Saturday, December 29, 2012

FWLHA Ladies Conference and Dates for 2012 needed!

Publicize your groups calendar.  Send the information to and I will include it on the blog's calendar and post here on the blog.

Frontier Women's Living History Ladies Conference will be at Ft. Concho will be held March 8,9,10, 2013.  In addition to the usual history and costuming classes, the food will focus on frontier immigrant fare.  Mark your calendars.

Good only till Dec. 31

Calling brown haired women:

While looking through the Cat's Meow which has much on sale, I noticed a basket of human hair falls on for half price making the most expensive one at $6.  If you contact me at I will find you a good piece and send it to you.  The fall I bought was about 20 inches long and of the most soft pretty hair.  Being human hair, they can be dyed although I'm not sure how light you might be able to get with these as they are pretty dark brown.  Sale is over on Dec. 31.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making comments

There have been several questions concerning making a comment.  Hooray!  All you have to do is click on the comment button below the article you want to comment on.  Anyone can comment whether you "follow" the site or not.  Enter your comment, choose your profile (if you have none of the top choice use "Anonymous".  Then click, "Publish".  Click on the picture enlarge it and see the screen shot of your steps. 

Identifying Fiber Content with a Burn Test

This is an excellent article by Pacific Fabrics on identifying textile types by using a burn test.  Wne creating your living history attire, this will be valuable when you find that period looking but unidentified content fabric.
Reasons for using natural fiber fabrics.
1.  It's the most appropriate.
2. It's the safest.  Synthetic fabrics burn quickly and easily.  They are particularly dangerous around campfires and burns with these fibers are much worse.
3.  It's the easiest to wear.  Avoid heat stroke...In the Texas heat, natural fibers wick away moisture creating a cooling effect.  Wool maintains warmth even when wet.

The Burn Test to Identify Textile Fibers

The burn test is a simple, somewhat subjective test based on the knowledge of how

particular fibers burn. Be prepared to note the following when testing your fibers:

Do the fibers melt and/or burn?

Do the fibers shrink from the flame?

What type of odor do the fumes have?

What is the characteristic(s) of any smoke?

What does the residue of the burned fibers look like?

Test Procedures

The burn test is normally made on a small sample of yarns or thread which are twisted together. Since the fiber content of yarns used in one direction of a fabric are not always made up of the same fibers used in the other direction, warp and filling yarns should be burned separately to determine the entire fiber content of the fabric.

This test is very helpful in determining whether a fabric is made from synthetic or natural fibers, but it is not foolproof and the characteristics observed during the burning test can be affected by several things. If the fabric /yarn contains blends of

fibers, identification of individual fibers can be difficult. Two or three different kinds of fibers burned together in one yarn may also be difficult to distinguish. The odor and burning characteristics exhibited may be that of several fibers, thus making your results difficult to analyze. Finishes used on the fabric can also change the observed characteristics.

Pull a small sample of at least six to eight yarns from your fabric about 4 inches long, and twist them together into a bundle about 1/8 inch in diameter. You can also use a small snippet of the fabric if you only need to determine whether it is a synthetic or natural fiber fabric and you are not seeking to determine the specific fiber(s) that make up the fabric.

Hold one end of the bundle with tweezers over a sink or a sheet of aluminum foil (about 10 to 12 inches square) to protect your working area. If the sample ignites it can be dropped into the sink or on the foil without damage.

Use either a candle or a match (automatic lighters work well) as your flame.


Some fibers are slow in igniting, but then burn quickly. Others can burn hot and produce a painful burn if caution is not maintained.

Be extremely careful to keep your hair out of the flame.

Be very certain that you are not wearing flammable materials when testing.

Do not stand anywhere near any flammable materials.

Potential Test Results

Natural, Organic & Manmade Fibers

In general, if the ash is soft and the odor is of burning hair or paper, the fabric is anatural fiber. Cellulosic fibers (cotton, linen and rayon) burn rapidly with a yellow flame. When the flame is removed, there is an afterglow, then soft gray ash.

Cotton: Ignites on contact with flames; burns quickly and leaves a yellowish to orange afterglow when put out. Does not  melt. It has the odor of burning paper, leaves, or wood. The residue is a fine, feathery, gray ash.

Hemp: Same as cotton

Linen: Same as cotton

Ramie : Same as cotton

Rayon : Same as cotton, but burns slowly without flame with slight melting; leaves soft black ash.

