Hometown Profile: Quilter in Poland uses her craft to help others

Staff photo / J.T. Whitehouse Martha Stone shows the old Singer sewing machine that her mother used. Stone still uses it to assemble her squares for making quilts.

POLAND — A beautiful handmade quilt will be raffled at next week’s Celebrate Poland event. Martha Stone, who has been involved in quilting for more than 50 years, made and donated it.

Stone grew up in Poland and graduated from Poland Seminary High School. She attended Bennett College in Millbrook, New York, where she earned a degree in early childhood education. Stone taught kindergarten for 30 years, ending in Baltimore City Schools.

She married in 1972 and raised three children, Noah, Dinah and Nicholas. She divorced in 2001 and moved back to Poland.

However, her interest in quilting began long before that.

“I started quilting in 1970 with my mother, Bunte Stone,” she said. “My great-grandmother, Mary Mauthe, wife of J.L. Mauthe, made handmade quilts.”

Stone said to start a quilt, the first step is the top. She said a quilt has a top, a bottom and a middle. The top is made of pieces called squares, which are put together like a puzzle.

The squares can be any pattern of material sewn together, or a stitched pattern in different shapes. Squares can be a solid color material with a stitched art piece, like a heart, or any other subject matter. The stitching also can include text that is sewn onto the material.

“My mother would send ladies in her garden-turned-quilting-club a quilt square to finish,” Stone said. “Then she collected them and put them together to make one quilt.”

The bottom is a full fabric backing, and the middle is made up of batting material.

For the top squares, there are plastic templates in various sizes from squares to rectangles and triangles.

“Stitching patterns can vary,” Stone said. “When my neighbor’s husband passed away, she took his favorite shirts and cut them up, making squares to put into a quilt.”

Once the squares are prepared, they can be laid out to see what the top will look like. The next step is to organize the bottom, batting and squares for sewing. “I used to use a quilting frame,” Stone said. “Some groups still do.”

The frames would stretch the three layers before being hand-sewn together in a long tedious process. Stone saidthese days many people use a quilting machine that allows a person to choose a specific sewing pattern, and the machine does the rest.

Stone takes her unassembled quilts to a Boardman craft store that has one of the machines. She said it’s computer-programmed and can finish a quilt quickly while keeping the pattern uniform.

Once a quilt is done, it can be used for many life events such as births, anniversaries, memorials, tributes, special happenings and more.

“Since 1970, I have probably made 80 to 100 quilts,” Stone said.

She even made some to help families get through COVID-19.

“When COVID hit, I started making picnic quilts,” she said. “The best thing the pandemic did was people going outside together.”

Picnic quilts are made of darker colors so dirt and grass stains do not show. These quilts are made to be placed on the ground to enjoy an outdoor summer picnic.

“I am still making them for my friends,” Stone said.

Stone said she finds joy in making quilts. She gives them to preschools, to people who are moving away, or to people celebrating their anniversary. Most recently, she donated one to the Poland Historical Society for a fundraiser.

“This type of donation is extremely important to the Historical Society as it gives us an opportunity to increase our income as a fundraising project,” said Poland Historical Society President Laurie Fox. “We are grateful that she (Stone) generously offered this opportunity for us. I think the raffle is working well for us rather than trying to sell the quilt.”

The Society began selling the raffle tickets for Stone’s donated quilt during the Sept. 16 Poland Lions Club Treasures of the Trunk Sale. The tickets will be on sale during the fall festival Oct. 7 up to 3 p.m. when the drawing will take place. Raffle tickets for the quilt are $2 each. The raffle will be held at the Historical Society tent near Village Hall.

For the future, Stone intends to continue her hobby and will likely exceed the 100-quilt mark while making others happy with a quilt of their own.


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