fantastic furoshiki

With all of my ruminating, I whittled down my options to two: another pair of trousers (black corduroy), or another pleated skirt (black silk). I wasn’t mentally ready to start either of them, so what did I make? A big square!

a big square!

Sounds useless and boring, but stay with me.

This is a furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping cloth. Ever since I discovered furoshiki, I thought they were cool. Of course, I’m not in Japan right now and getting my hands on authentic furoshiki is a bit of a challenge.

The larger ones I’ve picked up are generally selvage on two sides and 2mm rolled hems on the other two. The smaller ones are hemmed all the way around. The fabric used tends to be a nice cotton, fairly substantial, with various traditional prints.

I can’t get the particular variety of nice cotton or the traditional prints here, so I’ve taken to making furoshiki out of interesting quilting cotton. I hem the edges with my 2mm rolled hem foot. I’ve had varying degrees of grief with this foot, but no problems at all on this project. Yay!

bundles of clothes

One use for furoshiki is storing out of season clothes. I had been keeping clothes in a plastic bin, but it gets pretty stale. If I wrap the clothes in a furoshiki, it’s much more stable than a simple pile of clothes. I can stack them up and get more use out of the otherwise not very useful closet shelf.

bundles on the shelf in the closet

They’re also nice for storing bedding. I made some last year in a few different sizes to use as a non-disposable alternative to wrapping paper. I’ll have to make a few more this year as not all of the ones I made last year came back to me. I don’t mind as long as they actually get used…

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment has been promoting the use of furoshiki as a traditional alternative to plastic bags. The Ministry is the source of this handy how-to guide, which is especially useful for gift-style wraps.

how-to guide courtesy of the Ministry of the Environment, Govt of Japan


About Zena

I sew sometimes.
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10 Responses to fantastic furoshiki

  1. Funnygrrl says:

    I love this idea for gifts. Bedding too. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Big in Japan says:

    Your furoshiki are awesome! I use them for out of season clothes too and also to secure clothes inside my suitcase when traveling. Over here, in Japan, a lot of them are made of cotton but rayon and chirimen (trad prints in a textured poly) are also mainstays. Some of them are double sided or with a contrast color so when you tie the knot or fold over a flap, you get some color variation.

    In the last few years an attempt has been made to reduce the number of plastic shopping bags used (it’s tough in a country that is as packaging obsessed as Japan) and there’s been a small resurgence of furoshiki use. You’ll see magazine articles on creative ways to use the furoshiki to carry a couple bottles of wine, how to tie it into a shopping bag, decorative wrapping techniques, etc. The most common use seems to a wrapping for bento (lunch box) . The furoshiki keeps the lid secured to the bento and can double as a little table/lap cloth while you’re eating.

    And of course, they’re cute.

    • Zena says:

      Thanks! You also reminded me that I intended to include the Ministry of Environment how-to guide. Have now rectified that omission.

      I think the furoshiki that I bought in Japan are all cotton and I don’t remember seeing any with polyester in them, but I’m not sure if that’s because I didn’t find any or because I decided not to buy them on that basis. (I much prefer natural fibres, and I have enough Japanese that I can read the fibre contents.) I do have a couple that could be described as “textured” – occasional weft threads are thicker or possibly doubled – not unlike a slub in linen, but it’s even and runs the whole width of the fabric. I’ll have to check the fibre content on those now.

      I did pick up a couple of the double-sided ones. The teeny one in the top right corner of the closet photo is one of those – not that you can tell. The side that’s showing is plum with a geometric pattern printed in white, and the other side is mustard (also with a white print but I forget the motif).

      • Big in Japan says:

        Yeah, I know that guide! And I think I have one of that same pattern as the tiny one at the top right! (gets pretty big when I click on it)

        I’m with you on the natural fibers. Seriously cramps what a gal has to work with, but that’s just how it is.

        There’s some tenugui and shibori stuff I’d like to post that might be up your alley, but it’ll have to wait until after tour, November at the earliest.

    • Zena says:

      I checked my textured furoshiki: cotton. I’m not familiar with the term chirimen, so I’m not sure if that’s what I’ve got.

      The plastic bags in Japan are (or at least, were) crazy! When I lived there, one of the first phrases I learned was fukuro irimasen (“I don’t need a bag”).

      • Big in Japan says:

        Chirimen is a kind of crepe-y silky fabric, often used in various pieces of the kimono get up as well as crafts. Top grade and old-school stuff was made of silk, but the gross poly variety seems to reign now. Do a quick google search and you’ll probably have an A-HAA moment, having lived in Japan, you most certainly saw it somewhere! If you don’t mind sharing, where did you live?

        The bags and the over-packaging is mindboggling. Now you’ll see folks at the supermarket carrying their cloth bags, but as they load the items, they place each one in a “free” small plastic bag (like the kind for produce) . Hello?! Those eggs are already in a plastic shell! Those bananas are self wrapped in BANANA PEELS (and plastic)! There is serious tongue-biting going on when I’m at the market.

        The other side of Japanese packaging mania-some of the gift boxes and high-end snacks are really exquisitely packaged. I keep all the decorative tins and paper covered boxes and use them for storing thread, zippers, stickers, postcards etc.

  3. Tanit-Isis says:

    Oh nifty. You mean there’s ways to store out-of-season clothes other than shoving them in the top of the closet loose? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    might have to make some of these. Though I have a sneaking suspicion they’d end up just getting played with a lot. I like the idea for a lunch wrapper!

  4. Pingback: things I’m not sewing | Blood, Sweatshop & Tears

  5. Zena says:

    [Big, I guess I’m at the limit of sub-replies here, so I’m back to the left margin.]

    Yes I do recognise the chirimen after all – just never knew what it was called. I was in a small town in Saga-ken (Kyushu).

    I hate the overpackaging. All that produce on styrofoam trays with plastic wrap!

    I too have a small collection of boxes and tins ๐Ÿ™‚

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