“Every quilt tells a story,” said quilt restoration expert Angie Purvis.
When she looks at a quilt, the fabric, stitches and pattern can reveal what culture, age and even the state where it was created — and often much about the maker, who was almost always a woman.
She feels the same way about the hundreds of quilts that she has created.
“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, a longtime Copperas Cove resident along with her husband, Fred, owns Threads to Remember, a quilt restoration and repair business that also provides quilting services. Purvis said there is a significant difference between repairing a quilt and restoring it.
“Repairing a quilt just means fixing it. Restoring a quilt means bringing it back to its original condition.”
Quilt restoration requires expert knowledge of quilt history, patterns and textiles, and Purvis fits that bill. When clients bring a quilt to her for repair or restoration, they are encouraged to tell the history of their quilt, including where and when it was made, how they obtained it and its significance to the client.
If the details aren’t known, Purvis draws on her years of experience and extensive library on quilts and quilting history to provide information about the quilt’s dates and providence. After a quilt is restored, she provides clients with detailed information on caring for their quilts.
But it’s the sharing about each piece that Purvis likes best.
“When you restore, you always get a story with the quilt,” she said. “Fred has said many times when someone comes with a quilt, ‘They are not coming for 10 minutes; sometimes they leave hours later and it seems like they are visiting with you and you know half of their life, where they found the quilt, what happened with the quilt, why they want to have it done.’ So I love it much more. I really love learning from other people.”
The other part Purvis really enjoys is providing information to clients that will save the quilts from future damage.
“When I repair a quilt, they always get what I call a personal note. I always attach to my bill a note to tell them what they can do in the future to avoid certain issues.”
Purvis’ workshop is located in their home, which they purchased in 1983. Fred Purvis has customized it over the years 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,” Purvis said.
With its immaculate, sunny rooms displaying quilts, needlework and paintings, the house is part museum, part art gallery and part quilting showcase. Much of the furniture are early 19th-century pieces that Fred Purvis brought from his home state of Kentucky and restored. Like the heirloom quilts his wife restores, he 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. 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,” Fred Purvis said.
Angie Purvis has worked on more than 60 quilts, individually or as part of a collaborative effort through her quilting guild and local bee. Many of these quilts are donated to local charities, including the Copperas Cove Police Department, the Family Hope Center, and a raffle held at a Vietnam Veterans’ reunion her husband attends every year. She also has joined with other quilters throughout the country who have made quilts for the “Home of the Brave Quilt Project,” a national group that provides quilts to the families of fallen soldiers.
To care for an heirloom quilt, Purvis believes people should display them, not store them. “Because if you display a quilt, it won’t get creases. If they are folded away for 20 years, you’ll see every crease, and every crease can break the fabric with time. Don’t expose them to too much heat; just keep them in a neutral environment.”
Purvis suggests that older quilts be displayed lying flat, because that puts less weight on the fabric fibers.
For more information, call Threads to Remember at (254) 547-7963.