Social Fabric

Allegra Galvin textile project

Libraries Unlimited commissioned Devon-based textile artist Allegra Galvin to work on an ambitious project across Brixham, Churston, Paignton and Torquay libraries. Her proposal, Social Fabric, involved her running public workshops in which participants pieced together segments of fabric which held specific meaning for them.

The piecing workshops took place at the end of May, with local communities gathering with Allegra to make quilt blocks from scraps. They shared their fabric and their stories: a deep red cotton used sixty years ago to make pyjamas for a little boy, a bright green and pink batik from the Dominican Republic, a hand stitched tortilla napkin from Mexico, linen from Ukraine, a gingham school dress from Brixham, the blanket of a much loved pet, pictures of sailing boats.

The patchwork blocks were pieced together to represent two sails, and then the artist spent four days in residence in the libraries with her quilt frame in a public space, so people could ask about the fabrics and learn to hand quilt. Nathanial Mason, Creative Technologist, recorded the stories so that the they can be played back alongside the finished quilt.

The quilt will be exhibited at the Festival of Quilts 2024 at Birmingham NEC from 1st to 4th August. Upon it's return to Devon, the quilt will be launched with a celebration at Churston Library on Thursday 12th September before touring libraries in Torbay.

Visit our Events page for details of related events and workshops.


The project was commissioned as part of the Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation funding that Libraries Unlimited receives.

There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away ...
– Emily Dickinson