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TRC Intensive Textile Courses

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

Please register now for the next courses in September or October of this year, or in March next year.

We just finished the March 2016 course. We will repeat this course from 19-23 September (still places available) and from 17-21 October 2016 (already fully booked), and from 13-17 March next year. 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


From Sweden to Sardinia: Embroideries from all over Europe

Ukrainian embroidery from Hungary. TRC collection.

Ukrainian embroidery from Hungary. TRC collection.

Recent acquisitions to the TRC collection include about sixty Hungarian embroideries and over one thousand items of European regional dress, many of which are 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 next TRC Gallery exhibition will show needlework from many parts of Europe. They derive from regions as far apart as Sweden and Sardinia. The exhibition includes a wide variety of colourful, subtle, marvellous outfits and individual garments, as well as many women's lace and embroidered caps from Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, France, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and of course, from The Netherlands, to name just a few countries.

The TRC Gallery exhibition will open on Tuesday, 30 August.


Encyclopaedia of Embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and South Asia

The TRC is embarking on a new large-scale and very exciting project. Following the publication in February this year of the 688-page Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World, a new contract has just been signed with Bloomsbury Academic in London to publish an equally beautifully illustrated and highly informative successor volume, namely an encyclopaedia of embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau (Iran and Afghanistan) and South Asia. The volume will be edited by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC, and Willem Vogelsang, dept. director of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden. Use will be made of the extensive TRC collection of textiles and garments from that part of the world. 

Counted thread work with small, straight stitches, from among the Hazaras in Central Afghanistan. Probably 1970s.

Counted thread work with small, straight stitches, from among the Hazaras in Central Afghanistan. Probably 1970s.

Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent have throughout history been in close contact. For millennia, people from Central Asia have migrated from the north towards what is now known as Iran and Afghanistan, and hence they often moved either west, towards modern Turkey, or east towards the Indian subcontinent. Others, be they nomads, pilgrims, tradesmen or soldiers, moved directly from east to west and from west to east. This is the story of the Indo-Iranians, the Scythians, the Turks, the Uzbeks, Sufi saints and itinerant craftsmen. In addition, all of this part of the world has in recent centuries felt the pressures from further away, from Russia, Europe, China.

Read more: Encyclopaedia of Embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and South Asia


A selection of new acquisitions for the TRC library, June 2016.

For the latest list of book reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, please see here.

  • APPL, Tobias and Johann WAX (2016). Tracht im Blick: Die Oberpfalz Packt Aus.
  • DUFTER, Otto (ed., 2011). Trachtenlandschaft Bayern.
  • EDWARDS, Eilund (2011). Textiles and Dress of Gujarat.
  • FAHMY, AZZA (2015). The Traditional Jewelry of Egypt.
  • KWON, Charllotte and Tim MCLAUGHLIN (2016). Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe.
  • MELLER, Susan (2013). Silk and Cotton: Textiles from the Central Asia that was.
  • NAIK, Shailaja D. (2014). Traditional Embroideries of India.
  • PARMAL, Pamela A. (2012). Women’s Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston.
  • RUHE, Stella (2014). Dutch Traditional Ganseys: Sweaters from 40 Villages.
  • RUHE, Stella (2014). Visserstruien 2: 65 historische truien met breischema’s uit 55 Nederlandse vissersplaatsen.
  • SKINNER, Tina (2008). Nomadic Embroideries: India’s Tribal Textile Art (from the Sam Hilu Collection)

Facebook: now 2615 'friends'

Since mid-2014, the TRC is building up a thriving and colourful Facebook community. On 16 July 2016 we reached the amazing number of 2615 '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 !


Ikat Workshops

Group of ikat weavers and workshop participants, TRC, Leiden, 31st May 2016.

Group of ikat weavers and workshop participants, TRC, Leiden, 31st May 2016.

