21 May 2013

LazyBoy Makeover: How to Reupholster a Recliner

The recliner used in this project has been in my family for ages -- it's been dubbed the "sick chair."  It's been through a knee surgery, an ankle surgery, countless colds, bouts of the flu, and even cancer.  Magic comforting ability? Behold the power of a well broken in recliner!

When Nick and I moved into our house, my gram let us retire the chair and give it a healthy home.  My gram & mom recovered it once already -- and did an awesome job, it just didn't really mesh with the colors/decor in my living room.  I'd been telling them for ages that I was going to re-cover it -- telling, or threatening?

This was my first reupholstery project.  The ottoman was due mainly to the efforts of my mother, so to go solo on this was a little intimidating.  Nonetheless -- I did it!  It took me about 3 months to find fabric that I really liked.  Strangely enough, I found it online.  I highly recommend checking out Premier Fabrics. They have great patterns and are more than reasonably priced.  Not going to lie, it was a little scary to order fabric online -- but their pictures are true to form.

So without further ado, here's how to reupholster your own!


What you'll need:

-Seam ripper
-tack remover
-7 yards of medium-heavy weight fabric
-staple gun (electric if this is a solo project)
-staples
-hot glue gun, extra glue sticks
-thread/needle
-sharp scissors
-covered button kit
-upholstery needles
-waxed button thread
-patience, lots and lots of patience

Instructions:

+ Take apart the main pieces of the chair -- the back sits in a track and comes off fairly easily.  The seat is a bit trickier.  Flip the chair so that you have access to the underside of the seat.  Mine was attached by screws in two places on either side of the frame.  Tip: Take pictures as you go, that way you can look back to see how things went together.  Also, keep all of your hardware organized.  Fun fact: I found a half eaten chocolate bar and a plastic fork in the chair -- whatttttttt?

Recliner before reupholsteringrecliner seat removal

recliner back cushion removal

+ Cut enough fabric to recover whichever piece you are working on.  I did a piece at a time. The advantage of removing the old fabric is that not only do you achieve a smoother finish, you also have something to trace.  Once I had all the pieces cut out I ironed them before stapling them on.

+ Staple the hell out of it. Start in the middle of the frame and work your way around, pulling the fabric tight as you go.  When you get to the corners, pull the center of the corner tight and staple that first.  From there, fold and staple until you achieve the look that you want.  I opted not to remove the original (green) fabric on the seat cushion, but I did remove the original fabric everywhere else.

Re-covered back cushion
 Re-covered seat cushion & kick plate








+ Use your hot glue gun to re-cover cardboard pieces. Surprisingly, there are quite a few cardboard pieces in a recliner. Mainly the kickplate and the back baseboard.  I also used the hot glue gun to attached the outer side pieces, and other places where I couldn't use staples.

Recliner arm detail

+ Assemble your buttons.  Covered button kits vary in size.  I chose ones that are about the size of a quarter.  The kit utilizes pieces of the same fabric so that you have a more professional look, the directions are detailed on the back of the package -- quite possibly the easiest part of the whole ordeal!

+ Use an upholstery needle (I used an 8-inch needle) and wax coated button thread to tuft the cushion (if you're going for that look).  The waxed thread is sturdy so it doesn't break while you're pulling it tight.

+ Put everything back together!

Recliner base, re-covered

recliner arm

+ Kick back and enjoy your blood, sweat, tears hardwork!

Re-covered Recliner

I love the end result -- it fits.  If you have any questions or need more instruction, please let us know -- we'd be more than happy to help!

Xoxo, Kate

60 comments:

  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing. That is impressive! I hope I work up the guts to recover our comfortable eye sore :0)

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  2. As our first major project like this we were a littler nervous too -- once we got rolling, it was surprisingly straight forward. Good luck, and send us the pictures when you make it fabulous!

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  3. Wow this looks great! I am going to cover a recliner from Ashley's furniture but mine seems to be a little more difficult :/

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  4. Phelicia, thanks! Let us know if you hit any snags or need some suggestions, we'd love to help you create something AWESOME of your own!

