Monday, September 9, 2019

Watermarking your images to help preserve ownership of your work

There has been some serious discussion lately on a couple of closed groups on Facebook where members have "stolen" images posted by members and shared those images on other platforms (Pinterest in particular) as their own work. The groups are closed intentionally to make it a safe place to share our work with others. These images were not intended to be shared elsewhere without our specific permission and certainly not to be shared with other groups or on other social media sites by people claiming to have made the items! Members have been blocked and banned from re-entering Facebook groups when reported or caught because of this misbehavior. 

As quilters/artists, we need to be proactive in this situation. One way we can combat this behavior is to watermark our photos either with free apps in our phones, internet sites that offer free watermarking, or in programs on our computers before posting them. There are dozens of free apps available for both iPhone and android phones, internet sites online where you can add a watermark for free, as well as a variety of programs for your computer. It doesn't take long, and in the end we will hopefully find fewer people taking photos of our work and passing it off as their own. 

If you search for "watermark" in your app store, you'll find dozens of options. Similarly, if you Google search "add watermark to photos for free" there are numerous sites where you can mark your photos online from your computer. I'm sure each app/site has its quirks, pros, and cons. If they're free, try one and if it works for you, keep it. If not, uninstall and try another.

There are a variety of ways to add text to your photos using programs on your computer. Some people have access to Photoshop which is a powerful photo editing program that allows you to add text to your images. There are other photo editing software programs available--check what you have to see if you can add text/watermarks to your images before sharing them.

I use Roxio PhotoSuite, which I purchased several years ago. Among many other features, I can add text to any image and then "flatten canvas" after adding text to the image, which merges the layers together and makes it difficult to remove a watermark/text. 

Whatever you use, if you don't want to see your quilts/artwork on Pinterest with someone else taking credit for making your masterpiece, please take a few minutes and add a watermark to your images before you post them! 

A free online site is It offers free watermarking of up to 50 photos at a time in batches online. It has an easy "Upload" or Drag/Drop function to add photos for watermarking. I used it to add a watermark to this piano mini hexified panel quilt in just seconds. It does add a Watermarkly logo (visible in the lower left corner of the image) for each image marked with the free version. You can upload images from your computer, Google Drive or Dropbox for quick watermarking of multiple photos. There are reasonable offers to purchase a one-time life time license for Watermarkly for professional use that includes a desktop companion, which does not add their logo. Regardless which version you use, there are hundreds of fonts available and your watermark is completely customizable. It was very quick and easy the first time I used it!

Since many of the photos I watermark are done from my phone, I have found AddWatermark, a free app by Androidvilla, to be more than satisfactory. I've been using the free version on my android Galaxy 6 phone for several years. I've recently purchased the full version so I can add my own image/logo to my photos and will be experimenting with it soon! 

When you first launch AddWatermark, you have to set up your preferences by clicking on the little gear at the bottom of the opening screen. 

I chose to add text to each image; saved the default to add "_wm" to the file name so I'd know it was watermarked; chose to create a custom folder named "addwatermark" that is easy to find in my gallery list of folders; and selected to save the images as JPG format. After completing the items on this screen, I clicked on the pencil icon next to "Text" to take me to the screen where I could customize my watermark. I first entered the text I wanted to appear on each photo; chose the font I wanted it to be in; selected a color; and the initial font size.

Next I went back to the opening screen and clicked on the + at the top of the screen to add a photo from my gallery. The text I initially entered automatically appears on the photo I load. I then have the choice of moving it around, making the text larger or smaller, or changing the transparency or angle of the text using the slides at the bottom of the screen.

Once I'm happy with the watermark, I click the right-arrow in the upper right corner. This takes you to the "Save watermarked image" screen. You can choose to set up a specific folder for those images so they are easy to find or have it save in a default folder. I chose to create an "addwatermark" folder so these images would be easy to locate. 

Once saved, when you are ready to upload an image, you just open your Gallery, select the "addwatermark" folder, select the image you want to share that is watermarked specifically for you, and upload to Facebook, Instagram, or other social media site. Easy peasy!

As a reminder, you control who sees your photos on Facebook. On your own page, when you initially add photos, you can select whether to have them visible to only you, your friends, friends of friends, or public. Choose wisely, especially if they are not watermarked.

I hope this information has been helpful to you! The internet is a large space occupied by many, many people, some of whom don't have your best interests in mind. Keep your work safe by taking the steps listed above and adding a watermark of text or logo to your images before uploading them for the world to see, even if it's in a supposedly safe, closed group! 

More snippets from the sewing room soon...

