TRC Blog: Textile Moments

TRC intern presenting her work in Beijing

In 2018 we had the pleasure of welcoming Kazna Asker (Manchester) at the TRC for a two-month work placement - she worked with the TRC Yemen collection, learning about textiles in general, while having time to think hard about fashion, textiles and how she wanted to approach fashion designing.

Read more: TRC intern presenting her work in Beijing


Embroideries from Exeter, UK

Exeter cathedral, the western facade, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

Exeter cathedral, the western facade, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

On Sunday, 30th June, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Willem and I have spent the last few days in the southern English town of Exeter. He was at a Central Asian conference at the University, while I was working, following up on an earlier visit in February this year, on various textiles housed in Exeter Cathedral. The origins of this magnificent building date back for some one thousand years and it is well worth a visit in itself.

In fact, I wanted to go back to Exeter because of my work on Volume Three of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series, about Scandinavian and Western European forms. I am studying and gathering ideas for various entries, namely one on the use of hand embroidery for military and civilian uniforms and related items, on the use of embroidery within an ecclesiastical setting and finally an entry on medieval embroidery forms. In particular, I was at Exeter to see some examples of Opus Anglicanum (OA), which is a medieval form of English embroidery that was famous throughout Europe in the 12th-15th centuries.

The first two entries being researched will include items from within the Cathedral itself, such as the flags from various regiments that have been laid up there.They include various types of metal thread embroidery and applique techniques.

I was also looking at various medieval effigies of bishops to make notes about the embroidery depicted on their vestments, episcopal slippers, and associated cushions.

Regimental flags laid up in Exeter Cathedral, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

Regimental flags laid up in Exeter Cathedral, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

But most importantly, there are various examples of OA in Exeter, notably the St. Petrock Pall (in the Cathedral) and the pall from St. Mary's Arches Church, now on display in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. In both cases the cloths are correctly called palls, but in the sense of an altar covering (altar pall), rather than a cloth covering a coffin (funeral pall).

Having the chance to see OA in detail was a treat and my appreciation for the skill of these unknown embroiderers so many centuries ago has increased considerably. The visit also left me with many more questions (as normal). Such as where did the St. Petrock Pall's silk come from, who made the background cloth, did the embroiderers use more than one type of couching, which is regarded as particular to OA, namely underside couching, and how was the final object used.

The indignation of what had happened to the Cathedral’s treasures (including its vestments) during the Reformation in the 16th century is still very much alive among the people working there!

I would like to thank all at the Exeter Cathedral Archives for their kindness, help and interest during my all to brief visit. We hope to come back soon!


Ties to history: An update

On Thursday, 20th June 2019, Loren Mealey and Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Ties to History, the TRC’s exhibition about the history and evolution of men’s neckwear, planned for next year, is progressing in both depth and breadth.

One of the TRC volunteers, Beverley Bennett, is an amazing quilter and she has made a special quilt based on a Dresden plate design – but made almost entirely from ties! There are also bowtie blocks in the corners, while the back of the quilt is made of men’s shirts. This quilt will be the ‘flag’ of the exhibition.

Items recently acquired for the exhibition opening on the 18th of October 2020 (more below), include a 1940’s USA sailor’s outfit (including the Crackerjack jumper) with its characteristic long tie. The origins of this type of tie go back, so it is said, to headbands used in the early 19th century, when the sailors wore their hair much longer than now.

There are ties commemorating special events, such as the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and the red ties made specifically for the wounded soldiers in British hospitals. There is a tie to commemorate the Wright Bros first flight in 1903, the millennium, the Space Shuttle Challenger, and even the 100th anniversary of the telephone in The Netherlands. There are ties for secret societies, and we will share their secrets with society.

Quilt made by Beverley Bennett for the Ties to History exhibition. The main part of the quilt is made of men's ties.

Quilt made by Beverley Bennett for the Ties to History exhibition. The main part of the quilt is made of men's ties.

items include contemporary neckties reflecting trends throughout the decades, as well as stories about the designers who created them. There is a tie made by the personal tailor of a US president, as well as a US president’s own label tie. There are little-known stories behind the gifts of neckwear given to prominent leaders, as well as the stories from leaders about their own neckwear. We will exhibit ties and tie accessories from around the globe and throughout the decades. Events in history will be told via the necktie, and these are just some of our Ties to History.

