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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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Pincushion

Pincushion

A small heart-shaped pincushion of cream cotton sateen, overlaid with a cover of crochet lace worked in cotton yarn in shades of greenish yellow. Bot...

Shirt

Shirt

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

Lace collar

Lace collar

A dress collar of white cotton Irish crochet lace. Worked in a very free design, with motifs including roses, thistles, fern leaves, shamrocks and dai...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth woven in huckaback linen, unbleached and red yarn. Huckaback weave with a deep damask border at either end, of a greek key design. Loo...

oyster shell purse

oyster shell purse

Mother of pearl, oyster shell purse. Lined with stiff red fabric, card and has 3 compartments. brass, metal filigree engraved hinge and small clip fas...

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...

blouse

blouse

Woman's short sleeved blouse of white cotton lawn. Hand and machine stitched. Blouse cut in one piece. Round scooped neckline. Neckline, cuffs and hem...

navy beaded purse

navy beaded purse

small navy crochet, oval-shaped purse. silver metal beads incorporated in fabric. silver horse shoe-shaped frame sealed withb push button. there are s...

Collar, needlepoint lace

Collar, needlepoint lace

A shawl-style collar of flat needlepoint lace, worked by hand, in fine cotton thread. The pattern is made by working a series of densely packed butto...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A rectangular pincushion in the form of a small mattress or pillow. The front and sides are of pale eau-de-nil satin, the back of cotton sateen in a ...

Bedcover

Bedcover

A patchwork bedcover (quilt), hand pieced 'template' style of Turkey red, and plain white cotton. Pieced in a series of units or 'blocks' each 35 cm ...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A linen proof cloth for a sample table napkin, woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 51cm, selvedge to selvedge. The pattern is a flora...

olive green satin bag - painted

olive green satin bag - painted

green satin square bag with green corded edge and string handle. beautifully detailed floral design painted on front of bag in pink, green, yellow and...

Hankerchief commemorative

Hankerchief commemorative

A fine handkerchief of ivory silk, the upper left quadrent of which is hand embroidered in silk floss thread. The embroidery depicts the date 1918 in...

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 ...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen damask napkin. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 62cm. Unhemmed. The pattern is of a large central squa...

Blouse

Blouse

Woman's blouse of fine white cotton lawn. Long sleeves. Machine and hand sewn. Embroidered bands of a floral design on front panels and cuffs. Centre ...

Pincushion cover

Pincushion cover

A small round crochet lace pincushion cover, pouch-style, to fit over a padded innner. Hand crocheted in white cotton yarn, the front in a 12 -petal...

Irish Dance dress

Irish Dance dress

An embroidered dress, belt, and matching cape, for Irish Dance. The dress, of teal-coloured cotton velvet, is knee length, and has long sleeves. Two...

chainmail purse

chainmail purse

Chainmail purse with 4 suspended metal beads lining bottom. large metal clip frame engraved with filigree and floral design. inside of frame is inscri...

blouse

blouse

Woman's white muslin blouse with long sleeves. Hand and machine stitched. Centre front opening. Yoke, pin tucked front and back. Piping at shoulder an...

Postcard

Postcard

A postcard of a painting by Irish artist John Carey, subject 'The Ould Irish Jig'. One of a number of studies for early 1900s postcards depicting sce...

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...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A small rectangular pincushion. one side of tartan silk, the other of rose pink cotton. The pincushion is constructed like a little mattress, with a ...

WW1 embroidered postcard

WW1 embroidered postcard

A WW1 postcard. Fine linen cambric hand embroidered in silk floss thread in vivid shades of blue, red, green and yellow. Framed in a postcard mount....

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