Friday, October 7, 2011

How to Find, Download, and Credit Images that are Free and Legal

How to Find, Download, and Credit Images that are Free and Legal

I manage several internet blogs and I try to post at least one new article weekly. When I'm feeling inspired I can write several and schedule them for automatic posting. Thus, I am often looking for free, and legal, images to add to my articles. This instructable will show you my method of finding appropriate images, preparing them for uploading, and most importantly, how to give credit to whom credit is due.


All of my instructions and examples are based on using a computer with Windows XP as the operating system, Google Chrome as the internet browser, and several specific software programs. I'll give a link to each program as I describe the steps, HOWEVER...all the instructions can apply to any other operating system and browser, as well as many other software programs. Translate all my terms and examples into whatever language/system/platform/program is best for you!

Step 1: Write your article.

For me, it's best to begin first with the content. Write your complete article and do all your proofreading and editing and formatting first. Concentrate on the content of your blog post. The images, graphics and colors should then support and focus on the content, which is the most important element of your blog, right?

The exception is when you are creating a how-to article that uses an image to support each step. You'll probably need to find an appropriate image for each step first, and then write specific instructions based each image. This is especially important when using screenshots. This is the method I used to create this article.

Step 2: Find an image.

Free is good...very good! There are thousands of internet sites that have photos, images, graphics and logos. It's a simple matter to search for an image using a keyword that best fits your article. Surf to a likely site, right-click on the image and save as a new file on your computer... most likely are using someone's photo or image or logo that they've created themselves, and the law of the land, as well as the law of most every other country in the world, protects the property of those who create or own their photos, images and graphics. DON'T STEAL...IT'S THE LAW! (It's immoral, unfair, and just plain wimpy, too!)

So...what's a law-abiding, peaceful blogger to do?

Thankfully, there are thousands of generous graphic artists and philanthropic photographers who gladly offer their work for free, with few or no restrictions regarding usage. This article will show you how to find images that are free and licensed for public, and even commercial, use. Usually, the only condition of use is that you give credit to the creator or owner of the image.

The first step is to point your browser to This is not a search engine, but it is a very convenient site that allows access to search services that can find content you can share, use and remix.

Enter your keywords into the search field and select two options, depending upon your needs:

  • Use for commercial purposes
  • Modify, adapt, or build upon.

These two options are the default selections when you visit this site.

Now, select the search service you desire, depending upon whether you're looking for media (text/audio/video), images, web (sites), music, or strictly video.

Most frequently, I select "Google Images".

For this article, I entered the term "free" and Google returned several images, all labeled "for commercial use with modification".

I opened a link that seemed promising. The image of a rhinocerous did not at first strike me as being closely related to my article, but it was a striking image! I scrolled through the other images, but I kept coming back to this conveyed an emotion of creativity, brilliance, strength and surprise. I wanted it!

Click on the image you want and then go to the website on which the search engine found it.

Look over the site to see what permissions or restrictions the owner might have. The fact that you found it using does not guarantee that the image has no restrictions, so it's best to look for any obvious disclaimers.

This website clearly posted a permission statement:

If you open the Creative Commons Attribution License link, you can read a simple overview of the usage license, as well as link to the details.

Here is a transcript of the simple overview page:

You are free:

- to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit
the work 

- to Remix — to adapt the work 

- to make commercial use of the work 

Under the following conditions:

Attribution — You must attribute the work in
the manner 
specified by the author or licensor (but not
in any way that suggests that they endorse
you or your use of the work). 

With the understanding that:

Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be
waived if you get permission from the
copyright holder. 

Public Domain — Where the work or any of its
elements is in the public domain under
applicable law, that status is in no way
affected by the license. 

Other Rights — In no way are any of the
following rights affected by the license: 

- Your fair dealing or fair use rights, or
other applicable copyright exceptions and

- The author's moral rights; 

- Rights other persons may have either in the
work itself or in how the work is used, such
as publicity or privacy rights. 

Notice — For any reuse or distribution, you
must make clear to others the license terms
of this work. The best way to do this is with
a link to this web page.

