Louisville Nimble Thimbles Remains a Well-Crafted Guild Organization
Writer / Annette Skaggs
Chances are that you have a quilt laying across your bed or on the back of your couch at this very moment. Maybe you inherited it from your great-grandparent or perhaps found it at a bargain-basement sale. No matter how you may have obtained your quilt, there was a tremendous amount of time and talent that was devoted towards its creation.
While many believe that the art of quilting is a one-person operation, nothing can be further from the truth. There are many opportunities for those who enjoy the craft to sew and stitch alongside others in like-minded artistry.
Susan Wolfe serves as the president of Louisville Nimble Thimbles (LNT), a quilting guild located in Jeffersontown.
Founded in 1979, LNT is the oldest guild in Louisville and still going strong. While one may think that LNT is like a quilting bee, Wolfe says the group is “not quite like that. If you are looking for a group to hang around, drink wine and gossip with an occasional quilt making, we are not going to be your cup of tea. However, if you enjoy the art, and learning new and creative ways to make your craft better, then I welcome all to the circle.”
Nimble Thimbles meets twice a month, on the first Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and the third Thursday at 10 a.m. “We have a mix of members whose schedules vary around times that they can meet, so we wanted to be accommodating to their want to participate as a member,” Wolfe says. “At this time we are averaging around 50-55 members, and have men and women and a range of age from 40s to 80s.”
When asked what the LNTs focus on as part of their foundational mission, Wolfe beams with pride. “While our meetings have a more educational bent to them, such as learning and demonstrating new techniques, different concepts, designs, materials and products, the meetings are a step towards fulfilling our missions, such as with our main charity, Norton Children’s Hospital’s Cuddle Care program.”
While there are many different iterations of Cuddle Care throughout the United States and beyond, LNT members share their talents by providing cuddle quilts for the patients at the hospital, much like the Project Linus project that provides blankets and stuffed animals to children who are experiencing something traumatic or are sick. Wolfe says the quilts are “quite substantial, averaging 40’x40’, and some smaller for the neonatal unit. They are made with all cotton and no holes or embellishments, and are comfortable. In 2022 we were able to donate over 500 quilts to the project. We try to change the design and look of the quilts each year and this year we are planning on doing a Scottie dog design.”
“Because of our attention to the Cuddle Care mission, we schedule four sessions each year dedicated to the creation and finishing of these quilts,” Wolfe adds. “One of these sessions is held at a local American Professional Quilting Store (APQS), which fortunately is owned by one of the guild members. While we are at the APQS, she allows us to use her floor models so that we can quilt several quilts in a day, that we have affectionately called Quilt-a-thon, which is typically held in July. The following week we have a binding party and once that step is completed, we can deliver the quilts.”
“While Cuddle Care is our largest charity, we also create tote bags that are used by the residents of Maryhurst, an agency for children across Kentuckiana suffering from neglect and abuse,” she says. “From what I’ve been told, the ladies have to earn their tote bags and they become a prized possession.”
It is quite evident that LNT is a benevolent and giving organization, but they do not stop there. While they are not part of an organization known as Quilts of Valor, they have established their own quilts-for-service program, named Patriot Quilts. When implementing this program, the local American Legion assists with the selection of a recipient and the Jeffersontown Legion Post helps to provide a location. It is a major event when the quilt is finished and presented, in a ceremony that calls upon the public, city officials, guild members, family and friends to attend.
When asked if the guild members were involved in the myriad of quilt and art shows within the area, Wolfe laughs. “Yes indeed,” she says. “In fact, it has been long thought that our guild would have a heavy concentration on presenting quilting shows as a means to promote the quilting arts, but over time we have turned our collective energies to serving those in the community with needs.”
“As to quilting shows, about five years ago Louisville Nimble Thimbles began sponsoring a kids quilt show, a show that consists of quilts made by kids but not necessarily for kids,” she continues. “The show is open to any youth under the age of 17. No themes or judging or entry fee. While we give out participation ribbons, the real win is in the pride and joy of making a quilt and being allowed to show it off. The event is open and free to the public.”
“While we are not the only quilting guild in the area, we do participate in some of the same events that are synonymous with the art of quilting, such as Quilters’ Day Out – ‘Gathering of the Guilds,’” Wolfe says. “The day is used as an opportunity to share with other quilters the kind of learning opportunities our guild provides. Additionally, we use the day as a fundraiser to set up a boutique where donated items such as books, notions, fabrics, and supplies are made available to fellow quilters for a suggested cash donation. The funds that we raise are then used to support future classes, our charities and other guild-sponsored expenses. Recently our boutique has raised as much as $3,000.”
While the Jeffersonian has been a great place to meet over the years, field trips are always welcome. Wolfe shares that in addition to regular meetings and a scheduled Quilt-a-Thon at the local APQS, the organization has occasional carpools to visit the Filson Historical Society for programs and then have lunch. They also occasionally visit Amish county to check out their quilt shops, along with a must-do visit to the Amish Grocery Store.
When asked where she feels her strength in quilting is, she smiles and laughs. “I have been doing this for about 15 years and I am still working on the eye in designing and color blocking,” she says. “Also, I am not a big fan of binding, but love to create the quilt top.”
While many believe that a quilting hobby is expensive and time consuming, that is not necessarily the case. Yes, some quilting machines can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, but most home quilters use machines that are but a few hundred dollars. While they are not capable of the varied stitches that the more expensive machines can do, the smaller machines can do the tried-and-true basics like straight and zigzag.
Wolfe laments the loss of some local and regional quilt shops that have closed over the years, causing some challenges for the avid and devoted quilters in the community, but she is grateful for those that are still around, especially for their willingness to participate and educate.
When asked how LNT adapted to the pandemic, Wolfe beams. “We were able to do many teaching and sew-a-long sessions via Zoom, and kept both Cuddle Care and Maryhurst programs going by scheduling quarterly drop-off/pickup events where members could drop off quilt tops needing to be quilted, quilted pieces that needed binding, and completed quilts and bags that were ready for delivery,” she says. “Because of these endeavors our members kept busy and involved. You could see those smiles through their masks.”
If you’d like more information about Nimble Thimble meetings and are interested in participating and/or joining LNT, you are welcome to send an inquiry through their website, nimblethimbles.com, or their Facebook page @LouisvilleNimbleThimbles.