We have a dedicated tie hunter in Mrs. Bonte, who is scouring the Leiden area for neckwear. There are donors giving personal ties, as well. Just today (20th June), two ties were delivered with the compliments of Henri Lenferink, the Mayor of Leiden. One tie has the crossed keys of Leiden’s coat of arms – so providing another very interesting history!

We are pleased to have been contacted by the Academia Cravatica, the Croatian Cravat Society based in Zagreb (Croatia), who are interested in helping with the history of the cravat, which includes its origins in 16th century Croatia, subsequent warfare and the cravat's introduction to the French Court, and then its use by Charles II of Britain, who made the wearing of cravats fashionable in England. It was also a form of neckwear that continued to be worn by King William, the Dutch husband of Queen Mary of Britain……

And why is the exhibition opening on the 18th October: It is the International Cravat Day, of course!


Krakow and Auschwitz: beauty and horror

Part of a costume gallery with local clothing. Courtesy Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland.

Part of a costume gallery with local clothing. Courtesy Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland.

On Wednesday, 5th June 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

I am just back from six days in the beautiful town of Krakow, Poland. It was an academic meeting that took me there in the first place, but fortunately I had the chance to stay a few days longer to get to know Krakow a little bit better.

I was really taken with the ethnographic museum, which houses a large and beautiful collection of regional clothing from Krakow and surroundings. To be precise, the name of the Museum is the Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Seweryna Udzieli w Krakowie. It was established in the early 20th century, and its holdings are very much based on the folk art brought together by the collector, Seweryn Udziela. The Museum is currently housed in the former town hall of Kazimierski, a suburb of Krakow. Most of the collection, as said, reflects Polish culture, and in particular that of southern Poland.

Read more: Krakow and Auschwitz: beauty and horror


Ribbons and sequins

Ribbon shirt commissioned for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman.

Ribbon shirt commissioned for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman.

On Saturday 25th May, TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson wrote:

Two new TRC acquisitions are good illustrations of the diversity of the TRC collection. The first is a ribbon shirt that was commissioned expressly for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman (Red Lake Ojibwe). A ribbon shirt is a pan-American Indian garment “worn by men and women, generally on special occasions or ceremonial purposes. It's a way for us to represent ourselves in a nice way to our communities or spiritual practices,” writes Jennie.

The shirt’s origins are thought to be in North America’s Great Lakes region. French and English traders introduced silk ribbons in the 1700s, and also open neck, pull-over shirts originally of linen or cotton. By the 1800s many indigenous men wore ribbon shirts rather than the traditional buckskin shirt. The TRC’s shirt is black polyester, with ribbons in the colours of the Four Directions: red, yellow, black and white. A machine-stitched appliqué of a buffalo represents the Ojibwe and Dakota territories that make up the US state of Minnesota.

Teddy donated to the TRC by Jennifer Hopelezz, drag-queen from Amsterdam.

Teddy donated to the TRC by Jennifer Hopelezz, drag-queen from Amsterdam.

The second acquisition is a donation from the Amsterdam drag queen Jennifer Hopelezz. Or rather, the drag activist or ‘dragtivist’, as Jennifer uses the attention she gets as a man dressing up as a woman to promote LGBT+ equality and to fight discrimination against people with HIV. The drag costume featured is a teddy made of factory produced black net, embellished with a floral design of silver-coloured sequins. It was made for Jennifer by Spanish designer Sergio Pedrero Santos, who also known the drag queen Lola Veneno.

This costume and others will be featured in an upcoming TRC digital exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. In June 1969, when police raided the New York gay bar called Stonewall, customers unexpectedly fought back. The area around the bar was barricaded and traffic shut down for almost three days as more gay, lesbian and transgender people from around the city gathered to protest discrimination. The modern movement for LGBT+ rights was launched. The first LGBT+ Pride March took place the next year, to mark the first year anniversary of Stonewall.


Page 1 of 52

Search in the TRC website

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, Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 22 Jan. - 27 June: Velvet!

facebook 2015 logo detail




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.
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 to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: 

Subscribe to the TRC Newsletter