This license allows me to use the owner's work, even in a situation from which I personally profit, as long as I give the owner credit, and as long as I do not violate anyone's moral or privacy rights. I also need to make clear to others the terms of this license, which is easily done by posting a link to the license web page:

(Yikes! I just realized that I've neglected to make clear the terms of the license for images that I've used in previous blogs...It is best to look at the license each time you use someone's will help refresh your memory as to what's required.)

Step 3: Download the image.

Return to the website on which you found the image and right-click on the image, selecting "Save image as...".

IMPORTANT: Name the image and save it in a folder that makes sense!

It is important to develop a system of naming and saving files in a way that makes it easier to find, keep, update and backup. Even if you've been fairly haphazard in the past...even if you only need to find and download a few images a week, it is important to do it systematically. Here's my method:

Name your image with the same name as your article.

Right now I'm creating an article that I've saved with the name:


I will save my image similarly, changing the only filetype:


Notice that I've added a serial number to the filename, 001, because I plan to incorporate several images in my article, and I want them all to be grouped together when I list the content of my folder, but I need to distinguish them by number. The leading zeros allows me to list them sequentially, although I'm not locked into using them sequentially.

So, here's the image I downloaded:

This was actually the ninth image that I downloaded for this article, so I named the file appropriately:


Step 4: Give credit to whom credit is due.

DON'T CLOSE THE WEBSITE! You need to gather several pieces of information in order to properly and ethically credit the creator, author or owner of the work you just downloaded. The easiest source for this information is the orginal website.

I recommend using a simple text editor to capture this information. You should be able to look over the author/creator/owner's website, highlight and copy each bit of information, including links, and have it all pasted into a simple text file. You can then use this information at the end of your article to properly credit the author/creator/owner.

I use NoteTab Light.

NoteTab Light is free, lightweight and fast, with tons of features. I use it to create websites, make notes, draft letters, transcribe music lyrics. It's much faster than any word process like MS Word or OpenOffice, and most importantly, it has a PASTEBOARD mode!

What is Pasteboard Mode? It's a wonderful tool that I can't do without!

Start your text editor and enable the pasteboard feature. In NoteTab Light, you can press Control-N to open a blank document, then press Shift-Control-P to start the pasteboard mode.

Now, return to the original website from which you downloaded your image and highlight the URL (the website address located in the browser's address bar).

NoteTab Light will copy the address and automatically paste it into the blank document. You might hear a beep that indicates a successful copy/paste. While in Pasteboard Mode, NoteTab Light will automatically paste all text that you copy, no matter the source or length! You do not need to toggle back and forth from the browser to the text editor...everything that you hightlight and copy will automatically be pasted to the blank document.

So, look for the following bits of information, highlight, copy and paste to your blank document:

  • Website address
  • Name of creator/author/owner
  • Link to license or terms of use webpage

For the image that I just downloaded I found the following information that I will allow me to properly credit the author/creator/owner:

  • Guy David

NoteTab Light automatically inserted a blank line after each copy/paste, making it easy for me to keep track of who I need to credit.

At the end of my article I'll insert a credit for each image I used, something like this:

Image of rhinocerous courtesy of Guy David,

Step 5: Prepare the image.

I usually need to crop and resize the images I use in my articles. Now is the best time to do that. I like to use a fast image editor: IrfanView.

IrfanView is free and very fast. It allows basic editing like crop and resize, and much more. Most importantly, it allows screenshots and screen captures. As a bonus, it also plays mp3 music files!

Start your image editor and open the image you downloaded. (IrfanView allows drag-and-drop!)

Crop and resize the image as necessary. I decided to crop and resize to 600 pixels wide for this article. It's important to resize your image if possible...images used in an internet blog rarely need to be more than 600 pixels wide, and usually 400 pixels wide is sufficient. The smaller the image you use, the faster the web page will load!

After cropping and resizing, you should re-save the image with a new name! I recommend that you use the original file name, but add a different serial number, as well as the size of the new image. By this time, this is the sixteenth image I've used in my article, so the name I chose for my cropped/re-sized image will be this:


This system of naming my image files ensures that the images will be easy to find later. They will be listed alphabetically with the name of my article, sequentially, and each different version will display the exact width and height in pixels.

Step 6: Conclusion!

