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Quilter dedicates work to vets, military

Frances Martin appears with one of her military-themed quilts.

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

Sewing, particularly quilt-making, has been in Frances Martin’s family for at least three generations.
“My grandma and mom quilted, so I just grew up around quiltmakers,” she said. “We had to, to stay warm.” She also noted that her dad sews.
As a little girl living in Lincoln County, Frances remembers sitting and watching with amazement as her grandmother sewed both quilts and clothes for area residents who were sick.
“Grandma would send her needle through the quilt frame, and we (the grandchildren) would put the needle back through,” she said.
Frances was six when her parents bought her a battery-operated sewing machine, which required that she use her hand to turn it as she sewed. She laughed as she pondered how she used to use the machine to make clothes for her baby dolls.
Several years later, at the age of 14, Frances finally began sewing dresses for the women in her family, including maternity clothes for her sister, who’s also a quilter.
“That’s the only thing I do is sew,” Frances said. “It makes me happy. To see it (the quilt) come together is like seeing a puzzle come together.”
She also likes to give away her quilts and used them to bless people, particularly the members of the Last Man’s Club of Lincolnton. Since October, she’s been making quilts with designs from each of the four military branches and handing them out to veterans and raffle winners at club meetings. She was motivated to begin the endeavor after joining her dad, a former WWII veteran and POW, at some of the meetings.
“I just wanted to do something for the veterans,” Frances said. “It just does my heart good to see the look on their faces.”
Throughout her more than 20 years of quilt-making, Frances has sown with love, producing more than 100 quilts. She said her most memorable quilt was one filled with deer designs, which she made for her grandson who loves to hunt.
Frances has made many quilts for the younger generations in her family including her 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“All I do is sew and chase my grandchildren,” she said laughingly. While some of her quilts, made through a process called “tact quilt,” are easy to assemble, she said the most challenging part of her crafty work is putting together quilts that include multiple “little bitty pieces.”  Overall, it takes her between one and two weeks to complete a quilt.
In addition, Frances suffers from severe asthma, and at times, has experienced set backs in her sewing, yet despite her health challenges, she plans to give away her quilts until every member of the Last Man’s Club has received one.
“The Lord blesses me through it,” she said. “It gives me the best feeling there ever was … A quilt is nothing compared to what they went through.”
She also sells her quilts. She said prices fluctuate with the cost of materials.
“It’s like huntin’ a needle in a haystack to find the right stuff,” she said.
She also hopes to one day give her quilts to children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Maryland. Frances said she wants to show the medical facility her appreciation for saving the life of one of her grandchildren nearly 13 years ago.
“I’m just an old country-quilter,” she said. “That’s all I’ll ever be.”

Image courtesy of Nayeli Ramirez / LTN

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