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,