Meeting Mary Funt

posted in: Guest blog, Inspiration | 16

Blogging has brought me great joy. It has allowed me to meet the most interesting women from all over the world, some of them in person. I have written up many of these encounters because they have been such fun, but also because there is always something to be learned from others with the same interest in making clothes.

One of the most interesting blogs is Cloning Couture by Mary Funt. If you haven’t come across her blog go and have a look. This is high end, couture sewing at its very best. Mary makes wonderful bridal and evening wear and alters original couture items such as Chanel so they fit well and look contemporary.  When she mentioned she was coming to the UK to purchase some fabrics, visit some factories and see the sights of London I arranged to meet up with her. What fun! We arranged to meet in British Museum as Mary and her husband wanted to see the Rosetta Stone. The real stone is in the Museum but this one is a copy you can touch.

Mary Funt
Mary and I with the Rosetta Stone (this one is a copy)

Mary is, apart from being a wonderful seamstress and seriously good tennis player, is “Daughter of the American revolution (DAR)” – women who can prove that they are descended from someone who played a role in achieving Independence for the United States. As someone who has studied her own ancestry Mary’s was particularly proud that she has five connections to the American revolution, and had been visiting graves and collecting information. Her husband explained that she is practically American royalty!

We drank tea in the members room, wandered around the exhibits and talked of politics, family, sewing and Mary’s adventures so far. Mary had been to the Linton shop in Carlisle and Lochcarron in Scotland. They had been in Edinburgh and Sterling too and loved Scotland. I felt very proud of our British textiles and traditions – tartan, tweed, Scottish wool, Yorkshire woolen fabrics, our cotton and silk industry and asked Mary what were the authentically American textile traditions. She said, of course, cotton is grown and manufactured in the US, but not the very highest quality, on the whole. I mentioned that I had been interested in the beading and leather work of indigenous people, and hey presto we found ourselves in the North American and Canadian parts of the Museum. The cloak on the left was very interesing, becasue although it is heavily decorated it was just worn folded slightly at the neck rather than being cut into shape.

We saw something else I found fascinating, originating in Canada rather than the United States. I am including this for Stephanie, especially, but I wonder if anyone else might know a) what it is and b) what it is made from?

British Museum exhibit
What is it? What is it made from?

In the meantime I have been using the basting thread and needles. What a perfect present – unobtainable in the UK and of superlative quality. I shall weep when they are exhausted.  Thank you lovely Mary, and do come again!



16 Responses

    • fabrickated

      Hi Cookie Metis! You are right of course – 20 minutes after I posted the picture! It is an amazing piece of work. We often have gut in the fridge as my husband makes sausages, so I was astonished to see it being used as fabric. But it is prized for its waterproof qualities which keep the Inuit people dry when fishing. As the seal is quite a large animal the gut is fairly wide but it still needed nine joins just to create the fabric for the body piece.

  1. Elle

    I have seen these before. I believe this is a waterproof parka for rain or for use on the ocean–made from seal gut. Northwest North America–Alaska Native or Canadian.

  2. sew2pro

    At first glance I assumed it was an ancient kagool made of some kind of intestine, but would have guessed it came from a larger animal. It’s not a material I fancy stitching!

    What a treasure trove the BM is, and how wonderful that it belongs to all of us (and is free).

    ‘Meeting the locals’ is great when you’re a traveller, especially when they share your interests. Sounds like a great time was had!

  3. Stephanie

    Ah bether ladies have responded before me. My guess was something similar, but I don’t know for sure. Sounds like you had a lovely visit with Mary.

  4. Penny

    Last time we went to the British Museum I spent the longest time looking at that coat. The hours and hours of hand sewing it must take to make one. Are they made during the summer when they have so many more hours of daylight?
    Sounds as though you had a fabulous time!

  5. Sue

    It is so nice to meet a fellow blogger in person, particularly someone as splendid as Mary. Thank you for the interesting post, I also loved that section of the BM when I visited.

  6. Mary Funt

    Thank you again for such a marvelous afternoon and evening. Although I felt I somewhat knew you from years of reading your blog, meeting in person was wonderful. The British Museum is an incredible treasure and even more so that no admission fees are charged. It’s an amazing opportunity to look back in time.
    Please let me know if you are in need of more supplies. They don’t weigh much and I would be happy to mail. My order from Lochcarron arrived today. The fabrics are lovely and I’m planning to post that experience soon.

  7. mrsmole

    Color me…Green with envy…you two women must have had the best time exploring and swapping stories! Looks like the husbands didn’t have too much trouble chatting either. One day I hope to meet both of you on either side of the Atlantic!

    • fabrickated

      Yes – penpals on speed (not that I would know!!). But yes, it is easy to get on very well, very fast. You feel you know them from the blog, but also you have so much in common the conversation just zips along. The internet is indeed life enhancing in so many ways. I’d like to meet you one day Annie.

  8. Kim Hood

    I rarely get further than the V&A in London but I’m hoping to have a longer visit in June so will make efforts to get here. How nice to meet a blogger you admire.

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