Thursday, November 13, 2014

Christmas Penny Peppermint Ornaments

      I used left over scrap wool for this Christmas ornament project. Little girls used to practice their sewing skills making decorative penny rugs during the mid 1800s for their homes. These little "rugs" as they called them were used to protect the surfaces of trunks, tables and dressers from scratches. 
      Traditional penny rugs use only round wool felt clippings for their designs but modern crafters often incorporate these simple shapes with more complicated motifs in their rug designs.
      I made these penny peppermints using two stitches: the straight stitch and a blanket stitch. However, you may use the embroidery stitches that you prefer to make similar versions.
Supply List:
  • red and white threads
  • red and white wool scraps
  • circle template or coins to trace around
  • plastic sandwich bags
  • white glue
  • wire hooks for hanging
  • scissors
  • needle
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Draw circular shapes to layer on top of each other by tracing around objects like coins or use a circle template if you like.
  2. Then alternate red and white penny shaped wool scraps to suggest peppermint candies.
  3. Knot the red thread and work from the back to the front all around the wool felt shapes.Sew using a straight stitch the first four layers of penny shapes together.
  4. Then blanket stitch the fourth layer on top of the fifth using white thread.
  5. Cut two more white felt circles to sandwich between two identical finished penny peppermints to give the wool candies thickness. Blanket stitch around the outside of these layers with red thread.
  6. Cut the sandwich bags into rectangles. Wrap the wool peppermints by twisting either end together just like real peppermint candies are packaged. I wound white thread and added a bit of white glue to the threads in order to hold the plastic in place.
  7. Twist on a wire hook at one end to hang your wool peppermint candies on the tree.
Left, Steps for layering the peppermint penny ornaments. Right the finished result before wrapping these in plastic candy wrappers.
Penny rug sample
      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. The wool is felted then 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.

More Penny Rug Inspired Christmas Ornaments:

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