TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Remembering the First World War

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Knitted poppy to commemorate the end of the First World War, bought in Helsby, UK, November 2019.

Knitted poppy to commemorate the end of the First World War, bought in Helsby, UK, November 2019.

Yesterday, the TRC received a photograph from England of a donation that had just been put in the post to Leiden. It is a knitted poppy, recently bought in Helsby, near Chester, UK.

All over the world, and in particular in Great Britain, the armistice of 11 November 1918, 11.00 AM, is marked by people wearing a small red poppy, mostly made of paper, on the chest, to commemorate those who fell in the First World War (1914-1918).

 

 

Lees meer: Remembering the First World War

   

Dead Sea Scroll textiles at the TRC

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The cigarette box (TRC 2019.2410) originally filled with Qumran 1 textile fragments. The hand writing is that of Elisabeth Crowfoot.

The cigarette box (TRC 2019.2410) originally filled with Qumran 1 textile fragments. The hand writing is that of Elisabeth Crowfoot.

On Saturday, 2nd November 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

In the early 1980’s, I was given a small cigarette box (TRC 2019.2410) filled with textile fragments. The box and its contents were donated by Elisabeth Crowfoot, the daughter of Grace Crowfoot and one of my teachers. It turned out that the textile fragments originated from Qumran 1, a cave in the Judaean Desert, east of Jerusalem, now in the Westbank territory, Area C.

This and other caves had become famous from the mid-1940s following the discovery of the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls, which were deposited in the caves at the beginning of our era (late 3rd century BC until 1st century AD) by a group of Jewish sectarian settlers.

The scrolls include some of the oldest known extant Hebrew texts that were later included in the Hebrew Bible, as well as many related manuscripts. In total the scrolls and fragments thereof represent some 900 different manuscripts.

Detail of a textile from Qumran Cave 1. It was used to protect one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It dates to between 3rd cent. BC and 1st cent. AD.  The textile is made of flax, with s-spun threads, and an open tabby weave (TRC 2019.2411). The photograph was made with a Dino Lite microscope, with a magnification of x49.9.

Detail of a textile from Qumran Cave 1. It was used to protect one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It dates to between 3rd cent. BC and 1st cent. AD. The textile is made of flax, with s-spun threads, and an open tabby weave (TRC 2019.2411). The photograph was made with a Dino Lite microscope, with a magnification of x49.9.

Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls are now housed in the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Before being deposited into the caves, the scrolls were put into pottery jars and textiles were used as padding and sometimes also as a sealing cover. After some two thousand years, the first of the jars were rediscovered in 1946.

In early 1949 the textiles from Qumran 1 were examined at the Norfolk Flax Establishment (England), and the material was identified as linen. A total of 77 plain and decorated textiles were catalogued and described by Grace Crowfoot (1879–1957) and published in 1955. It would appear that the textiles were torn up fragments of garments, such as tunics and mantles.

 

Lees meer: Dead Sea Scroll textiles at the TRC

   

TRC Intensive Textile Course: A personal observation

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TRC Intensive Textile Course October 2019: Fibres dyed with a range of natural dyes and mordants. Photograph: Anna Novitzky.

TRC Intensive Textile Course October 2019: Fibres dyed with a range of natural dyes and mordants. Photograph: Anna Novitzky.

Anna Novitzky attended the TRC Intensive Textile Course last October. She works for the British journal Nature and she sent us the following blog:

I’m a textiles hobbyist. I knit, crochet, spin — anything involving fibres, I want to try. I’ve dabbled in many techniques, but never done much systematically, or covered much theory. I wanted to change that, to know how things work. The TRC course seemed the ideal opportunity to learn.

I arrived not knowing what to expect, but found exactly what I needed. We dived straight in, identifying fibres through our senses, the burn test, dyes and microscopes, interspersing hands-on experience with theory linked to our observations.

TRC Intensive Textile Course October 2019: A textile from the collection, with my chart of the pattern and my attempt to recreate it. Photograph: Anna Novitzky.

TRC Intensive Textile Course October 2019: A textile from the collection, with my chart of the pattern and my attempt to recreate it. Photograph: Anna Novitzky.

Over the week, we moved on to fibre preparation, spinning with various tools, dyeing, ‘inventing’ the loom, weaving, exploring non-woven fabrics from leather to lace and examining printing and embroidery.  Fibre dyed with a range of natural dyes and mordants. We applied what we’d learnt by handling objects from the collection, a unique and rewarding experience.

