Learning Through Reconstruction

Lancaster Hall Hotel

Ticket price: EARLY BIRD BOOKING UNTIL Wednesday, July 31, 2019: £35 for members, £40 for non-members.  Student tickets are always  £15 All tickets (except students) after Wednesday, July 31, 2019: £45

Back by popular demand, following last year’s Learning Through Reconstruction study day, MEDATS will be organizing another major conference day to celebrate the important practice of studying through making. Leading scholars and practitioners in the field of historical garment and textile reconstruction will share their latest work and exciting insights, and display a host of beautiful reconstructed textile objects for audience viewing.


Ninya Mikhaila
Ninya established her business making reconstructions of historic costumes for museums and heritage sites in 1994 after gaining a Higher National Diploma in Costume Interpretation at the London College of Fashion. Her clients include Historic Royal Palaces, The Royal Armouries, The National Trust, English Heritage, The National Archives, Gainsborough’s House and the BBC. She has also led Nottingham University’s course for further education on the social history of Tudor dress, and recently featured in a BBC4 television series A Stitch in Time, which looked at what reconstructing period clothes can tell us about people in the past. In 2017 Ninya was commissioned by the BBC to reconstruct the gown worn by the wife of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini in the portrait painted in 1434 by Jan Van Eyke. The project presented many challenges in deducing the cut, construction and materials used at the time. In her talk for Learning Through Reconstruction 2019, Ninya will share insights into the process and many details which were not shown in the television programme. The reconstructed gown itself will also be displayed for viewing and examination by our audience.

Alexandra Lester-Makin
Alexandra is an independent scholar and specialist in the study of early medieval embroidery. She is also a professional embroiderer, and trained at the Royal School of Needlework. Her PhD in Anglo-Saxon Studies examined ‘Embroidery and its context in the British Isles and Ireland during the early medieval period (AD 450-1100)’, and she is the author of a forthcoming monograph:  ‘The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: the sacred and secular power of embroidery’. This is due to be published in the Ancient Textiles Series for Oxbow Books. Alexandra also holds a BA Honours degree in Archaeology. She is interested in the importance of experimental archaeology and reconstruction, and how these practises can inform our understanding of historical textiles and the material world. Much of her research has focused on an interdisciplinary analysis of the surviving embroideries from the early medieval British Isles and Ireland, however, she also has a special interest in the Bayeux Tapestry. Her chapter ‘The Front tells the Story; the Back tells the History: a technical discussion of the embroidering of the Bayeux Tapestry’ was published in Making Sense of the Bayeux Tapestry: Readings and Reworkings (Anna C. Henderson with Gale R. Owen-Crocker eds.) in 2016.  Alexandra is currently the recipient of a Janet Arnold Grant from the Society of Antiquaries in London, to produce an experimental reconstruction of part of the St Cuthbert Maniple, a 10th-century religious vestment, and the only extant example of its kind from early medieval England. She will be sharing insights from this exciting project as part of her talk.

Alison Beadnell
Alison began her career in Fashion. Following a degree in fashion design, she worked professionally in the industry for over 25 years as a pattern cutter, maker and garment technologist, and taught all aspects of garment realisation (technical design development, pattern cutting and garment construction) at London College of Fashion for 18 years. She is now developing the application of these skills to the study of historical garment and textile reconstruction, and researching the importance of these activities in the study of early medieval textiles and objects. Alison has studied Early Medieval Art and Design, and Textiles: Ancient to Modern, as part of the V & A Academy programme, and is currently completing an MA in Materials Anthropology at University College London. Her MA degree project investigates the making and wearing of clothing in the context of historic re-enactment groups. In this study, Alison has used her own practice-based research, informed by participant observation and interviews with her re-enactment group in Suffolk, to examine the role of making in the re-enactment of the ‘living’ history of the early Anglo Saxon period, c. 600AD. In doing this she has developed her skills in a number of early medieval textile techniques, including drop spindle spinning, naalbinding and tablet weaving, as well as period relevant garment form and construction. In the future, she is interested in exploring the ways that reconstruction can inform modern clothing production, and the potential to develop the connections between historic ways of doing, with sustainability in fashion. In her talk for MEDATS Alison will be sharing insights from her MA study, and displaying some of her practical work from this project.

Geeske Kruseman
Geeske is an experimental historical costume maker and researcher, who uses meticulous practical investigation and experimentation to aid her investigation of a variety of medieval European textile and clothing traditions. Her work and writing has dealt with the early history of knitting and naalbinding, and the cultural aspects of historical textiles, including crossdressing by Dutch women in the early 17th century. In 2016, with Isis Sturtewagen and Jane Malcolm-Davies, Geeske published an in-depth investigation of the iconic ‘muts’, (cap or bonnet), worn by 15th century Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, in Kostum, the journal of the Nederlandse Kostuumvereniging (Dutch Costume Association). This project involved establishing a 250-year typology of the bonnet from iconographical sources, compiling technological and economic data from archival sources, and systematic experiments addressing numerous, various and fundamental questions, from yarn characteristics in archaeological knitted textiles to the use (or not) of hatter’s forms in the finishing of bonnets.   Her talk for MEDATS will be about hose, mostly joined hose, tracing the connection in cut and structure from the Iron Age to the late 16th century and the relationship to other ways of cutting underwear and outerwear with two separate legs.

Katrin Kania
Katrin is a freelance textile archaeologist, and organiser of the European Textile Forum. The ETF is an annually held international conference which has taken place in various locations throughout Europe since 2009. Its focus is on bringing together craftspeople, archaeologists, conservators, historians and researchers to share cutting edge historical textile techniques, and to promote the importance of connecting practical and theoretical aspects of textile research. Katrin has a passion for historical textiles and a wide-ranging portfolio of work. Besides her own extensive practical work reconstructing historical garments and textiles for museums and re-enactment she also gives presentations, demonstrations, workshops and courses, and has published three books and numerous articles on textile history and sewing and textile making techniques for reconstruction. Katrin also teaches historical hand sewing and tailoring, as well as filet netting, fingerloop braiding, medieval embroidery, hand spinning and tablet weaving, and gives demonstrations on wool fibre preparation and spinning both with a hand spindle and on a reconstructed medieval great wheel.

Kirstie Buckland
Kirstie is an expert in the history and practise of ‘capping’, and has been supplying knitted caps to the heritage and film and television industries for more than forty years. Her thoroughly researched writing on the history and construction of the Monmouth Cap, in particular, is also an influential source to reconstruction and re-enactment communities around the world. Through the study of surviving excavated sixteenth century examples of textile objects and the tools used to make them, much of Kirstie’s work seeks to interpret the working practises of the past. In April of this year (2019) she gave us a talk at the MEDATS Annual Conference in which she discussed the history of sixteenth century caps and capping. Kirstie returns to us in September to speak further on the subject, this time offering detailed insights into the practical and technical processes involved in the modern reconstruction of medieval knitted caps. She will also be displaying some of her practical work for viewing.

To be held at our new venue, Lancaster Hall Hotel in Bayswater. More details to follow! To book your tickets now and take advantage of our early bird prices, see below.

EARLY BIRD BOOKING UNTIL Wednesday, July 31, 2019: £35 for members, £40 for non-members.  Student tickets are always  £15

All tickets (except students) after Wednesday, July 31, 2019: £45

Prices include refreshments and buffet lunch

To order your tickets through the post:

Send payment by cheque or cash and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the Ticketing Secretary, Carole Thompson, 9 Fairthorn Road, Charlton, London, SE7 7RL. Your tickets will be posted to you.

To order your tickets via email:

Please  send payment electronically via paypal below. Your tickets will be posted to the address given in your payment details.