On Tuesday, 31 May and Wednesday 1 June, the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, in collaboration with the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), organised two special workshops given by three master ikat dyers and weavers from East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), East Indonesia. The workshops were accompanied by a small display of ikats from eastern Indonesia. The display and workshops were supported by a delegation from East Nusa Tenggara led by Mrs Leburaya, wife of the governor of NTT.

A full report with photographs of the programme can be downloaded here.


Successful crowdfunding for purchase of a collection of Hungarian embroidery

The recent crowdfunding campaign has been a great success. The TRC has raised the funds needed for the acquisition of an unique collection of Hungarian embroideries. Many thanks to the many generous donors.  For more information, 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! 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 financially support the TRC


Another new board member TRC

The TRC is very pleased to announce yet another new member of the board. While Dr. O. E. Kaper, Professor of Egyptology, Leiden University, joint the board last month, we are now very pleased and honoured to tell that Dr. Sara van Dijk has kindly agreed to assist the TRC by becoming a board member. Sara van Dijk is junior curator of textiles at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. 

Per 31 March 2016 the TRC board now includes the following:

  • Chairman: Prof. L. Leertouwer
  • Treasurer: Prof. R.B. ter Haar Romeny
  • Secretary: Dr K. Innemée
  • Director: Dr. G.M. Vogelsang-Eastwood
  • General members: Mrs. V. Drabbe; Dr. S. van Dijk; Prof. O.E. Kaper

An exciting donation to the TRC's textile archaeology collection

Grace Crowfoot, 1857-1957. Photograph courtesy of John Crowfoot.

Grace Crowfoot, 1857-1957. Photograph courtesy of John Crowfoot.

For some time, the TRC has been studying a collection of textile tools housed at the TRC in Leiden. This collection is associated with the famous British textile archaeologist, Grace Crowfoot (1877-1957). This morning, Thursday 29th of January, thanks to the kindness of John (a grandson of Grace Crowfoot) and Tanya Crowfoot, the TRC was given more items for the Crowfoot collection. The items arrived in six large boxes, filled with smaller boxes and books. The textiles in the boxes included ancient Egyptian mummy wrappings (one associated with the famous British archaeologist, Sir Flinders Petrie), Coptic fragments, as well as ‘modern’ examples and samples from Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Yugoslavia, etc., which were acquired by Grace Crowfoot in the 1920s. There is, for example, a range of raw cotton from Sudan and silk samples from Aleppo, Syria.

Grace (Molly) Crowfoot was passionate about making replicas, an early form of experimental archaeology, in order to understand how some things were made and in this new addition to the TRC/Crowfoot collection there are numerous examples of trial pieces for Egyptian (Tutankhamun), Viking, and other medieval textiles from various excavations (for instance from the tomb of St Cuthbert in Durham, England). In addition, we have also been given a collection of books about textiles and weaving from the early 1900s, and shortly more reprints of Grace and her daughter Elisabeth’s (another famous British textile archaeologist) works will be coming to Leiden.

Read more: An exciting donation to the TRC's textile archaeology collection


Textile postage stamps

First ever machine embroidered postage stamp, based on St Gallen embroidery. Switzerland 2000.

First ever machine embroidered postage stamp, based on St Gallen embroidery. Switzerland 2000.

Over the next twelve months the TRC is going to have a series of mini-exhibitions dedicated to postage stamps with depictions of textiles and garments in their many diverse forms, or stamps actually made of textile. These exhibitions will include actual examples of the stamps. The aim is to put all of the mini-exhibitions together at the end of 2017 and create a much larger, digital exhibition about the links between textiles and stamps.

The planned mini-exhibitions follow up on a small display in November 2015, which was set up to commemorate the end of the First World War (1914-1918) in November 1918. The display consisted of a series of silk embroidered postcards that were sent by the allied troops in Belgium and France to people at home. It was originally intended to be a one-off exhibition, but it soon became clear that there was also a fascinating world of postage stamps to be explored for their textile and garment contents.

Read more: Textile postage stamps


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 almost eleven thousand items (December 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 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. 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



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

Current exhibition: Decorated with gold and silver

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !


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: