December, 2018


Bertha Stenge

Chicago, Illinois
Circa 1933

Bertha Shermasky Stenge (1891-1957) attended the San Francisco College of Art before moving to Chicago in 1912. After her three daughters were grown, Bertha began quilting. 

“In 1929, the Chicago Evening American held a contest for quilts made from a set of syndicated quilt patterns titled "The Nancy Page Club." Bertha Stenge entered the contest and won only an Honorable Mention, but her competitive drive and artistic instincts were fueled by this first experience. For the next thirty years, Bertha Stenge made at least one quilt per year—entering many contests and expositions in the United States and Canada.” 
- “A Cut and Stitch Above: Quilts by Bertha Stenge” by Merikay Waldvogel and Janice Tauer Wass at the Illinois State Museum

Stenge made this Gazelle quilt from a 1933 Winifred Avery pattern. Between 1890 and 1930 in the United States, a number of businesses sprang up to sell patterns, kits and completed bedcovers. 

“Women were in the middle of quilt businesses, whether as magazine editors, small business owners, or workers in quilt cottage industries. Entrepreneurs created products to satisfy consumers’ desires, and used advertising, publishing, and the affordability of nationwide mail service to expand their reach. The success of some of these women made them household names.”
- World Quilts: The American Story

Read more about Bertha Stenge on The Quilters Hall of Fame.