Quilts and quilting week at the TRC, 11-16 May 2020

American quilt, c. 1840s (TRC 2018.3119).

American quilt, c. 1840s (TRC 2018.3119).

During the Textile Festival in Leiden, from 13-16 May 2020, the TRC will be presenting a quilts and quilting week! Everyday, in the morning, afternoon and evening, there will be workshops and lectures about the history, techniques, types, uses and different designs associated with this ancient technique.

The programme for the lectures and workshops is still being organised, but enough is known to say that Linzee McCree will be coming from the US, while the Holland-based group of lecturers and instructors includes Susan Cage and Beverly Bennett, Joke van Soest and Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (TRC Director), all of whom will be contributing to the week’s events.

At the same time there will be the opportunity to see the TRC’s exhibition on the theme of 200 years of American quilts. On display will be c. thirty quilts and quilt tops, as well as a wide range of blocks, patterns and materials, all presented as a source of inspiration!

Saturday afternoon will also see a party at the TRC to round off all these exciting (and inspirational) activities.

As soon as the programme becomes available we will have it online so that people can register for the various activities.


TRC closed on 3 October

TRC will be closed on Thursday, 3 October, because of the traditional Leiden festivities that mark the lifting of the Spanish siege of the city in 1574.


Rainbow people

Woman's shawl inspired by the LGBTQ flag, Equador, c. 2002 (TRC 2019.1996).

Woman's shawl inspired by the LGBTQ flag, Equador, c. 2002 (TRC 2019.1996).

On Thursday, 12 September 2019, Shelley Anderson wrote:

Some recent colourful donations to the TRC mark the 50th anniversary of the modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights. One of these donations is a rainbow flag (TRC 2019.1995), which has been seen at celebrations around the world. The colours are reproduced on T-shirts such as the special 2019 Pride T-shirt designed by Viktor & Rolf for the HEMA department store chain (TRC 2019.1994), and the limited edition sneaker with rainbow coloured laces and soles by Converse (TRC 2019.1997a-b).

Rainbow colours are also used in the generous donation the TRC has received from the US tie company Ty-amo. They give the traditional male tie a make over and produce ties for both women and men because they want to break “…through outdated stereotypes—in society and in our closets.” Their ties, by designer Alex Summers, may be longer than the standard neckties and can be used as ties, head wraps, scarves or belts. Two special edition ties for the 2019 50th anniversary have been produced and kindly donated to the TRC for the upcoming digital exhibition on LGBTQ+ dress (TRC 2019.2002 and TRC 2019.2003).

Read more: Rainbow people


NewTextileBooks, September 2019

It has been suggested that the writing and publishing of printed books will stop as a result of the internet, the use of ebooks and so forth. But we see little signs of this! The reverse, in fact. More and more books about textiles, dress and accessories are being published. It is the diversity of subjects that is particularly increasing. This diversity of subjects is highlighted in the following book recommendation for September 2019. These include books recently published and/or recently added to the TRC library.


Knitting History symposium, 2 November 2019

Join the Textile Research Centre and the Knitting History Forum at the finale of the Texel Stockings Project in the historic centre of Leiden, The Netherlands.

As many as a hundred volunteers were involved in making reconstructions of the 17th century silk stockings from Texel. The symposium on Sat. 2nd November will explore the results of this research. It will offer a wide range of papers on current knitting research and related citizen science projects.

Read more: Knitting History symposium, 2 November 2019


Lectures and workshops programme, Socks&Stockings exhibition

On the occasion of the current Socks&Stockings exhibition, the TRC is organising a series of lectures and workshops. For all activities, please register in advance at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Further information will be added when available.


Amber Butchart at the TRC

Amber Butchart at the TRC, 6 September 2019. Photograph: Shelley Anderson

Amber Butchart at the TRC, 6 September 2019. Photograph: Shelley Anderson

On Friday, 13th September 2019, Shelley Anderson wrote:

The TRC recently hosted British dress historian Amber Butchart, who graciously opened our latest exhibition “Socks&Stockings” to a crowded gallery.

“I’ve wanted to visit the TRC for a long time,” she said. “The TRC’s work is amazing. The collection is immense and catalogued better than some much bigger institutions, which is so good for researchers. The fact that it is a teaching collection makes it really special.” She looks forward to coming back and exploring the collection more, and to use items for exhibitions and a book.

A BBC presenter and author, Amber is also known for her own distinctive dress style. For her second lecture on stockings in European fashion history, at the TRC, she wore a green short-sleeved dashiki-like tunic with tights and signature turban. “I’ve always loved old clothes,” she said, recalling shopping with her mother as a child in charity shops and jumble sales. “I loved rummaging around. I wasn’t interested in fashion or fashion magazines—in fact, if something was on trend I immediately didn’t like it.”

After studying literature at university, she got a job at her favourite vintage shop, where she spent her lunch breaks reading about vintage clothes. She worked there seven years, buying, researching and writing about vintage clothes, then decided to go back to university to study history and fashion.

Read more: Amber Butchart at the TRC


Sampler by Mary Anne McMurray dated 1866

Sampler made by Mary Anne McMurray in 1866, Ireland (TRC 2019.2023).

Sampler made by Mary Anne McMurray in 1866, Ireland (TRC 2019.2023).

On Thursday, 12th September 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

The TRC Leiden has just acquired a sampler (TRC 2019.2023) worked in 1866 by a girl called Mary Anne McMurray, who went to the Mullabrack Church School, in Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Mary Anne McMurray may be a girl with the same name who was born in Drumachee, near Mullaghbrack, in 1856. This would make her ten years old when the sampler was stitched. The stitching, it should be added, is consistent with embroidery of a school girl of that age. If this identification is correct, then she went on to marry Wallace Coburn (1828-1906) and had three children. She died in 1897 at the age of 41 and was buried in Lisnadill, Northern Ireland.

