TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Rabbits and birds

Embroidery chart of the beadwork design. Please click chart.

Embroidery chart of the beadwork design. Please click chart.

Rabbits and birds have created several ahhhh moments at the TRC after the opening of the new exhibition 'From Sweden to Sardina'. In fact, these 'cute' creatures are depicted on a broad band of beading that decorates the apron of a young, married woman from Hungary, which is on display in the exhibition. The garment is believed to date to the 1930s. It was worn on festive occassions, probably at Easter. Numerous exampes of this type of apron are known and they are often decorated with flowers, but the rabbits and birds of this particular apron are most unusual. The exhibition 'Embroidered Europe' contains many such ahhhhh moments, from beaded flowers to intricately worked geometric motifs. In order to celebrate the exhibition, the TRC is producing a series of pattern charts, suitable for cross stitch, knitting, beading, etc., that are based on designs to be found on the objects on display. The first one is the rabbits and birds pattern; other designs will be published in the course of the next few months. Please click on the chart, download it, print it, and enjoy.

Gillian Vogelsang, 2 September 2016

Rabbits and birds in beadwork on an Hungarian apron.

Rabbits and birds in beadwork on an Hungarian apron.












Fashion Museum, Bath, England

Two garments on display in the exhibition 'A History of Fashion in 100 Objets', Fashion Museum, Bath, until 1 January 2019.

Two garments on display in the exhibition 'A History of Fashion in 100 Objets', Fashion Museum, Bath, until 1 January 2019.

Its the final day of our trip around southern and south-western England and we are in the Georgian city of Bath, home at one point to Jane Austen, and the location of the famous Assembly Rooms, where romantic balls took place over 200 years ago. The Assembly Rooms is now home to the Fashion Museum. A wonderful museum with over one hundred thousand items in its collection that date from the sixteenth century to the present day. The exhibition 'A History of Fashion in 100 Objects' (19 March 2016 - 1 January 2019) illustrates four hundred years of north European/Western fashion, literally from Elizabethan embroidered gloves, to items straight off the 2015 catwalks.

The items are on display in the basement of the Assembly rooms, where light is not a problem for the more delicate items. Both men and women's outfits are on show, although the majority are for women. In addition to the basic information about where a garment comes from, who wore it and who made it (if known), there are also titbits of local gossip and comments from contemprary written sources, and more serious historical facts.

A popular room, especially for children, is the dressing up area, with a wide range of (replica) garments that visitors can try on. There is also a section showing parts of the storage rooms, with the various types of card and plastic boxes that are used for flat as well as rounded objects, such as hats. This museum has provided inspiration for many of its visitor's, including myself, and I was left feeling a little jealous and wondering how we can lift the TRC and its growing collection of world textiles and costume to this level!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 7 August 2016


Embroideries from Wells, England

Impression of the exhibition 'The Ornate and the Beautiful, Bishop’s Palace, Wells, from 16th April – 31st August 2016.

Impression of the exhibition 'The Ornate and the Beautiful, Bishop’s Palace, Wells, from 16th April – 31st August 2016.

Wells in south-west England was a surprise. I had not expected much, but it is a lovely medieval/Georgian city with a beautiful cathedral and bishop's palace (complete with moat, drawbridge and porticulis to keep the unruly citizens of the town at bay). Wells Cathedral likes embrodery and even has embroidery tours!

The main focus is on the embroideries designed and made for the quire (choir) of the Cathedral, between 1937 and 1952. They include 39 panels for the backs of the canopied stalls, many more hassocks, as well as seat runners and long kneelers. Also on display is an early-12th century cope chest. In the small St. George Chapel there are several hassocks and kneelers dedicated to those who fell during the First World War (1914-1918). These include several that were especially designed to fit around pillared seats.

Near the chapel there are several late-20th century altar frontals that are woven, as well as one that is embroidered. Several of the many tomb effigies depicting early bishops of Wells are still painted. These help to give an idea of the ornate nature of the ecclesiastical vestments worn and their design/colour combinations. In this respect, it is worth noting that until the 31th August there is an exhibition in the Palace called "The Ornate and the Beautiful" about ecclesiastical (embroidered) garments from the 14th to 20th centuries. Most of the thirty or so items on display are from the collections of nearby Downside Abbey (Catholic) and Wells Cathedral (Anglican). Many of the items have never been on display to the public before.

The items in the exhibition include a variety of chasubles, a few copes (as well as a large, medieval cope chest), and some orphreys, especially a beautiful orphrey that dates to the medieval period and is made in a form of opus anglicanum. There was also a small, but intriguing book cover from the 18th century, which had the embroidered arms of a bishop. In addition, there were relevant items of jewellery, such as bishop's rings and crosses. The exhibition included interesting and useful text boards about the various individual and groups of objects on display. Sadly there is no catalogue to the exhibition, which is a pity as the exhibition was otherwise well put together.

