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.