Liberation Feestrok at the TRC

Patchwork 'Feestrok', 1947, celebrating liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945. Patchwork 'Feestrok', 1947, celebrating liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945. CourtesyTextile Research Centre, Leiden, acc. no. TRC 2011.0001.

The feestrok ('celebration skirt') is a patchwork skirt, now in the collection of the Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden, The Netherlands. Also  known as a bevrijdingsrok ('liberation skirt'), the TRC feestrok is one of many comparable garments made in order to celebrate the liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945 from German occupation at the end of World War II (1939-1945).

The type of garment has its origins in 1943, when Mrs. Mies Boissevain-Van Lennep (1896-1965), a member of the Dutch resistance, was imprisoned by the Germans. She was secretly sent a scarf (lappendasje) made up of small pieces of cloth taken from the clothing of family and friends. This would later inspire her to develop the idea of patchwork feestrokken.

Following the end of the war in 1945, she was a member of a women’s committee who decided to create a garment that represented 'unity in diversity' (eenheid in veelheid); 'new from old' (nieuw uit oud); 'building from the broken' (opbouw uit afbraak) and 'one garment makes unity' (één dracht maakt eendracht). The skirt or feestrok was thus intended to reflect the diversity, unity and rebuilding of the Netherlands after the war.

In 1947 the national feestrok project was set in motion, in conjunction with the Internationaal Informatiecentrum en Archief voor de Vrouwenbeweging, IIAV ('International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement'). Some 4,000 skirts were eventually made and registered.

In order for a skirt to be officially accepted it had to be made up of pieces of colourful material, deliberately sewn onto an old skirt, whereby the old skirt vanished and a colourful ‘new’ garment was created. At the front of the skirt, near the hem, there had to be a triangle in which 5 mei 1945 (5 May 1945, liberation day in Holland) was embroidered. Some skirts also included other dates, relating to family or national events.

Each skirt was registered and the name, address and date of birth of the maker noted, both in a national archive and on individual cards. The skirt was given a special number, which was also often stitched onto the skirt itself. The example in the TRC’s collection was registered to Mrs S. M. Slavekoorde, Dorp 235A, Kesteren (northwest of Nijmegen). The skirt has the registration number 1964 embroidered on it. Once a skirt was registered it could be worn on the 5 May anniversaries (bevrijdingsfeest), Koninginnedag ('Queen’s Day') and other important Dutch national holidays. 

During Queen Wilhelmina’s fiftieth and last jubilee in 1948, the queen was serenaded with a special song, sung by about 1500 women, all of whom were wearing a feestrok.

See also a feestrok housed in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

TRC online catalogue (retrieved 16 May 2021).


Last modified on Sunday, 16 May 2021 18:09