It was a whirlwind of information and encounters that left me exhausted but exhilarated each day. A textile from the collection, with my chart of the pattern and my attempt to recreate it. I did things I’d long wanted to try: combing fibre; spinning on a charka. Others, I’d never dreamed of, such as examining 3000-year-old mummy cloth. Identifying, charting and recreating a woven pattern gave me a huge thrill.

Through it all, Gillian’s incredible expertise and depth of knowledge blew me away. I left with a renewed commitment to studying, understanding and experiencing textiles — and with my mind whirling with possibilities.

Anna Novitzky ( Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. )

   

The anniversary of nylon and its introduction in The Netherlands

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Christening gown made from parachute silk (nylon), for a Dutch baby born on D-Day, 6 June 1944 (TRC 2010.0070a).

Christening gown made from parachute silk (nylon), for a Dutch baby born on D-Day, 6 June 1944 (TRC 2010.0070a).

On Sunday, 27 October 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

I just read in The Sunday Times that today marks the anniversary of the launch of a new synthetic fibre onto the (American) market, namely nylon. On 27 October 1938, DuPont announced the introduction of nylon for use in tooth-brushes. The succeeding year it was first used for women's stockings, or 'nylons' as they quickly became known. During the war, most of the production of nylon was diverted to military uses, notably for parachutes. Actually, parachutes first used to be made from silk, but with the Japanese occupation of the silk-producing parts of Asia, the Allies were soon turning to the use the newly developed synthetic material of DuPont.

I mention this anniversary, since the TRC Collection (such a mine of the weirdest, and sometimes most intriguing objects) houses three blouses made from nylon (TRC 2007.0833, 2007.0834 and 2007. 0835). They date to 1946 and were worn by a young woman from Leiden. She and her family received the nylon blouses in a care-package that was sent by her aunt who lived in America. The proud owner would show her friends these blouses that were made of this new and expensive material.

Lees meer: The anniversary of nylon and its introduction in The Netherlands

   

The Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij

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On Saturday, 26 October 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

Advertisement on cotton of the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij, 1923. TRC 2019.2383

Advertisement on cotton of the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij, 1923. TRC 2019.2383

This week, the TRC was given a cotton cloth of 89 x 51 cm, which was made by the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij in 1923 (TRC 2019.2383). We soon discovered that a similar cloth is housed in the Lakenhal Museum, Leiden (acc. no. 9067). It is decorated with printed texts and printed copper engravings. The cloth is a powerful reminder of the rich history of Leiden as a historic textile city, and the TRC is therefore very proud to have been donated such a cloth.

The cloth is in fact an advertisement for the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij and what it could produce. It tells the world that the firm could print cloths in various sizes, in various colours, to celebrate the 25-year jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina (r. 1898-1948) as the reigning monarch of The Netherlands.

The Leidse Katoenmaatschappij was based in Leiden, and its factories and offices were located between the Herengracht and the Zijlsingel. Actually, not far, some ten minutes' walk, from the present premises of the TRC. The company originated in Lier, Belgium, where it had started operations in 1756 under the name of De Heyer en Co. The firm moved to Leiden in 1835 and some ten years later was acquired by Louis Driessen, who rapidly expanded the company and who later passed the company on to his sons.

The company was particularly famous for its use of 'modern' dyes and dyeing techniques. One of the sons, Felix Driessen, spent some time in Mülhausen to learn about the use of artificial dyes. In the years that followed he also travelled to the Dutch East Indies and America (for more information on the Driessen family, see the pertinent report in Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken).

Lees meer: The Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij

   

Eerbare kleding: Een interview met Gillian Vogelsang

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Gillian Vogelsang werd onlangs geïnterviewd door een journaliste van het Reformatorisch Dagblad. Het interview werd afgelopen zaterdag (19 oktober 2019) gepubliceerd. U kunt het artikel hier lezen.

   

A hidden 19th century quilt

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Early 20th century American quilt, with a mid-19th century quilt hidden inside.

Early 20th century American quilt, with a mid-19th century quilt hidden inside.

On Sunday, 20th October 2019, TRC-volunteer Beverley Bennett wrote:

The TRC recently received a donation of a simple and unassuming utility quilt. It has a colourful top that is made from two lengths of fabric. This top is printed with a design mimicking a patchwork of half square triangles in a pinwheel arrangement. The two lengths are joined along their length by machine.

