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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

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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...

Bedcover

Bedcover

A patchwork bedcover, hand pieced mosaic -style, of white and Turkey red cotton, in a pattern known as 'Sawtooth'. The patchwork appears to have been...

[] beadwork purse

[] beadwork purse

Glass beadwork reticule depicting a floral garden scene with harp in the centre, cream silk lining and ribbon drawstring, two folded over flaps at ope...

Lace collar

Lace collar

A crescent- shaped collar of Irish crochet lace worked in cotton thread. A mixture of densely worked motifs such as daisies , roses, ferns and grapes...

Antimacassar

Antimacassar

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

Blue Beaded Purse

Blue Beaded Purse

The Tam O' Shanter coin purse was a novelty of the early 1900's. It had a rounded and beaded bottom section which was attached to a round metal purse...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A large pincushion of red velvet, decorated with raised beadwork embroidery depicting an eagle on a branch, carrying two U.S. flags with a shamrock-...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A large heart -shaped 'pin stuck' pincushion of green velvet, heavliy decorated with large beads and spangles secured in place with long metal pins. ...

Pincushion

Pincushion

An egg-shaped pin cushion of pink, and pale greyish blue cotton, tied with narrow silk ribbons in red, pale blue and purple. Handsewn throughout. Fi...

Folio, designs -linen

Folio, designs -linen

Design for embroidery on linen tablecloth or bedspread. Pencil on paper. Stylised roses with small daisy-like flowers and scattered leaves, in a lat...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A square pincushion, decorated in a chequered pattern of red wool embroidery and beadwork, set in a beadwork and embroidery border of a repeating geom...

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 cover

PIncushion cover

A round pincushion cover, pocket style to fit over a padded innner. The star pattern, same both sides, is knitted in fine white cotton thread....

Purse

Purse

Brown lizard skin purse, silver filigree and decoration on front and silver clasp, four main compartments and central one with clasp. Pocket with fla...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a sample table napkin of damask linen. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 54cm, selvedge to selvedge. Unhemmed. ...

Lace collar and cuffs

Lace collar and cuffs

A collar and cuffs set worked in off-white cotton, Irish crochet lace. The motifs of stylized shamrocks and fern leaves are very closely crocheted in...

Waistcoat

Waistcoat

A boy's waistcoat for solo Irish dance competition. Magenta -coloured polyester slub satin with plain lining to match. Buckle adjuster at back of wai...

UVF Shoulder bag

UVF Shoulder bag

UVF Shoulder bag. beige linen satchel with cotton strips sewn on front to create red cross on a white background. Flap secured with a metal button fas...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A linen proof cloth for a damask hand towel. Unbleached linen with a weft of red yarn. The main body of the towel is woven in huckaback with borde...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a damask napkin, woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 52 cm, unhemmed. The napkin has a design of a large central me...

Dress

Dress

A two-piece dress of yellow striped moire silk, with beading, lace and georgette details. The bodice (HOYFM.388.1996a) is boned and is shaped to dip ...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen hand towel. Huckaback weave with a central monogram 'A F' intertwined and borders of a stylised pattern in damask, of unble...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen huckaback hand towel, with a central (lengthways) and border pattern of large flower heads and foliage. Woven in unbleached...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a place mat. Woven in huckaback with a central motif and border pattern in damask, of unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 40...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen damask napkin. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 52cm. Unhemmed. The pattern is of a central ground of ...

Dress

Dress

An Irish dance dress of red terylene fabric with a brat (cape) of bottle green terylene. The cape is lined with white polyester satin. The dress faste...

Woven badge

Woven badge

A small silk woven badge depicting a shield with the Union flag, harp and crown, and red hand surrounded by shamrocks. Mounted onto a metal bar pin ...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen damask napkin. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 58cm. Unhemmed. All over pattern of spots with a borde...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a napkin of linen damask. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 64cm. Unhemmed. The design is of a large central wr...

Dress

Dress

A two - piece dress of light blue shantung silk, with Irish crochet lace collar, front and cuffs. The dress bodice (HOYFM.386.1996a) fastens with hoo...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a huckaback linen towel with a border design of shamrocks. Woven in unbleached and red linen yarn. Loom width 39cm. Unhemmed. A ...

Linen proof cloth

Linen proof cloth

A proof cloth for a linen towel in cream huckaback weave, with borders of a cable pattern in pink. Loom width 51cm. Unhemmed. A large (10cm x 14cm)...

Bedcover

Bedcover

A patchwork becover, machine and hand pieced in a random effect of light and dark blocks of Log Cabin pattern, arrange in eight rows of seven blocks. ...

Headdress

Headdress

A 'crown' - style headdress of crimson velvet, with trim of miniver pure fur ( the winter coat of the ermine stoat), gold braid and a tassle of gold w...

Robe

Robe

A full length, sleeveless robe of crimson velvet, lined with white silk. The cape collar and trim are of miniver pure, the white fur from the winter ...

Cap

Cap

A 'juliet' -style cap, of crimson velvet, trimmed with fur. The cap is lined with white silk which bears the branding of the makers Ede & Ravenscroft ...

Pincushion

Pincushion

A rectangular pincushion of purple velvet, decorated with raised beadwork embroidery depicting a bird on a branch. The border is also heavily embroid...

Lace

Lace

A bolt of high quality cream cotton guipure lace, machine made, for trimming or applique on soft furnishings. A scalloped edge to the top of the repe...

Chainmail Purse

Chainmail Purse

Purse, a chain mail purse in silver coloured metal. Frame and chain handle of the same metal. Snap clasp lower edge trimmed with three triangles of ch...

handbag

handbag

brown chorduroy handbag, tortoise shell frame with a levered clip to secure. fabric handle, paint splatted gold pendant on front of bag. synthetic lin...

Blouse

Blouse

Woman's blouse of cream, self- striped silk. Long sleeves. Machine sewn. Centre front opening with mother of pearl buttons. High, shirt style collar. ...

Pincushion cover

Pincushion cover

A rectangular pincushion cover, pocket style, to fit over a padded inner. Hand knit in of very fine white cotton yarn, with a narrow gusset all aroun...

silk bag

silk bag

red silk bag sealed with a red drawstring. silk salmon coloured lining. gold cord appliquéd in leaf design around central, handpainted motif of a woma...

Napkin

Napkin

Napkin...

Lace collar

Lace collar

A collar of Carrickamcross (guipure) lace. Bib-shaped, the collar has a very small allover pattern of scrolling flowers and leaves. At each corner a...

bead bag

bead bag

Germany developed an important industry in beaded bags during the 19th Century. Beads were an easy means of obtaining sophisticated decorations. In th...

Handkerchief - H.R.Lilley

Handkerchief - H.R.Lilley

A sample handkerchief of fine white linen, with a large (swiss machine) embroidered butterfly motif in one corner. Narrow 'spoked' hem worked all aro...

Crochet lace

Crochet lace

A dress cuff of white cotton Irish crochet lace. The pattern is a very traditional one of a small rose flanked by shamrocks, on a grid or mesh of bars...

Crochet lace

Crochet lace

A set of 12 identical medallions of white crochet lace, for insertion or application on dress. Each is of a central rose motif whith shell stitch on a...

Bedcover

Bedcover

A patchwork bedcover, in a block pattern of eight-pointed stars, machine pieced mosaic -style. The stars are pieced of plain green cotton set into a...

Embroidery linen

Embroidery linen

A rectangular panel of plain white linen, printed for hand embroidery in a scene of Carrickfergus Castle. The pattern was stamped onto the fabric at C...

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