What better way to celebrate the season of giving than with a beautifully hand-wrapped gift? When the wrapping on the outside is just as thoughtful as the gift on the inside, it’s easy to see why we’re skipping the gift wrap this year and going with an eco-friendly option. Furoshiki, both a style of gift wrapping and traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, dates back to the Nara period and was first used to protect valuable goods. Today, with the help of maker River Takada-Capel, we’re showing you six furoshiki techniques you can use this holiday season and beyond.
River: My earliest memories of using furoshiki dates back to my mom, Kazuko, wrapping up my lunch in napkins instead of sending me to school with a brown paper bag lunch. Unwrapping my lunch was such a delight since I knew it was a gift from my mom and usually held a delicious sandwich inside. As I got older and traveled to Japan annually to visit my family, I took note of how culturally embedded gift giving is — never show up empty handed! Beautifully wrapped gifts can be found in every corner of the country. That chestnut roasting stand on the corner, it has carefully chosen ribbon to tie your bag of this delicious smelling treat. Every train station and department store is stocked with branded wrapping paper and gold stickers to make any last minute gift look special. Even bookstores wrap paper around the covers of books upon purchase so you can read your guilty pleasures on the train in secret.
To this day I love a wrapped gift that might look like a handmade tote bag, reused brown paper grocery bag or a vintage scarf furoshiki. I even use furoshiki to wrap up things in my suitcase when I travel. That silk scarf I might wear on my trip? I’ll use it to wrap up my t-shirts. It doubles to keep my luggage organized while I hide my delicates from airport security. I hope you get inspired by this zero-waste gift wrapping tutorial, but I also hope this inspires you to use your beloved fabrics in everyday life.
Getting Familiar with Furoshiki
If you’re new to furokshiki, these helpful tips are a great place to start.
You can accomplish a lot with just wrapping and tying. In these tutorials, we’ve incorporated some twisting to add handles and specific folds to get different wrapping styles. Don’t be shy about trying a few different methods to see what works for your gift and fabric. Ready to get wrapping?
Part 1: Prepping Your Fabric for Furoshiki
Before we get started wrapping our presents, we must first prep our fabric! Lucky for you, there are a few no-sew options if you’re in a hurry to wrap a last-minute gift. Measuring, pinning and ironing all have their respected places in sewing, but when I am trying to whip up a furoshiki wrap for a gift, I have a few shortcuts I like to take to save time. Watch the videos below to find out what they are.
No-Sew Finishing Methods
Cut off the selvage with pinking shears and square it off with ruler.
Cut off the selvage with fabric scissors, fold the fabric in half diagonally to make a triangle and then cut the remaining two sides.
Using an existing scarf or bandana (20″ x 20″) as a template, line up the template on a 45º angle. Cut two sides of your Chiffon fabric on the bias*. Once you’ve cut half of the fabric, fold it in half and cut the other two sides.
*Cutting on the bias prevents the fabric from fraying.
Hemmed Finishing Methods: Woven Fabrics
Snip and Rip
Make a 1’ snip with a sharp pair of fabric scissors close to the unprinted selvage on the grain of your fabric and then rip the unprinted selvage off. Finger press or press with an iron ½”, repeat and hem the edges with a straight stitch or zig-zag stitch.
Half Triangle Block
Using two different woven cotton fabrics, cut out two triangles of fabric — use your first triangle as a template to make the second triangle. Lay right sides together, pin the diagonal size and zig-zag stitch the diagonal side.
For an optional french seam, place the fabric wrong sides together, pin the bias cut edge (diagonal side) and stitch together with a straight stitch using a ⅛”-¼” seam allowance. Open up the fabric so the print side is facing up. Finger press the hem to one side. Flip fabric over, fold the fabric on the bias, right sides facing each other and pin in place. Stitch your fabric in place with a seam allowance that is at least twice as large as your original hem. Now you have finished edges on both the front and back of your fabric!
Part 2: Furoshiki Techniques
Method 1: Traditional Tie
Method 2: Side by Side Bow
This method is a traditional bento box fold.
Pro tip: Tuck the corners of the excess fabric into the sides to make them look like little bows.
Method 3: Corner Tie
Method 4: Padded Wrap
This method is great for wrapping bottles or vases.
Method 5: Bag Bundle
This method is great for wrapping a bundle of fabric.
Method 6: Basic Wrapping
Used for wrapping a book or flat box, good for fat quarter sized pieces of fabric.
Have an oddly shaped gift like a handmade coffee mug or bundle of similar items like a baby hat, leggings and shoes? Try out these techniques for even more inspiration.
And that’s a wrap! For another alternative gift wrapping option, try out our gift box DIY.
About the Guest Author
River Takada-Capel is a mixed media artist focusing in material re-use. She sources materials from deadstock warehouses, factories and flea markets to make a variety of products she sells online, at craft markets and independently owned stores. River also teaches textile based workshops like Indigo Dyeing, screen printing and sewing for all ages and levels. Listen to her interview on the Love to Sew Podcast all about teaching kids about sewing and find out when her next workshop is by signing up for her online newsletter. You can find River’s most up-to-date projects on her Instagram, where she also shares videos of her adorable cats.