Mullabrack Church School was a Protestant primary school in the town of Mullabrack. The building still exists, but no longer used as a school.

Read more: Sampler by Mary Anne McMurray dated 1866


Socks&Stockings: A world full of surprises. A new TRC exhibition, until 19 December.

Woollen Turkmen socks from Iran, 1999, TRC 1999.0130a-b.

Woollen Turkmen socks from Iran, 1999, TRC 1999.0130a-b.

Every morning we put them on, those socks. Often we don't even think about it. But behind the apparently common sock there is a world full of surprises. Did you know that people in Tajikistan knit the most colourful socks of almost one metre long and half a metre wide? And that in the Middle East socks are knitted from the toe upwards, while in Europe we tend to start at the top? And that hand knitting socks has become very popular again?

A major element of the exhibition were the silk stockings found in a mid-seventeenth century wreck discovered off the coast of Texel in the north of The Netherlands. These hand knitted stockings became the focus of a special project led by Chrystel Brandenburgh to study the techniques applied to knit these ultra-fine stockings.

The project was sponsored by the Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds. The exhibition will show the story of the project and the hand knitted stockings made by a group of dedicated and skilful knitters.



Read more: Socks&Stockings: A world full of surprises. A new TRC exhibition, until 19 December.


Hand & Lock, London

The London based firm of Hand & Lock has been producing embroideries for court and military uniforms, and diplomatic and religious garments, since 1767.

From their current premises at 86 Margaret Street, Fitzrovia, London, they are still actively involved in producing and teaching embroidery, especially with gold and silver thread.

TRC has long been collaborating with Hand & Lock, and they recently donated a series of replicas of insignia for chivalric orders, some of which worn by the famous British admiral, Horatio Nelson (see here for more information). The latest issue of their journal, Hand & Lock, contains an article about the TRC (pp. 83-86). A PdF version of the article can be downloaded here.

To purchase this issue of Hand & Lock, please go to the attached web address.


Visiting some museums in Jerusalem

On Tuesday, 30th July 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Last Sunday we visited the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem), a moving experience because it was so personal. It was about a generation and more of people who vanished. Many of the chronological themes were explained via objects such as photographs, travel documents, letters, a battered watch or a broken toothbrush. Other stories were told via garments, such as a blouse taken from a mound that was recognised as having belonged to a friend and neighbour, a pit full of shoes, yellow Stars of David, and most telling, the blue and white striped garments worn in the camps. This museum really shows how clothing can be used to tell hard stories and pass on messages and emotions.

Read more: Visiting some museums in Jerusalem


Thoughts in Jerusalem

Street scene in the Jerusalem bazaar, 29 July 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

Street scene in the Jerusalem bazaar, 29 July 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

On Monday, 29th July, Gillian Vogelsang wrote from Jerusalem:

The last two weeks have been quite a time, both at the TRC Leiden itself and for myself. It has included the Out of Asia programme in Leiden, between 14 and 19 July. A few days later I took part in a symposium at Leicester University about science and archaeological/historical textiles, and now with Willem we have a few days in the old city of Jerusalem (a holiday, of sorts).

A theme of all these events, which became clear to me the last few days, has been the passing down of knowledge and community identity through crafts, rather than solely by the written word (a skill that was long in the hands of a few, elite men).

It has left me a little sad, as it is clear that conflicts, changes in communication (spending time on telephones and watching tv), technology (computer driven machines) and that dreaded word globalization have broken the lineage of generations of craft knowledge, which will never come back.

Read more: Thoughts in Jerusalem


TRC online exhibitions

Craftsmen at work in the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo, Egypt.

Craftsmen at work in the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo, Egypt.

The TRC is very proud to publish the first eleven of a planned series of online exhibitions, which will highlight some of the fascinating textiles and garments in the TRC collection. The latest, Lace identification: 7 examples, has just been added. The online displays are all based on the TRC Collection and past TRC exhibitions, which can be lend out to other suitable venues. If you are interested, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it us.

Please have a look and enjoy.

The eleven titles are:




A Russian ribbon with a history

A St. George ribbon, produced and distributed in Russia to mark the end of World War II (May 2019). TRC collectiom

A St. George ribbon, produced and distributed in Russia to mark the end of World War II (May 2019). TRC collectiom

On Saturday, 18th May 2019, TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson wrote:

I visited St. Petersburg (Russia) on a national holiday. Victory Day, 9 May, celebrates the end of the Second World War, or, as it’s known in Russia, the Great Patriotic War. Millions had gathered in St. Petersburg to participate in a massive parade. Many carried placards with photographs of relatives who had fought and died during the war and the brutal siege the city had suffered. You could spot some people in 1940s-style military uniforms. Thousands of people also wore a ribbon on their chest.

I was curious about this wide ribbon, tied in a bow. It’s called the Saint George ribbon, after a patron saint of Russia, and has three black stripes and four orange ones. It is worn on the left side, closest to the heart, as a symbol of respect for those who  died during the war and as a symbol of pride in being Russian. Its history goes back to 1769, when Empress Catherine the Great first established the prestigious military decoration, the Order of St. George. The black stripe symbolised gun powder, while the orange symbolised the fire of war.

Read more: A Russian ribbon with a history


Search in the TRC website

TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428   info@trc-leiden.nl

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
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: 

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