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Furoshiki: beautiful, reusable wrappings

Updated on January 3, 2017

Wrappings for everything

Anything you can wrap in paper, you can wrap in cloth.

Japanese traditional cloth wrappings called furoshiki, are the greenest package wrapping you can get. Reusable, beautiful, environmentally friendly wrapping for food, gifts, for anything at all.

I'll show you how to make a furoshiki style tote for show and tell.

Furoshiki means 'bath spread'

Pronounced: f'-ROHSH-kee

In feudal Japan during the Edo period (1603 – 1868), they were used to bundle and protect people's clothing at public bath houses. Some historians think they could even date as far back as the Nara period (AD 710 – 794).

Before that, a furoshiki was known as hirazutsumi — a flat folded bundle.

As time passed, the furoshiki was used by merchants to transport their wares, and by people to protect and decorate a gift.

These days the cloths are used to tie up any parcel or package you can imagine.

Even baby can be carried on one's back in a furoshiki!

Reusable (green) gift wraps - Furoshiki, friend to the environment

Image from Wikipedia

A Furoshiki is used for wrapping gifts

It has lots of other uses, too

Because there so many ingenious ways of folding a furoshiki, they make great shopping bags, gift wrap, shoulder bags, and my favourite — a quilt tote bag. I show you how to sew one further down the page.

Furoshiki are commonly used to wrap and carry lunch boxes (bento) and then they are used as a table mat for the lunch.

In daily life in Japan, these cloths are often employed for other household uses, such as:

  • as a tablecloth
  • for decorating the wall
  • instead of a shopping bag
  • for storing objects
  • as a scarf
  • for wearing as a sun-dress
  • cut into patches for quilts

A tradition has been reinvigorated

No more plastic bags

When plastic shopping bags came, the use of furoshiki declined, but individuals are more environmentally aware nowadays.

Because of the threat plastic bags pose to wildlife and our ecology, people are again using furoshiki, and a tradition has been reinvigorated.

On March 6, 2006, the Japanese Minister of the Environment, Yuriko Koike, created a furoshiki cloth to promote its use in the modern world.

What are these cloths made of?

What size are they?

Modern furoshiki can be made of a variety of fabric types, including silk, crepe, cotton, rayon, and nylon, and are decorated with traditional designs or by shibori.

While there is no one set size, most furoshiki are around 18 to 20 inches square, have a printed design in one corner, and are hemmed at the edges.

When you wrap a parcel or a gift in paper, the wrapping is often very creased and not easy to reuse. A furoshiki can be part of the present, and so can be used over and over. (Very green!)

A furoshiki exhibition - Preventing garbage with traditional wrapping

An inspiring art exhibition of furoshiki

Learn how to fold furoshiki - Buy this book on Amazon

Furoshiki Wrapping
Furoshiki Wrapping

This book is featured on Furoshiki [dot] com


How to fold diagrams - of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth

Download the diagram — it's free!

Furoshki style tote

Make one, or two!

This is my favourite bag for toting quilts around for show and tell.

I have a smaller one for taking to the supermarket. (good green!)

Here's how it's made.

I have coloured the three layers in different colours so you can see what's to happen. Of course, you will get a really pretty bag if you use three bandannas, or three different batik fabrics...


1. Start with a length of fabric 3 times as long as it is wide.

Hem all the way around — unless you want to make a separate lining.

Fold in an S — three equal divisions.

2. Sew yellow to brown

Sew right sides together, turn out, press.


3. Sew brown to blue

On the opposite edge of the brown layer (right sides together, again), sew to the blue.


4. Turn the bag out - Pat it flat

Press the seams flat, and you are almost finished.

5. Tie a knot in the handles

The simple overhand knot can have short or long tails.

This varies the length from your shoulder.

Drop me a line about furoshiki, or anything else you want to say...

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love Japanese crafts.. Nice lens :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a wonderful idea for a lens and such a lovely alternative to waste!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very artistic and eco-friendly too. Japanese art is synonymous to aesthetics. This reminds me of Bonsai and Ikebana.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow. I knew a person could wrap in fabric, but not that it could be such an art. SquidAngel blessings.

    • JanTUB profile imageAUTHOR

      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 

      9 years ago from Australia

      @Rachel Field: I'm glad you like it!

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 

      9 years ago

      So glad I found this lens! I love the idea of using cloth to wrap gifts. I featured this lens on a lens I recently made of ideas of how to make different types of wrapping fabrics. Hope you don't mind.

    • JanTUB profile imageAUTHOR

      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 

      10 years ago from Australia

      [in reply to Mickie_G] Fun aren't they?

    • JanTUB profile imageAUTHOR

      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 

      10 years ago from Australia

      [in reply to Umeshu] Thanks for popping by!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Gee 

      10 years ago

      Excellent sources on your lens! I have bookmarked it on my computer so I can refer to it often! I especially like the link to!

    • Umeshu profile image


      10 years ago


      Thanks for the is great leans on furoshiki - a very nice Japanese custom. I am writing on Japanese food and also added yours to my lens for people who want to learn more about Japanese traditional culture.

    • JanTUB profile imageAUTHOR

      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 

      10 years ago from Australia

      [in reply to Cynthia] Thanks for visiting, glad I could help

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      How wonderfully creative. I've searched for no-sew bags, as well as sarong, dresses

      for quite a while now - finally, and this seems relatively simple.

    • JanTUB profile imageAUTHOR

      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 

      10 years ago from Australia

      [in reply to spirituality] You can't explain it in words, but I reworked the diagrams. I hope they make it clearer.

      It's so simple to do, that you see it exactly once you try it out.

    • religions7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens, but I didn't get step 3: where is the second seam compared to the first?


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