Unititled (Story Quilt 1) 2020-22. Mixed textile media. With South County Homeless Project, Hayward
and volunteers Maureen ONeill, Morgan Baxter, Rosemary Sallee

Story Quilts and DIY
with Unhoused Communities

The Story Quilt Project grew out of a free cape-making workshop that we lead as part of Sunday Streets in San Francisco’s Tendeloin neighborhood in the Fall of 2019. In this project,  Feral Fabric invited neighborhood residents to help decorate one of several capes, and then be photographed wearing the cape in front of a TENDERLOIN neighborhood banner. Unhoused neighbors seemed particularly interested in participating, and got us thinking seriously about different kinds of visibility around homelessness in the Bay Area.

The project started as a series of workshops with people currently or recently experiencing homelessness. In the workshops, participants made panels to self-represent, tell the story of their community, or process their experience. This project intended to archive participants’ individual narratives and the stories of temporary communities into a series of free-form, narrative quilts. Feral Fabric held workshops with Berkeley Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center, South County Homeless Project, and Here/There Camp before Covid disrupted in-person meetings and put the project on hold in late February of 2022.

In 2021, Feral Fabric developed a DIY kit as a way to continue our Story Quilt project during Covid. This initial kit developed into the Sew & Mend Kit that we are still distributing today in partnership with Punks with Lunch and the Village in Oakland.

Made primarily using donated materials, kits contain everything recipients need to express themselves through textiles, and double as a fix-it and embelishment kit for clothes, tents or anything else made of fabric. Later kits also contained a Housing Rights fabric poster/patch. We see the kits as a natural progression in the spirit of the original idea - instead of coming together in quilt form, the panels remain dispersed in communities throughout the Bay Area. Feral Fabric also distributed sewing machines and textile art materials to several homeless shelters serving youth and families in Berkeley and Oakland.

Our intention for this project was to gain visibility and rights for people experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area. We held our final exhibition of the Story Quilt project in the outward-facing windows at Pro Arts Gallery in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California in May-June of 2022. Thank you to all of our participants, in particular Toan Nguyen. Special thanks also to the volunteers who helped us finish the quilts - Maureen O’Neill, Morgan Baxter, and Rosemary Sallee and to Social Justice Sewing Academy for material donations. 

This work was made possible in large part through an Artist Grant from the City of Berkeley

See research archive for this project

1. Unititled (Story Quilt 1). Feral Fabric and South County Homeless Project, Hayward. 2020-2022
2. Unititled (Story Quilt 2). Feral Fabric and Here/There Camp, Berkeley/Oakland. 2020-2022
3. Untitled (Tarp). Feral Fabric 2022
4. Unititled (Story Quilt 3). Feral Fabric and Women’s Daily Drop-In Center, Berkeley. 2020-2022
5. In Solidarity. Feral Fabric. 2022
6. Flyer for final exhibition at Pro Arts. 2022. Design Paulina Berczynski
7. Housing rights fabric poster/patch. 2021. Design Paulina Berczynski
8. Documentation of Tenderloin Community Workshop. Feral Fabric. 2019
9. Installation shot (from inside Pro Arts after its closure andconversion to a free covid testing clinic). 2022
10. Installation shot (from outside of Pro Arts). 2022
11. DIY kits. Feral Fabric 2021-2022
12. Making DIY kits. 2022
13. Kit distribution with Punks with Lunch. 2022
14. Basic sewing instructions included withthe kits

15. Poster printed on the back of instructions included in the kits
16. Documentation of canvas tarp giveaway. 2022