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New TRC Gallery Exhibition: From Kaftan to Kippa: Dress and Diversity in the Middle East

When thinking of the Middle East, stereotype images of bearded men and veiled women tend to come to mind. But this neighbour of Europe is far more diverse than we think. In the past few years, media coverage of the Arab Spring​ and​ the dramatic war in Syria​ and Iraq​ has placed groups such as the Copts and Kurds in the limelight, but there are many more ethnic and religious groups that are similarly not defined by national borders.

This exhibition showcases the rich dress traditions of some of the groups living in the Middle East, highlighting the intricate history of this region. They include Copts, Bedouin,​​​ Palestinians, ​Druze, ​Orthodox Jews, Samaritans, ​Kurds and Zoroastrians​. The dress​ traditions of these groups will be displayed and discussed​ in relation to 'mainstream' Middle Eastern dress​. The​ ​​exhibition displays more than forty complete outfits for men, women​,​ and children, together with ​individual garments, footwear, headgear and​ prayer beads​. It also includes an historical section on Ottoman-style clothing, with special attention for the fez, tarbush and turban. ​​Many of the items ​​encompass​ traditionally woven, printed​ and embroidered decorative forms.

The exhibition forms part of the Fitting In / Standing Out project of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

The exhibition will be on display from Monday 3rd April until Thursday 29th June, from Monday to Thursday, from 10.00 - 16.00. Entrance is free, but voluntary donations are welcome.


Wednesday Morning Workshop. 29 March: Quilting

Quilting is a decorative needlework technique, which involves sewing two or more layers of cloth together to create a thicker, often decorative form. There are many types of quilting, including flat quilting (two layers) and textured quilting, such as trapunto, piped quilting and of course the famous bed quilts that combine patchwork, applique and quilting techniques. As usual with the Wednesday morning workshops, the theoretical and visual will be combined with the practical.

The workshop will include a lecture describing the general history of quilting and the main types, while on display will be examples from Europe, America, as well as Iran and India. The workshop will include basic level sewing and pattern techniques based on flat level forms (kantha) from India, and three layer forms (with wadding) from the West. The workshop will be given by Lies van de Wege, one of the TRC staff. Please register well in advance.

Date: 29 March 2017. Time: 10.00-13.00 hrs. Address: TRC, Hogewoerd 164, Leiden. Registration:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Costs: 25 euro. Language: Dutch. 


Wednesday morning workshop, 26 April: Decorative darning

Dutch darning sampler, early 20th century. TRC 2014.1006

Dutch darning sampler, early 20th century. TRC 2014.1006

Decorative darning is a needlework technique. In it we use the terms weft and warp, because in fact you weave on a small scale. It used to be done by young girls on so called darning samplers. They had to learn darning for their future function in the household; it was functional to restore weak spots and holes in sheets and clothes. Now we use this technique in a decorative form. You can combine colours and motives in one sampler or use the darns as ornaments on clothes.

As usual with the Wednesday morning workshops, the theoretical and visual will be combined with the practical. The workshop will include a lecture describing the general history of darning. We will show you various examples of darning. The workshop will include basic level darning techniques. The workshop will be given by Nan van der Storm, one of the TRC staff. Please register well in advance.


Date: 26 April 2017. Time: 10.00-13.00 hrs. Address: TRC, Hogewoerd 164, Leiden. Registration:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  Costs: €25. Language: Dutch.


TRC Intensive Textile Courses 2017

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

TRC Intensive Textile Course, September 2015

Please register now ! One place left for the March course

The next intensive textile course will take place from 13-17 March (only one place left) and will be repeated from 10-14 April and from 16-20 October 2017. The course is being taught in English by Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, textile and dress historian and director of the TRC. The course is a mixture of theoretical and practical elements, with an emphasis on trying out the various techniques of textile production (spinning, dyeing, weaving), on holding and examining fibres, textiles and finished items, all in order to learn and understand what is happening and why various combinations take place. The aim is to make textiles less ‘frightening’ and allow people to look at a textile, from virtually any historical period or culture, and be able to understand it.

Read more: TRC Intensive Textile Courses 2017


A second international prize for TRC's Encyclopedia of Embroidery in the Arab World

Two weeks ago we received the news that the Encyclopedia of Embroidery in the Arab World (Bloomsbury 2016), edited by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, had won the prestigious 2017 Dartmouth Medal (click here). Now we are informed that the same book also received one of the 2017 PROZE Awards of the Association of American Publishers/Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. More details to follow.


