“Every quilt tells a story,” said quilt restoration expert Angie Purvis.
When she looks at a client’s quilt, the fabric, stitches and pattern can reveal what culture, age and even the state where it was created — and often a lot about the maker, almost always a woman.
“I can tell a story about every quilt I make, and that is part of it, because when you look at it, it should speak to you; it’s like a book,” she said.
Purvis, and her husband, Fred, are longtime Copperas Cove residents and own Threads to Remember, a quilt restoration, repair and quilting business. Restoring a quilt is a much different process than repairing. “Repairing a quilt just means fixing it,” Purvis said. “Restoring a quilt means bringing it back to its original condition.”
Quilt restoration requires expert knowledge of quilt history, patterns and textiles. There is also the added pressure of working with somebody’s treasured heirloom — one that is fragile and easily damaged.
The Purvises bought their Cove home in 1983 while Fred was in the military. Fellow quilters will recognize the large painted wood block currently hung on their garage door as a “schoolhouse” pattern, one of several outdoor block hangings they rotate throughout the year.
Home showcases quilts
Angie Purvis has a workshop in their home, and Fred Purvis has gradually customized the entire house to showcase his wife’s growing talent and expertise. Quilts are displayed everywhere— on the beds, hanging on walls and neatly stacked in custom-made cabinets.
“I change my house completely with the quilts five or six times a year, because I have a lot of quilts and I like to see them all,” Angie Purvis said.
With its immaculate, sunny rooms displaying Purvis’ quilts, needlework and paintings, the house is part museum, part art gallery and part quilting showcase. Much of the furniture is early 19th-century pieces that Fred Purvis brought from his home state of Kentucky and restored.
Like the heirloom quilts his wife restores, Purvis believes in bringing each piece back to its original appearance.
“When I get a piece of furniture like that, the beauty of it is in it,” he said. “It’s best just to take it and clean it up as best you can. Don’t try and sand it all off. It takes away from it.”
Angie Purvis is one of the founding members of the Crossroads to Central Texas Quilting Guild, and also part of the Betty Piecemaker Quilting Bee, which meets in Copperas Cove twice a month. Despite the challenges of trying to maintain a cohesive group in an ever-changing military community, both the guild and the bee have thrived. Guild membership now fluctuates between 70 and 100 members.
Purvis has worked on more than 60 quilts. Many of them were donated to local charities, including the Family Hope Center, and a raffle held at a Vietnam Veterans’ reunion Fred Purvis attends every year.
The latest collaborative project her quilting bee is taking on is to provide the Copperas Cove Police Department with quilts they can give to the community.
“We are planning to ... make a quilt — a children’s quilt or a family-oriented quilt — for every police car, which they ... can use when needed, and we will replenish them when they have given them away,” she said.
The project appealed to the group because a majority of its members are Copperas Cove residents. “We always like to do something that is local,” Purvis said. “If (someone is) in some distress — children or family issues — it’s always nice to have something cuddly that you can take with you and hang on to.”