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  5. How long do you think this took start to finish? Love it. Feeling brave...might have to try it!

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  6. Had I stuck with it start - finish without taking breaks to do other projects I could probably have had it done within 2 to 3 days. Most of your time is consumed by the breakdown and reassembly!

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  7. Tracy Schneider
    Could you please tell me how much fabric you used?

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  8. Tracy Schneider
    Can you please tell me how much fabric you used?

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  9. Tracy -- for this particular chair I used 7 yards of medium - heavy weight fabric. Depending on the size of your chair you may need more/less!

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  10. Hi! I am looking to redo a recliner that is actually a newer, nursery recliner. There are a few places on your recliner, where the arm roll comes together that looks like there might be piping.... I was just wondering what you would do about that. I don't want to sew any piping :)

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    1. Betsy -- great question! On the original recliner we did have some areas of piping. We just opted to remove and not replace. Removing the piping allows you to fold and staple the fabric with a clean line. If you have any other questions or need some guidance feel free to email us!

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  11. can extra foam padding be easily incorporated...it's a well-worn recliner that needs a little fluff :)

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  12. What was the fabric width you used?

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  13. Wish I saw this before putting our 30 year old LZB to the curb! However, we have a sofa and loveseat with reliners built in from LZB and have been thinking about doing it for a few years. LZB's last forever
    and hate to replace them. However, the foam/inside cushions have to be replaced. Any idea on what type we should get? Thanks

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    1. LZB's are the best -- you really can't beat them. Whether they're 5 minutes or 50 years old they seem to retain their quality. Apologies for taking so long to get back to you!! There are a couple different options that you can use for replacing the cushions. If you prefer to have a stiffer back and seat then I would recommend purchasing foam from a sewing/craft shop. This type of material is great for maintaining clean lines and holds its shape well. However, it's grossly expensive. In the past I've opted to use old pillows that are no longer comfortable for sleeping. Hope this helps!

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  14. Your post is helpful and motivating. From the website you provided, I found fabric that matches my recliner. I'm going to take a chance and only get 6 yards of fabric since I will only be reupholstering the damaged areas. This will be an interesting 1st attempt at reupholstering a piece of furniture. -Sara

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    1. Sara -- how'd it go?!!? We apparently fell off the face of the earth for a bit, but good news...we're back! That website is a lifesaver and we are so glad that it was able to help you out as well! Upholstery can be intimidating, but if you take it slow (and take lots of pictures along the way) it can be done!!

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  15. Do you think I could cover a leather recliner with fabric???

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    1. Anything is possible! I'd recommend removing the leather since the oils can potentially bleed through and stain the fabric, and you can also use the removed pieces as a guide for the new pieces.

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  16. LOVE the tutorial. Where were you when I stumbled through my first piece? Yes, I am one of those, totally unstable, a Broke Mama. (evil laughter) I found an Ashley recliner for $29 at a Goodwill. Did I leave it, aw, heck to the no. Looks like it was in storage. Hopefully minor repair on the foot. (amputated it yesterday, I was the only one to bleed) Now, where you come in, found the match on craigslist for 40, same chair, same fabric, but the chair needs tlc as in new clothes. Im trying to talk myself into the other chair. Hubs want to get rid of my sleeper sofa, that actually matches what I bought. Anyway, you will be my site of reference if/when I do this. I have already recovered 2 rockers, 3 recliners, 2 sofas, 1 loveseat, and am working on a Schnadig big chair and storage ottoman. These are all my pieces, here and at the duplexes at Dauphin Island, Alabama. The big chair and otto, I paid 6 dollars, and got the mattelesse for 6 bucks a yard on fabrics.com. whoohoo. us broke wives can stretch a dollar. Do it ladies, just do it.

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    1. Debbie -- join the movement, buy stock in bandaids -- hahahaha! You sound like a project queen and a woman after our own heart, love it! Super glad that we can be a point of reference, and please let us know if you have any questions for your future projects, we'd love to help. Frugal divas unite!

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  17. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Viva la frugalistas!!! I just purchased (for myself) a pancake compressor, staple gun, and all the goodies. Tightwad (me) had the twinges when I laid out the Visa card, but, oh well. We gotta have the toys for our play. ALSO, bought the chair on craigslist...It needs nothing! Hubs wants the couch gone, and I have an amputee, "sigh" I might just have to find some one to turn me a leg for the prosthesis. New Ashley recliners were 600 to 800 dollars. My eye is still twitching. I thank the Lord that my Mama taught me how to sew, and that I am either brave or ignorant when I jump/fall into a project. Thanks ladies. xoxo

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  18. I am looking to reupholster my lazyboy and its the same size, the same width, but the different color/pattern/design/. Other than that it looks exactly the same. It has been in the storage for a long time and I am looking to change its appearance and this was just what I have been looking for thanks and hopefullly the project will not be a difficult one. If I have any quesions or need some assistance I hope that I can get it from you.. thanks in advance.

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    1. Absolutely we are here to answer questions! Either email us, post questions here or to our facebook page. Good luck!

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  19. Thanks for this info. I'm doing something... a little different. I have an old recliner that is going to be rebuilt into a go kart frame and brought to Burning Man 2015. As such, I have to replace cheap components made from cardboard or thin MDF wood with welded and bolted aluminum and steel (the thin/cheap parts will fall apart when going over the ruts and bumps out in the desert). When I'm done rebuilding the frame with angle steel and tubular aluminum, it may possibly by the sturdiest La-Z-Boy ever built!

    However, once the frame is rebuilt and suitable for mounting on the motorized base, I'm going to reupholster it in flashy material, and this guide will help me. So, thank you!

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    1. A little different? Sounds a little...AWESOME! Can you please send us pictures of the finished product? Sounds epic.

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  20. How much did it cost to reupholster?

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    1. The overall cost, inclusive of the fabric, button kit, & wax thread was around $120. I already had the staple gun, staples, hot glue gun and extra glue sticks. The foam for the recliner was also in good condition -- all factors you have to consider!

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  21. WOULD OUTDOOR FABRIC BE A GOOD CHOICE? ALSO HOW DO YOU WORK WITH PATTERNS?

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    1. Outdoor fabric tends to be stiff so that durability is increased. Indoor/outdoor fabric is still durable and somewhat water resistant but it tends to be softer than straight outdoor fabric. I'd lean more toward indoor/outdoor fabric. As for working with patterns, check out the "repeat" of the fabric, that will tell you the span between when the pattern ends/begins again. I purposely chose a pattern that was a little more "abstract" so I wouldn't have to worry about lining anything up. Hope this helps!

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  22. So really, aside from the buttons, no sewing? I want to recover two of these:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_CqMkri5wyHU/SNva8qunNEI/AAAAAAAAAJk/PAXWvTy-8Sw/s320/Recliners.jpg
    but I'm scared!!!

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    1. I did sew the back cushion fabric around the foam, but to attach it to the back support piece it is hot glued. I looked at your link, those would definitely require a little more skill & sewing as it looks like there is piping around the arms. I just redid a channel back chair and that pushed me to my limits. It can be done, just know that you'll likely have to caress the fabric a little more to get it to lay similar to that picture!

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  23. Do you think it would be possible to do the same set up on a couch with the recliners on each end. My boyfriend and I love our $5 couch. It is in amazing condition except for the fabric.

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    1. Is it like a loveseat? Just two recliners pushed together essentially? I don't see why it wouldn't be possible -- my next project it to recover a Duncan Phyfe sofa. It'll require approximately double the fabric (and twice the patience!). For a sofa though, I'd recommend sewing new seat cushions (box cushions) instead of just recovering the original like I did in the post above -- it drives me crazy and will probably be redone in the near future!

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  24. It looks like you did a great job! Very good descriptions and tips on how to do this.

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  25. After reading all (including the comments), where can I find that awesome fabric?! I was just talking about reupholstering our beloved LaZBoy, but figured it was far out of my abilities... This is giving me renewed belief!

