Clothworkers’ Centre

The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion is located at Blythe House, at Olympia in West London. The aim of the Clothworkers’ Centre is to provide the best possible access to the Museum’s outstanding collection of textiles and fashion in a relaxed and peaceful environment.

Here we will share our discoveries, star objects, news and miscellaneous goings-on.

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Clothworkers’ Object Study Day, 27th May

Hanne Faurby with Eveline Gordon embroidery samples © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

At the end of May we welcomed visitors to a series of talks given at the Clothworkers’ Centre by V&A staff, the second of our Clothworkers’ study days. In these talks, we showcased some of the research that we’ve undertaken within the grand tiled walls of Blythe House. As in October, the talks were extremely […]

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Objects Alive

Object Lives scholars in the Clothworkers' Centre study room © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This morning the Clothworkers’ Centre enjoyed a visit from a group of Canadian academics, part of a research group called Object Lives, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Their aim, through the close study of objects, is to ‘assess the flow of goods into and from Northern North America’. Today’s session drew […]

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In celebration of old band t-shirts

Lauren Pope TOWIE - bullet for my valentine tshirt

Today is BBC 6Music’s Annual Wear Your Old Band T-shirt to Work Day. In my display on the history of the T-shirt currently in the V&A’s fashion gallery, T-shirts 101, you can see two band tees of many held in both the Textiles and Fashion collection and Theatre & Performance collection. These are a tour tee […]

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T-Shirts 101 – Part 2

T-shirts 101

It is 101 years since the T-shirt, one of the world’s most ubiquitous garments, was officially recognised as outerwear. This is the second in a short series of blog posts reflecting on the garment’s history to accompany the small display in the V&A fashion galleries, drawn from the extensive collection of T-shirts in the Textiles […]

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A year at the Clothworkers’ Centre

Detail of propaganda kimono

It’s now been a year since Clothworkers’ opened. To celebrate, we held a conference on the 23rd and 24th of October which looked at the breadth of new research emerging from the Centre. Across cultures and periods, from carpets to collaborations with twenty-first century fashion designers, the conference highlighted the huge range of research which […]

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This morning we welcomed to Blythe House a visitor from the Emerald Isle, looking at a selection of 16th and 17th century objects; two caps, a doublet, embroidered sleeve and the famous Margaret Layton jacket, hoping to learn something about their construction.     Let’s take a closer look at that doublet, which is laying […]

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Society Swans

T.10:1-2006, Stole
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Last week I came across a box in the collection and, on opening it, discovered that nestled inside were swan’s wings. On further investigation I found that it was in fact a swan wing stole, comprising of two wings, presumably a left wing and a right wing, lined with quilted blue satin on the underside. […]

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The History of Miss Wildfire

T.361:17-1998; T.361:18-1998; T.361:19-1998; T.361:20-1998 Four accessories for paper dolls; from The History of Miss Wildfire; British; 1832. Card & watercolour.

I have spent part of the morning looking at a very interesting object in the Textiles and Fashion collection. It is a manuscript, written in rhyme, by a girl named Anne Sanders Wilson. She wrote it for her sister, Mary Wilson, in October 1832. It is ten pages long and is inscribed in a precise, […]

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ZAXAPIOY, where are you?

Detail of 303-1887, showing a horseman (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This morning I oversaw an appointment for a PhD student studying some of our archaeological textiles. The glitzy, fabulous V&A might not seem the most obvious residence for objects of this type. In fact a visitor might even be inclined to think that the venerable British Museum, who have recently audited and rehoused their Egyptian […]

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How to Avoid Becoming As Mad as a Hatter, or The Pirate’s Curse!

Skull-and-crossbones toxicity warning sign on V&A hats which are thought to have unacceptable levels of mercury in them

Some visitors might find being presented with a hat kept inside a strong plastic bag, emblazoned with a skull-and-crossbones and the word ‘TOXIC‘ in big authoritative letters, a little alarming. Perhaps they would be led to think that we had turned buccaneer, or perhaps that Captain Kidd‘s most cherished secret, the one that he took to […]

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