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Textiles & Costume

Emigrant letters home to Ireland from America tell us that friends and family exchanged fashion ideas and even sent each other fabric samples. This section shows examples of women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories worn in the 1800s and early 1900’s, some from Ulster, and some from the United States of America.

In 1814 Mary Cumming, originally from Lisburn, County Down wrote to her sister Margaret Craig back home in Ulster:
'There is a beautiful kind of silk to be got in this country called the French Levantine as soon as I have the opportunity I will send you and Rachel frocks of it for it is not to had with you'. 



Costume Costume
In 1814 Mary Cumming, originally from Lisburn, County Down wrote to her sister Margaret Craig back home in Ulster: 'There is a beautiful kind of silk to be got in this country called the French Levantine as soon as I have the opportunity I will send you and Rachel frocks of it for it is not to ha...
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Quilts & Coverlets Quilts & Coverlets
The custom of saving scraps of fabric and stitching them together into something useful has been practiced for centuries in many parts of the world. Many quilts took a lifetime to make but most were made out of necessity to keep families warm in the long winter nights. Patchwork quilts are associ...
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Samplers Samplers
In 19th century Ulster, samplers were made as part of the needlework curriculum at school. Along with hemming and making buttonholes, girls learned how to sew initials for marking household linen. They recorded and demonstrated their skills and techniques in a finished sampler. Other samplers wer...
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