The backing of the quilt is different. It consists of simple feedsacks joined together. It is hand quilted in a basic Baptist Fan design. Because of the fabrics and the slightly coarse hand quilting thread, we have dated the quilt to about 1920-1930.

However, on examining the quilt, we realised it was unevenly ‘lumpy’ inside, which was a bit unusual and so we carefully unpicked a small corner of the quilt to see what was going on. We discovered an older quilt inside! More unpicking revealed a worn, tattered quilt that had been made from even older, recycled blocks.

The Hidden Quilt consists of bits of old shirts, dresses, etc., of a mid-nineteenth century date, which were recycled into diagonally string-pieced (a method of using long, narrow pieces of fabric), 5 inch squares and joined into sets of four, making (roughly) 10 inch blocks.

It is hard to know whether the blocks were used for making a quilt straightaway, but at some stage the blocks were joined, by machine, with used and patched denim pieces as sashing and more shirtings as corner posts. It was backed with a purple ticking type fabric and was then hand quilted in the Baptist Fan pattern with 5-6 stitches per inch as the cotton filling and the ticking is quite thick.

The Hidden Quilt had a long life, because it was well used and in tatters at the edges. There was clearly some damage that was repaired with a machine-sewn patch and, since the sewing machine dates from about 1860, we know the repair must have happened after that date. When exactly the Hidden Quilt was made, remains a moot point.

Finally the Hidden Quilt was recycled into the utility quilt we received, interestingly being quilted once again with the same pattern, in the same style and with virtually the same type of thread – could it have been recycled by the same person, for the third time, but some fifty or so years later?

The quilt, including its Hidden Quilt, will be on display in the forthcoming TRC gallery exhibition on the history of American quilts, opening in February 2020.

   

Dino-lite microscope and the TRC Leiden

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On Thursday, 17 October 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

We have been talking for some time at the TRC about getting a digital microscope for our work with various archaeological and historical textiles, in particular for basic fibre identification, as well as weave, print and embroidery analysis. We are also curious about what caused particular types of (past) damage to the structure of some of our textiles (insects, mould, etc). More specifically we were looking for something that has a magnification of between x25-250, can be used to take publication level photographs (at least 1200 ppi) and with a magnification that is easy to adjust.

But the main question was: which microscope? There are various forms on the market, with a wide range of prices. In July 2019 Eric Boudot gave a demonstration of the Dino-lite microscope at a workshop held at the TRC as part of the ICAS Asia Conference. Based on his presentation it was decided to obtain one of these microscopes as it clearly works well with the type of textiles we are working with. One thing I was particularly impressed with was the very light-weight nature of the microscope and stand. It will not be a problem to have it in hand luggage when travelling!

Thanks to the generosity of a Friend of the TRC, we have the funding to buy a suitable microscope and equally importantly, a good quality stand that we can use to easily make minute adjustments in the height of the microscope. We contacted Michel van Rooijen of AKB Longs, a company in Zouterwoude-Rijndijk, which is very close to Leiden and they kindly agreed to give us a demonstration of the Dino-lite AM4515ZT, how it works, with a discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages.

A group consisting of archaeologists, students, depot managers, as well the librarians from the TRC came to the demonstration and were able to ask a wide range of questions. We used various textiles from the TRC Collection, including flat textiles (a piece of mummy cloth, some Dead Sea Scroll textiles), as well as a Macedonian knitted sock with metal thread cuff to give a range of materials and textures.

I have borrowed the microscope for a week to see how it goes, and, as it stands at the moment, we are going to get one. But I think we will be getting one that can take 5 mb images rather than 1.5 mb that was demonstrated because of publication requirements. I am also looking forward to using it with the work on more detailed analysis of the medieval St. Petrock’s Pall in Exeter Cathedral, as well as looking at various items in the TRC Collection.

   

The textile wealth in the Great Suriname Exhibition

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Koto from Surinam, displated at the Great Suriname Exhibition, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam.

Koto from Surinam, displated at the Great Suriname Exhibition, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam.

On Wednesday, 16th October, Shelley Anderson wrote:

Surinam, in South America, has a rich heritage — a heritage also reflected in its textiles. Some of this heritage can be seen in the Great Suriname Exhibition now on at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

The exhibit begins with a collection of objects from some of the country’s indigenous groups. Surinam’s indigenous peoples cultivated their own cotton, and spun and then dyed the resulting textiles with natural dyes. A Lokono woman’s blue cotton skirt and shawl (late 19th-20th century) are on display, along with some cotton Kari’na loincloths (pre-1912) and stunning hair and arm ornaments (late 19th to early 20th century) made from feathers, beads, palm leaves and other materials.

