Zero-Waste Wrapping with Furoshiki Wrapping Cloths

If you’re looking for a beautiful, easy, and reusable way to wrap things, then the furoshiki cloth may be right for you. Furoshiki is basically fabric wrapping paper – but with so many other uses!  Furoshiki comes from Japan, and dates back centuries. The word “furoshiki” means “bath spread”. When public baths became popular in Japan, people used furoshiki as a mat for undressing and to carry their clothes. Once people saw the utilitarian uses of furoshiki, it became more common to use it in everyday activities.

Nowadays, furoshiki is used for its versatility and environmentally-conscious attributes. While they make great gift wrap, they also have other helpful uses such as:
– For packing your lunch –> Now you’ve got a built in napkin or placemat
– For updating throw pillows –> Wrap it around your pillow for a quick transformation
– For using as a bag –> A few knots at the corners is all you need to make a handy tote
– For clothing –> Use it as a scarf, a belt, or a bandana
– For décor –> Use in place as a table runner or draped over a chair

Where can you find furoshiki wrapping cloths?
You can find pretty options online at places like Etsy and even Anthropologie. If you have a favorite thrift or second hand consignment store, you might be able to find scarves that would work. How about a flour sack? It can double as part of the gift and as wrapping for a kitchen themed item. A swaddle blanket can hide the contents of your baby shower gift while also serving as a gift.  If you are crafty, why not try making your own? Trust me, it’s super easy and you might not even need a sewing machine!

Photo source: Anthropologie

Making your own furoshiki

Choosing fabrics: You want to choose a fabric that can easily be knotted
– Materials that have a nice drape like rayon or polyester will work well
– Fabrics like lightweight cotton are more sturdy, good for holding heavier objects
– Pick a fabric that has a print on both sides, or consider sewing two pieces together; as you experiment with your wrapping techniques, you will find that a dual print fabric has more versatility
– Many fabric shops run weekly sales, or check remnant bins for good deals

Choose fabrics that can be easily knotted

Sizing: It’s handy to have a variety of sizes available for your wrapping needs, experiment!
– The typical sized furoshiki ranges from 28”x 28” to 36”x36”
– There is no set rule on what size your furoshiki needs to be
– As a general  guideline, the length of the object should be approximately 1/3 the diagonal of the fabric

Finished or unfinished edges: How you finish the edges of your furoshiki is up to you and each style creates a different look
– Raw edge (leaving the edge as is)
– Fringed edge (where you unravel threads from each side to make a fringe)
– Wavy rotary cut edge (cut with a wavy rotary cutter)
– Pinked edge (cut using pinking shears)
– Machine stitched rolled hem
– Serged rolled hem

Wrapping with furoshiki is sort of like origami, but much simpler. While there are formal wrapping techniques, use your creativity and do what works for you! Ribbons or pins can serve as fasteners and decorations. Wondering if your recipient should keep or return the furoshiki? It’s completely up to you and them. If they think they’ll reuse it for their next gift, then by all means, let them pass it along! Try furoshiki for your next gift – it’s reusable, doesn’t rip, and doesn’t require any tape or scissors! Gift wrapping, simplified.

Watch these videos on how easy it is to wrap gifts!

The book, Furoshiki Fabric Wraps by Pixeladies is a very helpful guide to understanding furoshiki techniques. You may be able to find the book at your local library.

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Carolyn Wieland

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