Sewing machines whirred continuously as a dozen women focused on their projects at hand.

Deft hands cut pieces of brightly colored fabric, while others stacked patterned pieces to be assembled.

The Nimble Thimble Quilt Club was hard at work.

Group members had come together for a sewing session, tackling different projects as the club approached its busiest time of year. Their quilt show — held every other year — was coming up in a matter of weeks. The group also was stitching handmade decorations to sell at the upcoming Jim Rhoades Memorial Hog Roast in December, raising money to reduce hunger.

Other service-minded projects were on the horizon.

“That’s what impressed me most about this club — that they wanted to do things to help,” said Nora Dean, a Nimble Thimbles member.

Throughout its existence, members of the Nimble Thimble Quilt Club have melded their love for fabric arts with a strong desire to help the community. Their efforts touch everyone from local students to families in need to military veterans.

To help raise money for those initiatives, as well as cater to the fabric arts community locally, the club will host the “Every Birdy Welcome” Quilt Show on Sept. 22 and 23. Attendees can browse quilts on display, shop from a variety of vendors and hear from quilting experts in special seminars.

“It’s a fundraiser for us, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase the quilts that our members make,” said Vicki Craig, president of the club. ”

The Nimble Thimble group has been sewing and quilting for good causes for more than 30 years. The club was founded in Johnson County in 1989, as a part of the county’s extension homemakers program.

The goal was not only to preserve and advance the fabric arts, but to use their skills to help the community as well.

Every year, members sew and sell items at the annual Jim Rhoades Memorial Hog Roast, with their proceeds being split between the Good Cheer Fund and the Interchurch Food Pantry as part of the club’s Feed the Hungry activities. The tradition stretches back years, when a couple members of the Nimble Thimbles decided to set up a card table and sell a handful of crafts at the event.

“It has evolved into three or four tables filled with beautiful handmade works,” said Becky Horton, a member in charge of the hog roast activities. “Last year, this little club donated $3,000.”

The club has been making a number of items to sell at the hog roast, including fabric Christmas trees were a hit during the 2022 event, Horton said. They’ll also raffle a Christmas quilt to raise funds.

“It’s a great place for people to shop for their stocking stuffers — or their stockings,” Horton said. “It’s something that’s just really close to this club’s heart.”

But the club is active in a number of different ways as well. They make bags for the First Steps reading program, so children taking part have something to carry their books in.

Their quilts have been given to local hospice patients, have been provided as lap quilts for veterans on the Indy Honor Flights, given as blankets for babies in intensive care and made pillowcases for foster children to carry their belongings.

“Last year we made over 900 items to places like WIC and nursing homes and ‘hug quilts’ for patients going through chemotherapy,” Craig said. “

To help carry out those and other projects, the Nimble Thimbles started an every-other-year quilt show in the fall.

The first night of the show will feature a guest speaker: Martha Higdon, a Shelby County resident and retired Indianapolis police officer who has been quilting since she was a girl. She opened a long-arm quilting business in 2014 after retiring from police work, and in 2019 became a national educator for Handi Quilter, traveling all over the world to teach others about the art form.

Her first book, “Machine Felting Projects,” is now available on Amazon.

“We always have a guest speaker who comes and teaches some techniques, so it’s an opportunity to learn as well as take part in the party,” Craig said.

Attendees can buy raffle tickets for special quilts crafted by the Nimble Thimbles, with proceeds split among the family and consumer science programs at county high schools. Quilts will be on display, vendors will be selling supplies and people can check out the “treasure chest,” a collection of items made and donated by club members.

“At the last show, that was one of our biggest money-makers,” Craig said.

On Sept. 23, people can again shop from vendors and enjoy quilts on display. Mini-quilting demonstrations held throughout the day give people the chance to learn a new skill.

There will be a member’s challenge quilts contest and an old-fashioned quilting bee.

Tickets for the Sept. 22 event are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and it includes admission both for the Friday and Saturday events. Entrance to the Sept. 23 event are $5.


Nimble Thimbles Quilt Club 2023 Quilt Show

What: A celebration of quilting and fabric arts featuring quilts on display, vendors, demonstrations and other activities.

When: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 23

Where: Scott Hall, Johnson County fairgrounds, 250 Fairground St., Franklin

What will be featured:

A variety of quilts on display

A presentation by Martha Higdon, a national educator for Handi Quilter, at 7 p.m. Sept. 23


Mini-demonstrations on Sept. 23

Raffle tickets for sale

Sharpening for scissors and other items by “Snippy Jim,” $5 each item

Members challenge quilts contest

Old-fashioned quilting bee

Tickets: Sept. 22 and 23 weekend pass, $10 in advance, $12 at the door; Sept. 23 pass, $5 at the door. Children 12 and under free. For advance sale tickets, contact Carolyn at 317-460-6370 or Betsy at 812-343-3437.