Digitally Augmenting Traditional Craft Practices for Social Justice: The Partnership Quilt

a photo of a white person's hands sewing a button onto a quilted blanket

Buy a copy at this link: (if you are a student, precariously employed researcher, researcher without an academic affiliation, or a non-academic, please feel free to get in touch for a pdf of the book!)

Book talks

  • 18th May 2021: SoftLab, Washington University
  • 19th May 2021: Book Launch, NORTHLab Seminar Series
  • 19th May 2021: HCDE Conversation, Washington University

Chapter 1: Introduction
In Chapter 1 I present the project on which the theoretical writing of this book builds: The Partnership Quilt. This is the outcome of a collaborative research and making project that took place in 2017. In this chapter, I address the importance of partnership work when working on projects with people who experience stigma, criminalisation, or are in other ways made marginal in our society. I introduce my partners on this project: Changing Lives and Six Penny Memories. Through my introduction to the project and project stakeholders, I start to chart the journey this book will take the reader on to understanding how research processes can honour histories and collaboration to develop a shared praxis of hope to work towards better worlds together

Chapter 2: Crafting, Quilting, and Social Justice
In Chapter 2 I chart a history of sewing and quilting in particular relate to issues of social justice; I document experiences of oppression in Chile and China before honing in on histories of sewing in the North of England and how women have used quilting as a way of making a personal statement. Bringing this idea of advocacy through sewing into the world of electronic textiles, I draw out opportunities for these two disparate approaches to craft can come together in the context of sex work research. To conclude this chapter, I highlight how participatory e-textiles making can help document, unravel, and advocate for changes in oppressive systems towards more socially just worlds.

Chapter 3: Quilting Research
In Chapter 3, I continue this thread of discussion focusing specifically on the relationships between quilting and research. First, I build an understanding of what I perceive to be meaningful action and design processes, building on work that addresses the use of digital technologies in charities and other third sector services. Then, I think through how working towards more just worlds in this space can also relate to the development of a shared praxis of hope where we are able to better care for ourselves, one another, and our planet. After this reflexive writing on theory, I start to bring in examples from the crafting process involved in making The Partnership Quilt – about the porous roles of participants, the importance of relational expertise, and how we can look behind the seams of the quilt to uncover hidden labour involved in research projects.

Chapter 4: Exploring The Partnership Quilt
In Chapter 4, I step away from reflecting on the process, and instead point my attention directly to the outcome of the project: the artefact that is The Partnership Quilt. I present it, explain what it is made of, and draw on the meanings behinds its multiple physical and metaphoric layers. By describing the different materials and tools that were used to create the quilt, I reflect on how the artefact relates to histories of quilting and advocacy I described in Chapter 2, as well as how the stitches that were created in its process of making in Chapter 3 can tell us more about the care that is embedded in the artefact due to the attention to detail that was paid by all participants.

Chapter 5: Digitally Quilting Social Justice
In the final, fifth, chapter, I bring together learning from all previous chapters to draw conclusions on how an ethos of social justice in the creation of collaboratively created e-textiles can promote meaningful and collaborative projects that bridge the divide between academia and charity service delivery to actively work towards and promote the development of more just futures and worlds. To conclude the book, I draw out two areas of reflection on quilting e-textiles as a participatory research process as a personal yet shared experience for wellbeing, and as a way of crafting sustainable partnerships and service delivery. Finally, I chart a potential future for digitally augmented craft practices where I see the sewing of e-textiles as a form of, and process for, collective action.


This book is an excellent offering that highlights ways in which visual approaches to research and community work can serve as a canvas for the outpouring of oppression, anger, hope, resilience and reimagining of a socially just future. It is a great gift and valuable resource for academics, activists and students interested in social justice, participatory action research, and digital technologies. (Prof Puleng Segalo, University of South Africa)

This expansive undertaking exhibits Strohmayer’s force as a thinker, author, and partner in design. From the soldering of electrodes through the review on craft-based activism, Strohmayer generously takes us through a design process from start to finish to examines the relationships that shift along the way. She shows us how worlds of textiles partake in the making of collective futures—nurturing forms of connection as a means of creative expression, self-determination, and remembrance. (Associate Prof Daniela Rosner, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington)

This book is a highlight for the courageous minds to break the circle and re-think artistic practices as a more justice-oriented, connected and collaborative mechanisms for our futures. You will have a journey to face who and what forms of designs were privileged or silenced in the global history of quilting. You will be inspired and provoked by the making of the Partnership Quilt. The quilt piece is the materialized example that embodies the many ways of touchy-feely conversations and the possibilities to weave, stitch -or this time to quilt new worlds together. This book is about the making of artistic hope. It is about what is possible, once we see the beauty of equity instead of privileges in design. (Assistant Prof Özge Subaşı, Futurewell, Department of Media and Visual Arts, Koç University)

The Partnership Quilt, as a model of participatory textile making, draws together relational expertise from the distinct worlds of communication technologies, crafting and ecologies of care. With a focus on collaboration, Strohmayer experiments with the quilt as a metaphor for a layered, interdisciplinary research process as well as a material expression of carefully crafted relationships between makers, researchers, charitable organisations and a marginalised group of sex workers. This richly detailed and insightful book is a timely addition to a growing literature around participatory textile making advocating for interdisciplinary practices that address the care and maintenance of people’s lived experiences. (Dr Emma Shercliff, Arts University Bournemouth)

The Partnership Quilt is a powerful example of the transformative power of craftivism. In this book Dr Angelika Strohmayer pragmatically illustrates how carefully considered participatory craft based projects empower those involved, value-add to the important work being done by NGO’s and provide researchers with a methodology that supports and promotes social justice outcomes. (Dr Tal Fitzpatrick, artist, craftivist and disability support worker, Naarm (Melbourne), Australia.)