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TRC Encyclopedia wins prestigious prize

It has just been announced that the TRC Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (London: Bloomsbury, 2016) has been awarded the 2017 Dartmouth Medal. This is THE most prestigious reference book award in the world. It is granted by the American Library Association every year to just one book.

The press packet of the ALA states: The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World” is a unique and exceptional reference work.  It is both an anthropological and historical source discussing the relationships of identity and adornment and a tool for learning about the craft of embroidery.  It is aesthetically and organizationally pleasing with beautiful full-color illustrations, useful appendices and an index and chapter organization that allow access to topics by country, religious group, cultural event, or ceremonial use.  The presentation of this print volume lends itself to browsing, brief consultation and deep reading.  The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World” is an entry point to the topic for varied educational levels with interest in adornment, craft, history and culture.   

For further details about the award please click here.  A big thanks to everyone who helped with the production of this wonderful book!!

Copies of the book are available via Bloomsbury.


TRC Newsletter January 2017

The TRC Newsletter for January 2017 has just been completed and sent around to all our contacts. Please click here for downloading.


Wednesday morning workshop: 25 January: Palestinian embroidery

Detail of an embroidered skirt panel. Hebron region, Palestine. TRC 2008.0353

Detail of an embroidered skirt panel. Hebron region, Palestine. TRC 2008.0353

The first Wednesday morning workshop is planned for 25 January, and will be given by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood. The subject of this interactive meeting is the fascinating world of Palestinian embroidery. A year ago, at another workshop, we looked specifically at Bethlehem embroidery. In this workshop we will be looking at other forms of Palestinian work, namely that from Hebron, Ramla, Ramallah, and the northern Sinai. The main stitch used will be cross stitch, but the patterns will vary considerably in the skill level needed to create the designs. As with all the Wednesday morning workshops, the meeting will be both informative, with a brief talk and power point presentation, and the showing of actual examples from the TRC collection, and practical work by the participants. Please register well in advance. There is a limit to the number of people we can welcome.

Date: 25 January. Time: 10.00 - 13.00 hrs. Venue: TRC, Hogewoerd 164, Leiden. Costs: 25 euros. Maximum number of participants: 15. Registration: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Language: Dutch (and English when and if necessary).


Woensdagochtend workshop 31 mei: Kaartweven

Dolly de Jong en mijzelf, Annette Geerlings, zijn de twee instructeurs voor de TRC woensdagochtend workshop op 31 mei a.s. over de eeuwenoude techniek van het kaartweven. Door opgegraven textiel is bekend dat de unieke mogelijkheden van kaartweven al minstens 2500 jaar geleden in Europa en Azië ten volle werden benut. Kaartjes werden gemaakt van hout, been, hoorn, ivoor, brons, perkament, leer en zelfs van schild van de schildpad. Tegenwoordig zijn kaarten meestal van karton of kunststof. De verscheidenheid waarin kaartgeweven banden werden gebruikt en de variatie in materiaal en patronen is enorm, van grove wollen weefsels als lastband voor een kameel tot uiterst verfijnde zijden banden en met gouddraad gebrocheerde, ingewikkelde patronen als versiering op middeleeuwse kerkelijke of vorstelijke kleding.

Read more: Woensdagochtend workshop 31 mei: Kaartweven


Dutch journal 'Merkwaardig' and the TRC

The Dutch journal Merkwaardig, which focusses on samples and samplers, has just published its 111st issue, which includes an article about the TRC with some beautiful photographs. Perhaps you are interested to read it and look at the illustrations. Click here to download the article.


How to support the TRC

The TRC is growing rapidly, both in size and in the quality of the collection, the library, the exhibitions, the number of workshops, and much more. All of this means that more financial support is highly desirable. And please bear in mind that all TRC activities are carried out by volunteers!

Please transfer your donation to account NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden.

Note that the TRC is a Cultural ANBI, which means considerable advantages with respect to your tax returns.

For further details, and various options, we have prepared a simple list with details:

Read more: How to support the TRC


Reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, November 2016

For the latest book reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, please click here. The list discusses the titles below. For the full digital catalogue of the TRC library, click here.