I've written my article, found a good image to support the content and attract my reader's attention, downloaded the image and recorded the information needed to properly credit the creator/author/owner of the image, cropped and re-sized the image, and saved it with a filename that will make it easy to find and distinguish from other version of the same image.

I'm now ready to actually use the image!

For an internet blog, upload the image and insert into your article.

For a slide presentation, drag the image (or copy and paste) into your slide.

For a word processor document, drag the image (or copy and paste) into your document.

Note: you should always crop and re-size the image BEFORE inserting it into your slide or document. The smaller the image, the faster the slide will display, the faster the document will load, and the easier it will be to email to others. Large images result in large files, which many email providers will balk at!

Remember to include the following information at the end of your document, attributing to the creator/author/owner of each work which you used:

  • Website address
  • Name of creator/author/owner
  • Link to license or terms of use webpage

Go forth and download...freely and legally!

Image of rhinoceros courtesy of Guy David. License:


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Night Route

Night Route

Most of my work is inside buildings with no windows,

walls covered with exposed conduits and ducts. But sometimes I get to work outside, away from machinery and scaffolding. Sometimes my boss assigns me to drive a route that follows the outskirts of the company's property, servicing several stations along the way.

The route is about 24 miles long, roundtrip. The early morning air is fresh and the sun rises with optimism. Wildflowers, sagebrush, meadowlarks, antelope, rabbits, and coyotes can be spotted.

Traveling the route during the day is wonderful, of course, but I think the nighttime has a deeper impact upon me.

Night reduces my world to only what I can see. The closest light is my headlight, showing only the road ahead and a bit of the roadsides to my left and right. I might see a mouse scurry quickly across the pavement. A glance to my left shows the orange and white factory lights of the plant. To my right I can see scattered white lights marking pumphouses and farm buildings. My horizon is marked with a sparse layer of orange and white lights of towns. Rising higher are the red lights of wind turbines, power lines and cell towers.

The further I get from the factory and towns, the more overwhelming becomes the sky above. Light pollution and clouds hinder me from seeing all the stars, but I know they are there.

At night I feel small.

I feel alone. I feel vulnerable. At night it's easy to imagine a cougar stalking me or a rattler coiled to strike. It's easy to imagine stumbling on a rock, falling to the ground, landing on a scorpion or tarantula. It's easy to imagine seeing God, or rather, being seen by God.

For humans, at least for the brand of humans with which I've lived for over fifty years, my family, friends and community, we own what we see. If we can see it, we can buy it or build it or bomb it.

But the darkness of night erodes our human sense of superiority and strength. Night reduces our vision, giving sovereignty over to what we cannot see but what we can imagine. And imaginations can run wild.

It's good to remember that we are dust.

It's good to remember that we are small.

Image courtesy of NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Collection, "Reflections on the Inner Solar System".

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Safely Home

Safely Home

They are home and they are safe.

Soldiers from Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry, arrived home in Hermiston today. Family and friends and supporters welcomed them into town with a motorcycle escort -- members of local bike groups and police. People with yellow ribbons and flags waved and cheered along Highway 395 as the troops made their way through town. An aerial truck from the Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services department raised a large flag over the entrance to the National Guard Armory.

Reporters from several television stations and local newspapers set up video cameras and interviewed family members and supporters. Mayor Bob Severson handed out small flags to the crowd. Dozens of posters and signs were distributed.

I overheard a bystander relaying a text message from a friend, "They just passed McDonalds!" The armory is about a mile south of the restaurant. Sirens sounded in the distance.

The rumble of motorcycles brought the first cheers from the crowd.

Nearly a dozen bikers, handlebars proudly flying flags, turned off the highway and entered the armory parking lot, parking in a line along the road. Two large busses slowly idled past and the crown broke into cheers, whistles and hurrahs, waving flags and signs. We could see the soldiers inside each bus, only faintly however, because of the tinted windows. Some waved and smiled, but most seemed slightly surprised at the attention.

I knew none of the soldiers.

I knew none of the families of the soldiers. Still, the event grabbed my heart, bringing unexpected emotion. The feeling that overwhelmed me was that of safety. These soldiers are home now, safely. After a year of combat duty in a harsh, foreign country, they are safe.

That's not true, of course.

Safety is mostly an illusion. These soldiers, men and women, although home and with family and friends, still face the same hazards and harm that we all face: unexpected illness, traffic accidents, disappointments in relationships, random violence and theft, not enough money and not enough time.

Those are the ordinary threats to safety that we all face. Members of the military, our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers who return home from combat, face extraordinary difficulties. The sights, sounds and suffering of war -- death and dying -- will never completely disappear or heal. The strict self-control and rule-driven military life has little to do with the commercial, often lazy, often distracted, civilian life into which the soldiers must re-acclimate.

I know none of the soldiers, yet in a sense, I know them all. My son returned from combat duty a few years ago. I know only a small part of what he left behind and what has since changed for him. I've seen only a glimpse of the challenge that it's been to return to "normal" life. The little that I know overwhelms me at times with sadness and regret.

I looked at the faces of the soldiers as they stepped off the bus, carrying duffle bags and wearing packs that appeared to weigh as much as I do. They seemed relaxed and appreciative of the cheering crowd. They smiled and hugged and kissed their families. They were safe...that is, they felt absolutely no need to carry a weapon or scan the horizon for an attack.

But I wonder if their war is truly over.

I am so glad that I was part of the small crowd that welcomed our soldiers home. All political questions and issues fade away in the face of the greater truth: men and women experienced fatigue, separation and violence for the sake of others, and they have returned home safely. I cheered and waved my sign and flag with genuine appreciation and thankfulness. These men and women deserve to be cheered and welcomed home. They deserve to be reunited with family and friends. They deserve recognition and thanks and support and encouragement.

Thank you, soldiers, for serving our country.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bikin' It

Bikin' It

5 miles! On a bicycle!

Now, before you discount that out of hand as measley and mediocre (as many of you certainly could do with deserved impugnity), please consider extenutating circumstances.

1. I Don't Like to Exercise.

Many of you speak of the "rush" of exercise, the "glow" of health and vigor, "getting past the wall" and other terms of which I cannot fathom. Right now I'm feeling bushed, hot, sweaty and thirsty. Those words all imply loss and pain, am I not right? My body is crying out for retribution in the form of water, rest and my recliner, right?

So, despite the potential for injury and distress to my body, I completed a five-mile bicycle ride today.

2. It was Five, Full Miles.

I have a digital speedometer, odometer and distance meter. It was five miles, uphill most of both ways, against the wind most of both ways.

3. The Sun was Shining.

Potential for heat exhaustion and eye injury was massive, or at least possible. Perhaps.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that almost one mile of the total distance covered was due to forgetfulness. I did not intend to ride five miles. But my plan required me to execute two errands, paying for each purchase with cash money. I hopped on my bicycle and rode almost a half-mile to my first destination and then remembered I'd left my cash money at home. It is to my credit that I sucked it up and rode home rather than use plastic money. Thus, an added mile (almost) to my trek.


I feel quite virtuous right now.

Is that part of the "rush"?

Image courtesy of Fernando Weberich,

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Definitive Guide to Repairing a 1993 Chevy Pickup Which Coughs and Sputters

The Definitive Guide to Repairing a 1993 Chevy Pickup Which Coughs and Sputters

Symptom: 1993 Chevy pickup coughs and sputters to a halt 14 miles from home.

Note: Coincidentally, the gas gauge of said vehicle indicates a fuel level that is below Empty. Curious.


Step 1, call wife.

Step 2, wait.

Step 3, get gas can and fill with gasoline.

Note: It works much better in the long run to get a five-gallon gas can. Refer to Note following Step 8.

Step 4, pour gas into fuel tank of broken-down vehicle.

Note: Do not expect the gas can to deliver all of the fuel into the tank. Gas cans are designed to dribble and spill. Pitiful.

Step 5, start vehicle, drive home, eat, sleep.

Step 6, start vehicle, drive to work, drive home, eat, sleep.

Step 7, start vehicle. Vehicle will immediately cough, sputter and die.

Step 8, start vehicle. Vehicle will not start.

Note: Driveways are always built on a slight incline. A scant two gallons of gasoline in a 1993 Chevy pickup is sufficient only for one day's driving. After one day, an adequate level of gasoline does not remain in the fuel tank.

Step 9, immediately suspect the worst. The fuel line or filter is probably clogged with sludge or the fuel pump is fried from running the tank dry.

Step 10, take wife's vehicle to work.

Note: At this point you will need to arrange for alternate transportation. You cannot use your wife's vehicle indefinitely. You should not use wife's vehicle at all. The optimum interim solution is to borrow a friend's motorcycle. This solution provides instanteous pleasure (no day is a bad day when one rides a motorcycle to work). Thank you, friend!

Note: Refer to

Step 11, allow broken-down vehicle to sit, neglected and forlorn, for two weeks until it has fully atoned for its sins. This two-week time of penance will coincide with the two-week limit of patience with which your wife will view a broken-down vehicle parked askew on the driveway.

Step 12, purchase a new fuel filter, a five-gallon gas can, nitril gloves and a cool 12-volt Power Station with with mobile device holder that converts single power source into a 4-way power source that fits into a cup holders.

Note: Refer to

Note: Impulse purchase, I know. But the Power Station is so cool!

Step 13, fill five-gallon gas can with fuel.

Step 14, don nitril gloves, replace old fuel filter.

Note: Step 14 requires laying flat on your back in the dirt (the pickup is parked askew, half on the driveway, half on the dirt). Genuine expressions of love toward your wife in the hours preceding Step 14 will make it much more likely that she will massage your back after Step 14.

Step 15, refer to Step 4. Pay attention to the note that follows Step 4.

Step 16, start vehicle, allow to idle for ten minutes to rebuild confidence in said vehicle.

Step 17, drive vehicle to nearest service station and fill the fuel tank.

Note: The fuel tank of the 1993 Chevy pickup has a capacity of 34 gallons. Today, the service station sells regular gasoline for $3.77 per gallon. Payday is not for another week. Ten more gallons of gasoline, on top of the five previously poured in, is much better than the zero gallons that the vehicle started with. I guess.

Step 18, repark the vehicle, straight and proper.

Step 19, clean up.

Step 20, eat a big bowl of fresh watermelon and write a cheesy post to your blog.

Note: Refer to The Definitive Guide to Eating Watermelon (

Life is good.

Image of fuel gauge courtesy of Hugo Humberto Plácido da Silva

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Windows Live Office Web Applications Tutorial

Windows Live Office Web Applications Tutorial

Microsoft provides a free (for personal use only) suite of online applications that are easy to use and accessible on any computer online.

This tutorial will help you get started using the PowerPoint application.

Step 1: Obtain Windows Live ID

Visit this site to register for a free username and password for your Windows Live account:

The registration screen will require basic information:

Step 2: Sign in

After you confirm your email address, your account will be activated. Re-visit the home page and sign in with your Windows Live ID:

Windows Live will open with a screen showing several links available to you.

Step 3: Open Office

In the upper left-hand corner, hover your cursor over "Windows Life". Select "All services in the drop-down menu.

Windows Live provides you access to dozens of free services.

For now, select "Office".

Click on the menu item, "New", and select "PowerPoint presentation".

Step 4: Enter the title

Enter a title for your presentation. Notice that the file will be saved in "pptx" format. This is a "read-only" version of PowerPoint. It can be edited only online or with a desktop version of PowerPoint. A PPTX file can be opened by anyone, but edited only by someone using a genuine, desktop version of PowerPoint.

After saving your PPTX file, you'll be able to download it to your computer, print it, or share it online with anyone.

After entering a title for your presentation, click "Save".

Step 5: Create your presentation

Select a theme for your presentation.

Your first slide will have a title layout.

You'll need to click TWICE on "Click To Add Title". If you only click once, here's how it will respond:

Strangely, the cursor will vanish, and nothing you type will appear.

So, you'll need to click TWICE to enter the title or text. If you click TWICE, the cursor will appear, and anything you type will show up.

Click on the menu item, "File", and the drop-down list will reveal ten different items. Notice that there is no "Save" option. This online version of PowerPoint automatically saves every slide, every change, every time. Nice!

For now, select "Share".

Step 6: Share your file

You can select the level of sharing you desire, and even enter someone's email address. They will receive an email message with a direct link to your file. Nice!

Step 7: Options

Look back at the File options:

You can print the presentation, change properties, give feedback to Microsoft about what you think, change your privacy settings, and more.

Step 8: Close your file

For now, select "Close".

You can see your new document listed. Hover your cursor over your new presentation, click on "More", and select "Download".

Select the location on your computer to which you wish to download and save your presentation. It is not necessary to download your files. Microsoft keeps a copy of your documents available anytime, from any computer online, in your Windows Live account. But it is nice to be able to download a copy of the file.

The downloaded file will be view-only. If you own a desktop version of PowerPoint, you'll be able to open and edit the presentation. But otherwise, you'll only be able to view the presentation.

Microsoft provides a free desktop version of a PowerPoint viewer. It allows you to open and view any version of PowerPoint. It will NOT allow you to edit or make changes. The desktop viewer is nice to have because it doesn't require an internet connection to use.

You can download the free viewer here:

That's it! I'm looking forward to learning more about using Windows Web Applications. How about you?

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pencil Holder

Pencil Holder

This Instructable will describe how to create a roll-up pencil-holder made of fabric.

I wanted to go to the park and sketch wildflowers.

Simple desire, easy goal.

It was a nice day, my day off work.

I like wildflowers.

First, however, I needed a way to carry my set of colored artist pencils. I wanted it portable and simple, something like one of those roll-up tool kits, with a pocket for each wrench. I wanted a roll-up pencil kit, with a pocket for each pencil.

Here's what I did.

Step 1: Cut fabric

I cut a piece of fabric, 10-1/2 inches wide, by 41 inches long. I tried to be accurate, using a rotary cutter and cutting mat, with a 36-inch straightedge.

Step 2: Hem all edges

I folded each edge twice, 1/4-inch for each fold. After each fold I pressed it flat with a hot iron. This type of hem completely encloses the raveled edge of the fabric.

After pressing the hems flat, I used a sewing machine to straight-stitch down the length of each hemmed edge.

After hemming all edges, the piece measured about 9-1/2 inches by 40 inches.

Note: It's possible that you'll catch me in a lie. The piece of fabric that I found in my wife's scrapbox already had one edge that did not need had a selvage, an edge that was self-finished from the factory. My instructions here assume that you'll need to hem all four edges.

Step 3: Form pocket section

I folded one long edge up about 2-1/2 inches, pinned it in place, and ironed it flat. This long fold will form the section in which I would soon sew one-inch pockets.

I chose a 2-1/2 inch fold as a compromise...I really should have chosen a wider piece to start with. The longest pencil I found was about 7-inches long. the 2-1/2inch fold provided an adequate size for a pocket to hold the pencil, and the remaining 7-inches of fabric would just barely cover the tips of the pencils.

Were I to make another pencil holder, I think I would make the width a total of 5-inches more than the length of my longest pencil. This would provide a 2-1/2" flap that I could loosely fold over the pencils prior to rolling them up, protecting a securing the pencils better.

Oh, well.

Step 4: Sew both ends

I sewed the long fold at both ends, reinforcing all corners with an inch or so of heavy zig-zag stitching.

Step 5: Sew pockets

I created one-inch wide pockets down the entire length of the long 2-1/2" folded edge. One-inch wide pockets allow two pencils to be placed in each pocket, or one jumbo pencil per pocket.

After the first dozen pockets, I finally realized that a strip of tape, marked at one-inch intervals, would make the process easier!

If you're new to sewing, don't be alarmed or confused by the photograph showing lazy diagonal thread lines from one pocket to the next. Rather than clipping the thread after each pocket, I just raised the foot of the sewing maching, moved to the next pocket, and continued sewing. The loose threads will be snipped away after all the pockets are sewn.

Again, were I to make another, I think I would make the pockets a bit more narrow. My pencils seem to be quite loose, even with two per pocket. Maybe 1/2-inch pockets?

My pocket-holder turned out to be plenty long. I'd recommend that you consider making it only 24-inches long. I still might cut mine shorter and re-hem it. Shouldn't be hard to do.

Step 6: Finished!

I clipped all loose threads, placed pencils in the pockets, admired my work, and rolled it up for a trek to the park. Come sketch some wildflowers with me!

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