Hand & Lock, London

The London-based embroidery firm of Hand & Lock, famous for their ceremonial, ecclesiastical and military embroideries was founded in 1767, and is this year therefore celebrating its 250th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they are organising three major conferences on the theme of 'Heritage, the Now and the Future of Embroidery'. The first meeting will take place in Sydney on 6 April; the second in Chicago, on 8 June, and the third and last in London, on 13 July (Bishopsgate Institute). The conferences will coincide with a three-day workshop on tambour embroidery, and the mounting of a special exhibition.

The TRC has for some time been building up a strong and very cordial relationship with Hand & Lock, and their representatives have visited the TRC in Leiden last year, and early January of this year, we paid a return visit. For the 13 July conference of Hand & Lock in London, Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC, has been invited to give a special guest lecture and to sit on a panel together with other embroidery experts. For more information, please consult the Hand & Lock website.


TRC Encyclopedia wins prestigious international prize

It has just been announced that the TRC Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (London: Bloomsbury, 2016) has been awarded the 2017 Dartmouth Medal. This is THE most prestigious reference book award in the world. It is granted by the American Library Association every year to just one book.

The press packet of the ALA states: The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World” is a unique and exceptional reference work.  It is both an anthropological and historical source discussing the relationships of identity and adornment and a tool for learning about the craft of embroidery.  It is aesthetically and organizationally pleasing with beautiful full-color illustrations, useful appendices and an index and chapter organization that allow access to topics by country, religious group, cultural event, or ceremonial use.  The presentation of this print volume lends itself to browsing, brief consultation and deep reading.  The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World” is an entry point to the topic for varied educational levels with interest in adornment, craft, history and culture.   

For further details about the award please click here.  A big thanks to everyone who helped with the production of this wonderful book!!

Copies of the book are available via Bloomsbury.


TRC Newsletter January 2017

The TRC Newsletter for January 2017 has just been completed and sent around to all our contacts. Please click here for downloading.


Woensdagochtend workshop 31 mei: Kaartweven

Dolly de Jong en mijzelf, Annette Geerlings, zijn de twee instructeurs voor de TRC woensdagochtend workshop op 31 mei a.s. (en herhaald op 29 november 2017) over de eeuwenoude techniek van het kaartweven. Door opgegraven textiel is bekend dat de unieke mogelijkheden van kaartweven al minstens 2500 jaar geleden in Europa en Azië ten volle werden benut. Kaartjes werden gemaakt van hout, been, hoorn, ivoor, brons, perkament, leer en zelfs van schild van de schildpad. Tegenwoordig zijn kaarten meestal van karton of kunststof. De verscheidenheid waarin kaartgeweven banden werden gebruikt en de variatie in materiaal en patronen is enorm, van grove wollen weefsels als lastband voor een kameel tot uiterst verfijnde zijden banden en met gouddraad gebrocheerde, ingewikkelde patronen als versiering op middeleeuwse kerkelijke of vorstelijke kleding.

Read more: Woensdagochtend workshop 31 mei: Kaartweven


Dutch journal 'Merkwaardig' and the TRC

The Dutch journal Merkwaardig, which focusses on samples and samplers, has just published its 111st issue, which includes an article about the TRC with some beautiful photographs. Perhaps you are interested to read it and look at the illustrations. Click here to download the article.


How to support the TRC

The TRC is growing rapidly, both in size and in the quality of the collection, the library, the exhibitions, the number of workshops, and much more. All of this means that more financial support is highly desirable. And please bear in mind that all TRC activities are carried out by volunteers!

Please transfer your donation to account NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden.

Note that the TRC is a Cultural ANBI, which means considerable advantages with respect to your tax returns.

For further details, and various options, we have prepared a simple list with details:

Read more: How to support the TRC


Reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, November 2016

For the latest book reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, please click here. The list discusses the titles below. For the full digital catalogue of the TRC library, click here.