  • ALVAREZ, Nilda Callanaupa (2012). Tradiciones Textiles de Chinchero, Herencia Viva (Textile Traditions of Chinchero: A Living Heritage), Loveland (Colorado): Thrums. ISBN: 978-0-9838860-1-3. Spanish and English. Softback, 169 pp. glossary, bibliography. Price: US$ 34.95.
  • BROWN, Mike (2014). CC41 Utility Clothing: The Label that Transformed British Fashion, Sevenoaks: Sabrestorm. Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-78122-005-4, pp. 127, no bibliography, notes or index. Price: £19.95.
  • CANEPA, Teresa (2016). Silk, Porcelain and Lacquer: China and Japan and their Trade with Western Europe and the New World 1500-1644, London: Paul Holberton Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-911300-01-4. Hardback, pp. 4679, bibliography, appendices, index. Price: £70.
  • CHANDLER, Deborah and Teresa CORDÓN (2015). Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives, Loveland: Thrums. ISBN: 978-0983886075. Softback, 140 pp., fully illustrated in colour, short bibliography and glossary. Price: US$34.95/€32.
  • COLENBRADER, Sjoukje (2013). When Weaving Flourished: The Silk Industry in Amsterdam and Haarlem, 1585-1750, Amsterdam: Aronson Publishers and Primavera Press (Leiden), ISBN: 978-94-90782-05-4. Softback, colour and b/w illustrations, footnotes, appendices, bibliography and index. Price: €38.50.
  • HERRIDGE, Elizabeth (2016). Bringing Heaven to Earth: Chinese Silver Jewellery and Ornament in the Late Qing Dynasty, London: Ianthe Press (in association with Paul Holberton publishing). ISBN 978-0-9955577-0-3. Paperback, fully illustrated in colour, extensive references and bibliography, pp. 200. Price: £40.00.
  • Musea Brugge (2008). Kantlijnen: The Face of Lace, Brugge: Museum Brugge. Softback, 64 pp., colour and b/w illustrations, footnotes. Price: €10.
  • REDWOOD, Mike (2016). Gloves and Glove-Making, Oxford: Shire Publication. ISBN 9780747814535. Paperback, colour photographs, 64 pp. Price: £4.39 (online).
  • WALFORD, Jonathan (2008, 2011). Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look, London: Thames & Hudson (first published in 2008, first paperback edition dates to 2011). ISBN: 978-0-500-28897-9, pp. 208, many colour and b/w illustrations, bibliography, index. Price: US$29.95
  • WIKLUND, Doris (2010). Old Swedish Weavings from North to South: A Collection of Everyday Swedish Weavings from 1850-1950 (translated by Becky Ashenden), Shelburne (Massachusetts): Vävstuga Press. ISBN 0-9741505-3-3. Hardback, pp. 272, colour and b/w illustrations, many weave and threading charts, index. Price: US$ 58.00.

TRC makes replica garments for exhibition 'Queens of the Nile'

Mannequin representing Queen Neferari, dressed with the help of the TRC

Mannequin representing Queen Neferari, dressed with the help of the TRC

The National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden has opened, on the 17th November 2016, a new major exhibition about the Queens of the Nile. The exhibition runs until the beginning of April 2017. As part of the exhibition, the TRC was asked to make exact replica garments for a figure of Queen Neferari, based on the representations of the Queen in her tomb in the Valley of the Queens (QV 66).

The garments made by the TRC include a long tunic with fringed hem, a red sash, again with a fringed hem (but a different type of fringe!), and a large white mantle that was knotted at the front. All of the garments were made from linen and hand stitched using the correct techniques for the period. The fringing on the tunic's hem took three evenings to complete, as each, individual fringe was made with no more than twelve warp threads! The headdress, wig, jewellery and sandals were organised by Prof. Olaf Kaper, board member of the TRC, who is curating the exhibition.



Read more: TRC makes replica garments for exhibition 'Queens of the Nile'


Online catalogue of the TRC collection

Detail of knitting sampler dated AD 1791. TRC 2016.2261

Detail of knitting sampler dated AD 1791. TRC 2016.2261

Work on the online catalogue of the TRC collection is getting well on the way. Perhaps you should have a look. Click here. For instance, one of the latest acquisitions to the collection is a knitting sampler that is dated AD 1791. The TRC recently obtained it together with a collection of embroideries from Hungary. This knitting sampler may be one of the oldest, and securely dated knitting samplers ever found in Europe. You can see the sampler in our online catalogue, click here.





Embroidery charts

We recently put some embroidery charts online for some unusual and intriguing needlework patterns from the eastern and northern parts of Europe. Int the next few months, we hope to publish more. Please click here for an Hungarian cushion covertwo cross-stitch patterns for ecclesiastical garmentsan Hungarian/Romanian geometric design, a Swedish reindeer design, a simple blouse design from Romania, and a rabbits and birds design originally for a beadwork panel, also from Hungary. You can use them as you wish. Enjoy !


TRC Intensive Textile Courses 2017

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

Please register now !

The next intensive textile course will take place from 13-17 March next year, and will be repeated from 10-14 April 2017 and 16-20 October 2017. The course is being taught in English by Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, textile and dress historian and director of the TRC. The course is a mixture of theoretical and practical elements, with an emphasis on trying out the various techniques of textile production (spinning, dyeing, weaving), on holding and examining fibres, textiles and finished items, all in order to learn and understand what is happening and why various combinations take place. The aim is to make textiles less ‘frightening’ and allow people to look at a textile, from virtually any historical period or culture, and be able to understand it.

Read more: TRC Intensive Textile Courses 2017


TRC exhibition: From Sweden to Sardinia: Embroidered garments from all over Europe

Ukrainian-style embroidery from Hungary. TRC collection.

Ukrainian-style embroidery from Hungary. TRC collection.

For centuries, people all over Europe have been decorating their clothing with sometimes highly intricate forms of ornamental needlework. The TRC is therefore very pleased with the recent acquisition of about sixty Hungarian embroidered garments and over 1400 items of European regional dress, many of which are also embroidered. The TRC now has one of the largest collections of traditional European clothing in Europe. Over the next few years we will highlight various aspects of this stunning array of European material culture, in both actual and digital exhibitions.

To celebrate the recent acquisitons, and to draw attention to regional European decorative needlework, the current TRC Gallery exhibition shows needlework from many parts of Europe. The exhibition includes a wide variety of colourful, subtle, marvellous outfits and individual garments, as well as many women's lace and embroidered caps. They derive from all over Europe, as for instance from Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and of course, from The Netherlands, to name just a few countries. Emphasis is laid on the many different forms and techniques of decoration that have been used, and often are still being used by people from all over Europe in order to indicate their region's particular character.

See also the blog (2 September 2016) on rabbits and birds.

The exhibition is open to the public from 30 August 2016 and 23 February 2017, Monday-Thursday from 10.00 - 16.00. Entrance is free.

For a photo impression,  see below.

Read more: TRC exhibition: From Sweden to Sardinia: Embroidered garments from all over Europe


Facebook: now more than 3100 'friends'

Since mid-2014, the TRC is building up a thriving and colourful Facebook community. By the end of December 2016 we reached the amazing number of 3100 'friends'. In this way, this medium has become an even more important tool for disseminating information about the TRC, and about textiles in general. Read brief and up-to-date items about the TRC and other textile and dress related subjects. And all with beautiful photographs! Subscribe with 'like', and automatically receive all the new information. Click on the logo !


The diversity of the TRC collection

Indian batik for a sari

Indian batik for a sari

The TRC collection of textiles, clothing and accessories from around the world was started in 1997 with 43 pieces from Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria. Since then it has grown to over fourteen thousand items (December 2016), which come from very diverse backgrounds with respect to time and place. Some of the items in the collection have been purchased, but the vast majority has been very kindly donated by various institutions and private donors. The collection has no boundaries with respect to geography and time. The collection ranges from Afghan embroidery, German Lederhosen, Indonesian batiks, to delicate silks from Renaissance Italy and spinning and weaving equipment from the Andes. The collection is being built up around four major themes: Pre-Industrial textile technology, including a wide range of spinning and weaving equipment and textiles from around the world; Decorative needlework, with an emphasis on hand embroidery from around the world; Dutch regional dress; North African and Middle Eastern textiles and dress.

All of the pieces in the TRC collection have been catalogued, and are currently being incorporated into the new TRC Digital Collection Database. In the spring of 2016 the first group of items has come on-line and after that the digital database is regularly up-dated with information about the latest acquisitions and information in general. By December 2016, more than half of the collection has been photographed. To give an idea of the range and depth of the collection, below we present a broad outline of some of the most important and intriguing elements of the collection. 

Read more: The diversity of the TRC collection


TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Current exhibition: From Sweden to Sardinia: Embroidered garments from all over Europe

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

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Financial gifts

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations can also be made via Paypal: