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Penny rugs are small rugs or mats made by sewing wool circles together and while the concept seems to have originated in the 18th century, most of the older surviving examples were made in the mid 1800s, around the time of the Civil War.
They were made by cutting leftover scraps of wool or felted wool fabric from clothing or blankets into various sized circles using coins as a template, hence the name penny rugs (19th century pennies were much larger, about the size of a modern dollar coin today).
These circles were sewn together into stacks and then sewn onto a background fabric of some sort with a blanket stitch. Penny rugs were an exercise in thriftiness and recycling.
The circles could be cut from the smallest of scraps and the backing fabrics were often re-purposed from other items such as blankets or burlap sacks (sadly, burlap is not a durable fabric so few of the ones backed in burlap have survived).
Wool was the perfect fabric to use for penny rugs because its fibers felt together and do not fray and unravel like cotton.
Now For To-Day!
What we like when working with Wool Felt!
There are no edges to turn.
There’s no right or wrong side, so you don’t have to reverse patterns
You don’t have to use fusible web (though you can if you want to).
Cutting on the straight of grain or on the bias works equally well
The blanket stitching can be done by hand or machine. We have the needles available for both hand and machine wool embroidery

Machine wool embroidery -
Use the right needle -- a 100/16 size. Since wool thread is so thick you need to use a needle with a large eye. The larger eye on the needle will allow the thread to pass through it without snagging or stripping the thread.
Use a thread stand when stitching with wool. Thread stands give thread time to unwind and relax before it reaches your machine. Wool thread will unspool much better when you use a thread stand.
Lower your machine speed. Wool thread is very thick and slightly temperamental when it sews. Slowing your machine speed down will allow you to sew more successfully with it.

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Perfect Applique Glue Appli-Glue Appli-Glue Jillily Studio - Perfect Applique Glue!
Price: C$13.99

Fons & Porter Water Soluble Fabric Glue Marker Fons & Porter Water Soluble Fabric Glue Marker
Price: C$14.99
Special Offer! C$8.99
Wool Chubbys Red Plaids 100% Wool In the Patch Designs Wool Chubbys 16in Square Red Plaids/Checks
Price: C$22.99
Wool Curlers 4"x16" Hocus by In the Patch Wool Curlers 4"x16" Hocus: In the Patch 2227
Price: C$21.99
Wool Felt Barnyard Red 20% Wool 2205 Wool Felt Barnyard Red 20% Wool 2205 yardage
Price: C$16.99

Wooly Charms In the Patch Designs Strawberries Wooly Charms 5in x 5in Strawberries 5pk
Price: C$13.99
Wooly Charms Black 5" Wool Squares 4517 Wooly Charms Black 5" Wool Squares 4517
Price: C$13.99