Lee Alvey points out special tactile quilt blocks to a young recipient of a Highland Lakes Quilt Guild Habitat for Humanity quilt. The guild makes custom quilts for every member of a Habitat household when they move into their new home. Courtesy photo
The Rev. George Perry of St. Frederick’s Baptist Church in Marble Falls was asked about his color preferences for a quilt, one the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild was making for him as a new Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity homeowner.
“He told me, ‘I want to be covered in The Word,’” said Lee Alvey, project leader for the guild’s Habitat for Humanity quilt project.
Alvey found material printed with bible verses for Perry’s custom quilt. His wife, Linda, received her own quilt based on personal preferences.
“Every person in the Highland Lakes who moves into a Habitat for Humanity home receives a customized quilt from the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild,” Alvey said. “We talk to them about what they like, their favorite colors, and make a quilt for their sized bed based on that.”
That extra attention to detail resulted in an extra-special quilt made by Alvey’s sister and volunteer quilt-maker, Karol Blaylock, who has a Ph.D. in fashion design and merchandising. She recently retired as a professor in that field from Tarleton State University.
The quilt was for a Habitat homeowner’s daughter who adored princesses and was a tactile learner. Blaylock selected fabric with fuzzy, smooth, and satin textures; bright colors; and Disney “Frozen” characters.
In February, Alvey presented three custom quilts to Habitat’s newest homeowners, Leticia Lopez and Jose Quintanilla in Granite Shoals. It was the seventh Habitat home built and “quilted” over the past three years.
“For me, when I was growing up, we always had quilts,” Alvey said. “That comfort of having a quilt on my bed and having a quilt when I went to my grandparents’ made me feel cozy and safe. I’ve always had quilts on my children’s beds. The ultimate comfort is going home to a bed with a quilt over you. I want to give that to these new homeowners.”
The Highland Lakes Quilt Guild is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to continuing the tradition of quilt-making. Members raise money to support several community service projects, including Habitat for Humanity, making anti-ouch pouches for the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas, and Learning with Quilts, a program that introduces elementary school students to the quilting arts. The guild also makes quilts featured in storybooks and gives them to school libraries for their reading programs.
Volunteers work together on all of these projects, some of which, like the Habitat for Humanity quilts, take months to complete.
Zell Cook was the first Habitat project chair before Alvey. She and a small group of women started the guild about 10 years ago. They began working with Habitat for Humanity soon after.
“The Habitat supplies a need for this community, and we wanted to join them,” Cook said. “I think it shows support from a group that most of these people have never heard of and don’t know about. We make something utilitarian, that feels good to crawl under.”
Cook has quilted all of her life. She has made it more of a vocation now that she is retired from her job as chief executive officer of a 500-bed hospital. She worked as a nurse.
Alvey began sewing at around 6 years old, learning to make doll clothes from her grandmother, mother, and older sister, although she did not do much quilting. She was surrounded by a family of talented sewists, a relatively new word that combines “sew” and “artist,” an apt description for quilters.
Her father, an engineer, made a quilting frame that could be lowered from the ceiling as needed. She recalls her elders making a whole-cloth quilt by using an old quilt for the insulating center. By definition, a quilt is padding between two layers of fabric held together by stitching or tying. Alvey’s family made a quilt inside a quilt.
Her most treasured quilt was fashioned from an electric mix of 1960s-era recycled fabric scraps from her paternal grandmother’s old clothing.
“Nanny started it, and one of my dad’s sisters-in-law worked on it, then my mother’s mother worked on it,” Alvey said. “I got to finish it. It’s a three-generation quilt.”
Alvey’s family preserved the history and appreciation for traditional quilt making, which reads straight from the Quilt Guild’s mission statement: “We make quilts and quilts make memories.”
Quilting didn’t happen until she retired from a successful career in media. She and her late husband, Dan, founded Victory Publishing, now Victory Media, which includes KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune, The Picayune Magazine, 101 Fun Things to do in the Highland Lakes, and DailyTrib.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. She frequently goes on quilting retreats, including several quilting cruises. She has studied under some of the best quilters in the nation and was included in a story about quilting in Quiltfolk Magazine.
Alvey has been entering her quilts in the Burnet County Area Fair for 10 years, winning Best of Division three times and several first-place ribbons. She plans to enter the quilting competition for the next fair, which is June 9-10 at the Burnet County Fairgrounds in Burnet.
The Highland Lakes Guilt Guild sponsors the quilting portion of the annual county fair, which takes entries from Burnet, Bell, Blanco, Lampasas, Llano, San Saba, Travis, and Williamson counties. For exhibitor information, see the guidelines and rules on the Burnet Country Area Fair website. This year’s theme is Country Roots and Cowboy Boots.
Anyone can join in supporting the guild’s mission and is welcome to attend membership meetings from 9-11:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at First Methodist Church, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive in Marble Falls.
A special program featuring a presentation by industry leaders follows a period of socializing and a general meeting. For information about Highland Lakes Quilt Guild programs and workshops, visit hlqg.org or email email@example.com.