining husbands at Fabric Depot as we all searched for the perfect fabric for Sephira's special day.

I am familiar with the Alexander Henry print from some online fabric shops but haven't seen anyone out there do anything with it yet.  Personally.  And one of my biggest gripes/concerns with designer fabrics, just for me, is that once one person makes something truly notable with it, it becomes redundant.  And that doesn't work for me since 95% of the time I am trying to stand apart from the pack and that other 5% is just practical stuff.  

This was a fabric that we all agreed would be perfect.  There is so much to see and point out, and Sephira loves talking!  And the colors!.... [be still my heart]

I wanted to make sure that the elements of the dress didn't take too much attention away from the design of the fabric since it is sooo pretty.  I chose to make most of the elements almost hidden unless otherwise pointed out.  

The inseam pockets are pretty standard and self explanatory.

The little pockets were carefully cut and stitched to blend completely in to the dress.

The buttons are just glorious rainbow colored polymer buttons that I made with glitter.

I added a sash to give some shape to the dress.

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The funniest thing was when I was talking to my friend Rachael.  I showed her a picture of the dress (the picture on the hanger above) and here was how the conversation went down:

  • Rachael: AHHHHH!!!!! SO CUTE!!!! I'm not sure what you mean add candy though.... ??
  • Me: You don't see the candy?(smirk) That gel circle..... I can't even. Most stressful sewing ever. Cutting out a hole on an already finished dress was crazy amounts of anxiety.
  • Rachael: Um, yeah! that's crazy. and no, i don't see candy. am i supposed to or are you fucking with me? lol
  • Me: No there's twizzler rope lol
  • Rachael: Omg! is that what all the "piping" is??
  • Me: Yes!
  • Rachael: Omg. that's hysterical and awesome!!
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So of course that all gotten eaten up immediately and after the first photoshoot I took out all the basting stitches since they were only for that initial wearing.  Still, it was a big hit!  And no worries, she had a dentist appointment a few days later and her teeth are just perfect!  

The peek-a-boo hem was important.  I have a pretty fierce alphabet fiend on my hands and I thought it would be a great opportunity to add an element that would teach her her name.  Obviously that meant it must be appliqued upside down and backwards so she could read it.  The panels on top were cut from the same scene so that it doesn't look too obvious that those bits are separate but more like they'd seem like pleats or even nothing at all!  I used various solids and silver linen for the backing and fused them all down first then secured them with stitching.

And I saved the best element for last.

The gel playmat circle.

So the way my brain works is this:

"I gotta make a dress for __.  How do I get them to love it?"

Then I brainstorm their favorite activities.

This time, I came up with a water.

How does one sew water?  Off to Pinterest.

{insert many hours searching}

Nothing.  Nada. Zilch. No help.

I found one pin about turning a Ziploc and some hair gel into a makeshift play-mat for a toddler.  Obviously, I knew I would need to use a thicker grade vinyl.  

But besides the big question of integrating an element as such to the dress, the BIG question was:  How do I fuse the vinyl securely and comfortably while looking appealing? 

The process was going to be quite the trial and error.  And there were many tests.  

First to address the fusing issue, I turned to my fellow Go Make Shit contributors and Thomas suggested two different vinyl glues.  I don't know why I didn't realize that there would be a glue special for vinyl but there is!

First I stitched a blue piece of fabric behind one piece of vinyl so that this thing wouldn't stick to her chest.  I used a lightweight ml vinyl (I think it was 8ml because I tried it once with 12 and it was too thick for my taste).  I had a problem getting a thin enough line so I made my seam allowance a little larger to accommodate the glue spread.  A little super glue helped with the itty bitty spots that needed a touch up. Leaving a small opening I added blue hair gel, various colors of glitter glue, some blue iridescent glitter and some glitter stars. Then, switching to a 100 size needle, I added a small blue binding around the edge so the glue edge was covered up.  

Once I made a successful gel circle (I think I had about three tries at it before I was satisfied), I did part one of the two most gut wrenching, nerve wracking, oh-my-god-I-want-to-cry-while-sewing-this in-even-though-it's-going-well...parts:  cutting a perfectly sized circle out of my otherwise completely finished dress.  It was like the feeling one gets when making buttonholes but times 200.  Serious anxiety.  Circle cut out to the right dimensions, I notched and pressed under the edge just so that it matched perfectly with the binding.

Then. The true test that this was not all for naught.  Oh please let me not mess this up and ruin this dress!  

Stitching in the circle cost me one of my nine lives, folks.  I stitched one stitch at a time. Sloooooooooooowly.  And pivoting carefully.  And praying to the sewing gods that I didn't go outside the fused area.  I kept thinking: "please don't show a wet spot. please don't show a wet spot."  Honestly, I needed a shot of bourbon halfway through but we had nothing in the house! HA! 

I did an actual Happy Dance when I finished successfully.  Seriously, folks, I got up and danced.  OMG, that was stressful!  But soooo rewarding!  I think it looks so cute and that thing is durable!  You can tug it, stretch it, punch it.... it doesn't leak!  So damn proud of myself! 

I can officially check off the "sewed liquid into a garment" box on my internal sewing challenge list!

Huzzah!

Funniest part?  The diva didn't even want to wear it on her birthday!  Sheesh!  

No matter.  She eventually brought it to me and requested to wear it which is when the photoshoot(s) happened.  

 
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mommy photobomb

And she loves it!

A dress full of fun activities for my sweet, adventurous little girl.  Sephira, I love you so infinitely!  

Still so very much more to come!!!

Until next time!

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rainbows & wildflowers. the edelweiss blog tour

rainbows & wildflowers.  the edelweiss blog tour

Greetings all! I hope your summer is going well!  I was asked to be a part of a fantastic blog tour by { affiliate linksAdrianna of the Crafterhours girls and Hey June Patterns for her latest pattern: the Edelweiss dress.  The pattern includes two options for styling: a dress or a tunic.  I thought how fun would it be to do a tunic for a change!  Seems like I'm always making dresses!  Also, Adrianna is one of the funniest, sweetest people on the blogisphere and I heart her very much!

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Sew Geeky Premiere! 8 bit babies!!! Nyan Cat + Tac Nayn

Sew Geeky Premiere!  8 bit babies!!! Nyan Cat + Tac Nayn

Some of you probably don't know what the heck I am talking about!  Well, Nyan Cat is a free smartphone game that is basically about an 8-bit pop-tart kitty cat, Nyan Cat, that travels through space eating all sorts of things from sweets to veggies to weird pills while running into obstacles like doggies, spaceships, and worse of all, Tac Nayn, an evil waffle kitty (which is Nyan cat spelled backwards).  The game is really simple.  Oh, did I mention that Nyan has a never ending trail of rainbows? Hooked. I had my inspiration for my dresses!

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