Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Furoshiki: Cloth Wrapping Paper

In this post title, "wrapping paper" is a metaphor, since there is no actual paper involved in making a furoshiki cloth. It is as fun to use as wrapping paper, however, and just as gorgeous, but with the added benefit of being 100% reusable!

Making a (near-)perfect square of fabric is extremely easy to do, and furoshiki is useful year-round, for many purposes.

When I was looking around, I found that most furoshiki cloths seem to be just under 20"x20", which would comfortably wrap any one of these books, or a square box up to 6" on each side.

But I usually just wrap the box that came in the mail, which is larger. For example, the box pictured above measures at 15"W x12D "x 6"H, which makes a 20" square a little useless.

Most of the cloths I keep around came from a yard of quilting cotton (though you could definitely cut up an old clean sheet!), and measure in at about 35" square. Here are two ways you can make one of those!

Furoshiki Cloth Method #1 (Large)
This method is a little easier for larger end results. In these photos, I was making a 35"x35" square, but you can do this for pretty much any size.

1. Make a small cut on one side of your fabric, perpendicular to the selvage. Then grab on either side of the cut, and rip all the way to across. Since this is quilting cotton, you can do this to get a straightened edge. Then fold your fabric in half, matching that edge.

Note: for steps 2 and 3, it helps to use measuring tape that stays rigid (e.g., the type you would find in a hardware store, and not in a tailor's shop). This makes it easier to make accurate marks along the fabric.

2. Measure 35" from your straightened edge, perpendicular to the selvage, and draw a line using tailor's chalk, or whatever marking tool you have on hand.

3. Measure 17.5" (=35/2) from the fold, perpendicular to the straightened edge (this will give us 35" on the Y-axis), and draw another line.

4. Cut along the lines!

5. Finish the edge.

I used a serger with some decorative embroidery thread in my upper looper. You could also do a rolled hem, either with a serger or if you have a rolled hem foot for your sewing machine. Other finishing options are to zig-zag the edge, or make a very narrow hem.

It doesn't have to be gorgeous, since it's easy to tuck the edges under once wrapped. Avoid making a thick hem, though, since it makes it difficult to tie the fabric.

Furoshiki Cloth Method #2 (Small)
If you're wrapping a smaller package, you will definitely want a smaller cloth, or the bulky excess fabric will look unappealing. I prefer this method for making smaller cloths. For this, I did 20"x20".

1. Straighten the edge of your fabric as in method #1. Do not fold it in half; instead, lay it flat on your work surface.

2. Measure 20" from the straightened edge, perpendicular to the selvage, and make a mark.

Make another mark roughly 20" from the selvage.

3. This time, instead of cutting the entire thing out, make a small cut in the selvage, and rip up to the second mark. You don't need to be too precise about where you stop, as long as it's past that second mark.

4. Now you have to decide if you like the look of the selvage or not. If not, cut it off. You shouldn't need to measure too much; normally I put faith in my ability to cut roughly parallel to the selvage line, and I bet you can do it, too!

5. To cut that top line, you can measure and draw and cut like in method #1, or you can fold the fabric into a triangle, matching the straightened edge and the edge that does/doesn't have a selvage, like so:

The blue line is the selvage, or cut selvage edge. The dotted line is the rip that we made in step 3!

6. Once you have that fold, pin along the edges, then cut out your perfect square.

Wrapping Methods
There are a lot of different ways you can use a furoshiki cloth. I tend to go with the standard box wrap, but I tried out a bottle carrier method recently, which was amazingly cool.

Box Wrap
1. Lay down 'em box!

2. Tie two opposite corners together.

3. Tie the other two corners together. ET VOILĂ€. SERIOUSLY.
I do mess with the edges a bit, tucking them in so that everything looks nice all wrapped up. This box size has the potential for gaps, so if you have a peeker, you might want to make sure your box doesn't give anything away. Or you could sew the edges shut?

(Spousal Unit doesn't peek, but instead prefers to shake his gifts, so sometimes I stick in some bells, or beans in a tube, just to mess with him.)

Two Bottle Wrap
1. Lay down the bottles so the tops face outwards. I leave a little gap between them.

2. Bring one corner up to cover the bottles. Then roll everything together.

3. Fold the roll so that the bottles are now facing the same direction, and tie the ends.

Tie it securely enough, and you can use the top as a handle.

If you want more advanced wrapping techniques, here are some other examples of Furoshiki:
Happy wrapping!


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