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Yemen Day and workshop: Saturday 19 December

TRC Yemen exhibition 2015

TRC Yemen exhibition 2015

To mark the end of the TRC Yemen exhibition, and the start of the Christmas holidays, the TRC is organising a special Yemen Day, on Saturday 19th December. The TRC will be open from 12.00 until 17.00 hours, especially for people who did not have the chance to see the exhibition during the week-days. For the last time they can admire the beautiful textiles and garments from Yemen, some of which splendidly embroidered. Entrance, as always, is free, but any voluntary donations are welcome.

Visitors may also want to attend a special Yemeni embroidery workshop, between 13.00 and 16.00 hrs. To attend this workshop, we do ask you to register, so we have some idea as to how much material we need to prepare. For this purpose, we also have to ask a small fee. The workshop, following the structure of the successful Wednesday morning meetings, includes a brief talk on Yemeni embroidery, an in-depth tour of the exhibition (for those who have not attended such a tour already), and then the participants are invited to try out some of the chain stitch embroidery forms that are used in Yemen. We will make sure you have all the necessary materials (cloth, needles and threads), the necessary stitch information (ten different ways to make a chain stitch....) and patterns. And if you want to see what you are working to create, you can simply walk to the exhibition and look at the relevant embroidered garment. All your work on the 19th will of course be assisted by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood. Prior knowledge of Yemeni embroidery, or embroidery in general, is not required!

The workshop will be given by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director TRC and curator of the exhibition. Date: 19 December 2015. Venue: TRC, Hogewoerd 164, Leiden. Time: 13.00-16.00. Fees: 25 euros, incl. coffee/tea and materials. Registration:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Maximum number of participants: fifteen.

From 17.00 hrs onwards there will be a special Christmas party for all the volunteers and anyone else who has been helping the TRC.


The diversity of the TRC collection

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 ten thousand items (November 2015), 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 three major themes: (1) Pre-industrial textile technology, (2) Dress and Identity, and (3) Embroidery. See also: The TRC Textile and Dress Collection

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 will come on-line and after that the digital database will be regularly up-dated with information about the latest acquisitions and information in general. 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


Remembrance Day, 11 November. The embroidered postcards of World War I

Sheet with multiple, identical images with the text 1919 Souvenir from the Great War, produced by a hand-embroidery machine.

Sheet with multiple, identical images with the text 1919 Souvenir from the Great War, produced by a hand-embroidery machine.

On the occasion of Remembrance Day that symbolises the end of World War I (11 November 1918), the TRC has mounted a special mini-exhibition on embroidered postcards that were widely used during and after the Great War. Decorative postcards with a short text were in fact popular in Western Europe from the early 1900's until the 1950's. Many of these were made in France. The cards included a wide variety of designs and messages worked in floss silk in various colours. Millions embroidered cards were produced. These embroidered silk postcards were especially favoured during and just after the First World War (1914-1918). See also the blog article with more information on the hand-embroidery machine used for these postcards.



Read more: Remembrance Day, 11 November. The embroidered postcards of World War I


Recommended books, October 2015

A new list with annotated titles of recent acquisitions for the TRC library has just been published. Click here for the October 2015 list.


TRC gallery exhibition: Dressing Sheba


Glittering embroidered garments and jewellery from Yemen, 

17 August until 17 December 2015


Detail of embroidered neck opening of Tihama dress, Yemen. TRC collection. Photograph: Joost Kolkman

Detail of embroidered neck opening of Tihama dress, Yemen. TRC collection. Photograph: Joost Kolkman

The image of the Queen of Sheba, dressed in exotic garments and jewellery and dancing in front of King Solomon, has fired the imagination of artists for hundreds of years. The Biblical land of Sheba, now known as the Republic of Yemen in the extreme southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, has long been described as the source of abundant trade goods, including emeralds and rubies, purple, embroid-eries, fine linen, coral and incense (Book of Ezekiel 27:16). Dutch traders in the 17th and 18th centuries went to Yemen to acquire silk (stickzijde) and metal threads (goudtraet), silk textiles and much more that came from as far away as Syria, Egypt, Iran, India, China and Indonesia, to bring these goods back to The Netherlands for its wealthy citizens. In the 20th century Yemen was still attracting trade from all over the world. Sadly, in recent days Yemen has become the scene of a bloody civil war and interference from outside.

Read more: TRC gallery exhibition: Dressing Sheba


TRC Library online !

Over the last few months considerable time, energy and attention have been paid to the TRC library. We are very happy to announce that the library has now been totally re-numbered, is now open to the public, and the catalogue can now also be consulted online. Currently the TRC library holds some 2000 titles. All of this work has been done by the TRC library group, which includes Jasmijn Nobelen, Martine de Nijs, and Marieke Roozeboom. Please bear in mind that books can be consulted in the library, but not borrowed. To consult the catalogue, go to Research / Library, or simply click here.


How to (financially) 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! In order to make it a little easier to make a donation (not that it is difficult of course!) we have prepared a list of various options:

Read more: How to (financially) support the TRC


Wednesday Morning Workshops

Every last Wednesday of the month, the TRC organises a workshop between ten in the morning and one in the afternoon. The meetings combine theory and practice, or, in other words: participants will watch, listen, and do. No prior knowledge or experience is required. These workshops were started in October last year and have proven to be a great success, and most of them do in fact attract more people than the maximum we can take (15). All workshops are led by various specialists in the field. Language of communication is Dutch, but English will also be used if required.

We now have the list of the following workshops until March 2016. Please book early, since all the workshop registration lists fill up very quickly ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). 26 August: Yemeni embroidery; 30 September: Traditional broad cloth (laken) from Leiden; 28 October: Beadwork from the Strait of Malakka; 25 November: Early medieval European needlework; 16 December: Bethlehem embroidery from Palestine27 January: Threading necklaces: Professional tips; 24 February: subject further to be announced; 30 March: Japanese kimonos; 25 May: The world of samplers.

The costs are €25, including coffee/tea and working materials. Further information and invoice will be sent in advance to those who have registered for participation.


TRC Intensive Textile Courses in 2016

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

In 2016, the TRC is again running its successful five-day intensive course on textiles. The course will be given three times, in March, May, and October. 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. The course is an absolute 'must' for anyone dealing with archaeological, historical and modern textiles, for designers and fashion students, as well as anyone who is seriously interested in all aspects of textile history and production, and simply wants to know and practise more. A personal report, written by dr. Paula Hohti from the University of Copenhagen, who attended the course in May 2013, can be consulted by clicking here. Dates of the next courses:  21-25 March 2016, 16-20 May 2016, and 14-19 October 2016.

Fees for the full course, including the use of materials, are € 600. Those who want to attend the course, please contact the TRC

Read more: TRC Intensive Textile Courses in 2016


Facebook: 1150 friends !

Since mid-2014, the TRC is building up a thriving and colourful Facebook community. With by now (21 November 2015) some 1150  'friends', this medium has become an 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 !


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

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

Exhibitions from 17 August until 17 December 2015: Glittering embroidered garments and juwellery from Yemen; First World War souvernir postcards
nnnnnnWorkshop on preparing fibres before the spinning process. WWnnn


TRC Information





  • Textile visions from Egypt, January-August 2015. Click here
  • Weaving the World. Exhibition May - September 2014. Click here.
  • What is embroidery? Exhibition October 2013 - January 2014. Click here
  • Cover Your Head exhibition, September 2012, click here
  • Beyond the Chador exhibition, February 2013,  click here 

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: