The colorful works of art came together stitch by stitch.

Women packed into the meeting room of the Johnson County Purdue Extension office, quilts and other fiber arts projects unfurled in front of them.

They socialized and chatted, all the while keeping their eyes on the movement of their needle and thread across the increasingly intricate projects.

Geometric shapes were formed out of printed fabric and bright shades of green, yellow, blue, red and other colors.

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For a group of about 70 people in Johnson County, quilting is a way to not only carry on a traditional folk art, but to use their talent to help the community.

The members of Nimble Thimble Quilt Club maintain their craft every month through meetings, classes and other quilt-centric activities.

But when their quilting projects are finished, the club has used them to support fiber arts programs throughout the county, as well as hospices, Habitat for Humanity and other causes.

That twin approach is what members hope will stoke an additional interest in quilting.

“In the past, it was a practical homemakers’ duty. Now, it’s an expression of art,” said Becky Horton, a club member.

“It warms my heart to think that a great-grandchild that I may never know will own something that I expressed myself through.”

The club was founded in Johnson County in 1989, a division of the county’s extension homemakers program. Their events are conducted at the fairgrounds in Franklin.

Quilting may have the reputation as being an old-fashioned hobby. But an increasing number of people are taking part in it. According to a survey by e-commerce company F+W, an estimated 16 million people are actively involved in quilting in the U.S.

Shops are opening up throughout central Indiana, and Johnson County boasts two in Greenwood’s Back Door Quilts and Coffee Cup Quilts in Trafalgar.

The Nimble Thimble club has been adding about five new members each year.

“There is a real resurgence in quilting,” Horton said. “Now the goal is to get more younger women involved.”

The interest stems from an interest in the art forms of the past. Quilts have been passed down for generations, often being used both for warmth and for decoration.

For Franklin resident Carol Kubinski, her interest stemmed from the work of her mother. Kubinski found a quilt top that her mother had made in the 1970s, and decided she wanted to finish it.

She learned to quilt about 25 years ago after taking classes in Greenwood. When she finished her mother’s quilt, she passed it on to her niece, who hopefully could carry on the tradition into the future.

“She’s the one who will pass it on,” Kubinski said. “It’s putting a part of myself into the future.”

That unique history is what drove many members of Nimble Thimble. But what sets the club apart from other hobby clubs are its philanthropic efforts through the year, Horton said.

To comfort patients in local hospice care, they knitted 47 small lap quilts. When a new family moves into a home through Johnson County Habitat for Humanity, the club provides quilts to make their house feel more comfy.

Pillowcases for the homeless and bookbags for children are other efforts. Last year, the club raised $752 for the Good Cheer Fund and Interchurch Food Pantry.

The club conducts raffles for their work, which raised more than $1,000 for county middle and high schools that have sewing or quilting classes.

Last year, the club partnered with Franklin Community High School teacher Barb Torrey for a service project. About 20 of Torrey’s students joined club members to make quilts for children whose parents were deployed in military operations in Afghanistan.

“We’ve got to get young people into sewing. It’s a talent. If you have it, you have to be able to express yourself,” Kubinski said. “Fiber artists are making some amazing work, but you have to know how to sew before you can do that.”

A prime way of doing so is through its public events.

The quilt show is one of the club’s largest forums, organized every two years as an opportunity for local fiber artists to display their goods. More than 200 quilts will be on display. Greenwood’s Mary Buvia will give a special presentation and trunk show, as well as teaching technique classes.

At the same time, it will serve as a fundraiser. Club members will sell food as well as quilts and other products out of a special consignment shop.

A table will be set up passing out information on joining the club, as well.

“We get to raise money for a good cause, and solicit new members at the same time,” Horton said.

If you go

Nimble Thimble Quilt Show

When: April 17 and 18

Where: Scott Hall, Johnson County fairgrounds, Franklin


April 17

Mary Buvia presentation and trunk show

  • When: 7 p.m.; doors open at 6
  • What: Program by Buvia, a Greenwood resident and award-winning master quilter. Vendors, a consignment sale and free appetizers also will be featured.
  • Cost: $10 in advance; $12 at the door. Admission to Friday’s program is good for re-entry to the show Saturday. 
  • For advance ticket sales: Contact Sue Morris at 422-9347 or Della Julian at 736-8352.

April 18

Quilt show

  • When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • What: More than 200 quilts on display. Vendors, consignment sales, quilt raffle and food will be available for purchase.
  • Cost: $5 at the door.

Mary Buvia “Perfect Technique” applique class

  • When: 8:30 to 11 a.m. or noon to 2:30 p.m.
  • Cost: $25 for Nimble Thimble Quilt Club members, or $30 for no-members.
  • Tickets: Contact Donna McElwain at 407-3540.
Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.