Silk: Burns slowly, but does not melt. It shrinks from the flame. It has the odor of charred meat (some say like burned hair). The residue is a black, hollow irregular bead that can be easily to a gritty, grayish-black ash powder. It is self-extinguishing, i.e., it burns itself out.

Tencel : Same as Rayon

Wool, and other Protein Fibers: Burns with an orange sputtery color, but does not melt. It shrinks from the flame. It has a strong odor of burning hair or feathers. The residue is a black, hollow irregular bead that can be easily crushed into a gritty black powder. It is self-extinguishing, i.e., it burns itself


Synthetic Fibers

Most synthetic fibers both burn and melt, and also tend to shrink away from the flame. Synthetics burn with an acrid, chemical or vinegar-like odor and leave a plastic bead.

Other identifying characteristics include:

Acetate: Flames and burns quickly; has an odor similar to burning paper and hot vinegar. Its residue is a hard, dark, solid bead. If you suspect a fabric is acetate, double-check by placing a scrap of it in a small amount of fingernail

polish remover-if you're correct, the fabric will dissolve

Acrylic: Flames and burns rapidly with hot, sputtering flame and a black smoke. Has an acrid, fishy odor. The residue is a hard irregularly-shaped black bead.

Nylon: It will shrink from the flame and burn slowly. Has an odor likened to celery. Its residue is initially a hard, cream-colored bead that becomes darker gray.

Olefin/Polyolefin: Has a chemical type odor. The residue id a hard, tancolored bead. The flames creates black smoke.

Polyester: It will shrink from the flame and burn slowly giving off black smoke. Has a somewhat sweet chemical odor. The residue is initially a hard cream-colored bead that becomes darker tan.

Spandex: It burns and melts, but does not shrink from the flame. It has a  chemical type odor. Its residue is a soft, sticky black ash.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fort Stanton Garrison Christmas

Christmas Music
  Snow on  the Capitan Mountains
just a few miles west of Fort Stanton.
After Action Report
A Garrison Christmas


Larry Auld and his wife Janine, Mike Bilbo and his wife Barbra, Dan Judy and his wife Kate, Josh Judy, Matt Midgett, Larry Pope and his children Emily and Amanda, Jack Shuster and his wife, James Summers, Garrett Yost, Theresa Yost and her children Wayne, Wyatt, Aubrey and Cassidy, Theresa’s niece Bailey, and Mitzi Jenkins

Event Overview

We found ourselves preparing for the coming Garrison celebration of Christmas in the midst of a winter storm. Fearing icy roads and inexperienced drivers, we decided to head to the fort early on Friday afternoon, all the while hoping for a white Christmas celebration. Traveling through the storm, we emerged on the other side at Fort Stanton to find only a small amount of white on the ground, but a driving wind brought snow from afar to lite upon the parade. Our immediate task was to transform the Nurse’s Quarters into a habitable location for activity and joy. This we did with the little effort of a cleaning and warm fire.

Saturday dawned clear and cold with a constant wind. The flag was raised a little after 10:00, but only to half staff in reverence to the recent school tragedy in Connecticut. Various small activities were tended to and Theresa set up tables for Christmas ornament construction. Though this was meant to entertain the children, several Garrison members enjoyed painting clothes pin ‘soldiers’ along with the little ones. Josh then brought in the tree he had acquired, a beautiful 5’ evergreen, and posted it in the corner of the room. Its fullness was quickly enhanced with the imagination of child and adult alike as small additions adorned its branches. Everyone stood back to admire its beauty. Following our entertainment, we took to the parade for a short musketry drill session accompanied by horses. Our zeal for drill quickly waned as further entertainments within the Nurse’s Quarters beckoned.

Our celebration moved forward as holiday music filled our ears. Emily and Wayne raised their stringed instruments and marveled a crowd of visitor and volunteer alike with their talents. More senses were aroused as the smell of turkey, ham and cider filled our nostrils. We lowered the flag around 4:00 and began making the final preparations for a Garrison feast. To enhance the experience, 100 luminarias were placed and lit around the exterior of the building. After viewing the little glowing bags, everyone reentered the warmth of the building to take their respective places at the table. Garrison Chaplain Jack Shuster blessed the bounty before us and Sgt. Bilbo blessed our glasses with liquid gunpowder. Many toasts were offered and many thanks given as we filled our plates. A wonderful meal was consumed in short order and topped with sweets. The Auld and Judy families combined to give the children numerous gifts and we finished the evening relaxing around the fire in gastric recuperation.

Sunday dawned much like Saturday, only later. The flag was raised at 10:00, and then we gave the Nurse’s Quarters another thorough cleaning. Everyone cleared out by about 2:00.


The Garrison Christmas was a wonderful celebration. We spent a great deal of time with good friends. We gave thanks for what we have and made plans for the future. It’s amazing to think that merely a year ago, as of December 31 to be exact, the Fort Stanton Garrison came to be. We have done so much in a short amount of time. We can only look to the future with great expectation knowing that we will succeed with our plans.
Submitted by Jo Pope for the Ft. Stanton Garrison   Thanks, Jo


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Perfect Pleats...that stay.

Antique pleater
Details, details, details!  It is the small details that make a dress stunning.  Pleats were extensively used  on skirts, hems, necklines to display the seamstress' ability.  There were a number of tools used to pleat or flute fabric, some were flat like the one demonstrated here and others were cranked or required a form to use with a fluting iron.  All in all, it required work that you didn't want to be continuously repeating when you wore the dress. This video  demonstrates a pleating tool available today that is similar to the antique tool to the left that will make pleating much easier in creating your historical garment.  She also recommends using a solution of water withe a tablespoon or two of vinegar to set the pleats.  I have also used this solution to remove stubbon creases.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas at Old Fort Concho 2012

Christmas at Old Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas is one of the premier Christmas celbrations.  Enjoy the movie.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

If you should have trouble with an advertisement popping up, close the advertisement and and click on the movie again.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

There's a winner!! Muff identification

Muff and Collar made around the 1890-1900s.  The center is
 Longhorn hide and the ruffle is black velvet.  The collar is a high
collar that hooked on. 
And the winner is...
Martha King of Ft. Stockton.  My guess is that Martha as former curator of Historic Fort Stockton and with a ranching heritage herself had no problem identifying that as longhorn hide in the muff along with the velvet.  Stephen Porterfield of the Cat's Meow in Midland ( had this displayed along with a collection of other muffs.  With our latest cold spell, I was in the mood to look at muffs  -- and maybe use one.  According to Stephen, this one belonged to an old ranching family in West Texas and dates to the turn of the century.  What could it tell us about buggy rides, town trips and ranching fun?  Don't you wish it could talk?

Let's get discussions and comments going so we all can learn and benefit.  Next time you are wandering through an antique shop and you see something like this you will know what it is.  When you comment (please, please, please add your comments) remember to click the PUBLISH button so it will upload.  Anyone can comment and if you have an article or picture you would like to post send it to Ann at and I will post it for you or make you a blog author.

Original posting ===========================================================

Wednesday, December 12, 2012Keeping Warm in Texas

When the weather became frigid on the frontier , gloves were not enough to keep the hands warm so muffs were used to insulate the hands when not in use. Even in Texas, it can get cold! Here's a challenge--what is this muff made of? Kudos to the first person who comments with the correct materials used to make this muff. This muff was found at the Cat's Meow Antiques in Midland, Texas. The owner is a textile and vintage fashion expert for Antiques Road show. A must see shop if you are ever in the area.
Muff and Collar
The only hint you get is !!Only in Texas!!

Please comment---don't muff-le your replies.

Friday, December 14, 2012

TLHA Living History Conference in Huntsville

The following is a letter on a conference that you might be interested in.  Click the letter for a clearer version of the text. Find the conference form and schedule here .  The schedule has a lot of interesting classes.  West Texans -- reply if you plan to attend and perhaps we can get a group of us going.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Keeping Warm in Texas

When the weather became frigid on the frontier , gloves were not enough to keep the hands warm so muffs were used to insulate the hands when not in use.  Even in Texas, it can get cold!  Here's a challenge--what is this muff made of?  Kudos to the first person who comments with the correct materials used to make this muff.  This muff was found at the Cat's Meow Antiques in Midland, Texas.  The owner is a textile and vintage fashion expert for Antiques Road show.  A must see shop if you are ever in the area.
Muff and Collar
The only hint you get is !!Only in Texas!!

Please comment---don't muff-le your replies.