How to Make a Pennie Rug

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Make a Pennie Rug
Make a Pennie Rug (Image: Home Trading Auction)

Penny Rugs date back the 1800s. Housewives saved scraps of wool and felt from worn-out clothing to make these delightful penny rugs. Surprisingly, these rugs weren't really rugs at all, but were used as table runners, wall hangings or even quilts. Created from a series of circles sewn together to form concentric circles of varying colors and then sewn on a background of burlap, probably from old grain sacks, these striking rugs continue in popularity today. The name derives from the fact that coins were likely used as templates for the circles and that a penny was often sewn to the back of circles to make the rug lie flat when finished.

Things You'll Need

  • Wool or felt scraps
  • Contrasting thread or embroidery floss
  • Wool or burlap backing material
  • Needle
  • Circle templates

Gather an assortment of wool or felt scraps. You may wish to stick to tradition and save scraps of wool or felt clothing for this project, but you can also purchase new felt in any fabric store. If you intend to make a small rug, squares of felt can be purchased for pennies. These come in a variety of colors and are easy to work with. For larger projects, purchase felt by the yard from the fabric store.

Choose a color scheme for your penny rug. You will need at least three different colors, but may wish to use more. Be sure the colors complement each other and will stand out against your background material.

Choose a background material for your rug. Dark colors will make your pennies stand out. Try black or dark blue to make a striking statement.

Decide on the size of your penny circles and choose a template. You can make a template from cardboard or plastic. The size you choose is up to you, but remember the original penny rugs were made from small circles. If you want to stick with tradition, use coins for the templates.

Stack your circles to create concentric circles of three layers. Experiment to find just the right color combinations.

Stitch the circles together using a contrasting embroidery floss with a blanket stitch. Set aside until you have completed all the pennies.

Lay out your completed pennies on the background material. Arrange until you find a design that appeals to you.

Hand stitch the pennies to the background material.

Display as a wall hanging or table runner.

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