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Twisted Blocks Add Fun Texture

I just completed a wonderful project that incorporated the works of three artists--my friend Susan who created a very special anniversary quilted wall hanging; our friend Nancy who used that quilt as a backdrop for a still-life painting; and myself who created an original design quilted wall hanging that incorporated their projects into my own. The full reveal is coming real soon! The quilt was just delivered to be included in the judged quilts at the upcoming Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival and as soon as judging is complete, I'll be posting that quilt everywhere.

These are a few of the blocks that I added to the quilt that were different from my norm. The same blocks were used in the original quilt by Susan and I chose to add them to my project to tie the piece together. I've been asked for a tutorial on how to make these blocks and so here it is!

I call these twisted blocks, although they may be known by other names as well. I've used a similar layout in a larger size to make coasters (see the bottom of this post), so they aren't necessarily a new thing. It's just the first time I've put them into a quilt!

For this particular quilt I wanted smaller blocks similar to what Susan had used, so I started out with five 2.5" squares. One became the foundation for the rest that built in layers.

First, fold and press well four of the squares into triangles and lay them out around your foundation square. If you look at my layout, you can see where each square will be set into a corner of the foundation with the raw edges together on two sides and the folded edge diagonally across the foundation.
Continue adding the pressed triangles until three are on, working your way around the block.
To add the fourth triangle, fold the corner of the first one up and slip the corner of the fourth one under it and leaving the other end on top of the next triangle so the triangles are "woven" together. I pinned the first two triangles in place on the foundation so they wouldn't slip while I worked the fourth one in.
I added a drop of Elmer's white glue to the corner of each triangle to glue it to the foundation square in the four corners. Since I was working with smaller squares, adding a lot of pins wasn't feasible, so a little glue that was heat set with a hot iron did the trick to hold the pieces in place until they were all sewn. Once all four triangles are in place securely, I cut and stitch 1" borders on either side and then across the top and bottom.
I prefer to work with a seam guide of some sort--this seam allowance guide is attached to the machine with double-stick tape and placed along a 1/4" seam guide for proper placement. It helps keep my seams all consistent as I stitch. 
Once the borders are on all the way around, I then begin folding the bias folded edges back to create curves. Working one at a time and being sure the bias edge is folded back even underneath the next piece above it, I finger press each curve down. 

When all four seams are finger pressed, I then go to my ironing board and give them a good press to hold them in place. The result is a gorgeous little block that will add texture and movement to your project.

On my larger quilt I added these blocks as part of the border. The final step was to add some quilting to the blocks. I top-stitched each curve down on the exposed part of each curve, being careful to keep the curves in place even underneath the overlapping pieces. I also ditched around the center block and added some little curls in the frame. It really dressed up the quilt and tied the projects together to create Three Artists in Bloom: a quilt of a painting of a quilt.

Stepping back to 2012, I realize I used this same block. Using 5" charm squares, I made several sets of coasters for stemware. I pressed four charm squares into triangles, added them in the same manner to a base of a charm square, a piece of stabilizer, and another charm square. They were stitched together and turned inside out making a finished edge. I top stitched around the edges to keep everything in place. Instead of folding the bias edges back and stitching them down, instead I left them loose and the base of a wine glass can be tucked inside for a "take-along" coaster! 

At the time when I made these, I thought it was brilliant, but never imagined incorporating these blocks into a quilt. Now that I've taken that leap, I suspect you may see them again in future projects.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Hexified Panel Quilt Workshop Retreat!!!

with teacher Liz Granberg-Jerome 
of Gypsy Dreamer Quilts
Friday-Sunday, November 9-11
118 S. Main St., Spring Hill, Kansas 

Join Liz Granberg-Jerome of Gypsy Dreamer Quilts for a full weekend workshop retreat of creating Hexified Panel/One Block Wonder variation quilts at The Creative Place in Spring Hill, Kansas! Liz, your personal teacher, will be guiding you through the process from start to finish. Get hours of hands-on instruction and support as you create your own beautiful art quilt with your teacher by your side. There will be lots of “teaching moments” throughout the weekend as Liz floats around the room offering advice and assistance as needed. You will work on layering and cutting your panels, sewing units together, and creating your own unique color-flow layout during the free sew hours. 
Download your registration form and send it with your deposit check today to reserve your space!

Check in between 3pm & 5pm on Friday, Nov 9. Check-out on Sunday, Nov 11 at 2pm. Meals provided include a light supper Friday & supper Saturday, brunch Saturday & Sunday. Bring a favorite snack to add to the munchies table for snacking between meals and late into the night. Limited space available so sign up today!

Your personal teacher, Liz Granberg-Jerome, owner of Gypsy Dreamer Quilts, will be guiding you through the process from start to finish. Gain inspiration from her quilts and her instruction throughout the weekend. Liz and her husband Les have made over 30 Hexified Panel Quilt/One Block Wonder variation quilts, two of which were published in One Block Wonders of the World book by Maxine Rosenthal and Linda Bardes, as well as three sample quilts made as guest quilt artist for Timeless Treasures Fabrics.
Check in between 3pm & 5pm on Friday, Nov 9. Check-out on Sunday, Nov 11 at 2pm. Meals provided include supper Friday & Saturday, brunch Saturday & Sunday. Bring a favorite snack to add to the munchies table for snacking between meals and late into the night. Limited space available so sign up today!

Overnighters $225 ($100 deposit) limited to 12.
Commuters/Day-trippers $125 ($50 deposit) limited to 5.
Deposits due by Sept 29; full payment due by October 27.
Cash or check only.
The Creative Place has a full kitchen with refrigerator, stove, etc. Please bring items for any special dietary needs you may have. Please also bring your favorite snacks and beverages.

Sleeping arrangements at The Creative Place are dormitory style with twin beds and individual lockers for each overnighter. Bed linens and pillows are provided but feel free to bring your own pillow! Two full baths (walk-in showers) are available (one is fully ADA compliant) and towels (bath, hand, washcloths) are provided with soap and shampoo in each shower. 
For more information about and photos of the Creative Place accommodations, be sure to check out their website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

New-To-Me Easy Piecing Grid

Who among us saves the triangles trimmed off of flying geese for use in future projects? Do you have them tucked into drawers and in baggies all over your sewing room like me?

Well, on July 4th, while watching various programs on the History Channel and enjoying being inside in the air conditioning, I decided I needed a project for the day and wanted to do something completely different. I found a large number of half-square triangles that I had saved when I made Autumnal Equinox for my guild, using Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery quilt pattern in 2015, as well as a number of random HSTs from other projects. I set to pressing all of the seams open, with plans to make something out of all these little HSTs. 
While we enjoyed a relaxing holiday together, my husband started trimming them down to 1.5" squares as I continue to press. There were two large piles of green & yellow HSTs and green & neutral HSTs.
When I was done pressing, I took several piles and started trimming, too. Before the fireworks were over, we had over 600 half-square triangles trimmed to 1.5" and a large number trimmed even smaller at 1.25" that will be used in some future project. 
My husband had told me about a picnic quilt he had made using a fusible grid as the foundation. Although I'd seen some products like this, I wasn't sure it was for me. He convinced me that I should try it out, so we had purchased some of each size from TenSisters Handicraft with finished block sizes 1", 1.5" and 2". Making something out of all of these scrap HSTs was a perfect time to try out the TenSisters Easy Piecing fusible grid in the 1.5" cut/1" finished size. 
Now I had to come up with some layouts to use up all of those 1.5" HSTs so I could decide for myself whether the easy piecing fusible grid was worth it. I must say I found it excellent and fast! In two afternoons I had laid out five different designs, adding the pink squares to only one of them. Otherwise they were all made up of only HSTs. I did my layout first on a flannel board. Then one row or small section at a time I pressed each piece with Best Press to get them good and flat. Once they were well pressed, I started gluing them to the bumpy side of the fusible grid with a glue stick. By gluing them down first, you can reposition or move them if your design gets messed up in transition from pressing to the grid. Once you've decided you're happy with your design, then you press it to fuse the squares to the interfacing grid.   

The grids are actually slightly larger than the 1.5" unfinished size. This allows you to center the piece in the box and when you fold the rows together to stitch, that little bit of extra interfacing is in the fold and your seams come out perfectly matched up.
Stitch all of the rows together in one direction.
Press all of the rows one direction first and use a little Best Press from the right side to be sure all of your seams are fully pressed over.
Next, clip the interfacing between seams so that each row can then be pressed in opposing directions. This helps them nest together when sewing the long seams in the next stage.
Once the nested seams are sewn, you are ready to give it a final press. What would have taken hours, if not days, of piecing individual 1.5" HSTs together, was done in a matter of hours.
As you can see here, that's a 3.5" square ruler and the blocks did, indeed, come out at just about 1" when all seams were sewn. Every point matches and with very little effort! The grid does all of the hard work for you. 
It's just amazing how many different designs you can come up with using only HSTs! These five mini's are just a sampling of what you can do with waste HSTs and this grid. Next time we will be using the 2" finished as Les has collected fabrics to make another picnic quilt for us to keep. Being a perfectionist when it comes to his quilt piecing, he will definitely be using grid for his foundation. If you have occasion to try it out, definitely check out TenSisters Handicraft online or in your favorite quilt shop.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Friday, May 18, 2018

Quilt Goes to Market Without Me

I've been honored to be asked to make several of my hexified panel quilt One Block Wonder variations for Timeless Treasures Fabrics over the last several months. The first two, In The Garden and Tuscan Poppies, were each featured in January and February of this year on their blog, my blog, and across social media to promote the Reverie and Tuscan Poppies fabric lines designed by Chong-a Hwang. After those were complete and shared, I was asked to make a third sample to be featured at the 2018 International Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon. Despite the fact that life got complicated in the midst of this project, my husband Leslie and I managed to still make the deadline and, indeed, Dancing in the Moonlight is now hanging in Portland!

The request for the third sample came in early February from their new marketing director, Hayden Lees. The skew sheet for Chong-a Hwang's Fly By Night was emailed to me as the fabric I would be using for the next quilt, but told it wouldn't be in from the manufacturer until at least mid-March. We sent Hayden our yardage request, enough to make the quilt including borders and backing, and waited. The deadline was to have it shipped hopefully by May 1 to be photographed before going to market in mid-May; however, there was a little flex there if needed. We finally received our shipment around March 22 and were ready to get started.
Unlike other hexified panel quilts we had made, this one was requested to finish about 80"x80", much larger than we were used to, not to mention square! Les and I put our thinking caps on and went to work. We cut the strips at 2 3/4", which has become our favorite size to get a large number of hexies to work with, as well as to concentrate the color within the units for better designing. We worked together to sew all of the units into two halves, all chain pieced in sets of 12. Once the sewing was done, I spent an evening pressing all of the seams open and pinning the halves together so we could go to the design wall and get started on the layout. 

Because of the overall quilt size we needed to end up with, we used a double repeat of the yardage for the center. Using a nearly square center, it would be easier to build the hexies around and come out with a square quilt when we were done.

Luckily we have two 4'x8' sheets of insulation board covered with batting that are mounted on the wall to be used for designing.
The layout evolved over several days into what felt like two trellises climbing up the sides of the central panel, with the gold dragonfly hexies scattered across the top as though dancing across the midnight sky of hexies.
Even before the layout was complete, we pinned the accompanying fabrics up that would be used for borders to get a feel for where we would be going to reach the final size. The design wall luckily is large enough that we were able to accommodate the entire layout including experimenting with borders along one side.
As we neared the finish of the design process and started sewing the strips together for final assembly in early April, my husband managed to tweak his back and ruptured a disk. Our focus shifted overnight to running to doctor appointments and physical therapy. I continued to work, but lost my drive as I worried about my husband. I was finally ready to pin the layers just before May 1. Suddenly I was so grateful for the flex to ship it directly to Hayden in Portland just before Market and have him take photographs later.
The quilting process started about the same time Les learned he would soon be having surgery. I worked long hours to get it done as quickly as possible so I would be free mentally to be there for Les when he went in for major back surgery. In reality, I didn't finish quilting until after he returned home from his 5-day stay in the hospital. While he slept, I quilted, knowing the deadline to ship was fast approaching. 
I worked with a new design that hopefully would better fill each triangle of the hexies, thereby balancing the overall quilting with whatever I would put in the central panel. The experiment worked for the most part; although, I still had some serious waves when I laid the finished quilt on the floor to check it. The pebbles and outlining of the individual dragonflies in gold were still too much to balance and create a flat, square quilt without blocking.
As a final process, I stitched an overlock stitch on my sewing machine all the way around, put the quilt in the washer for a rinse and spin, and pinned the damp quilt to the design wall. With Les's help holding the T-square, I used blue painters tape to outline the quilt on three sides. Lots of pins later, we let it dry overnight and then I spent the day binding, looking at the clock every 30 minutes and wondering if I would make the deadline.
Before sending Dancing in the Moonlight off to Portland, I took one more picture of the completed quilt for my records, boxed it up, and headed to the FedEx office in Lawrence. It, indeed, arrived as requested in time to hang before Market started. Whew! I truly didn't know what to expect when we dove into this project, but am completely satisfied that, together, we did something amazing once again. The unexpected life event that threw us off has been resolved. Les is now recuperating from his back surgery and is back to his sewing machine a little each day. We are taking a short breather before diving into our next project. Many thanks to Timeless Treasures for trusting us to come up with a sample worthy of hanging at Quilt Market this year!

More snippets from the sewing room soon...