Sunday, September 16, 2012


For years, I've been interested in Penny Rugs.  Their origin dates back to the Civil War era, when homemakers used wool scraps from old clothing, etc. to create mats or rugs.  Using coins as templates, they created circles and stitched them with a blanket stitch to a background fabric.  They weren't necessarily made as floor rugs, but more often decor coverings for beds, tables, and mantels. 

Recently, inspired by the blog site of Ashton Publications, I decided to try my hand at making a penny rug since it appears I will never find an antique one in my price range. 

Wool fabric is very expensive, so the search began to find affordable materials.  Since this is raw-edge applique, the wool needs to be felted so that it doesn't ravel.  The options are:  Wool felt (different from craft felt) which sells for about $18 a yard in a limited color selection at Jo-Ann Fabric.  I found my wool felt at Ruth's Stitchery in Colorado Springs in a bunch of yummy colors.  Another option is
wool that has been over-dyed and felted and is available on Etsy, and also at some quilt stores.  This is expensive at about $3.00 for a piece 5" square; but, oh, it is so luscious and I can't resist it.
A third option is to purchase new wool fabric at approximately $30 and up for a yard.  Then, it is necessary to felt the wool yourself by washing it in very hot water and drying it in a hot dryer.
And finally, another option is to find 100% wool garments at the thrift stores; deconstruct them and felt them yourself.
I used wool from all of the above sources so that I could have a variety of colors, textures and patterns.
This was a fun project; and was easy to accomplish using a #22 chenille needle and #5 Perle cotton for the embroidery, taking a couple of weeks working in the evenings.
This is a small piece measuring just 12" x 20".
Now, I'm thinking about another project using wool and embroidery; but not necessarily circular shapes.  We'll see!!!

I'm joining the following blog parties this week.  Please check them out for lots of inspiration.

Little Red House for Mosaic Monday
Smiling Sally for Blue Monday
A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style for Wow us Wednesdays
Jann Olson for Share Your Cup Thursday
Common Ground for Vintage Inspiration Friday
Funky Junk Interiors for Saturday Nite Special


Vee said...

That is stunning. Wonderful array of colors and everything complements so well. A nifty autumn project if ever there was one.

eileeninmd said...

I have not heard of penny rugs, your is just beautiful. Well done!

SmilingSally said...

I've never heard of Penny Rugs, so you've taught me today! Thanks for sharing your beautiful blues.

I deleted your other link, as you asked.

Happy Blue Monday, Sally.

Unknown said...

wow, amazing work! this looks like a labor of love. beautiful!

Sue said...

another one of your fabulous projects....I was waiting to read about buying wool garments at thrift stores and you didn't let me down!!'s a beautiful piece...

Kim, USA said...

Those are gorgeous. Are the kids in school now are thought how to sew? I remember we have a project like that when I was in grade school.


Karie said...

OMGosh those are gorgeous! Wow! You have inspired me, I want to make one of these. Thanks for sharing. Karie

Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson said...

Oh my gosh Sally, I am in love! I have such a fetish for wool and this turned out so darn cute Now I want one! What size did you cut your squares? I know how pricey wool is. When I found it for my Fall bedroom quilt I pulled from old clothing as well as buying new. I washed it to felt it. Just love that old wool look!

Chubskulit Rose said...

Beautifully captured.

Catching up with Blue Monday.
It would be great if you can comment on My BLUE as well. Thanks!

Tonya said...

This is sooo beautiful. My friend makes penny rugs so I know they are a heap of patience and work...I don't do well with hand sewing, so I soooo love the work when others do it. LOVE the colors!!!

Sam I Am...... said...

Hi, I came over from Mrs. Olson's and I adore your penny rug! I've been doing wool rugs and felted wool applique for a while now and you did a beautiful job for your first time! Wow! I'm working on a wall hanging right now. I'll be following you to see what you're up to next! Happy Fall!

sweet violets said...

OMG....I love what you created!!! I also have searched for years now for one I can afford....not gonna happen, you have inspired me!!! Will start collecting and gathering for a project in the dead of winter!!!

Debra at HOMESPUN: said...

I never heard of these. This is stunning ! I love it!

Doll in the Looking Glass said...

Beautiful workmanship! Love the colors in your rag rug.


Blessed Rain said...

Over from Mosaic Monday, love this quilt!
The color and shapes are wonderful!

Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson said...

Hi Sally,
Just wanted to hop in and tell you that I am featuring your penny rug at Share Your Cup today.

Debra@CommonGround said...

wow, I'm truly inspired by this project. the antique pieces are fabulous, (if you can even find them) Kudos to you for this great piece. I'll be featuring this on Vintage Inspiration. thanks so much for sharing it with us!!

Erica of Golden Egg Vintage said...

Your piece is beautiful! I'm really inspired to try my hand at this. Thank you for sharing :)

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

This is new to me, however I am impressed! Great job on making this beautiful materpiece.

JoAnn SweetPepperRose said...

This is absolutely beautiful!! I love penny "rugs", more like table covers, as I'd never ever walk on it ;-)
I live in the South, so wool items are far and few between - I wonder if using craft felt would work - I know it would be the same, but I might give it a go. Your pattern is very nice!

Chenille Cottage said...

It looks to me that your "Penny Rug" is worth a million!
Your stitching is perfection and oh, what beautiful colors.
Blessings and happy stitching,

moana said...

Absolument merveilleux !

The Quintessential Magpie said...

This is so cute. I came over from Brenda's post to see the one you made, and man, you are talented! I gave her one I bought that I fell in love with, but now you make me want to make one!!! Thanks for the info on the wools used to make this. It sure is cute. GREAT JOB!



Primitives By The Light of The Moon said...

You did a beautiful job on your penny how you put it all together.

KaHolly said...

I bet this was fun, from the gathering to the finish!! It's just beautiful. You did a lovely job. I always wondered about the origin of Penny Rugs and appreciate the history lesson.

Ann Kolpjn said...

Beautiful. Would love to have this pattern.

Jeanette Hobbs said...

I have made this and ready to put the back on. I did mine bigger for a large table runner. Did you use a stabilizer between the front and back? I just love it and thanks for the wonderful idea.