ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Quilts by Bertha Stenge
Iva's Pin Cushion
Hand appliqué with trapunto quilting
Illinois State Museum Collection, gift of the Frank Mason family
It was at the Chicago World's Fair that Bertha Stenge saw her first trapunto quilt. The judges of the 1933 Sears National Quilt Contest awarded the $1000 grand prize to an otherwise unremarkable eight-pointed star quilt that featured stuffed quilting, called trapunto. Stuffed and corded quilting had previously been popular in the early to mid 1800s, especially on whitework quilts. After the 1933 contest, quilt columnists promoted trapunto and offered instructions and advice on what materials to use. Bertha taught herself the technique and in a 1936 magazine article she described the process, "I sew a thin lining on the back of the design. Now, from the back of the design [I] spread threads with a wooden toothpick, poke Germantown knitting wool through the opening, then close." Stenge created a delicate snowflake-like design which relies equally on appliqué needlework and trapunto quilting to complete its effect. Sometimes Stenge would hire quilters to help her with the more routine quilting on her works. She preferred to do the trapunto work herself. Although, no records were kept of who helped with which quilt, her correspondence includes letters to an Iva in Indiana, who may be the namesake of this quilt.
Click here to see a detail of the Iva's Pin Cushion 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