The Textile Research Centre (TRC) has a collection of more than 28000 textiles, garments and accessories acquired since 1997. These items range in date from over seven thousand years ago to yesterday. The dress collection includes outfits, clothing and accessories for men, women and children from all around the world. It is regarded as an inclusive, not exclusive, collection, which ranges from simple items to what might be regarded as masterpieces. The collection is stored in two large temperature controlled areas, in acid-free paper and boxes. The items in the collection are regularly checked. All new objects for the collection are specially treated before storage. All items are catalogued, and the catalogue is currently being digitalised and made ready for on-line access.
Within its much broader range of objects, the TRC collection has four specialisations, which are divided into two technical and two dress related forms:
- Pre-Industrial textile technology, including a wide range of spinning and weaving equipment and textiles from around the world. This section also includes a ‘technique library.’
- Decorative needlework, with an emphasis on hand embroidery from around the world.
- Dutch regional dress
- North African and Middle Eastern textiles and dress.
Pre-Industrial textile technology
The TRC has an ever growing collection of items related to pre-industrial textile technology. These include spinning equipment (spindles, whorls, distaffs, spindle wheels and spinning wheels), as well as weaving equipment (including beading looms, body braced looms, etc). Equipment for the applied decoration of textiles includes printing blocks (wooden and metal), as well as equipment related to decorative needlework and lace making, such as crochet hooks, lace bobbins and pillows, netting, sewing needles, and tatting shuttles. This part of the collection also includes fibre and textile samples, samplers, individual pieces of lace (in the widest sense of the word), a range of beads, and so forth. There is also a small section devoted to how a design can be transferred onto cloth. This part of the collection is necessary in order to have comparative materials and objects, which can be used to identify and understand fibres, spins forms, weaves, finishes, textiles, as well as various sewing and decorative techniques found on garments and accessories. The objects are regularly used at TRC workshops and particularly at the five-day TRC intensive textile course, which is given three to five times per year.
Decorative needlework, with an emphasis on hand embroidery
The second specialisation of the TRC collection is decorative needlework, namely appliqué, embroidery, patchwork and to a lesser extent quilting. The main emphasis is on embroidery. Many of the items, which include the embroidered garments and textiles from all over the world, are being used as illustrations in the TRC’s Digital Encyclopaedia of Decorative Needlework (TRC Needles), which by July 2015 already included some 1500 entries, and which will eventually have c. 5000 brief articles and represent relevant needlework techniques and examples from around the world.
The TRC decorative needlework collection is divided into two: (i) embroidery techniques (cutwork, drawn thread work, whitework, etc) and (ii) embroidered garments and smaller items, which illustrate the different techniques, combinations and end results. Both of these elements are important for the identification of examples in the collection and those that are brought in for identification.
In early 2015 the TRC started to work on the TRC lace reference collection. The word lace is taken in its widest sense and includes both bobbin and needlemade laces. This reference collection is intended to complement the Decorative Needlework reference collection as there are many areas of overlap. Various people and groups are helping to build up this collection, including Ms. Anne Thijs, 't Apostelientje, Belgium.
Dress and accessory collections
Because the TRC is primarily a research institute and not a ‘traditional’ museum, we encourage the collection of (modern) traditional garments and not just items that are 'old.' The development of dress and identity does not stop at one particular date. To only collect and present old garments (not to use the highly debatable word 'authentic') is to give a false image of any culture. Initially, it was decided to concentrate on Middle Eastern dress. However, as more and more students started to use the TRC facilities it was agreed that we should expand the collection range to include the whole world, regardless of culture or chronological boundaries. Within this group we however still have two main areas of interest (a) Dutch Regional Dress, (b) North African and Middle Eastern Dress
Dutch Regional Dress
"Begin with yourself" can be a frightening, but at the same time challenging concept. In order to look at the dress of other cultures it is essential to look at the dress worn here in north-western Europe, and more specially, in our case, in the Netherlands. At the end of 2006 the TRC decided that it should collect Dutch dress. But what is meant by Dutch dress?
The TRC now has over 700 items from among all of the main forms of Dutch regional dress (Groningen, Rijnland, Marken, Spakenburg, Volendam, Zuid-Beveland, etc). The collection includes complete outfits for men, women and children, as well as individual items. The objects range in date from the early 19th century to the present day.
Of particular interest is the TRC’s collection of Dutch lace caps. All the main regional variations are represented, as well as less well-known types. The collection includes various forms for daily, mourning, work as well as Sunday wear. In addition, there is a small collection of (replica) jewellery of the types worn with many of these caps, so that the ‘complete’ head can be seen and appreciated.
Dress of North Africa and Southwest Asia
This collection includes countries and cultures from Morocco to Central Asia: namely, much of the Islamic World. Garments and accessories in the TRC collection come from most countries and cultures within this broad geographical spread. However, the collection is particularly strong with respect to Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Zanzibar (especially kangas). It is also currently increasing its Palestinian and Turkish holdings. Many items from this collection have been used for two important publications, namely the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, Vol. V: Central and Western Asia (London 2010), and The Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World (London, in press).
A feature of this collection are the veils for women. The TRC houses a wide variety of face veils, head veils and complete body veils. The collection includes historical forms as well as modern fashionable items. Many of these veils have been used for a series of exhibitions, at the TRC and elswhere.
Please note that the TRC does not collect objects such as soft furnishings (curtains, bed linen, cushions, etc), carpets, rugs, flat-weave mats, farm equipment made of cloth, etc. Nor can we accept large items of textile production equipment (looms, etc), due to the lack of suitable space.