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Textiles and Costume

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Textiles and Costume

Textiles and Costume

The costume and textile collections across National Museums NI hold objects that provide a vibrant and engaging record of lives lived and lost, industry at home, enterprise abroad, political upheaval and personal achievement.

The collections chart the massive growth of the linen industry in Ulster of the second half of the 1800s, and earlier enterprises in the spinning, weaving and decorating of cotton cloth.

Linen

The late 19th century boost to the linen industry was driven by the development of power looms and improvements to transport and communication. The significant shift from cottage industry to global domination produced challenges for some and rewards for many, underpinning much of the economic success of Belfast as a civic power at the start of the 20th century.

Collections of cloth samples and finished linens, photographic records and trade literature paint a very complete picture of the move from workroom to warehouse via international exhibitions of arts and industry.

Embroidery and lace

Embroidery on linen and cotton, lace making and embroidery in all its various forms are represented in collections of needlework sample books, pictures, costume and accessories dating from 1730 to present day. The creative output associated with these textile craft skills carries stories of developments in education in Ireland, famine relief work, and an outwork industry providing economic support for many thousands of women working in their own homes.

Regalia and flags

The collections include hundreds of objects reflecting aspects of political change, new allegiances, and divided loyalties. Regalia, flags and emblems, commemorative textiles, uniforms and badges provide a graphic record of conflicts experienced intensely at both local and global level, over the last 300 years. A small but significant collection of handkerchiefs includes some produced in prison during the early 1970s, a most turbulent time in Ulster’s recent past.

Costume and accessory

Costume and dress accessory collections at National Museums NI include almost 10,000 objects spanning a period from 1760 to the late 1980s. From the smallest of baby’s bonnets to the grandest of wedding dresses and elaborately embroidered clerical vestments, each is a powerful and evocative prompt to recall stories of joy, of sadness, of belief, power and privilege.

A collection of transport uniforms, occupational dress, dance costumes, clerical vestments, and objects relating to motor cycle sport illustrate aspects of working life, religious practices and recreation in Ulster between 1900 and present day. The World Cultures collections include costume and textiles objects for ceremonial dress and customs.

Searchable list of collections

198 items found.
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Carrickmacross lace handkerchief, partly worked

Carrickmacross lace handkerchief, partly worked

A handkerchief of Carrickmacross lace, partly worked, on a patttern drawn in ink on tracing paper. A style of lace worked in applique and embroidery, ...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A triangular pincushion of pale pink figured silk firnishing fab (front and back), trimmed on the front with pink ,and cream, ribbons knotted at the ...

Tablecloth

Tablecloth

A tablecloth of plain white linen, one quarter of which is hand embroidered in a stylised floral design of large daisy -like flowers and stems. The em...

Pincushion

Pincushion

Very small pincushion in a cover of crochet worked in green cotton thread with metal beads on. Frringed edging all around,of metal beads. Softly pad...

Neck tie

Neck tie

A neck tie of pale grey polyester, with two diagonal rows of diamante sequins across the lower half....

Lace collar

Lace collar

A collar of cream- coloured Irish crochet lace. The collar is roughly horseshoe -shaped when flat, to be worn with a v-neckline dress. The pattern is ...

Drawn Thread work sampler

Drawn Thread work sampler

A stitch sampler of cream linen featuring 21 bands of drawn thread work emboidery, each worked in a different pattern. The embroidery is hand stitche...

Antimacassar

Antimacassar

An antimacassar for a settee. Plain cream linen, with an edging and one deep border of machine made cotton lace. One of a wide range of household fur...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A hexagonal pincushion. The front is pieced mosiac patchwork -style of twelve diamonds, six of which form a pointed star in the centre. The diamonds...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A square diamond souvenir pincushion of red rayon fabric which has been commercially (swiss-machine) embroidered with a stylized image of King William...

handkerchief

handkerchief

A handkerchief of very fine linen lawn with a border of of Youghal needlepoint lace. This particular style of Irish lace was known as 'Rose Point'. A...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small rectangular pincushion in a simple style, of brown and russet printed cotton, with pins inserted in. Handsewn throughout. Firmly padded wit...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small pincushion of bone with a top of mother -of -pearl in a floral design. The pincushion is in the style of a spool and the main body of it has ...

Pincushion cover

Pincushion cover

A rectangular pincushion cover, pocket -style, to accomodate a padded inner. The front is a panel of crochet in a repeating daisy-like motif, worked ...

Lace collar

Lace collar

A collar of Carrickmacross lace showing a strong Art Nouveau influence in design. Crescent shaped, worked on a net ground with the details of the flo...

Embroidery linen

Embroidery linen

A panel of plain cream linen, printed for hand embroidery. Intended to be made up as a cushion cover. The embroider pattern stamped onto the linen b...

Embroidery linen

Embroidery linen

A square of plain cream linen, printed with a design for hand embroidery, in a stylised rose pattern surrounded by swags. The edges are finished with ...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small round pinwheel pincushion of bone, decorated on both sides with a pattern of tiny circles and dots picked out in black. The centre cushion is...

Bedcover

Bedcover

A patchwork bedcover, machine pieced in an arrangement of Log Cabin patttern known as 'Sunshine and Shadow' or 'Light and Dark'. The narrow strips ( ...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A rectangular pincushion of embroidered dark brown velvet, backed with purple crepe silk, edged with green and purple (very faded now) gimp trim. The ...

Lace collar

Lace collar

A horseshoe-shaped dress collar of Carickmacross applique lace. Made for wear with the open edges to dress centre front. Worked in a symmetrical desi...

Bodice

Bodice

Bodice of white cotton. Long sleeved with front opening, mother of pearl buttons. Hand and machine stitched. High, mandarin collar, gathered pleated f...

Cushion cover

Cushion cover

A cushion cover of faded pale green linen, the front panel of which has been printed in black with a large image (side profile) of Edward Carson. Abov...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small square 'book' style pincushion. Two sides of card covered with cream moire silk, the front hand embroidered with a symetricall floral motif i...

Folio, designs -linen

Folio, designs -linen

Design for embroidery on linen tablecloth or bedspread. Pencil on paper. The design is for a large corner motif of a cornucopia of flowers with garla...

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