Gift wrapping with fabric – using the Japanese Furoshiki technique

There is so much joy in gift giving. When I have the time to really think about what a friend will love, I so enjoy choosing them a thoughtful gift and lovingly wrapping it. Giving a beautifully wrapped present to someone and watching them delight in opening it is often more exciting than getting a gift myself.

The whole process is a joy. I find it therapeutic to lay out a sheet of paper, fold it gently around a shape, creasing the paper as I go and wrapping it with twine to finish. I think it’s a natural progression from my obsession with stationery, paper and washi tape. I’ve a whole Pinterest board dedicated to gift wrapping ideas! I used to print my own gift-wrap with stamps on brown paper, but it was disheartening to know that the lovely paper is used only once and then thrown away after the present is opened.  Have you had that feeling on Christmas morning when the living room is piled with scrunched up balls of paper after the frenzy of opening presents is over? It’s feels so wasteful. I’ve discovered a much more sustainable way to wrap and it’s now my go-to way of wrapping objects. It’s the traditional Japanese art of cloth wrapping, called furoshiki.

Furoshiki cloth wrapping in Kyoto

I experienced the art of furoshiki when visiting Kyoto this year. I had a hands on class in a quiet, ancient wooden townhouse. I learned to wrap all kinds of objects in particular ways from wine bottles to apples to chocolate boxes. There’s a preferred method to suit the type of object you’re wrapping. Coming home I find I use the simple method of tying two bows across the box. Watch the video below for a quick tutorial on a simple cloth wrapping technique.

For wrapping my Winterwares pieces I use calico, I love the simplicity of it. For your Christmas gifts you can find beautiful patterned scarves in op-shops. One of my favorite places to find fabric for furoshiki is at Lush Cosmetics, they often have a box of beautiful vintage scarves behind the counter they sell for the purpose of wrapping. I find that oversized square pieces of fabric are the easiest to use. The most commonly-used in Japan are squares measuring 70cm or 90cm wide.

The fabric becomes a gorgeous part of the gift that can be used for lots of things. I bought myself one piece of furoshiki fabric in the mountains, in the south of Japan and I carry it with me everywhere I go. When I forget to take a bag to the shops I can use it to carry my groceries. If I’m at the park it’s big enough to lay out a little picnic on. I use it as a scarf and to tie my hair back. There are so many fabulous uses for it. Next time you give a gift, try furoshiki, I’m sure you’ll see the delight in your friends who get to unwrap them.

furoshiki cloth wrapping

Photographs by Stevie Elle & Rae Fallon

3 replies
  1. Sue Pass
    Sue Pass says:

    Thanks Simone, I just watched the Furoshiki demonstration video and am looking forward to wrapping gifts with it. Had just placed an order with Lush when I read your web note so will be trying both calico/plain fabric and some patterned fabric pieces. I like paper too though it has become so expensive fabric is a timely and re usable choice! Best wishes, Sue

    Reply
    • Simone
      Simone says:

      Hi Sue, so glad you enjoyed the post, it’s such a beautiful ritual to wrap gifts with fabric, I hope you have a lovely Christmastime! x Sim

      Reply

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