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    1. Sorry for the delay in response! Our hyperlink in the blog doesn't stand out so well, here's the direct link to the fabric! https://www.fabric.com/buy/uh-271/premier-prints-suzani-black-stone-denton

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  26. The recliner -the ultimate in masculinity – a place to relax, leave all your troubles behind and find your inner peace.

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  27. Love your recliner made me tear mine apart. Now I cant figure out how to do the back where on the sides it looks like two pieces and are sewn together. how did you do that without sewing pieces together? I's stuck.

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    1. Could you send us some pictures of what the back of yours looks like via email? Maybe we could walk you through it!

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    2. At first glance, I’m thinking, with no experience, I’d be crazy to try something like this. After reading this blog from top to bottom, all the information is right in front of me. If women can do this why can’t I? Heck, Two Broke Wives blazed the way for me! Most men would never try anything like this, much less show how anyone can do it.

      Z-Boy's fall from grace. Laz-Boy came to me in a used furniture lot I bought before moving to CT in ‘99. With a pale green fabric, it was a recliner only a grandmother would have in her house. Don’t get me wrong, mine wasn’t ugly, just dated, we got along beautifully for years, I always had a place to rest my weary bones. The day came when Z-Boy's fabric started failing. The foam padding on the arms poked through the bilateral tears like horrible hernias. I called a local shop to see how much to have Lazy Boy® reupholstered. I stuttered at the quoted amount, omg, a fleeting picture of my chair next to the curb crossed my mind. I have to figure out another way to save my Boy without breaking the bank. I covered my ailing friend with a cheap mail-order pad to hide the spreading ugliness. In the back of my mind, I felt I was only prolonging the inevitable, I was in denial. Eventually Lazy Boy® was pushed into a corner of the basement where, shamefully, it became the preferred place for the cat to deposit its coughed-up hairballs. This was Z-Boy's darkest hours, my faithful companion was one move away from its final resting place. I started readying myself for the dreaded deed of taking Z-boy to the cold crushing jaws of a giant trash eating machine. I just couldn't do it, I put it off for as long as I could, hoping for a miracle reprieve. Finally, could this be the break I have been waiting for? Two Broke Wives to the rescue? I sure didn’t see this coming. Like Super Heroes swooping in at the last minute, they provided me with the knowledge to save my Boy from certain death. They showed me how I can breathe life back into something that has been a part of me for so many years.

      I came across Two Broke Wives awesome blog page when I Googled “reupholstering a Lazy Boy® recliner”. My recliner even looks the same as the one in the pics. Mine has a ‘gear-shifter’ on the side for opening and closing the recliner (I couldn’t see if the one in the pictures has one).

      My Lazy Boy® has earned and deserves a much better fate than a curb. But can I really do this? I am dreaming of the day I can take my rejuvenated friend to my cabin in Maine, where Lazy Boy® can proudly and dutiful exist once again, free of being put into a basement ever again, free from being thrown-up on by cats.

      I am a retired aerospace welder 57 years young. I have more than adequate mechanical aptitude. I have all the tools and equipment I should need (no sewing stuff though). I even have an electric staple gun that I never use somewhere. My problem is with Murphy's Law. It is a lurking shadow, waiting for me to start fixing something…. I’ll need the security of knowing Two Broke Wives will be around to save me, to guide me out of the darkness after Murphy shows his mighty wrath again. If nothing else, I may need help retaining my sanity should things really go south.

      When I decide to start, I‘ll try to get some 'before', during and 'after' pics. If it comes out anything like the one in this blog, I‘ll post my pics crediting it all to the Two Broke Wives. On the other hand, if it comes out like Frankenstein, I'll be forced to put it out of its misery and drag it hastily to the curb in pieces. Murphy will win again and I’ll end up at the bar again crying in my beer while mourning my old friend's passing….

      Thank you, Two Broke Wives, for sharing this valuable information with me. Some people actually charge money for such detailed and documented information, if you can believe it.

      I need to go look for the confidence I’ll need to make myself start this project, wish me luck, lol.

      Keep up the good work Two Broke Wives!

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    3. Scott, we love getting comments like this and we apologize profusely for the regrettable delay in responding to you. We started this as a labor of love and then -- wouldn't you believe it, but life happened and ripped us in a direction that we were admittedly not prepared for. Without dwelling on the bumpy road we've each experienced lately, we do hope to get back to TBW in the quasi near future and hope that you remain a reader.

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    4. Scott, did you ever "fix" your beloved chair? Reread some of my post and saw this. I certainly hope that you did. I haven't reupholstered any thing lately, but I did build a swing bed. I guess in recovering ALL those pillows (thrift store) I did. If you have all the right tools, it won't be that bad. Go for it. Re Love that Lazy Boy.

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  28. Wonderful job! I want/need to reupholster my recliner. How did you get the back of the seat (where your back touches when sitting) all tufted and stuff?

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    1. We recommend using waxed thread and covered buttons -- use an upholstery needle (they're scary long) and select a tufting pattern that suites you. You'll come through the back of the cushion first (leave a tail of thread), sling the button onto the thread then go through the front of the cushion so that your strings end up about .25" apart. Cut the needle off with enough thread on either side so that you can comfortably tie a couple knots. Loop the ends together and push the cushion down as you're tying the string...it'll look like the knot is down in a hidey hole!

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  29. I have a faux suede recliner with the end of the foot rests being leather one side has a giant hole in the leather and I want to replace that one piece. Will it be too complicated to do that, or will it be best to just leave it until we buy a new sofa? I have never done anything like this before.

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  30. What's your recommendation for an electric staple gun? Thanks!

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  31. I'm re-doing a recliner as my first upholstery project. I'm glad to see I'm not the only crazy one! It's also a Lazyboy. It's the best chair ever, and I couldn't abandon it even though the fabric was in threads in some spots. I'm almost finished with the top--just need to put the buttons and the back on. Now to tackle to bottom. (Que the Jaws music.)

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  32. What this is impressive! I am looking into recovering a lazy boy recliner similar to the one you did, but am soo scared :-(

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  33. I am thinking about recovering a lazy boy recliner we have. I am so scared to do it but when our new furniture arrives and it isn't going to match

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  34. Totally frustratedApril 16, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Hi ladies I could not have done this project without you! I'm having a bit of difficulty in the upper corners of the back of the chair. Your 4th picture upper right corner is the area. It's the place where the back meets the cushion. There are 6 pieces of fabric that come together in an area about 2" long. I can't get it to look right and be strong from the outside.

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    1. Please email us some pictures so we can try to help!

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  35. Hi Ladies!

    I was given a wonderfully comfortable 70's Lazyboy with truly hideous multi-shaded green Herculon fabric. It is impressively ugly! I think I'm going to give reupholstery a go because the chair seems otherwise fine. Wish me luck!

    David

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    1. David -- what is it about that green fabric that was so dang popular?! We hope your project went swimmingly!

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  36. WOW! Your directions & photos are great! My padding in my LazyBoy is shot being it's over 10 yrs old & l sleep. l've bought 5 used recliners on FB but l end up getting rid of them. One was a swivel & my cat jumped on the top to crawl down on my lap but she flipped me over. Others just weren't long enough for me to sleep in them. I'm glad l hung on to my LazyBoy in my storage unit. I'm on a fixed income so I'll have
    to save the money for the items l need. But you have given me such inspiration & encouragement! Thank you!!!
    I'll send you photos when my chair is done!

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    1. We hope the project is going well! Fabric.com usually has a GREAT clearance section for medium - heavy weight fabrics (we have a hard time paying full price for ANYTHING). Good luck!

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    2. Check out Fabrics.com and Fabricguru.com for upholstery fabric. They often have sales and closeouts, free shipping on some orders, and they are both FAST!

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  37. It is remarkable blog. I wanted to learn such type of the things that I have got from here at one platform. Thanks. home advisor

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