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Today’s project is my absolute favorite one that is part of my Ecological Gift Wrapping series: furoshiki. This Japanese technique is a super simple form of reusable fabric gift wrap, although it’s also used to carry bundles in Japan.
I’ve been using the same furoshiki fabric squares for years, and they have made my gift wrapping, especially during the holidays, so much easier and faster, not to mention waste-free and cost-free!
(Make sure you check out the rest of my Ecological Gift Wrapping Guide, too!)
Basically, furoshiki is a square of fabric which is wrapped and tied around an object, either to carry it or to just make it look pretty for gift giving.
There are quite a few shops selling these fabric squares at pretty high prices. But why bother paying loads of money when you can get in on the fun at a fraction of the cost?
I’ll show you how to make your own furoshiki, with or without sewing, and how to wrap with it!
What fabric is best for furoshiki?
Not all fabrics work equally well for wrapping furoshiki-style. It’s better to use a lightweight, but sturdy, fabric. It’s preferable to use a non-see-through fabric which is printed or colored on both sides.
The fabrics I used in this post were discovered hidden away in my grandmother‘s attic after her passing away. I would never use them for clothing because I can’t stand polyester against my skin (or Hawaiian prints, for that matter), but they’re perfect for furoshiki. But if you don’t have random fabric you want to get rid of, look elsewhere in your home or thrift shop. Lightweight curtains, sheets and comforter covers are all great sources of fabric yardage.
How to make Furoshiki fabric gift wrap:
Wikipedia tell us that the most common sizes are 45 cm and 68-72 cm squares, but really you can do whatever size you want.
I wanted to get the most out of my fabric, so I pretty much split the length of my fabric into two columns, one of which was roughly 70 cm wide and the other about 45 cm wide. Then I cut squares out of each column.
I also made some huge squares for bigger packages about 110 cm wide, taking up the whole width of the fabric.
How to cut perfect fabric squares
How do we make perfect fabric squares? Easy! Lay out your fabric cut to the width you want, then fold one of the outer corners diagonally up so as to form a triangle. (shown above)
Snip snip, and you’ve got a square! If you’re slightly more careful about cutting than I was here, you’ll have a perfect square and not a wonky one like mine. But really, it doesn’t make much of a difference in the end if it isn’t perfect, so don’t sweat it!
A fun trick to getting fast and perfectly straight cuts without having to measure too much is to just rip the fabric.
Fold your fabric to form a triangle, as shown above. Make a little cut along the top edge of the fabrics but, instead of cutting all the way down, hold each side of the snipped fabric in a hand and continue to tear it all the way to the other side.
When you do this, the fabric rips along the grain, making it a perfectly straight tear. The edges will be slightly fray-ey and puffy, but a quick ironing will fix that up. (My fabric really needed ironing anyway!)
Optional sewn edges
If your fabric doesn’t fray, you can just leave the furoshiki square as it is, however with repeated folding and knotting, the edges could start to fray anyway.
To avoid this, I highly suggest finishing off the edges.
The easiest solution is to simply serge/overlock them. Just whip them through the overlock machine (serger), and you’re done.
If you don’t have an overlocker, you can do a simple zig zag stitch around all the edges or, if you have a very thin fabric, rolled edges with a rolled hem foot. If not, fold each edge over twice as little as possible, iron and stitch down. If you want to get fancy, this tutorial for mitered corners is awesome and makes absolutely perfect corners.
How to fold Furoshiki:
And now for the fun part: wrapping and folding! You can just be creative and fold them however you like. The above image is from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment (and is also available in PDF form) and gives a good overview of classic basic wrapping techniques.
A good idea would be to print out a copy to give with your furoshiki-wrapped gift so that the recipient can learn how to use it. If you don’t want to use massive amounts of ink while printing, you can find the same diagram in black and white here.
If you want more techniques and more detailed instructions, furoshiki.com has a great database of wrapping techniques. Here’s a quick look at three of my favorite ways to wrap up gifts:
Yotsu Musabi (four tie wrap)
This is super easy and my favorite folding method. Place the item diagonally in the center of the square.
Tie together two opposite corners with a double knot. If you item’s sides are not the same length, first tie the corners that the shorter sides point to. Doing this will create a first smaller knot. Then tie together the other two corners, creating a larger double knot that will cover the first smaller one.
And that’s it! Way faster than using regular wrapping paper, huh?
This is fine if you’re giving a gift directly to a person, but if you are at a birthday party or have lots of gifts under a Christmas tree, your packages will get all mixed up without a nametag. Click here to learn how to make a cute upcycled gift tag!
Tie up the first furoshiki corners and then the first knot of the second set of corners. Slip one corner tie into the tag string and tie the second knot. Done!
Otsukai Tsutsumi (basic carry wrap)
Sometimes the first knot can be a little too bulky underneath the second one. In this case a good solution is the Otsukai Tsutsumi (basic carry wrap).
For this method you just fold over (and under the item, if necessary) the first opposite corners, then tie up the second set of corners.
Entou Tsutsumi (long object wrap)
Let’s say you have a tubular object like a travel umbrella. In this case the Entou Tsutsumi (long object wrap) is perfect.
Place your item diagonally at one corner. Fold the corner over it and roll the item up completely. Then tie the two ends together.
If your ends are very long, you can pull them to the center but instead of tying them, twist them around each other and wrap around the object to the other side and tie on that side.
Your gifts will be truly beautiful with minimal effort once you prepare a few squares and learn a few easy furoshiki wrapping techniques.
The great thing about reusable fabric gift wrap is that there’s no need to buy or throw away wrapping paper and you will educate others with your wrapping decisions. It’s also so much faster to wrap gifts with furoshiki. And if you use recycled textiles, they won’t cost you anything! A win-win situation!
If you liked this tutorial on Furoshiki fabric gift wrap, check out my other ecological gift wrapping ideas for lots of great ways to create gift packages without extra waste!
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