Facebook Pixel Image

Textiles and Costume

Exit Menu

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.
View 
 Items per page
If no image shows this may be due to copyright restrictions. Please contact picture.library@nmni.com who will be happy to help.
Pincushion

Pincushion

A round pincushion of plain red cotton, in a cover of cream cotton crochet lace. The crochet lace cover extends across the top of the pincushion and ...

Lace plastron

Lace plastron

A plastron (a small panel of lace to be worn on the front of a dress bodice at the neck edge) of Irish crochet lace. A densely worked design of shamro...

Proof cloth

Proof cloth

Proof cloth...

Folio, designs -linen

Folio, designs -linen

Design for embroidery on linen tablecloth or bedspread. The delicate design of trailing 'stems' of shamrocks and leaves is triangular in form and mo...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen huckaback weave towel, with borders of damask design, in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 52 cm, unhemmed. A large...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A rectangular pincushion of white cotton crochet lace (cover) over a cushion or pad of red cotton backed with black cotton. The crochet lace on the f...

misers purse

misers purse

Beige knitted purse with silver metal beads incorporated in knit, heavy weight due to metal beads. Macramé tassel at one end and large bead with tasse...

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...

jug purse

jug purse

chenille fabric purse. Of a similar style to a miser’s purse, this interesting piece is known as a ‘jug purse’ or a ‘pence jug’. They were used as pur...

Purse

Purse

This is an extraordinary example of a reticule, a Victorian name for a woman’s small handbag or pouch, usually with a drawstring or in this case, cord...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A square pincushion of light green silk, with a cover of cream cotton net embroidered with outlines of small daisy-like motifs. The net is knotted a...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A rectangular pincushion of pale pink cotton sateen with an outer cover of lace knitted in a very fine cream cotton yarn. The pincushion border is al...

misers purse

misers purse

Miser’s purse is a term that dates to the turn of the twentieth century, near the end of the purses popularity. It was inspired by the purse’s design,...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A round pin wheel pincushion of black satin, the front hand embroidered in a garland of flowers tied with a knotted bow. The back of the pincushion f...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A heart-shaped pincushion of yellow cotton sateen, with an outer cover crocheted in cottton yarn, shades of yellow, cream and brown. A length of yell...

Linen proof clotth

Linen proof clotth

A proof cloth for a linen damask napkin. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Unhemmed., one selvedge, three cut edges. The pattern is of a cen...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small circular pincushion of yellow cotton sateen, in a cover of white crochet cotton lace. Daisy-like central motif, scalloped edging. The back of...

Embroidered handkerchief

Embroidered handkerchief

A handkerchief of ivory silk, hand embroidered in cotton thread. The embroidery depicts the Union flag with crown and shamrocks and the following tex...

Doiley

Doiley

A doiley of white linen with a centre circle and seven-petalled edging of crochet lace in cotton yarn. The circular band of white linen is embellish...

Bag

Bag

In the 19th Century, the slimmer silhouettes of dresses did not allow for bulky pockets so a drawstring bag or reticule became a necessity. Needlework...

blouse

blouse

Ladies cream blouse of cotton lawn. Long sleeved with front opening, fastened with hooks and eyes and crochet buttons. Hand and machine sewn. Triangul...

Shirt

Shirt

A boy's shirt of light pink polyester cotton, long sleeved ,with stiffened collar....

Antimacassar

Antimacassar

An antimacassar for a settee. Plain mustard coloured linen, with an edging and border of machine made cream cotton lace. One of a wide range of domes...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A rectangular pincushion of pale blue cotton sateen, overlaid on the front with a panel of tatted lace in blue and cream shaded cotton yarn. Pale blu...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small pincushion of wool canvaswork emboidery in a stylized tree shape. The embroidery depicts a winter scene of bird and foliage against snow. The...

Close filter panel
  • Object type
  • Maker
  • Dates
  • Place made
  • Materials
  • Purchase print
  • With Images