Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Makings of a Penny Rug, by Colleen MacKinnon

First things first,
Gather your wool, cut your scraps into circles. Check my tutorial about how to cut circles for a penny rug. For this rug, 3", 2" and 1" circles. No rules! Make them 3.25 and 2.75 and .75 if you want! What do you have in the wool stash?

I stitch my stacks with #10 crochet cotton. Brown is absolutely the hardest colour for me to find. If I see brown at a thrift store, I buy it! Look closely at the blacks, sometimes they are more grey than black. Butcher's twine is a nice weight to stitch as well.

(All cotton threads can be overdyed.)

I use a #20 or a #22 Chenille needle.

Get yourself a graphite marker, it stays on the fabric longer than chalk, your preference. I'm assuming that you have stitched all your stacks. Refer to my tutorial on how to Stitch a 3 Stack. For this rug, there will be no personal backing, or self backing, of these stacks.

My helpful secret is to lay out all your stacks in advance and then scotch tape your rows together. Number the first penny in every row 1,2,3,4,5, etc. (As you work the rows, gently peel the tape away.) Keep the row number on the top stack. This will assist you during the construction. I have used an overdyed white wool blanket for my base. Old rug makers used cotton feed sacks, burlap, whatever they had. Burlap does not stand the test of time. If you want a primitive piece, use burlap. What's in your stash? You decide. Make your rug smaller than mine to start with. This is a fair sized project, I don't want you to give up.

Pennyrugsandmore.blogspot.caI have marked out a grid from the center out. You will need to make little adjustments as you go. Begin with your middle row and work to the right for a row or two, then to the left, and then right, left, right, left. This should keep all things more or less equal. I have remarked my grids as I went. You will have to adjust to your wool, small adjustments along the way.

Pennyrugsandmore.blogspot.caWhy do I have a lap desk? This is great for stitching this size of rug on your lap.
Some gals stitch using their Olfa board on their lap. Once you get the hang of stitching without your hand under your work, you can stitch a circle with your right hand to the left and then switch hands, stitching with your left hand to the right! Stitching the rug without turning it. Okay, I turn the rug, but I'm still practising!
Adjust, pin, stitch, adjust, pin stitch. Take your time, enjoy your project. This is one for the summer, but maybe not at the beach! lol! You'll be a little warm!
If you look closely you may see remnants of the graphite marker, oh well.
This is the back.

Pennyrugsandmore.blogspot.caI turned over the edges and blanket stitched the sides. This rug was meant to be hung. I didn't want a lining. After I stitched the edges, I went back and trimmed them close and neat to the stitching on the back side.
Watch those corners. Do three stitches to get around the corner, keeping the base of the stitches coming out of the same stitch hole. Look closely.
Here is an illustration of my dowel casing. I have stitched it to the center of each stack. This allows me to rest the dowel nicely on a couple of small brads into the wall. I find that the top of the rug can be a bit floppy. Perhaps you might like to stitch your dowel directly to the top border of your rug. Experiment.
The back again, check the mitered corner. I whip stitched and steam pressed it into submission, wool can be thick when you fold it a couple times! No rules on the sides, maybe you would like to bind your rug? I would machine stitch a lining to the back and then go around the edges by machine or by hand with rug binding. This is another technique and more time consuming. Where do your talents lie? Do you want this to be the ultimate rug, or are you new to penny rugs and want to keep it simple, choose this method.

Pennyrugsandmore.blogspot.caThe rug.
This is my way of constructing this particular rug. I have not lined this rug, but I will be sharing photos of rugs I have for sale. They have linings and are meant for table tops. Remember, this is a no rules, use what you have, love what you do project!


  1. Your stitches look so perfect. I use regular floss, maybe it is time I try the crochet cotton instead.


  2. Your rug looks wonderful. Thanks for all the info. I really need to try out the lap board idea and I want to try dyeing some crochet cotton too. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Have a great day.


  3. Thank you so much! Fun to see how you keep things in order and especially nice to learn how to do that finishing corner on the rug backing. Now I am wondering how you attach a backing to the background wool and how to finish the edges? I like the look of the crochet cotton on this pretty penny wool rug...I have no idea who thought to make the penny wools, but I thank that person too as I love the look and such a fun way to use wool!!

  4. I'm gonna try that with my unused granny squares I've been collecting. They aren't wool but they are colorful. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Hi annypanny, granny squares. That sounds really interesting! Maybe you'd like to share, send a photo when you're done?

  6. These are great!! Enjoyed the photo's and will use the idea of tape to keep things together!!