How to make a reusable giftwrap - Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth

How to make a reusable giftwrap - Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth

I hope you are enjoying some lovely weather where you are. In Rotterdam, the sun is shining brightly for the first time this year and it's warm. Maybe not the perfect weather for indoor crafts (unless you suffer from hayfever ;) so I have a quick sewing project for you. Inspired by furoshiki, a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth you can use as reusable gift wrap or a bag. 

A reusable gift wrap is a great way to reduce waste and I use these wrapping cloths next to the tsuno tie bags to do my part. 

I recently made one that I adorned with a pink sun print. It's quite small 39,5 x 39,5 cm which is about the smallest I would go, but this was the largest I could fit under the glass I have for sun printing. It does fit an A6-sized booklet though and small gift like a bar of soap. 
I used a square piece of fabric that I finished with a double fold hem around the edges and mitered corners for a nice detail on the tips. 

You can find the mitered corner explained on the blog; here for narrow seam allowances and here for wider seam allowances. If you have a rolled hem presser foot, that would be a great option, but I have never mastered it even after hours of trying so I'll just keep to a double fold hem. 

What is a good size for a furoshiki wrapping cloth?
The smallest I would go is around 40 x 40 centimeters. which is about 15,75 inches  But I think a larger size is more versatile.

If you have a specific gift you are working with, then the diagonal of the cloth needs to be around three times the length of the gift. You can use a square piece of cloth, a tea towel, or a square scarf to make an educated guess to determine the finished size you need. 

If you are not making a gift wrap for a specific gift...why not make a couple of different sizes. For example:

- 45 x 45 cm / 17,7"x 17,7"
- 50 x 50cm / 19,7 x 19,7
- 60 x 60 cm / 23,6" x 23,6"  
- 80 x 80 cm / 31,5" x 31,5"
- 100 x 100 cm 39,4" x 39,4" 

You get the idea ;) My approach to making these wraps has been to get a good size, but also try and use up the entire width or length of the fabric as efficiently as possible. So reducing waste was a deciding factor for me when determining the size.  

Don't forget to add a seam allowance on top of those finished sizes. So if you were to go for a 1cm (3/8") seam allowance you need to double it for the double fold hem for example:

- cut 47 x 47 cm  to get a finished size of 45 x 45 cm
- cut 18,5" x 18.5"to get a finished size of 17.7" x 17.7"

furoshiki reusable gift wrap

What fabric can you use for reusable gift wraps?
I've had the best success with fairly lightweight fabrics. The fabric with the sun print is a 138 gsm calico. But I've also used a cotton voile, viscose, and I've made a larger size with a thicker just experiment, in the end, that's the best way to approach any sewing project. 

Wrapping up
So far I've mentioned fabric and measurements, but of course, there is so much more to it than that. There is history and tradition connected to it. All though all around the world cloth was used to wrap items, in Japan, it evolved from utility into an art and tradition.

For some inspiration here are a few videos with examples of how to use the cloth. 

- A short introduction to Furoshiki with some examples, history and a demonstration by Tomoko Osawa

- A demonstration for 3 different Furoshiki wrapping techniques​​​​​​​

For more on the history and tradition, you can check out the website by Musubi which is a Japanese company that makes furoshiki (since 1937!) with amazing prints...making them a great alternative to sewing them yourself, because that you can something doesn't always have to mean you have to ;)

DIY furoshiki sizing

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