Also in Wells there is the Wells and Mendip Museum, which recently staged an exhibition about samplers. The museum was given a large collection of these objects by the late Eveleen Perkins. The samplers date back to the 18th century. Many of the them were in the temporary exhibition (spring 2016), while there is a group of 35 examples that are on permenant display. Again there is no catalogue to this collection. Hopefully in the future this situation will change.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 6 August 2016.



Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret admiring the two dolls, France and Marianne, in 1938.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret admiring the two dolls, France and Marianne, in 1938.

Today Willem and I went to Windsor Castle (following our trip to Buckingham Palace yesterday). A very different royal residence, with a much more masculine feeling. We were able to see Queen Mary's Dolls' House, with its miniature furniture, including textiles and embroideries. The next gallery we saw in the Palace will appeal to followers of French fashion, because it includes the garments made for two, large dolls presented in the name of the children of France to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, during a state visit to France by their parents, George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1938. The metre high dolls are called France and Marianne. The outfits and accessories were made by various Parisian haute couture ateliers, including dresses by Lanvin, Rochas and Worth; Cartier jewellery; cases by Vuitton and handbags by Hermès; as well as Lancôme and Guerlain perfume. The garments range from underwear to day dresses, evening gowns, coats, gloves and hats, shoes and so forth. All hand made and many embroidered. There are a total of 360 items.

Scattered around the state rooms that were open to the public were embroidered regimental flags and military uniforms decorated with fine passementerie. In the rooms assocatied with the Order of the Garter, there was an embroidered garter band with the motto honi soit qui mal y pense, and a beautiful example of the garter emblem worked in gold thread. Tucked in one corner of another room was a large, seventeenth century embroidered box, but unfortunately it was not possible to get close up to it to see how it was made.

The afternoon was spent walking around the town of Windsor and the road to Eaton School. There are various tailors along the road who clearly show that 'dress and identity' is alive and well at Eaton. In particular the waistcoats worn by some of the senior students are simply gorgeous.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 31 July 2016


Buckingham Palace

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen's Wardrobe. Buckingham Palace, April 2016 -January 2017.

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen's Wardrobe. Buckingham Palace, April 2016 -January 2017.

Yesterday (30 July 2016), Willem, Keireine Canavan (a fellow textile lover from the Cardiff School of Art and Design) and myself went to Buckingham Palace (where else) to see their latest exhibition about the garments worn by Princess, and later Queen, Elizabeth of Great Britain. The garments spanned a period of ninety years, from her christening robe to outfits worn with the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London (with James Bond in the helicopter). The highlights included her wedding dress and coronation robe. In addition, there were outfits worn as a child to the coronation of her father, George VI, on 12 May 1937; uniforms worn while she was in the army during World War II, and many of the garments worn during state visits to other countries and state events celebrating various visits of leaders to Britain. In many cases there were photographs of her wearing the outfits with accessories, such as hats. Speaking of which, there was a gallery dedicated to five decades of hats and hat designers. One thing that was missing was jewellery, that all important accessory that makes and finishes an outfit, but as she wore the same pearl necklace on various occassions, it is likely there was not enough jewellery to go around, let alone the security problems associated with their display.

One thing that struck both Keireine and myself was how badly some of these specially designed garments were made, with varying hem lengths on coats, poorly finished cuffs, even poor tensioning of the sewing machine, which left numerous ripples in the cloth (which should have been flat). It has nothing to do with age, as a photograph of the Queen wearing a particular garment clearly showed the ripples. Very curious.

In addition to seeing the exhibition (which was incredibly crowded), the ticket also included a visit to various state rooms inside the palace. What an amazing place to live and work, surrounded by paintings of the ancestors, as well as the odd Van Dyke, Rubens, Canaletto, and one particular Rembrandt that got to all of us, namely the portrait of Agatha Bas (1641). One of the most intriguing, wonderful paintings ever, with Agatha dressed in some of her finest garments and lace.

A coffee/tea, plus a walk around part of the palace grounds finished the visit. The exhibition of garments runs until 8 January 2017 and is well worth seeing, although the hefty price of the ticket was initially a bit of a shock, more than twenty pounds, until we realised it also included the chance of seeing the staterooms and all the paintings, sculptures and so forth (although with a noticeable lack of tapestries and embroideries).

Part of the afternoon was spent at The Foundling Museum, to see the tokens, especially pieces of cloth, that were attached to children's records when they entered the Foundling Hospital, an eighteenth century charitable institute. These now provide the largest sample of dateable eighteenth century textiles from the lower ends of London society. A sad reminder of a very different and hard way of life. These textiles have been published by Prof. John Styles in a book called Threads of Feeling (2010). A book that is well worth reading, both for the textiles and the social history surrounding them.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 31 July 2016


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Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment. Holidays: until 11 August

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59, Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 5 Sept. -19 Dec. 2019: Socks&Stockings

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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.
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
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