TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Gingham Girl, Hajj clothing and bark cloth from Indonesia: New acquisitions for the TRC collection

Bark cloth garment from Sulawesi, Indonesia, c. 1945/1950 (TRC 2018.0042).

Bark cloth garment from Sulawesi, Indonesia, c. 1945/1950 (TRC 2018.0042).

It is only the third week of January, but we are already including some new and very diverse objects into the TRC Collection. The first few items include an original Gingham Girl cloth and notebook, both from c. 1925 and acquired in the context of the current exhibition at the TRC about feedsacks. The  acquisition of these items means that we have an almost complete range of objects on display that really represent the fascinating history of the American feedsack.

We are also welcoming groups of quilters coming to the exhibition. They are especially attracted by the many quilts made from feedsacks, and their intriguing and colourful designs. So far, the 'Flying Geese' quilt seems to be the most popular. The exhibition can be seen until the end of June 2018. One the groups that we welcomed was actually a birthday party. Perhaps an idea for others?

Woman's cloth for a Turkish woman, used for the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca (TRC 2018.0038a).

Woman's cloth for a Turkish woman, used for the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca (TRC 2018.0038a).

Another range of new acquisitons is equally fascinating. Mrs. E. Güney, a long-standing friend of the TRC who is very active within the Turkish community in Leiden, came to the TRC with various items relating to Turkish Muslim life, namely, Hajj and Umrah clothing for men and women, worn when on pilgrimage to Mecca. This set included two prayer cloths, prayer beads and books explaining how to perform the Hajj and Umrah, in both Arabic and Turkish. In 2017 she gave the TRC a range of cloths, soaps, perfumes, etc, relating to the burial of a Muslim. Over the next few years she wants to build up the Turkish collection at the TRC in order to represent this aspect of Turkish life in The Netherlands. The objects are donated in the name of the Stichting Güney, Leiden.

On Friday last (26th January) we were given five bark cloth garments that date from about 1945/1950. These come from eastern Sulawesi (Indonesia) and were given by the Van Strien family. They had initially been given to Mr. P.T. van Strien, who was appointed as a Dutch colonial administratior to the region in 1945. The garments include two sarongs, a blouse and a large roundel. All of these have been painted with stylised foliage, birds and geometric shapes, mainly in brown and black. Because of the Japanese occupation of the islands during the Second World War (1939-1945), there was an acute shortage of cotton material for clothing and many people were forced to wear bark cloth garments.

Gillian Vogelsang, Saturday 27th January 2018


Happy Saint Distaff Day

Saint Distaff

Saint Distaff

Today, 7th January, is Saint Distaff Day. You may never have heard of her, and to be honest, she never existed. But she has been adopted as the patron saint of the TRC, so - Happy Saint Distaff Day to you all.

St. Distaff is a medieval English joke. We discovered her when preparing an exhibition on handspinning in 2011.  The 7th of January was an unofficial medieval celebration. It  observed the day that women went back to household work after twelve days of celebrating Christmas. It was the day that women could make jokes at the expense of men. The men themselves returned to work on the Monday (sometimes called Plough Monday) immediately following St. Distaff day.

A distaff is an ancient tool used by spinners to support extra fibres (usually flax or wool) while at work. So it is an appropriate 'female' tool for a 'saint' to be named after. 

Shelley Anderson, Sunday 7th January 2018.


TRC Silk Stockings Project: First test swatches

Four experienced knitters for the TRC Silk Stockings project, 29th December 2017.

Four experienced knitters for the TRC Silk Stockings project, 29th December 2017.

29 December 2017: Since the first anouncement of the TRC Silk Stockings project, last November, we’ve been overwhelmed by enthousiastic people wanting to participate. More than 100 people have volunteered to join in and to help to reconstruct the silk stockings of the Texel seventeenth century shipwreck. We even had people from the USA and Canada wanting to join in!

The first workshops will take place in the beginning of 2018 and in order to prepare ourselves for this big event we asked four experienced knitters to help us make a preselection of yarns and silks and knit several test swatches. Using needles of 0.7 and 1 mm and threads of max. 0.5 mm, this was quite a challenge. To be honest, the first half hour was not very encouraging. “You can’t knit with this thread!” and “This is not possible…!”

Read more: TRC Silk Stockings Project: First test swatches


Genius at work: Paul Poiret (1879-1944)

‘Chez Poiret’, cover of Les Modes, with designs by Paul Poiret, drawn by Georges Barbier, April 1912. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

‘Chez Poiret’, cover of Les Modes, with designs by Paul Poiret, drawn by Georges Barbier, April 1912. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Paul Poiret was an influential fashion designer in Paris. Nicknamed ‘Le Magnifique’, he produced innovative fabrics and clothing for both women and men that incorporated bright colours, Japanese-style kimono sleeves and graceful drapery. His dresses for women were all designed—shockingly for the time—to be worn without a corset. The Gemeentemuseum in the Hague has designed the exhibition ‘Art Deco’ as a fitting tribute to him, and to the many other creators of this iconic, early 20th century style.

‘Art Deco’ features furniture, stunning jewellery by Cartier and paintings by Kees van Dongen, Sonia Delaunay, Picasso, Dufy and Iribe. But the exhibition’s highlight are the dozens of garments by Poiret. There is ‘Toujours’, a velvet, ankle-length dress with grosgrain ribbon, created in 1911, and a stunning 1912 silk dress in deep blue. My favourite is a Poiret from 1923 called ‘Braque’, after the painter. It is a white silk dress with large black geometric patterns.

Poiret incorporated avant-garde art styles like Cubism and Constructivism in his designs and hired painters like Picasso, Modigliani, Raoul Dufy and Paul Iribe to work for him. Garments by other designers are also on display, most notably the cream-coloured pleated silk ‘Peplos’, designed by Mariano Fortuny in 1914.

Part of Poiret’s genius lay in his comprehensive vision. When he opened his house Maison Martine in 1905, he concentrated on interior décor and fabrics. In addition to his corset-free clothing and shoes, he introduced new features such as the home bar and sunken baths. His bright fabrics with large floral patterns, and the use of luxury materials such as fur, velvet, silk and satin, caused a sensation, as did his perfume line. He also pioneered ways to sell his creations by inventing the cat walk, and toured with his models around the country. He designed costumes for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and for the new medium of films.

But it was his ambitious vision that also led to his downfall. At the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (from whence comes the term ‘art deco’), Poiret showcased his work by outfitting three barges on the Seine. The first promoted his perfumes, the second was a restaurant, while in the third, with the tapestries of Dufy as back drops, daily fashion shows where held. This, plus the new styles of designers such as Coco Chanel, led to bankruptcy in the late 1920s. It is said that when Poiret first saw Chanel’s iconic little black dress, he said to her, “But who are you in mourning for?” Chanel fired back, “For you.”

‘Art Deco’ is on at the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague until 4th March 2018.

Shelley Anderson, 9th December 2017


Hoe herken je kant?

Kanten kraagje voor een japon, begin 20ste eeuw. TRC 2017.3324.

Kanten kraagje voor een japon, begin 20ste eeuw. TRC 2017.3324.

In het weekeinde van 4 op 5 november werd in het atelier van het TRC de boeiende workshop van Olga Ieronima over het uitgebreide onderwerp “hoe herken je kant” gehouden. Hoewel het buiten goot en de regen op de lichtkoepel van het atelier van het TRC kletterde, luisterden binnen zeven zeer geïnteresseerde en in textielkennis al ervaren deelnemers naar Olga’s heldere uitleg van de verschillen tussen bijvoorbeeld naaldkant en kloskant, geborduurd tule en gehaakt kant, filetwerk en tamboereerwerk en bijvoorbeeld hoe machinaal kant eruit ziet.

De zeer ervaren Olga had haar eigen grote ronde kloskant-kussen meegenomen en gaf daar een korte demonstratie van. Er was ook een kloskant-kussen in the TRC collectie met alle variaties die er te vinden zijn in soorten kantklosjes. Waarschijnlijk is die indertijd klaargemaakt toen het TRC in 2014 een expositie “Over kant Gesproken” had opgezet, waarover toen een alleraardigst informatieboekje is geschreven.

Bovendien had Olga voor elk van ons een uitgebreide en uitgeprinte beschrijving van de geschiedenis van de kanthistorie, uitgewerkte fotovoorbeelden en tekeningen gemaakt dat we als naslagwerk voor later konden gebruiken. De voorraad én de kwaliteit van de enorme variatie aan voorbeelden van kant van het TRC zijn immens! Ze lagen allemaal keurig gesorteerd klaar om niet alleen bekeken, maar ook aangeraakt en gevoeld te worden. Dit is een bijzondere specialiteit van het TRC, die door de deelnemers erg gewaardeerd werd.

Na afloop van dit weekeinde wisten we veel meer over kant én kregen we ongelooflijk veel bewondering voor de makers van kant én konden we zelfs (weliswaar met enige moeite) de verschillende soorten kant van elkaar onderscheiden! Helaas regende het nog steeds flink toen we tevreden naar huis gingen……

Esmeralda Zee, donderdag 16 november 2017


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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 !

Current exhibition: For a few sacks more ...., until 28th June

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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: