TRC Christmas Appeal 2018

Detail of an embroidered shawl from Nepal (TRC 2017.0060).

Detail of an embroidered shawl from Nepal (TRC 2017.0060).

NL39 INGB 000 298 2359,

Textile Research Centre, Leiden


You may have actually visited the TRC in Leiden, its exhibitions, workshops or lectures, or you may only have had the chance to consult the TRC website, its online digital catalogue of more than 23000 textile items from all over the world and from all ages, or its TRC Needles online encyclopaedia of needlework. Or you may know about the TRC from its national and international publications.

But all the work behind the scenes to realise these activities, all of them carried out by dedicated group of volunteers, still requires basic funding. In order to provide the means for the TRC to continue and expand its work, we would like to ask all its supporters and all of those who have enjoyed one or more of the many and varied TRC activities to make a donation.

Our bank account number is NL39 INGB 000298 2359, Textile Research Centre Leiden. Our BIC/SWIFT code, for donations from abroad, is: INGB NL2A. Dutch donors should realise that the TRC is a cultural ANBI (no. 804514070) and donations are therefore tax-deductible with a special rate. You can also make use of Paypal by using the TRC email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

American donors can support the TRC by sending a cheque to Dr Sandra Sardjono at 972 Euclid Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94708. Please write on the cheque: Tracing Patterns Foundation’s TRC Fund. Tracing Patterns Foundation is a non-profit organisation with 501(c)3 status. Dr Sardjono will respond with an official letter with the Foundation’s tax number, etc., for tax deduction purposes.


Velvet! The new TRC Gallery exhibition, from 22nd January 2019

A length of modern velvet from Italy with a classic flower design (TRC 2018.2510).

A length of modern velvet from Italy with a classic flower design (TRC 2018.2510).

Soft, smooth, silky – these are just some of the terms conjured up by the word VELVET. But velvet is much more than soft and silky and often it is not even smooth!

Velvet is one of the most luxurious textiles that has been produced in Europe and elsewhere for at least a thousand years. Despite the fact (or perhaps because of it) that it is very expensive to make, in both time and raw materials, velvet has become an essential item for any self-respecting royal court or church in Europe and beyond, and is now made and used in many places throughout the world.


Read more: Velvet! The new TRC Gallery exhibition, from 22nd January 2019


Changes in the TRC Board

Prof. Lammert Leertouwer, painted by Marike Bok.

Prof. Lammert Leertouwer, painted by Marike Bok.

Gillian Vogelsang, director TRC, writes on 15th December 2018:

At the last meeting of the board of the Textile Research Centre, on Friday 14th December 2018, the chairmanship was passed on from Prof. Lammert Leertouwer to Prof. Barend ter Haar Romeny. Lammert Leertouwer, the former Rector Magnificus of Leiden University, has led the board from 2006 onwards and has been an invaluable help in the building up and rapid expansion of the TRC. Our heartfelt thanks to Prof. Leertouwer for all his support over the years. Fortunately, he has not resigned from the Board, and we hope that he will remain involved and keep giving us his advice for many years to come.

The chairmanship has been taken over by Prof. Bas ter Haar Romeny, who already was a board member of the TRC and who is Professsor of Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern History, Free University, Amsterdam.




A participant from Serbia tells about the TRC Intensive Textile Course of November 2018

Draginja Maskareli from the Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade, Serbia, attended the TRC Intensive Textile Course in November 2018. She wrote the following blog:

Thanks to generous support of the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia and the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade, I had the opportunity to attend the five-day Intensive Textile Course at the Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden, held in November 2018.

Read more: A participant from Serbia tells about the TRC Intensive Textile Course of November 2018


Lecture about Zilu looms, by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

At the international conference on the history of hand looms and the various types of looms, at the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou (China), on 31st May of this year, dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director TRC, gave a talk on the zilu looms from Iran. She studied these enormous vertical looms beteeen 1998 and 2001 in Iran, and collected various examples of zilu floor coverings. These are characterized by the use of two colours, and designs that appear on both sides of the woven cloth. Technically, they are weft-faced compound tabby weaves, the history of which in Iran and the Midddle East goes back for at least two thousand years, but their origin may be placed in Central Asia or China. The lecture can be viewed here..


NewTextileBooks: December 2018

The new list of some of the books recently added to the TRC Library is very varied with respect to languages! It includes items in Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Russian as well as English. This variety is partly due to the fact that the director of the TRC attended a conference on handlooms at the National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, at the end of May 2018. During the course of the conference she was given, as well as purchased, a number of books about looms, textiles, clothing and embroidery. Some of these books are described below.

But the range of languages is also due to the fact that more and more people and indeed publishers are sending books to the TRC. The list reflects this growing interest in ‘real’ books about textiles, clothing and accessories in all their many and varied forms.

Read more: NewTextileBooks: December 2018


TRC Intensive Textile Courses in 2019

Photograph taken at the TRC Intensive Textile Course in April 2017.

Photograph taken at the TRC Intensive Textile Course in April 2017.

In 2019, the TRC will again be running its successful five-day intensive courses on textiles. They are being taught in English by Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, textile and dress historian and director of the TRC. The courses are 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 in 2019


The Feestrok, again

Photograph showing Mrs. Boissevain and a Feestrok, January 1949 (TRC 2018.3323).

Photograph showing Mrs. Boissevain and a Feestrok, January 1949 (TRC 2018.3323).

The TRC recently received a photograph that was taken in New York in January 1949 and shows Mrs. Adrienne M. (Mies) Boissevain - van Lennep (1896-1965). She was the driving force behind the campaign, set up after the war, for Dutch women to make and wear patchwork skirts that symbolised the liberation of the country from German occupation. In January 1949 she embarked on a lecture tour in the USA. In the photograph she proudly shows an example of a Feestrok.

One of these 'Feestrokken' is housed in the TRC collection (TRC 2011.0001a), and in the past the TRC has paid ample attention to the Feestrok and its symbolic meaning. The British journal Selvedge published an article on the subject in June 2018 (download here). The photograph adds another dimension to the visual story of the Feestrok as presented by the TRC. See also an article in TRC Needles (download here).

The back of the photograph carries the following text:

"Dutch woman to lecture for world peace. New York: Mrs. Adrienne M. Boissevain, founder of the National Skirt, a women's organization in Holland whose members wear patchwork skirts as symbol of unity and world harmony, arrives aboard liner Westerdam, Jan. 17. Her home in Amsterdam served as underground headquarters during German occupation. She is in U.S. for lecture tour, as part of crusade for world peace. She lost her husband at Buchenwald."


November Newsletter TRC Silk Stockings Project

TRC Silk Stockings Project: Samples made by the volunteers

TRC Silk Stockings Project: Samples made by the volunteers

A Newsletter, in Dutch and English, on the progress of the TRC Silk Stockings Project, which relates to the reconstruction of silk stockings recently discovered in a seventeenth century shipwreck found off the coast of the island of Texel in the north of The Netherlands, was published on 8th November 2018 and can be read here or click on the illustration. The project is sponsored by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.








Encyclopedia of Embroidery Series update

Preparations for Vol. 8 of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series, covering the Antarctic, are already well advanced. Martin Hense, the draughtsman for the full series, just completed the first illustration.

Preparations for Vol. 8 of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series, covering the Antarctic, are already well advanced. Martin Hense, the draughtsman for the full series, just completed the first illustration.

During the last few months the Encyclopedia of World Embroidery series (Bloomsbury Publishing, London), has been gaining momentum. The first volume on embroidery from the Arab World came out in 2016 (see here) and to everyone’s pleasure won the prestigious international award, the Dartmouth Medal.

Since then we have been working hard on volume 2, which is about embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent (see here). The manuscript for this volume has gone to Bloomsbury and the book should appear by the end of 2019. Once again many people have been helping with advice, suggestions and with providing actual examples of embroidery.

For the next few years, we are planning the following volumes: 3 – Scandinavia and Western Europe; 4 – East and Southeast Asia; 5 – Eastern Europe and Russia; 6- Sub-Saharan Africa; 7- The Americas. 


Read more: Encyclopedia of Embroidery Series update


TRC online exhibitions

Appliqué from the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo. TRC 2015.0560.

Appliqué from the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo. TRC 2015.0560.

The TRC is very proud to publish the first nine of a planned series of online exhibitions, which will highlight some of the fascinating textiles and garments in the TRC collection. Please have a look and enjoy.

The nine titles are:





The Textile Research Centre wants to stimulate people to discover the fascinating World of Textiles and Dress. The TRC therefore is gradually expanding its shop and its range of products. You can buy new and secondhand books on textiles and dress, including Dutch regional dress, but also on the history of fashion, and 'how-to-do' subjects. The shop has craft items from all over the world, in particular handmade jewellery. There are woven Syrian sheep bands, knitted objects from Peru, embroidered Turkish lavender bags with oya decoration, gaudily decorated caps from Afghanistan, and many other beautiful and interesting objects. We also sell a wide range of picture postcards of textiles and costume.

The shop also sells collection care items, including acid free paper and boxes for storing your delicate textiles and articles of dress, rolls for more compact storage of long textile items, heads and wigs for display purposes, etc. The TRC sells a range of tools, materials and threads for spinning, crochet, embroidery, hairpin lace production, and silk cocoons for making silk paper.

A new line in this assortment is a wide range of beads for making or restoring Dutch regional dress items, including imitation garnets, blood coral and jet, plus all sorts of metal and glass seed beads for embroidery. You are very welcome to visit the TRC shop at our premises along the Hogewoerd.


Embroidery charts

We recently put some embroidery charts online for some unusual and intriguing needlework patterns from the eastern and northern parts of Europe. Int the next few months, we hope to publish more. Please click here for an Hungarian cushion covertwo cross-stitch patterns for ecclesiastical garmentsan Hungarian/Romanian geometric design, a deer design from Eastern Europe, a simple blouse design from Romania, and a rabbits and birds design originally for a beadwork panel, also from Hungary. You can use them as you wish. Enjoy !


The diversity of the TRC collection

Indian batik for a sari

Indian batik for a sari

The TRC collection of textiles, clothing and accessories from around the world was started in 1997 with 43 pieces from Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria. Since then it has grown to over twenty-two thousand items (November 2018), which come from very diverse backgrounds with respect to time and place. Some of the items in the collection have been purchased, but the vast majority has been very kindly donated by various institutions and private donors.

The collection has no boundaries with respect to geography and time. It ranges from Afghan embroidery, German Lederhosen, Indonesian batiks, to delicate silks from Renaissance Italy and spinning and weaving equipment from the Andes. The collection is being built up around four major themes: Pre-Industrial textile technology, including a wide range of spinning and weaving equipment and textiles from around the world; Decorative needlework, with an emphasis on hand embroidery from around the world; Dutch regional dress; Modern Europan printed textile designs, and North African and Middle Eastern textiles and dress.

All of the pieces in the TRC collection have been catalogued, and are currently being incorporated into the TRC Digital Collection Database.  By March 2018, more than half of the collection has been photographed and described. To give an idea of the range and depth of the collection, below we present a broad outline of some of the most important and intriguing elements of the collection. 

Read more: The diversity of the TRC collection


Search in the TRC website


Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal; Donaties aan de TRC kunnen worden overgemaakt via Paypal:

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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

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 7-28 November: Resist printing and dyeing with indigo

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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 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 to the TRC can be made via Paypal: