2016 Free Boms

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Love Penny Rugs...

...and I'm hoping you will fall in love with them too, as we sew along over the next 10 months.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about their history.

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.

I'll be using purchased wool felt, wool blend felt, woollen suiting and some handmade felt I made from old jumpers and blankets.  There is no reason you can't make the rug from anything you wish.  I think it would look brilliant sewn on linen and if you want to use all cotton fabrics instead of felt  - go right ahead.  It's your penny rug so use whatever you want.  I'll try to offer hints for using cotton fabric along the way and at the end I'll suggest some alternate ways to finish off the edges.
My penny rug is going to have the traditional edging like this antique one which is currently for sale on Ebay.  Here's the link just in case you want to BID

  • You will need a rectangle of fabric for the main body of the rug measuring 40" x 28". I used a good quality wool blend felt which I purchased at Spotlight off the roll.  Mine is a midnight blue.
  • An assortment of other felts and fabrics for the applique
  • Some Vliesofix or Heat and Bond
  • Stranded cotton, perle cotton, silk or Auriful 12 wt wool thread for sewing around your applique.
  • General sewing requirements like needles, scissors etc

Lay out your piece of felt

and measure up 5 1/2" from each corner
Put your ruler across at these marks and cut off each corner.

Print out the two applique sheets you will find HERE.

Trace the pattern pieces on to the vliesofix.  (I didn't worry about reversing the print as the house is basically symetrical except for the chimney and you can put that anywhere on the roof you want.  I didn't think it mattered whether the tree trunk was reversed or not.)
Then cut out the pieces just outside the traced lines.  Iron these onto your chosen pieces of fabric and cut out on the lines.  Peel off the paper backing.

I assembled the house on a piece of Glad Bake (parchment baking paper), peeled it off,  then positioned it in the middle of one side about 3/4' in from the edge.

The tree trunk and grassy pieces go on next

It's a good idea to use the tree pattern piece to help you judge how close to put the trunk to the house.

Then blanket stitch around each piece.
When that's done draw on the branches ( I used a silver gel pen which I bought in a pack of 5 for $2 in Woolworths) and chain-stitch them in.

Cut a whole bunch of little leaves in différent shades of green. I used 4 different colours and attach each one with a running stitch.  (If you are using cotton fabric make it double sided by joining 2 pieces together with vliesofix, that way it won't fray as easily when held on by the running stitches.)

Now you can embroider a little vine on the house if you want.
And you are finished Part 1.
Can't wait to share the next bit, back here on Monday February 13th

I hope you decide to join me in this project.  If you do there is this logo to put on your sidebar if you wish.
and here is the code


Hope I'll see you tomorrow for Tuesday Treasures.


  1. Your Penny Rug is going to be a delightful project, Melody. I'll have to bookmark it to do down the track. :)

  2. What a wonderful design to start the BOM. This is going to be a fun project.

  3. Your work is lovely! I like the way you have attached the leaves! I will enjoy watching this project grow each week!

  4. Lovely first instalment. I will need some backing felt first!

  5. Looking Good, Melody - I'm off to spotlight to pick up the backing felt (& a 3.5 crochet hook...another project) and I'll be on my way :)

  6. This brings back memories! We used to make them of wool scraps and felted materials. True found fabrics. I have not attempted one in many years.
    I look forward to watching as you share.

  7. How gorgeous!! I love this idea, Melody, and will definitely be making this once I am moved and settled. You clever girl! :-)

  8. This looks very inviting Melody. I have some pieces of felt - hmmm. Maybe I need to look them out. Love how you have made the leaves.

  9. what a lovely project Mel,lovely design.xx

  10. so excited to be starting... have printed and off to look in my wools... I will be using the old repurposed blankets like the olden days people did!!!

  11. Oh Melody it is gorgeous.....I would love to do it but too much on my plate already and it's only January. I am going to love seeing everyone's progress and different versions though. How exciting.

  12. I have always loved penny rugs, but didn't know their history til now. The one above is just darling! I hope to have the time, (someday) to make one using felt made from my own sheep's wool. It is on my "to do" list>

  13. HOW CUTE IS THIS! I'm in love with it, Melody! Thank you dear girl, it's so darling!

  14. Melody, I didn't know what a penny rug was!! I'm so glad I read this post about the history and a tutorial. I just love the one you've made. The tree has little leaves and the house has a vine, ooh its all so cute and pretty!

  15. The first part of your penny rug is just gorgeous, I would love to give it a go. I'm off to spotlight tomorrow so will look for felt otherwise I will look at my fabrics. Thanks heaps for the BOM!!

  16. Very beautiful, I never worked with wool...Thanks

  17. Oh Melody... it's already looking wonderful!! I love, love, love penny rugs and I can't wait to make a start on yours. Thank you so much for doing this xx

  18. Can't wait to start. Couldn't get your button to work.

  19. I am so excited to make this "rug"! I have the perfect spot for it when it is complete-over my fireplace mantal!

    I will be shopping this week and tracing, cutting, ironing, stitching, and embelishing this weekend!

    Thanks for an awesome new experience-I have never really worked with wool felt and am excited to!

  20. I have made a start on the penny rug , just adorable !Thanks Melody.
    hugs Sheila

  21. This is really beautiful and looks like an exciting BOM... really didn't need any more projects but -oh so tempted!!

  22. Thank you, I have put the link on my blog But I can't get the link to work?
    Or is it me ?

  23. Oh this is so cute!! I don't have any wool but would love to try collecting some. Maybe I can hit some thrift stores.

  24. I have just recieved some recycled felt etc from Fiona so I am now looking forward to joining in with your Penny Rug. If it's ok Can I borrow an image from your blog to place on my next blog post. Thanks, Sharon

  25. I have the first part finished. Loved it. Used what I had (crafting felt) but for what I will use it I don't need anything heavy. Thank you so much, I am anxiously awaiting the next installment. You can see what I have accomplished on my blog.


  26. This is the first I have heard of Penny Rugs Mel, it looks great and I am interested to see the finished project. Not commiting at this stage but will definately save each month and have put the button on my side bar. Cheers Kaylee xx

  27. Interesting story! I love the Penny Rugs, thanks for rdte BOM that will be beautiful.

  28. Hello,
    I have just discovered your blog and this Block of the month. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I have taken the liberty of linking to a few of your posts on a French quilters forum. I hope you don't mind. May I also borrow a picture or two to whet the girls' appetite?
    Beatrice (from France - Europe)



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