A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and cargo trousers stands in front of a green fence

What’s in a name? Grey sweatshirt: Burda 121 02/2016

A woman in a grey sweatshirt

I’ve called this grey top a sweatshirt but I have a feeling it’s not quite the right word. It sounds entirely too sporty and energetic. But it’s definitely not a sweater, and has no hood so not a hoodie. Maybe the line art will help?

Line art of a sweatshirt
Burda 121 02/2016 line art, burdastyle.ru

This isn’t part of any of my wardrobe plans, but it was made to fill in a wardrobe gap. I made the grey cargo trousers in the pictures a couple of years ago, but I lack cold weather tops that go with them. I wanted something with some detailing to echo all the bits and pieces on the trousers and this one from Burda seemed to fit the bill. I’ve made it in grey scuba from Minerva. The zips, drawstring cord, and cord stops were from eBay. I went for silver hardware to match the zips on the cargo trousers. The eyelets were some gunmetal coloured ones I had left over from another project, but they aren’t very visible.

The main feature of this top is the high collar. It’s two layers of fabric but no interfacing. I was a bit concerned it would collapse completely, but the drawstring helps a lot in giving it some shape.

The zip detail on the collar was a lot of fuss to sew. The exposed zips are set into section seams so there’s the bulk of a seam allowance to deal with at the bottom of the zip slot. Burda provided unusually detailed instructions for using scraps of lining to face the end of the slot, with pictures, but I’m not entirely convinced by their method. You use a scrap of lining to face the slot on each side of the seam before actually sewing up the section seam. This means you have to match the bottoms of the slot perfectly or the lining shows. I did an OK job but one side is off by about a millimetre and it annoys me. Next time I’d sew the section seam first, to just above the end of the slot, and then face the slot. No danger of mismatched ends that way.

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt pulling the collar up

One slightly unexpected feature of this garment is the padded sleeve hem bands. I didn’t notice them on the line art or the model photos, and missed that wadding was on the notions list. It was only when I got to the bit on the instructions where they tell you to stuff it into the bands that I realised. I had some wadding scraps so I added the padding, but I’m not really sure what its purpose is. It gives the rather skinny sleeve bands some dimension, but that’s about it.

A woman wearing grey stands with her back to the viewer

This is a Tall pattern so I didn’t lengthen it. I probably should have done; according to the size chart I should still be adding a couple of centimetres. But it was so nice to trace something out and not have to hack it about. The sleeves do feel the tiniest bit short but the body length is fine. Next time I think I’d make the sleeve bands a bit wider and that would be enough.

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and cargo trousers

This fills a long-standing wardrobe hole. Unfortunately I don’t think I have much else it will go with other than the cargo trousers. Maybe my silver Vogue 1247 skirt or the silver Vogue 1347 trousers. It’s a bit too casual for most of my other trousers.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part three

Part three of my wardrobe sewing plan review. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the flared jeans, Burda 118 04/2009. Here are the line drawings of all the patterns used.

First with the black Burda blouse, 113 02/2010. I go back and forth on this combination. The big collar and flares are very 70s. I’m not sure the proportions work very well with the blouse untucked though.

With the linen overshirt with bands from Vogue 1347. This is a similar length to the previous blouse, but I think the extra width makes it work better. And the bands add a lot of interest; the trousers on their own are fairly plain.

With the white darted blouse, Burda 105 04-2018. I think this one works as an outfit, but for me it’s a strange halfway house between being dressed up and being casual. Can’t see myself reaching for this combination very often. I don’t need to dress up for work and if I did I would wear something smarter than jeans.

Finally with the short Burda sweater, 112 11-2015, (and a water pistol, because there’s a small child armed with his own water pistol firing at me from just out of shot). This one’s my favourite; the shorter top is better proportioned than the long ones. The rise couldn’t be any shorter for this though or there would be a gap!

These are definitely a success; I wear them about once a week. They’re good for active days. The fit is great and the stretchy denim makes them fairly comfortable to wear.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part 2

On with reviewing the success (or not!) of my wardrobe sewing plan. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the pleated culottes, Burda 108 07/2018. Here are all the line drawings, now updated to include the two patterns I substituted.

