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Instructions for Making Penny Rugs

Sewing penny rugs is a time honored craft. For centuries women have hoarded scraps of wool and fabric to cut into shapes and sew by hand to charming penny rugs. Scraps of wool fabric and felt are cut and sewn together with bold blanket stitches into decorative designs. This guide gives you instructions for the basic steps to sew penny circles to create a penny rug.

What You Need

Use wool felt (commonly sold in 12-by-12 inch squares) in the colors of your choice. The thread used for blanket stitches is twisted 2-ply cotton embroidery floss with a Blunt sharp needle. You will need paper patterns as a cutting guide for every shape in your penny rug, a Sharpie marker, and sharp scissors. Do not use pinking shears.

Making the Rug

Establish the design for your penny rug. Draw or print out your pattern. Decide on the color scheme (fall, winter, summer, spring, or traditional colors) and mark your pattern with the colors to avoid confusion as you create the parts of your penny rug.

Trace the shapes onto the fabric using paper patterns and a black Sharpie pen. Use your colored pattern as a guide for what color is to be cut into what shape. Cut the fabric using the outer edge of the black lines as your guide.

Several 3-layered circles (three different size circles in three different colors) that will be sewn together to create your finished penny rug. You will need 2 large circles, one small, and one medium. Use ample thread with the end knotted to complete blanket stitches around all three circles.

Start with your medium circle and back stitch in the center to secure your thread. Center the smallest circle on top of the medium circle and pull the needle through the small circle to start your first blanket stitch. Begin sewing to the right and blanket stitch all the way around the smallest circle. Complete the last stitch next to the first stitch to finish this round. Finish the last stitch and push the needle in the over the top of your first stitch pushing the needle out the back of the round.

Center the layered rounds on the large circle. Insert the needle from the back into the front taking a stitch to mark where you want to begin blanket stitch in the medium round. Sew to the right completing the round with blanket stitches. Close on the first stitch like you did on the small round ending with the needle pulled through the back of the piece. Back stitch, knot and repeat to secure the thread. Do not cut the thread. At this point you have blanket stitched the edges of the small and medium circles.

Hold the 3-layered circles vertically, pull the thread straight up and hold. Place the second large circle (this is the backing for the 3-layered circles) against the back of the 3-layered circles and make your first blanket stitch. Begin sewing to the right and blanket stitch the 3-layered circles to the backing. To finish, push the needle through the top of the first stitch. Next, push the needle through the middle of the stack between the large circle and backing. Pull the needle out through the back. Make a small back stitch, knot, back stitch, knot again and cut the thread. Your first “penny” is complete.

Numerous 3-layered pennies can be sewn together in a pattern to make your penny rug. Pennies can be sewn on to a larger backing to create a design.

Care and Maintenance

Putting your wool felt penny rug in the washing machine will ruin it. Dry clean only. Do not fold your penny rug to store. Lay the rug flat when storing.


Space your blanket stitches carefully to make them come out even when you reach the end of each round.

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