Art from the Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountians
The Penny Rug
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. 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.
Today we use felt, felted fabrics, and some hand
dyed cotton flannel, but the technique is the same and the results are stunning.
These penny rugs all hand made by Cindy and her
|Butterflies for Salle by Cindy