Perhaps Surinam’s most iconic garment is the koto, a wide skirt or dress of printed cotton, worn by Creole-Surinamese women with a short jacket and an angisa, or head wrap. There are hundreds of ways to fold an angisa, which are often used to express the wearer’s emotions or opinions. The official history of the koto dates back to 1879, when the Dutch colonial government ruled that women, when outdoors, must wear a dress or paantje (chest covering) and a jacket or gown. Now worn mostly on festive occasions, there are numerous kotos on display, from different time periods.

Lees meer: The textile wealth in the Great Suriname Exhibition

   

From Buteh to Paisley: A new TRC exhibition in the making

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Paisley motif used on an American feedsack, 1940s (TRC 2019.1245).

Paisley motif used on an American feedsack, 1940s (TRC 2019.1245).

On Sunday, 13th October, Erica Riccobon, a new TRC volunteer and MA student at Leiden University, wrote:

The TRC is currently preparing a new exhibition planned to open in the second half of 2020. Its provisional title is 'From Buteh to Paisley: The History of a Global Motif.'

The exhibition highlights the worldwide diffusion and popularity of the Paisley motif, through an analysis of its travel from East to West and its reinterpretation within 20th century European fashion. The Paisley motif first appeared in Iran under the name of buteh. Further developed for the design of the famous Kashmiri shawls, it was exported into Europe, through the (British) East India Company, from the 17th century onwards. In Europe it was copied and used in local industry, and hence again distributed across Europe. The motif, though quintessentially Eastern in origin, owes its Western name to the Scottish town of Paisley, a major weaving site during the Industrial Revolution, not far from Glasgow.

Lees meer: From Buteh to Paisley: A new TRC exhibition in the making

   

A Leiden wedding dress and WW II

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Photograph, dated 22 December 1943, with Ida van Gent - van der Meij wearing her wedding dress from 1938, now dyed in a lilac colour.

Photograph, dated 22 December 1943, with Ida van Gent - van der Meij wearing her wedding dress from 1938, now dyed in a lilac colour.

On Thursday, 26 September 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Today (24 September 2019), we had a very interesting donation for the TRC’s Collection, namely a lilac coloured dress with a strong Leiden connection. The dress was initially made by Ida van der Meij (1910-1977) as her wedding dress, when she married Jan van Gent (1909-1983) in Leiden on 20 April 1938. At that time the dress was white. Ida van der Meij’s family lived at Hoge Rijndijk 254, Leiden, which actually is close to where the TRC is situated.

On 22 December 1943, when the Netherlands were occupied by German forces, her brother, Jacobus van der Meij (1917-1958), married Maria de Koning (1918-2008) from Leiderdorp, close to Leiden. It was wartime and clothing was scarce, so Ida dyed her wedding dress lilac, changed the shape of the sleeves and used this updated garment for her brother's wedding.

The dress (TRC 2019.2154) and photographs of the weddings in 1938 and 1943 will be on display in the TRC’s exhibition about textiles and clothing during the Second World War (summer 2020).

 

Lees meer: A Leiden wedding dress and WW II

   

Rainbow people

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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).

Lees meer: Rainbow people

   

Amber Butchart at the TRC

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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.

Lees meer: Amber Butchart at the TRC

   

Sampler by Mary Anne McMurray dated 1866

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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.

Lees meer: Sampler by Mary Anne McMurray dated 1866

   

Leids Dagblad en de Sokken&Kousen tentoonstelling

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Op dinsdag 10 september schrijft Willem Vogelsang:

De opening van de Sokken&Kousen tentoonstelling, op donderdag 5 september j.l., trok ook de belangstelling van de regionale pers. Hier een PDF-document van een artikel in het Leids Dagblad van vrijdag 6 seotember. Klik hier om het artikel te lezen.

   

Socks&Stockings. A sparkling opening

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Lies van de Wege and Amber Butchart at the opening of the Socks&Stockings exhibition. Photograph by Joost Kolkman, 2019.

Lies van de Wege and Amber Butchart at the opening of the Socks&Stockings exhibition. Photograph by Joost Kolkman, 2019.

