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Christening gown made from parachute silk (nylon), for a Dutch baby born on D-Day, 6 June 1944 (TRC 2010.0070a).Christening gown made from parachute silk (nylon), for a Dutch baby born on D-Day, 6 June 1944 (TRC 2010.0070a).On Sunday, 27 October 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

I just read in The Sunday Times that today marks the anniversary of the launch of a new synthetic fibre onto the (American) market, namely nylon. On 27 October 1938, DuPont announced the introduction of nylon for use in tooth-brushes. The succeeding year it was first used for women's stockings, or 'nylons' as they quickly became known. During the war, most of the production of nylon was diverted to military uses, notably for parachutes. Actually, parachutes first used to be made from silk, but with the Japanese occupation of the silk-producing parts of Asia, the Allies were soon turning to the use the newly developed synthetic material of DuPont.

I mention this anniversary, since the TRC Collection (such a mine of the weirdest, and sometimes most intriguing objects) houses three blouses made from nylon (TRC 2007.0833, 2007.0834 and 2007. 0835). They date to 1946 and were worn by a young woman from Leiden. She and her family received the nylon blouses in a care-package that was sent by her aunt who lived in America. The proud owner would show her friends these blouses that were made of this new and expensive material.

There is also a nylon christening gown in the Collection that was worn by a Dutch baby born on the 6th June, 1944 (a 'D-Day baby'; TRC 2010.0070a). It was made, according to the owner's family tradition, of a blood-stained parachute that the father of the baby, who had connections with the Dutch resistance, had somehow acquired. There is also a matching christening cap, made of the same material (TRC 2010.0070b).

Another christening gown in the TRC Collection (TRC 2017.3365) was made and first used in 1947. It is also made of 'parachute silk' (nylon). It continued to be used in the family for a long time, until 2013; in total sixteen children were baptised in it. It was donated to the TRC by Mrs 't Jong, who actually made the gown for her first child in 1947 A blog about this gown was published elsewhere on the TRC site.

The TRC Collection includes another nylon blouse from the 1940s (TRC 2016.2271). The long-sleeved, fashionable garment belonged to the Baron Van Rijckevorsel van Kessel family (Wassenaar, near Leiden). It has paired buttons on the sleeve cuffs, which was, at the time, somewhat extravagant for war-torn Holland, and it would suggest that the blouse originated in America.




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2311 HW Leiden.
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The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

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Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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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 Stichting Textile Research Centre.
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