As Christmas approaches, I have started thinking about wrapping presents with fabric. Each year we throw away so much wrapping paper – what a waste! Please join me as I learn about traditional Japanese wrapping cloths called furoshiki.
For centuries, the Japanese used large squares of fabric called furoshiki (foo-roe-shkee) to bundle up their clothes at public baths or make bags for carrying things. The beautiful square cloths were also treasured and used year after year to wrap presents. Furoshiki were used less as paper and plastic bags came into use.
Fortunately, there is a renewed interest in using reusable fabric wrapping cloths as a means of minimizing waste to help the environment. Furoshiki wrapping cloths are made of cotton, silk, rayon, nylon, and a crepe called chirimen. The most common sizes are 45 cm (17.7 inch) and 68–72 cm (26.7-28.3 inch) – according to Wikipedia.
I cut squares by folding the fabric along the 45° bias angle and then in half, and trimming the fabric to be square.
Furoshiki Folding Techniques
An internet search will yield many tutorials and videos on furoshiki methods. Click here for an excellent resource on different techniques. For another resource, click here. Be sure to note the sections on knot tying and folding sharp corners.
The Carry Wrap, which is the most common wrapping method, wraps the package and provides a handle for carrying. To use quilter’s lingo, start with furoshiki “on-point” with the wrong side up. I will refer to the corners as the front, back, and side corners. In the first photo, a box of Quilter’s Candy Rainbow Basics is placed in the center. The second photo shows where the back corner needs to end up.
The front corner is folded back around the box (shown from the side). The side corners are gathered together in preparation for tying the square knot. A ribbon around the center of the package tied with a bow could be added at this point.
The first step of the square not, for me, is “left over right” and the second is “right over left”. Alternately, the corner flap can be folded back underneath the knot instead of hanging down over the front. Too cute!
The Four-Tie Wrap involves two square knots which form a “flower” on top and works well for taller boxes. Starting with the fabric square “on-point”, center the box on the furoshiki.
Lift the front and back corners and tie a square knot.
The Two-Ties Wrap works well for rectangular boxes. Center the box on the furoshiki. Lift and twist the front corner to the left and the back corner to the right.
Tie the left side corner and front corner in a square knot. Repeat with the other two corners. In the photos, I just did the first step of each square knot – not sure why other than it was feeling a bit messy.
The Long-Package Wrap works well for oblong packages. Place the box off-center, fold the front corner back, and the back corner forward.
Lift and twist the side corners, tying a square knot on the right side. I added a bow just for fun!
Two bottles can be wrapped together by laying the bottles parallel to the diagonal line of a furoshiki with bases about 2″ apart. Starting with the front corner, roll the bottles up in the furoshiki. When completely rolled, bend the bottles upward and tie a square knot. My apologies – this fabric is no longer available. 😥
Even though the sparkling cider and wine bottles are different heights – it still works. This is fun!
Have a couple of books to wrap? Try the Two Book Carry Wrap. Lay the two books near the center and turn them over once, away from the center.
Flip the whole unit over, bringing the front and back corners to the top, and tie a square knot.
Other Uses for Furoshiki
Today in Japan, one popular use is carrying bento lunch boxes wrapped in furoshiki; it can be used for a table cloth when unwrapped. They can be made into purses, baby carriers, tote bags…
and even a pillow!
Furoshiki are fun, attractive, and versatile! I really enjoyed experimenting with the various techniques – and there are even more techniques than the ones illustrated above.
If you would like to try furoshiki for the upcoming holiday gift-giving and like the Batik Paradise Novelties prints shown in the photos – be sure to order soon because they are limited editions. Of course, fabrics from our other collections would also work well. Here are the sizes I used for wrapping the items above:
A 3/4 yard cut gives you about a 27″ square – a useful size for small to medium-size packages.
A 1 yard cut of fabric makes a 36″ square furoshiki.
A 1-1/4 yards can make up to a 44″ square cloth – depending on the width of fabric from selvage to selvage.
I did not finish the raw edges for the purposes of this blog. The batiks tend to not fray and could be left unfinished. You could use a pinking blade, serger, rolled hem, turned hem, or tear the fabric to finish the edges.
I hope to add to my furoshiki wrapping cloth collection each year and gradually phase out wrapping paper. What do you think? Is this something your family might try? Oh – and what a fun way to give a gift any time of the year to a quilting buddy – fabric and a present!