Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Little History of Penny Rugs and My Addiction.

Someone commented that they would like to know the 'history' of penny rugs, so I am going to quote from Wikipedia:

A penny rug is a decoration made of stitched together coin shaped fabric scraps.

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 over dyed to give the piece dimension. Circles are cut from the wool in varying sizes and then stitched together concentrically using complimentary 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.


So, there you have it folks. They don't mention how addicting the craft is. How my mind is always going around in circles. Or, how when I walk by a handsome man in a suit, I imagine me taking off all of his clothes, bit by bit, and attacking that suit with my seam ripper and scissors:)

Wool...preferably vintage, 100% only, dyed by natural methods if possible has taken over my entire being, as well as my computer room. Cotton crochet thread #10 is my thread of choice for making penny rugs. Possible projects are always flitting through my brain. and I swear that I spend more time planning than I do sewing! This art form marries well with my rug hooking obsession. When I full (sort of like felting but not as tight) the wool, if it turns out to thick for rug hooking, then I can use it for penny rugs. I have jars of fancy buttons, zippers and bows now, so I have just started playing around with altered art too! No wonder my house is so messy, I have no time to clean!

I belong to some really great online groups that are a font of information for me, and have made some really nice online friends as well. Actually, they taught me these crafts through emails, pictures, and online tutorials. I have much to be thankful for with my Wool Snippets, my Yahoo Wool and Rags, and my Yahoo rug hookers. Thanks for all you do ladies:)

Wooly hugs,
Trudy