ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Quilts by Bertha Stenge
Hand-pieced, appliquéd, and quilted cotton
Collection of the Chicago Historical Society
In 1933, Bertha Stenge designed this quilt to enter in the Sears National Quilt Contest at the Chicago World's Fair. Stenge hoped to win the grand prize of $1000 plus a $200 bonus for a quilt made in the theme of the Century of Progress. Nearly 25,000 quilts were entered in the contest and the judges did not favor the "non-traditional" theme quilts. Stenge's quilt won only an honorable mention at a local Sears store; however, the experience spurred Stenge's interest in other quilt contests. In 1940, she won the New York World's Fair Needlework Contest and, in 1942, she won the Woman's Day National Needlework Contest with winnings surpassing those of the 1933 Contest. The appliqué designs in the center of this quilt include historical images--tepees, Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire--and modern images--skyscrapers, a Great Lakes ship, and the Travel and Transport Building (an architectural gem at the Fair). Additional images are quilted in the border of the quilt.
RIGHTS TO ALL IMAGES BELONG TO THE ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Contact Janice Tauer Wass for permission to reproduce any materials on this page.
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© Illinois State Museum -- 30-December-98