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Embroidering Tutankhamun’s Tunic. TRC Workshop. Wednesday 26 November.

Tutankhamun and his wife. Gold and enamelled panel from the back of one of his thrones.

Tutankhamun and his wife. Gold and enamelled panel from the back of one of his thrones.

This day marks the anniversary of the opening up, by the British archaeologist Howard Carter, of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. On the 26th November, 1922, he had his first glance of the rich collection of objects that have ever since fascinated the world. Nowadays, Tutankhamun (he died c. 1323 BC) is world-famous for the gold, jewellery, even his beds, which were found in his tomb, but less well-known are the textiles and garments that were placed with the pharaoh for his afterlife. Apart from very highly decorated tunics, there were also 124 very simple loin cloths, and two pairs of socks.

The workshop will look at various aspects of the textiles and garments from the tomb, looking especially at their embroidered decoration. And for a more hands-on approach, the workshop will give all participants the chance to try out various forms of decorative needlework, using the techniques associated with specific finds from the tomb. In particular, the participants will be encouraged to embroider with linen thread, and to recreate designs that were used on a small, but very elaborate tunic worn by the king when he was about eight years old. Previous experience with embroidery is not required.

Date: Wednesday 26th November, 10.00-13.00.

The workshop will be given by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director TRC and specialist in ancient Egyptian clothing and techniques of decoration. Price including materials: 25 euros. Maximum number of participants is 15. Please register at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   


Five-Day TRC Intensive Textile Course, 13-17 October 2014. Two places left

Between Monday 13 and Friday 17 of October, 2014, the TRC organises, for the tenth time, its very popular five-day intensive course about textiles and all that goes with them. Earlier this year, between 17-21 March and 12-16 May, the same course was attended by participants from the British Museum, London, and other institutes. The course, which is being given in English, looks at the processes of making a piece of cloth, from the raw fibres to the end product. The participants will learn about the theory and practice of fibre identification, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and decorative techniques including printing and embroidery. The course is practically orientated and the students are encouraged to try out the wide range of techniques that are being discussed. This means that they will use microscopes and staining techniques for fibre identification. They are introduced, and asked to use, a wide variety of hand spindles and spinning wheels. They also apply natural dye stuffs and mordants to produce dozens of different colours. Students may bring pieces of textiles that they would like to discuss during the course. An extensive report on the course was written by Dr. Paula Hohti (University of Copenhagen), who attended the course in May 2013. Another report is by Alice Dolan, University of Hertfortshire, who attended the course in May 2012 together with Professor John Styles. For more information about the Intensive Course, with the course programme, click here. The course will be repeated between 16-20 March 2015 and again between 18-22 May 2015. Please register well in advance.

This five-day course has in the past already attracted students from around the world. The course is given by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (PhD Manchester, UK), director TRC. The fees for a full week of tuition are 550 euros. The group of students is always limited to eight people, in order to ensure the greatest benefits to the participants. For the October course there are two places left. Please let us know as soon as possible whether you want to join ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).





TRC Needles


For thousands of years men and women have made, worn, traded, and admired various forms of decorative needlework, from small daintily embroidered handkerchiefs to giant gold embroidered texts that bedeck the kiswah in Mecca. Decorative needlework was and remains a feature of life throughout the world. The TRC is currently engaged in the setting up and writing of a digital encyclopaedia called TRC Needles that covers this enormous field of human creativity, focussing in particular on appliqué, beading, darned knotting, embroidery, needle lace making, passementerie, patchwork and quilting. The encyclopaedia includes data about different forms from all over the world, from the Americas to Asia. It looks at the earliest surviving examples from ancient Egypt to present-day forms, with an emphasis on handmade examples rather than industrially produced items. It includes references to tools and materials, to iconography, the uses of decorative needlework, to influential people and makers, historical examples, relevant institutions, paintings or similar imagery that depicts decorative needlework. The encyclopaedia also discusses relevant references in various forms of literature, as well as relevant details relating to economic and social history.

Appliqué from the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo, Egypt. TRC collection 2013.0442. Photograph Joost Kolkman.

Appliqué from the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo, Egypt. TRC collection 2013.0442. Photograph Joost Kolkman.

Read more: TRC Needles


Bayeux Tapestry workshops, 12 and 13 November

The world-famous medieval Bayeux Tapestry shows the story of the Norman conquest of Britain and the Battle of Hastings in AD 1066. On Wednesday 12th November, between 10.00 - 13.00, and again, because of much interest, on Thursday 13th November, again from 10.00 - 13.00, a special interactive workshop will be given at the TRC in Leiden by Prof. Gale Owen-Crocker (Anglo-Saxon Studies, Manchester University, England). The workshop includes a talk about the history of this famous 11th century AD embroidery and at the same time there will be the chance to try out various forms of couching and laidwork techniques assocatied with the Tapestry. No previous experience in embroidery is required. Materials and equipment will be provided by the TRC. Number of participants: 5 minimum, 15 maximum. Costs: 25 euros per person (tea/coffee included). The meeting for 12th November is fully booked, so please register at the TRC (see email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), if you want to attend, for the 13th. If this is a problem, please contact the TRC.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it following text is taken from the as yet unpublished 'TRC Needles' website, which will be coming on line soon and which eventually will include more than 5000 entries in the field of decorative needlework.

Read more: Bayeux Tapestry workshops, 12 and 13 November


TRC Gallery Exhibition: Weaving the World

7000 years of hand woven textiles in one exhibition!

TRC Gallery exhibition, 26 May – 23 September 2014

Woman in Lima, Peru, with backstrap loom. Photograph: Jefke van Iterson

Woman in Lima, Peru, with backstrap loom. Photograph: Jefke van Iterson

The Gallery exhibition at the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, is a must for textile lovers.

The exhibition includes some of the oldest textiles in the world. They come from Çatal Hüyük (Turkey). These tiny fragments are about 7000 years old, and what a story they tell about the long history of hand weaving! Other unusual items on display include textiles that were originally wrapped around the Dead Sea Scrolls, examples of Coptic tapestries from Egypt, as well as medieval and Renaissance velvets and silk woven textiles. All of them are hand woven!








Read more: TRC Gallery Exhibition: Weaving the World


New exhibition: "Renewed from Afar", from 7 October 2014

Fezzes made out of bobbin lace. Lacemaker: Nel Butter.

Fezzes made out of bobbin lace. Lacemaker: Nel Butter.

The TRC is presently engaged with the preparations for the next few exhibitions. The first, that will open on Tuesday, 7 October, is called: "Renewed from Afar: Modern bobbin lace inspired by the collection of the Textile Research Centre", and will be on show until Thursday 18 December of this year. The exhibition displays the work of a group of Dutch lacemakers, called EXPERIKANT, which is engaged with the production of modern lace. The old craft is thereby translated for modern times. All the members of the group have followed the traditional schooling of lace production. Now they design their own work and in doing so they make use of many different materials. For this exhibition they were inspired by the large collection of textiles and dress of the TRC. The choice of items is very diverse: a beautiful skirt, a tie on a kimono, a belt, a typical form of headdress or a head covering. These items have been 'translated' into bobbin lace.

This very colourful and three-dimensional exhibition shows the 'original' item from the TRC collection, and the modern bobbin lace 'translation'. With each group of textiles there is a workbook with a description of the production process.


Exhibitions for 2015

For 2015, the TRC is preparing three very diverse, but at the same time equally fascinating exhibitions. From 5 January until 30 April 2015, the TRC shows "TEXTILE VISIONS OF EGYPT: Appliqué panels from the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo". From 6 May until 17 September 2015: "IKATS WORLDWIDE", and from 23 September until 18 December 2015: "VELVETS AND SILK".

Read more: Exhibitions for 2015


TRC Library

Over the last few months considerable time, energy and attention have been paid to the TRC library by one of our volunteers, Martine de Nijs. We are very happy to announce that the library has been totally re-numbered and is now open to the public.

There are currently about 2000 books in the library and many more new (to us) books are coming in. Within the last few weeks we have had a donation of books by Mr Bernard Kleikamp, Leiden, on textiles, clothing and jewellery from Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Poland, Tajikistan, etc. These are areas of the library we have long wanted to build up, so these volumes will help fill this lacuna in the TRC's facilities.

A list of the books in the library will soon become available on the TRC website. Please note that the books may be used at the TRC, but they cannot be borrowed.

The next stage is to catalogue the TRC's collections of articles, postcards, and so forth, in order to make the TRC into a well-rounded documentation centre for the study of textiles and clothing!



The Textile Research Centre wants to stimulate people to discover the World of Dress at home. The TRC therefore is gradually expanding its shop and its range of products. You can buy new and secondhand books on textiles and dress, including Dutch regional dress, but also on the history of fashion, and 'how-to-do' subjects. The shop has craft items from all over the world, in particular handmade jewellery. There are woven Syrian sheep bands, knitted objects from Peru, embroidered Turkish lavender bags with oya decoration, gaudily decorated caps from Afghanistan, and many other beautiful and interesting objects. We also sell a wide range of picture postcards of textiles and costume.

The shop also sells collection care items, including acid free paper and boxes for storing your delicate textiles and articles of dress, rolls for more compact storage of long textile items, heads and wigs for display purposes, etc. The TRC sells a range of tools, materials and threads for spinning, crochet, embroidery, hairpin lace production, and silk cocoons for making silk paper.

A new line in this assortment is a wide range of beads for making or restoring Dutch regional dress items, including imitation garnets, blood coral and jet, plus all sorts of metal and glass seed beads for embroidery. You can find all these items in the TRC shop for very reasonable prices. You are very welcome to visit the TRC shop at our premises along the Hogewoerd, but you can also visit the shop at home, via our website. It is very easy to order books or other objects digitally.  Click at "Shop". We hope you will enjoy it.

To see the range of articles that are for sale in the TRC shop, and/or place your order digitally, go the the SHOP heading at the top of this page.


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 !

Exhibition from 25 May until 25 September 2014: Weaving the World

nnnnnnnnWorkshop on preparing fibres before the spinning process. WWnnn


13-17 October: Intensive Textile Course

12 November: Bayeux Tapestry workshop

13 November: Bayeux Tapestry workshop (repeat)

26 November: Tutankhamun workshop

TRC Information








  • 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 0002 9823 59, 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.