On Saturday, 7th September, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

The Socks&Stockings exhibition is now open! Thanks to the help of many people, notably Lies van de Wege and Chrystel Brandenburgh and their fantastic knitting crews, we have a very special exhibition. People are calling it colourful, warm, interesting, full of surprises and simply, it‘s GOOD.

What made everything so special was the presence of English fashion and dress historian, Amber Butchart, who officially opened the exhibition and gave a lecture on the history of European silk stockings. Twice in fact, because so many people registered for the lecture we asked Amber to do it again the following day. About 50 people came to the opening and both lectures were full with some 30 people attending each time. Her lecture was informative, well presented and not surprisingly there were many questions afterwards.

Amber had long heard about the TRC Leiden, but had never actually been before. She really liked our approach and the fact we have a ‘broad-based encyclopaedic collection’. She has already asked if she can use items from the collection for a couple of exhibitions and a book. Amber is planning to come back to Leiden on a regular basis and is more than willing to give more lectures on different aspects of European fashion history.

In addition, Amber has very kindly agreed to become an Ambassador for the TRC Leiden and tell her extensive network about what we are doing, what we can do and what we want to do in the future. Interesting days ahead! The exhibition will be open until Thursday, 19th December 2019.

   

A big girl’s blouse

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A birthday card

A birthday card

On Saturday, 7th September 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

I was a bit puzzled lately about this phrase, used by such British luminaries as Boris Johnson. He used it, apparently under his breath, when talking about Jeremy Corbyn. I asked my own Brexit refugee here in Leiden about it, but she had no clue either. Admittedly, she has been living in Europe (!) for some 35 years and may have missed essential developments in English idiom. Also, she never went to Eton, which seems to preclude anyone from joining the ruling British establishment and the likes of Johnson (unless you marry a Russian plutocrat, but she hooked up with an impoverished Dutch academic).

Of course I could ask my mother-in-law, who some years ago told her hairdresser (I should not have listened to her telephone call) that she had a son-in-law who had a ‘reasonable’ command of English. (What about her command, I always wondered, she lived for a long time in Yorkshire, so who is the foreigner?) Should I ring her? Put her to the test? Perhaps better not. A call from Europe early in the morning would ruin anyone’s day in England.

Anyhow, what is this big girl’s blouse? At first I thought it referred to a blouse filled up by a big girl. Big, as in well-endowed (another recent development in the English language, I noticed). That, it soon became clear, was not the case.

So, my research (carried out in bed this morning), told me the phrase refers to a big blouse for a girl. So what does that mean? I have had to deal with the Brits for some time, and I know that the word ‘girl’ is not always appreciated when applied to, what I think is now called a young woman. So the ‘big girl’s blouse’ is apparently somewhat derogatory.

But what the heck is wrong with a big blouse for a girl /young woman? At that stage my research descended to the next level. I found a wonderful website that provided me with the information that I so urgently needed. The phrase seems to originate from northern England (well, my in-laws come from Yorkshire, so there you are; perhaps I should ring my mother-in-law after all).

When applied to a man it means that he is somewhat effeminate, but at the same time it is not really abusive. There is something teasing about it. The phrase seems to be used by now all over the Anglo-Saxon world, unknown to me (but I am European, so what do I know). There even seems to be an Australian feminist comedy series with that title. I am proud to say I did not know that either. So there you are: a girl’s blouse as an item of apparel has reached dazzling depths of fame. The world of dress is full of surprises.

For those of you who want to know more, click here

   

Present and future exhibitions at the TRC

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A huipil from San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, 20th century (TRC 2019.1838).

A huipil from San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, 20th century (TRC 2019.1838).

The past few weeks have been dedicated to getting the Socks&Stockings exhibition ready for the grand opening on Thursday (5th September). It is a surprising exhibition, full of warmth, colour and so many different techniques. A challenge to lovers of knitting and those who think they know all about hand knitted socks!

At the same time, we have been thinking about the TRC Collection, how to use it and how to further build up the sections on the Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa. Then all of a sudden, literally in the last week or so, we were given a selection of Guatemalan, Mexican and Peruvian textiles and garments from three different sources. We are now thinking about staging an exhibition about these garments and textiles, which will take place in 2021.

Just to give you an idea of what will be happening exhibition-wise at the TRC Leiden over the next few years, the Gallery plans are:

  • Autumn 2019: Socks&Stockings
  • Spring 2020: 200 years of American Quilts (Leiden Mayflower Year)
  • Summer 2020: Textiles, Garments and World War Two
  • Autumn 2020: Ties to History: A look at men’s neckwear and its links to historical people and events
  • Spring 2021: The Huipil: An essential Middle and South American garment with many facets
  • Autumn 2021 2000 years of Asian influences on Western textiles (an extended version of a pop-up exhibition held in the summer of 2019).