Here are the culottes with the black blouse, Burda 113 02/2010. I think this works as an outfit but it’s not entirely me; at least not with these shoes. To my eye it’s too formal and has a bit of a vintage vibe. Substituting chunky boots or trainers might make it more modern. I think it could also go in the librarian-chic direction with an interesting necklace and handbag, but that’s definitely not me! The pointy cuffs and collar harmonise well with with the pleats though.

Next with the white blouse, Burda 105 04/2018. This blouse is slightly softer with the puffed lower sleeve but still has the geometric darts at centre front. I think the heels and jewellery help the look. Maybe a bit Carolina Herrera, or am I kidding myself? But much as I love her style, it’s not me either. White is definitely more flattering to the complexion than black though!

With the black cropped sweater, Burda 112 11/2015 and big boots. This looks much more modern. It’s weighty rather than the previous two somewhat dainty combinations. Despite the cropped sweater there’s no real waistline; I think if the sweater was a little shorter still it would change the feel a lot. I like this one a lot and have worn it a few times.

With the Vogue 1347 linen overshirt with the dangling appliqued bands and the boots again. It was a cold day so I’m wearing the shirt over a high necked wool t-shirt.

And below with a better view of the bands.

This one is a lot of look, what with the bands and the pleats, but it’s my favourite. Lots of straight lines.

I also wear the culottes with my black wool jersey t shirt and my grey kimono style cardigan. They seem to go with a wide variety of shoes as well.

The downside about these is that they need a lot of ironing. Although I edge stitched the pleat folds down they still need a good press after washing to make them sharp.

I can’t see myself making these again, at least until this pair wears out, because of the high maintenance requirements. But they are very versatile and I really enjoy wearing them.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part 1

Time to see how well my wardrobe sewing plan worked. I started this back in October 2020 so it’s been a substantial investment of time and energy. I planned to include eight garments planned, one of which had already been made. Here’s the original plan. Two garments are shown both front and back so there are ten pictures. All the tops were supposed to go with all the bottoms, giving sixteen combinations in all.

I ended up swapping out the boxy Burda sweater (centre top) for a more fitted sweater after reading about how oversized the sleeves on the original choice are. I made the rightmost blouse but the fit was so bad I replaced it with a different longline blouse, which didn’t have the puffy sleeves.

Today I’m planning to look at how the combinations involving the first pair of trousers worked out. These are the wide legged drawstring trousers from OOP Vogue 1347. My original post about them is here. I’d made these before I even had the idea of sewing a wardrobe, and originally I’d planned for them to be a summer garment worn mainly with t shirts. Putting them with the wardrobe items should extend the wear seasons to spring and autumn, although these aren’t really heavy enough for winter. So, how did it work?

First paired with the fancy linen shirt from the same pattern envelope:

Weirdly this is one of the least successful combinations, even though the two patterns were designed to go together. The baggy top and baggy trousers together end up looking sloppy to my mind. The proportions also shorten the leg, which isn’t good on me as I have a proportionately long torso and shorter legs to start with. I’m convinced the Vogue pattern envelope model is wearing enormous heels. And interestingly this is a designer pattern, and the only photo of the pieces I’ve found from the original designer collection had both of them done in very fluid satin as lounging pyjamas and not linen like the Vogue version. They were also photographed from knee level, which tends to make the legs look longer. So while I like both of these pieces a lot, definitely not when worn together.

Here are the trousers with the black blouse. It’s another long top so I styled it with the blouse open to try to avoid the leg shortening effect. This combination is OK – not my favourite, but I can see myself throwing the blouse on over the trousers and a t shirt to protect myself from the sun.

Here it is with the white blouse. I think this pair is a lot better than the previous two. The proportions are better and the eye is drawn to the bright white blouse rather than the trousers. The yellow trainers are fun too.

Finally with the cropped sweater (and needing a press!) Having the darker colour on the top half is worse, but the overall proportions are better so it still works. And with leggings under the trousers this one is good for cold days.

So in total two good outfits, one passable, and one no. The most useful combination is definitely the last one because it’s warm.

The silver trousers also get a certain amount of wear paired with a plain black t shirt and my beloved boiled wool kimono-style cardigan. They are definitely a success. The only thing I’d change about them is that I wish they didn’t need ironing.

All photos by my husband.

The end at last: Burda 113 2/2010 blouse

A woman in a black blouse and black jeans

Here it is, the very last item in my original wardrobe sewing plan. This blouse is Burda 113 2/2010. It’s a replacement for Vogue 9299, which was my original choice for a black blouse. I had fit problems with the Vogue and I don’t wear it much. I’m hoping this one will be more of a wardrobe staple.

Here’s the technical drawing. I normally find Burda’s line art very accurate, but I’m not convinced this one gives a good idea of the finished garment. The blouse in the line art looks a lot more boxy and the exaggerated collar and cuffs don’t come across. I like my version, but it isn’t quite what I was expecting to end up with.

Technical drawing of Burda 113 2/2010, burdastyle.ru

I did make a few alterations to the pattern: I added my normal amount of length and did a broad and square shoulder adjustment. This had the handy side effect of removing all the ease from the armscye seam. My books say I’m supposed to add it back by making the sleeve cap higher, but I dislike easing sleeves so I didn’t. My arm mobility is still fine. Admittedly I probably overdid the shoulder adjustments and the shoulders have ended up a bit exaggerated, but I like that look, so win-win. I also did a concealed button placket and added a yoke.

The fabric is a polycotton poplin from Minerva Crafts. I was deliberately looking for a polycotton blend for the crease resistance; as it’s black I don’t have to worry about it discolouring.

The buttons are old ones from my button box. This blouse uses a lot – thirteen in all. Amazingly I managed to find a set of thirteen that matched before I started sewing. As I knew I definitely had enough buttons I sewed the buttonholes and added the buttons on the collar stand which I wouldn’t normally bother with. Then when I came to deal with the cuffs I realised a button had gone missing at some point, probably when testing buttonhole sizing. And just before we took these pictures I found another one had dropped off the blouse and had to replace it with a slightly different one, so my matched set is now two down.

Back view of a woman wearing a black blouse and jeans

The cuffs are pretty dramatic with those points. They are the style that needs cuff links – the buttons are just joined in pairs to make links – so I could always get proper cuff links and use a cuff button to replace the odd one out on the placket.

I added a yoke to the design because I like having the extra structure that comes from the double layer at the upper back. Then I had a moment of doubt: all the shirts in the house with yokes have back pleats, not darts. Maybe having a yoke and darts is some kind of offence against traditional shirt styling. Too late now anyway.

There’s an interesting little detail in this pattern that isn’t visible in Burda’s images: a small triangular gusset in the side seam where it runs into the curved hem. Not a lot of trouble to sew and reinforces a stress point.

The side seam of a shirt with a gusset

I’m wearing it with my flared jeans from the plan here for a slightly 70s look, but of course there are several other combinations. My husband has been patiently photographing the various outfits from the sewing plan so I’ve got some more blog posts planned on how well it all works together.

However considered on its own I think this is a success: the basic shape is good and the slightly exaggerated details add a bit of interest. I’ve never been much good at accessorising so it helps if clothes have interesting features.

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

A woman wearing a black blouse and jeans standing in front of a green door

Looking to the future

I have just sewn the last button on the final garment in my wardrobe sewing plan. I started this back in October so my original estimate of six months worth of sewing wasn’t far out – I sew slowly and most of the pieces had fiddly details. But rather to my surprise I managed to stick with the plan, and am wearing most of the results on a regular basis. This post isn’t about those clothes, because I haven’t got them all photographed, but what comes next.

I was really inspired by two patterns in the February issue of Burda: an oversized coatigan (style 105) and a slouchy v neck dress with kimono sleeves and waist ties (style 101). But obviously they’d need some things to go under them so I started looking for options and checking my fabric stash…and before long I had another eight garment wardrobe planned out.

But do I really want to commit to another long sewing plan? This one does have the advantage that a couple of the patterns aren’t new to me, so should be relatively quick sews, and it also uses up quite a bit of stash fabric. But there are also several pretty big projects in there.

Top row, left to right:

Slim fitting wool jersey t-shirt in black John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey. I’ve used some Burda line art for the image, but this is basically a remake of this simple knit top I drafted a while ago, so I’ll use my pattern. This is intended to be layered under the dress immediately below it in the picture, and also to be worn alone with the jeans.

Burda 2/2021 style 102 blouse in white tencel. This is the piece I’m least sure about. I picked the style because it’s the chopped off version of the dress just below, so saving tracing another pattern, and I felt I needed a loose fitting top in the mix, to be worn with the jeans and the leggings. If anything gets dropped it’ll probably be this one.

Burda 10/2012 style 119 wrap top in black John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey. This is to be worn as a layer under the v-necked dress and alone with the jeans.

Burda 2/2021 style 105 coatigan in black denim with light grey topstitching. To be worn as a warm layer over any of the outfits.

Burda 5/2008 style 110 utility dress in grey gaberchino. To be worn over the jersey t-shirt and leggings and maybe on its own in very warm weather. I like all the hardware and detailing on this one, although it makes it a difficult project.

Burda 2/2021 style 101 v neck kimono sleeved dress in grey tencel. This can be worn alone in the summer and over the wrap top and leggings the rest of the year.

Vogue 1378 Donna Karan pieced leggings (OOP). This is a remake of this project from 2014, which was worn until the fabric started to disintegrate. I’m going to try to use some black stretch fake leather I have lurking in stash, but it depends whether I can persuade my machine to do top-stitching on it: it’s very sticky. If it doesn’t work out I’ll use thin black neoprene instead like my original.

Burda 3/2020 style 119 straight legged jeans in black stretch denim from stash. I fell in love with susew’s version of these and they’ll go with all of the tops. I’m just hoping my piece of denim is large enough to fit them on; they’re fabric hogs.

Burda 4/2018 style 103 asymmetric trench-style coat in silver twill. This should work with all the outfits, and I have the fabric for this in stash – I’d already used it for two projects and liked it so much I bought the rest of the bolt with this coat in mind. Do I need yet another coat? No. But I can’t get this one out of my head. The style lines are similar to an Alexander McQueen design from a few years ago, although theirs has a double breasted button closure and Burda’s just wraps.

So that’s the plan at the moment. Unlike the last plan where all of the tops were intended to go with all of the bottoms, this time I’m aiming for layering possibilities. And as all pieces are in the same colour palette (or rather, lack of colour) as the last lot there should be quite a lot of crossover too.

Burda 112 11/2015 sweater

A woman in a black sweater made from Burda 112 11/2015

I’m on the home stretch now. This is the penultimate garment in my vague wardrobe sewing plan, Burda 112 11/2015. It’s a close-fitting sweater with French darts and a fairly cropped length. Here’s the line art, strangely with one arm cut off.

Technical drawing for Burda 112 11/2015 sweater, burdastyle.ru

This is the ‘extra pattern in pink’ for the 11/2015 issue of Burda. There are detailed illustrated instructions and the pattern pieces are supposed to be extra easy to trace: they’re shaded to make them easy to find and they don’t overlap. And it’s a simple pattern to start with: only five pieces. Should have been straightforward, right? Wrong. Perhaps I have developed the Burda version of Stockholm Syndrome, but I had more problems with the easy to trace pink pattern pieces than I do with the regular ones. Having the pieces not overlap meant I had two giant pattern sheets to iron and wrestle with instead of one, and somehow I managed to trace the wrong hemline on the front piece despite the shading. I didn’t discover that mistake until after I’d cut out the fabric, and had to hastily make a hem facing from the leftovers, or this would have been a very cropped sweater indeed. I normally take care to check patterns after I trace them but I must have skipped that step this time.

The pattern is designed for fulled loden fabric, which doesn’t fray at all. No seams to finish! Mine’s made up in a gorgeous wool/polyester blend sweater knit from Minerva Crafts. Now I look at the website again I think I used the official ‘wrong side’ of the fabric as my right side. It has a smooth side where you can see the knit stitches, and a brushed side which looks like fleece. I didn’t want a fluffy jumper so I used the smooth side.

Like fulled loden this fabric doesn’t fray, but I suspect it’s stretchier. It sewed up very nicely on my regular sewing machine with a 90 ballpoint needle and a slight zigzag stitch. I didn’t use the overlocker at all. I hemmed it and caught down the neck facing using the sewing machine stretch blind hem stitch; it’s such thick fabric it was very quick and easy to do.

Here’s the back view. That centre back seam provides a lot of the shaping.

Back view of a woman wearing a black sweater

I had a bit of trouble with the hem flaring out. Maybe I stretched it out when sewing on the facing or perhaps it was a side effect of whatever went wrong with my tracing, but I had to unpick and take the bottom in a lot at both the side and back seams. Otherwise the fit is great. This is my usual Burda size and the only pattern adjustment I made was adding my usual extra 5cm length. I did debate going down a size because of the extra stretch in the fabric, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I think I’m going to be wearing this a lot. Thanks to my husband for the pictures as usual.

A woman in a black sweater and black cocoon trousers

Cocoon trousers: Burda 106 02/2020

A woman wearing black cocoon trousers and a black t shirt stands in a garden

This is the last of the trouser patterns from my vague wardrobe sewing plan. It’s the one I was least confident about because I’ve never worn cocoon-shaped trousers before and part of me suspected they might be rather unflattering. However the pattern’s attractive model photos won me over.

The pattern is Burda 106 02/2020 and it comes in two versions, both made in very lightweight and summery looking fabric, which is odd for a February issue. However on the Russian Burda site there are some versions made by fans in denim which looked much more practical.

Here’s the line art:

Burda 106 02/2020 line art, burdastyle.ru

Now I look closely at the technical drawing I realise I didn’t make the waistband closure on mine the way Burda did: my overlap finishes at centre front like a pair of jeans would. I wasn’t really following the instructions while sewing though. I prefer a different order of construction for trousers than Burda’s standard method because I find it easiest to sew the fly closure as early as possible in the process. Burda tends to leave it almost to the last.

I made them up in a black mediumweight 100% cotton denim from Empress Mills. I was a bit concerned about how the pleats would look in denim, but they seem fine. I did the top-stitching in a light grey shade: Gutermann 40, mainly because I had a couple of spools of it around and wanted something contrasting to highlight the section seams. In another case of not reading the instructions carefully I’d got the impression these were meant to have a self fabric belt, and made one up despite the puzzling lack of any pattern piece for it. In fact it turns out the ‘belt’ in the magazine version is just a length of purchased ribbon.

The welt pockets have come out well. I normally make a sample out of scraps before tackling welt pockets to remind me how they work and to figure out any issues with the fabric. But I’d managed to cut these out so efficiently I didn’t have any decent sized scraps left to use, and I didn’t want to cut into the leftover yardage for a throwaway sample. So full speed ahead without a test run it was, and luckily it worked out.

Closeup of black denim trousers with welt pockets, self belt, and pleats

One thing I’m not very keen on with these is the back view. They have a real case of coffin back. Maybe patch pockets would improve things. The original Burda version doesn’t even have a top-stiched hem to relieve the montony, but I had plenty of thread left and thought it might add some interest to top-stitch mine. I’m wishing I’d top-stitched the back ankle darts now too.

On the subject of the hem, these are unusually short for Burda trousers. When tracing the pattern I added more length to the leg than I normally do, and still ended up sewing the hem facings with the tiniest seam allowance I could in order to squeeze out extra length.

They’re very comfortable, being so baggy. I can see these being a go-to for days when I have to go into the office and do something physical. Thanks to my husband for the photos!

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse

Burda 105 04/2018 white blouse front view

Here’s the latest item in my sewing with a vague plan project: a white blouse made from Burda 105 04/2018. I never used to wear shirts or blouses at all, and then I realised that a white shirt collar is surprisingly flattering. Something to do with reflecting light onto the face, maybe? Any shirt pattern will do, but this one has got some particularly nice details: the radiating darts on the front, the slanted waist seam, and the big sleeves.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse line art, burdastyle.ru

I changed the front to have a hidden button placket because there’s enough going on there already with all the darts. I also did a wide shoulder adjustment after my disappointing experience with Vogue 9299, which has a similar shape, and added my usual extra 5cm of length to the bodice and sleeves. I didn’t try to move the bust darts down, but I’m thinking I probably should have – or maybe done a full bust adjustment? But there really ought to be enough room in my regular Burda size without that.

The fit still isn’t quite right, with a bit of pulling over the chest if I raise my arms. I think to some extent that can’t be avoided in a very fitted style like this, and it certainly sits OK when I have my arms by my side.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, front view closeup

This pattern has a really high sleeve cap and a narrow upper arm. It also has an absolute ton of sleeve cap ease which I lazily didn’t remove, and then regretted when I had huge difficulty setting in the sleeves. As you can see, I did not succeed in getting nice smooth sleeve caps.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, side view closeup on shoulder

The hem was a pain in the neck too because it’s so curved. Pretty, but I burnt my fingers a few times turning it up! It’s not very even either; I should have gone for bias tape. In fact this whole project wasn’t my best ever sewing. The mess I made of the collar stand is fortunately invisible with the collar turned down.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, side view

I like the back pleat. It gives the back view a bit of interest, and the extra mobility is welcome. And this is a nice shot of the sleeves, which have come out surprisingly subdued given how much fabric there is in the lower half.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, back view

The fabric is 100% cotton poplin from Croft Mill. Being pure cotton I’m hoping it will wear well and not develop that yellow tinge that cotton blends often seem to. I interfaced the collar, cuffs, and front band with Vilene F220 and sewed it with a size 80 universal needle. Pictures courtesy of my very patient husband as usual.

Burda 105 04/2018 white blouse front view

Adventures with reflective fabric

A while ago my husband asked if I could make him a top out of high visibility fabric for running in the evenings. Not something I’d ever sewed with before. A bit of research revealed that stretch reflective fabric is seriously pricey stuff. So I started out buying a pack of samples from Hello Reflectives, whose website I’d bookmarked some time ago. I received a mixture of wovens and knits. There’s quite a range of weights and textures, but as you’d expect most of them have a plasticky hand and very little drape; I wouldn’t want to wear many of the types next to my skin. The knits with reflective prints are drapey but not super stretchy – it’s the nature of the printing. Fine for a loose fitting running top though.

We eventually decided on a printed knit in a design that didn’t come in the sample pack, and when I ordered it they threw in another, slightly different, pack of samples. So my photos are of a combination of the two sample packs plus a bit of the fabric I actually bought.

These are the wovens (except the perforated one). Mostly quite light weight, plasticky, very little drape. Think of oilcloth. They’d be good for things like raincoats or bags.

Mostly woven samples from Hello Reflectives, right side up, natural light
Mostly woven samples from Hello Reflectives, right side up, flash
Mostly woven samples from Hello Reflectives, wrong sides

These are the knits. The three printed ones are quite drapey and would be OK to wear against the skin. The fully coated knits are much heavier, have very little stretch, and don’t drape; they’d be good for outerwear. I quite fancy making a jacket in that silvery grey one, but I’m not sure I’d dare wear it.

Knit samples from Hello Reflectives, right sides, natural light
Knit samples from Hello Reflectives, right sides, flash
Knit samples from Hello Reflectives, wrong sides (except the circuit board print which I forgot to turn over, oops)

We picked the circuit board print in the end. They have a few other prints in the same silver on black effect but this design is their best option for an all over print in my opinion. Some of the other designs have pattern repeats with very obvious edges, so they’d be better as accents.

The fabric was supposed to be very narrow so I had to order two metres, but what arrived was so much wider than advertised that I was able to get two tops out of it. I was a bit concerned about washing the fabric – the website says not to wash it hotter than 30 degrees, but realistically you can’t be precious about exercise gear. I washed a sample on my normal 40 degree cycle and it came out OK. I’m guessing it will probably shorten the life of the fabric to keep washing at 40, but that’s life. So far it’s holding up fine.

The pattern is a tracing of an old t shirt that my husband likes the fit of. I was intending to use something from Burda, but would you believe in ten years of back issues there isn’t a single pattern for a loose fitting men’s t shirt.

Having enough fabric for two tops meant that I could treat the first one as a trial run. I had to reshape the neckline a lot on that version, but it ended up wearable. It’s certainly bright.

Reflective print t shirt back view, electric light
Reflective t shirt back view, flash

So overall a success. And they’re certainly getting a lot of wear in the current dark evenings.