  • ALVAREZ, Nilda Callanaupa (2012). Tradiciones Textiles de Chinchero, Herencia Viva (Textile Traditions of Chinchero: A Living Heritage), Loveland (Colorado): Thrums. ISBN: 978-0-9838860-1-3. Spanish and English. Softback, 169 pp. glossary, bibliography. Price: US$ 34.95.
  • BROWN, Mike (2014). CC41 Utility Clothing: The Label that Transformed British Fashion, Sevenoaks: Sabrestorm. Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-78122-005-4, pp. 127, no bibliography, notes or index. Price: £19.95.
  • CANEPA, Teresa (2016). Silk, Porcelain and Lacquer: China and Japan and their Trade with Western Europe and the New World 1500-1644, London: Paul Holberton Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-911300-01-4. Hardback, pp. 4679, bibliography, appendices, index. Price: £70.
  • CHANDLER, Deborah and Teresa CORDÓN (2015). Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives, Loveland: Thrums. ISBN: 978-0983886075. Softback, 140 pp., fully illustrated in colour, short bibliography and glossary. Price: US$34.95/€32.
  • COLENBRADER, Sjoukje (2013). When Weaving Flourished: The Silk Industry in Amsterdam and Haarlem, 1585-1750, Amsterdam: Aronson Publishers and Primavera Press (Leiden), ISBN: 978-94-90782-05-4. Softback, colour and b/w illustrations, footnotes, appendices, bibliography and index. Price: €38.50.
  • HERRIDGE, Elizabeth (2016). Bringing Heaven to Earth: Chinese Silver Jewellery and Ornament in the Late Qing Dynasty, London: Ianthe Press (in association with Paul Holberton publishing). ISBN 978-0-9955577-0-3. Paperback, fully illustrated in colour, extensive references and bibliography, pp. 200. Price: £40.00.
  • Musea Brugge (2008). Kantlijnen: The Face of Lace, Brugge: Museum Brugge. Softback, 64 pp., colour and b/w illustrations, footnotes. Price: €10.
  • REDWOOD, Mike (2016). Gloves and Glove-Making, Oxford: Shire Publication. ISBN 9780747814535. Paperback, colour photographs, 64 pp. Price: £4.39 (online).
  • WALFORD, Jonathan (2008, 2011). Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look, London: Thames & Hudson (first published in 2008, first paperback edition dates to 2011). ISBN: 978-0-500-28897-9, pp. 208, many colour and b/w illustrations, bibliography, index. Price: US$29.95
  • WIKLUND, Doris (2010). Old Swedish Weavings from North to South: A Collection of Everyday Swedish Weavings from 1850-1950 (translated by Becky Ashenden), Shelburne (Massachusetts): Vävstuga Press. ISBN 0-9741505-3-3. Hardback, pp. 272, colour and b/w illustrations, many weave and threading charts, index. Price: US$ 58.00.

TRC makes replica garments for exhibition 'Queens of the Nile'

Mannequin representing Queen Neferari, dressed with the help of the TRC

Mannequin representing Queen Neferari, dressed with the help of the TRC

The National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden has opened, on the 17th November 2016, a new major exhibition about the Queens of the Nile. The exhibition runs until the beginning of April 2017. As part of the exhibition, the TRC was asked to make exact replica garments for a figure of Queen Neferari, based on the representations of the Queen in her tomb in the Valley of the Queens (QV 66).

The garments made by the TRC include a long tunic with fringed hem, a red sash, again with a fringed hem (but a different type of fringe!), and a large white mantle that was knotted at the front. All of the garments were made from linen and hand stitched using the correct techniques for the period. The fringing on the tunic's hem took three evenings to complete, as each, individual fringe was made with no more than twelve warp threads! The headdress, wig, jewellery and sandals were organised by Prof. Olaf Kaper, board member of the TRC, who is curating the exhibition.



Read more: TRC makes replica garments for exhibition 'Queens of the Nile'


Online catalogue of the TRC collection

Detail of knitting sampler dated AD 1791. TRC 2016.2261

Detail of knitting sampler dated AD 1791. TRC 2016.2261

Work on the online catalogue of the TRC collection is getting well on the way. Perhaps you should have a look. Click here. For instance, one of the latest acquisitions to the collection is a knitting sampler that is dated AD 1791. The TRC recently obtained it together with a collection of embroideries from Hungary. This knitting sampler may be one of the oldest, and securely dated knitting samplers ever found in Europe. You can see the sampler in our online catalogue, click here.





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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

Current exhibition: From Sweden to Sardinia: Embroidered garments from all over Europe

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

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Financial gifts

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 Textile Research Centre, Leiden. 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 can also be made via Paypal: