DogGone Memories uses fabric and thread to create artful memories of our beloved companions, past and present. Pet memorial quilts with photo images and thread painted portraits are my specialties. 25% of proceeds go to animal rescues.
I am Denise Pulgino Stout, the sewist at DogGone Memories by One Little Birdie. Let me tell you a bit about how this all came about.
I have always been a very art, craft and fabric oriented person. As a child, I could be found creating something with anything I could get my hands on. I learned to use a sewing machine in middle school. We made simple, and frankly boring, things. But I learned to use the tool. I experimented with many mediums as I matured. Paint, sculpture, yarn, fabric.
In my work with children in the public library, I had to use every talent at my disposal to keep them learning and interested. Funding was always an issue, so we had to use whatever we could get donated to the cause. My sister volunteered to help teach the kids quilting.
Over the years I had done a lot of sewing, but not quilting. It was while we were preparing to teach those classes that I fell in love. I started with simple and small quilts. I like to work quickly, but quilting taught me how to be more patient, organized and focused.
As I learned, I developed my esthetic. Clean, simple, modern, and at times, whimsical. At least I think so. My favorite part is designing and choosing just the right fabrics, especially when I am making something for other people.
During all of this time, I also worked with a few dog rescues. Mostly by fostering Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds. I cannot remember a time when there was not dog fur in my house. It has been quite rewarding and, at times, heartbreaking. I loved each of those dogs as my own until they found their forever homes. Each one had his or her own special qualities and quirks. I rejoice in their happiness and cry when I hear that they have passed. My home is filled with their pictures and I have many happy memories.
One day, I was talking to a friend and I wondering what to do next with my sewing, and with life in general. I wanted something new to challenge me. She suggested finding a way to combine my two loves: quilting and animals. It was this idea that was the seed for DogGone Memories. It is my hope that my creations capture the spirit of your beloved pets in a unique way.
Thread painted portraits are my most popular pieces. I often asked if the images are computer generated. No, these images are done using a technique known as free motion embroidery. Sewing machine stitches are used like brush strokes on canvas to create the image. No digitizing is involved. The artwork is crafted through the skill and creativity of the sewist.
I begin with a photograph, the more detail in the photo the better. Next, the photo is transferred to fabric. The fabric is stabilized to deter warping, as thread paintings are quite stitch intensive.
Next, I audition threads. Lots of threads. Each subtle color change needs its own thread. Once these are selected, I can begin stitching. I use a domestic sewing machine, straight stitch only. I keep a paper version of the photo nearby for reference.
Thread painting really lends itself to animal portraiture as it represents the look of fur quite well. I consider the direction of fur growth as I stitch. When light hits the stitch, it needs to mimic the same effect as light hitting fur to create a life-like appearance.
During the stitching process, there are many, many thread changes in order to duplicate the subtle differences and natural colors of fur. I take the time to press the piece frequently. Once I am satisfied that the piece is is an exact likeness, I do a final steam press with light starch.
Most of my projects are appliquéd onto a background fabric, enhanced with quilting and machine embroidery, and bound as a traditional quilt. I have added thread paintings to jeans jackets and I will consider things such as fabric journal covers and other accessories. I am very open to ideas and collaboration.
I would love to discuss a custom pet portrait or memorial piece with you. Please contact me via email and together we can design a piece together that serves your needs. I look forward to hearing from you!
Denise M. Pulgino Stout, Sewist
25% of proceeds go to animal rescue