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In the 1800s, starting around the time of the Civil War, thrifty homemakers would use scraps of wool or felted wool from old clothing, blankets and hats to create designs for mats or rugs. Using coins as templates, they created circles and each piece was then stitched in blanket stitch fashion. (Thus, the name "penny" rug). Sometimes, the mats or rugs were backed with old burlap bags or feed sacks. Sometimes a penny was stitched inside the mat to make it lie flat.
Penny rugs are not actual rugs for the floor, but decorative coverings for beds, tables and dressers and mantles. Sometimes they are used as wall hangings or pillows. Most designs include circles and some include images from everyday life such as cats, flowers, birds and shapes such as stars and hearts.
Penny rugs are made by selecting good quality 100% wool. It must not be too thick. It may be hand-dyed or overdyed to give the piece dimension. The wool is felted then circles are cut from the wool in varying sizes and then stitched together concentrically using complementary colors. The circles are stitched to a wool backing in a pleasing design. When finished the entire piece should have a backing to cover the stitches and to protect it. The backing may be wool, linen or burlap.
I consider myself a folk artist - I have not attended any arts college - hands on training is my definition of folk artist.
I have always loved wool! I've been drawn to all types of fiber arts. The February class here at The Hobby Farm - was to be penny rug mug mat. However, with the frigid negative temperatures I had to postpone the class until March. I found these 2 brown blazers at Goodwill and think they would make cute rabbits - so maybe the March class: penny mug mat - will have a Spring twist.
I always look for wool while thrifting. Felting - shrinking - the wool is easy. It seems that the wool blankets felt up better than these blazers, however, the blazers have the smaller print patterns.
I have washed these blazers 3 times in hot water and dried them. I plan to cut off the interfacing edges and cut the wool into chunks or squares. I will add the buttons to my button box. Vintage buttons are so much better than the new plastic ones!
I plan to post more about penny rugs and how to make them. Till then, I have some felting to do.....
Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.