The vast majority of the objects in all of these exhibitions comes from the TRC, so confirming the scope and depth of its encyclopedic textile and dress collection!

   

New additions to the TRC Collection: From Iran, Mexico and Guatemala

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Nigar Shukri and Maryan Koehler dressed in Kurdish clothing from the area of Urmieh, northwestern Iran (1974 or 1975).

Nigar Shukri and Maryan Koehler dressed in Kurdish clothing from the area of Urmieh, northwestern Iran (1974 or 1975).

On Tuesday, 20th August 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Two boxes arrived last Friday (16th August 2019) from the USA, with some very different stories. The first box contained a small group of Iranian and Afghan garments that date from 1972-1975 (TRC 2019.1853a-1867). They were donated by Maryan Koehler. Some pieces were actually worn by Maryan at the time, while others were given to her when she worked in the country. More specifically, she was with the US Peace Corps teaching at the University of Isfahan, and between 1973 and 1975 she was at what was then called the Rezaiyeh College of Agriculture (now called Urmia University, in the northwest of the country) as a professor of English.

Maryan Koehler sometimes dressed in Kurdish clothing from the area. The Kurdish garments were given to her by her friend Nigar Shukri. Maryan Koehler is now tidying up and has been looking for a suitable home for her items. After looking on the internet she felt that the TRC Leiden understood these pieces and would make them available to a wide public.

Detail of a hand-embroidered huipil from Guatemala (Knobler donation).

Detail of a hand-embroidered huipil from Guatemala (Knobler donation).

 

 

The second group of textiles (TRC 2019.1837-1849) helps to fill a ‘gap’ in the TRC Collection. Thanks to the generosity of Chuck and Carolyn Knobler, USA, we have been given a selection of huipil (women’s tops) and a shawl from Guatemala and Mexico. Most of these pieces date to the latter half of the 20th century and are made from locally woven cloth (back strap looms).They are decorated in a variety of techniques and styles, including woven and embroidered forms. Some of the embroidered examples will be used in a future publication about hand embroidery from the Americas.

   

Kate Askham, Manchester Metropolitan University, and intern at the TRC in 2018

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One of the outfits designed and made by Kate Askham, final year fashion show, Manchester 2019.

One of the outfits designed and made by Kate Askham, final year fashion show, Manchester 2019.

Where has the year gone? I look back on my time at the TRC (together with Kazna Asker) with such fondness and am so grateful for the way it shaped my studying this past year. It's been about two weeks since I graduated, which feels extremely surreal and I am now looking for employment, still in glorious Manchester.

I wanted to share with you some photos of my final collection (see here), which I ended up basing around my family living in Glasgow and Iceland during the sixties and seventies. At the very core of my research and design, was a deliberate selection of the fabric and the sourcing of the material.

I made the very first garment of my fashion show presentation with some beautiful black silk-satin that the TRC gave to me, and it set the tone for the rest of my collection entirely. I also used by-product and ethically tanned leather, which I sourced from a British warehouse. The leather I decided to use were all end-of-line pieces, so I was really pleased to give them a new lease of life.

I used only natural fibres, and I carefully selected companies that have sustainability as their key focus. Amazingly, every single piece of my collection was thus made from by-products, surplus or recycled fibres and fabric - thanks to how much the TRC taught me about fibre types, material qualities and why it's worth spending the extra time and care, in order to use something in a responsible manner.

I'm now looking at moving into product development, which will hopefully take me all around the world, and enable me to assist design teams to focus on details, sourcing of fabrics, and finding suitable ateliers with expertise to create beautiful clothes. I think within the next six months I will be in London, and am hoping to work with my tutor Kiran Gobin, who suggested I could perhaps work in his design team. I am also wanting to do some further study eventually, and some more academic writing because I so enjoyed writing my dissertation - I am so eager to be challenged.

I'd love to come and visit you all again, and see what's going on there. Thank you again for such a wonderful experience. I realise how lucky I was to get such an insight, especially at a point where I was struggling to see the value of what I was studying! It was completely eye-opening and the TRC encouraged me to being curious again.

Please give my best wishes to everyone at the TRC and all those I met there!

KINDEST regards, Kate Askham

   

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