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I've written about furoshiki here several times in the last few months. How can you not love them? They bring traditional Japanese style into the 21st century with an eco-friendly bonus: you can avoid using throwaways like paper gift wrap or plastic carrying bags by wrapping something beautifully in a versatile, re-usable cloth. Recently, I came across a furoshiki bag style I've never seen before. I think it's so nifty that I have to share it!

Watch the video above to see what I'm talking about. It involves two cloths that have been stacked as two layers, then sewn together with stitches in the shape of a plus sign. Each row of stitches is halfway across one side, so the lines of stitches intersect at the center of the cloths and divide the stack into quadrants. Each quadrant is a small pocket, formed by the two layers of cloth, with open outer edges and a free corner point.

This furoshiki style is simple to tie: you can see it in the video, but I'll also describe it after the break. However, to get it to look just like the video's results, you need a cloth that has been dyed in a specific way, and if you're going to create your own cloth that isn't dyed that way or stitch together two existing furoshiki, scarves, or bandannas, there are some points to consider. Please continue reading if you'd like more details and ideas.

Tie this one up by tying small items into three of the corners, one corner at a time. Open the fourth set of corners and draw it around the other three, by turning it inside out with the three little bundles in the middle. Arrange the three bundles in the resulting larger bundle, and tie the flaps of the fourth corner by the point connecting its free edges, which should be at the very top of your "bag".

The cloth shown in the video is actually dyed in quadrants, which gives an interesting visual effect: three bundles of different colors in a bag of the fourth color. While you can try something like that if you have experience with dye, plain cloths of a single color or print will work just as well. Here are some things to think about:

  • Stitching together four panels of fabric along their edges to get a different color in each quadrant isn't the best idea: you'll be turning the cloths inside out to make the bag in the last step.
  • If you use two different cloths, your resulting bag will have one print on each side, with both prints visible; the different designs will be tied together at the top corners. The bundles in your bag will also show half one design, half another.
  • If your cloth is printed only on one side, you'll have to decide which you want to have the design facing out: the small interior bundles, or the exterior bag.

    If you sew the two cloths together with the right sides facing each other, your bundles will have the wrong side facing out, but the exterior bag itself will show the right side of the print.

    If you sew the cloths together with the wrong sides facing each other, you'll have the right sides showing on your three little bundles, but the bag they're in will have the wrong side facing outwards.

It's bulkier, but if you want to have "right sides" on all of your bundles, and are using cloth that is printed only on one side, you'll need four layers of fabric. I think these layers should be relatively thin: don't try this with canvas.

  1. Take two pressed squares of fabric with a seam allowance (a half inch on each edge) and sew them together along three edges, with the right sides facing. Press, clip the corners, turn right side out, press yet again, turn the un-stitched seam-allowance edges into the pocket and press, then stitch the fourth edge. You should have a double-layer square showing a "right side" on both sides. (This should be exactly like making a non-removable pillow cover, except without a pillow in the middle.)
  2. Repeat the last step with two more pieces of fabric.
  3. Sew the two resulting double-sided, double-layered pieces together with the plus-sign stitches that meet in the center and leave the edges free.

If you would like to have bundles of one color and a bag of another, use two different fabrics, A and B, with two squares of each. Fabric A is the fabric you want to show on the outside of the exterior bag; Fabric B is the fabric you want to show on each of the interior bundles, and as the exterior bag's lining.

Use one square of each fabric when sewing the cloths along the edges. When you sew the two sets of cloth together in the plus-sign pattern, make sure that both pieces of Fabric A are facing each other in the center of the stack, with Fabric B being at the top and the bottom of the stack. In other words:


If you would prefer for both your interior and exterior bundles to be tied half in one color and half in another, just make sure that the same fabrics aren't facing each other in the center before you stitch the plus-sign shape. They should be stacked this way:


Whatever you do, this is a great, decorative way to carry around a few small items, like fruit or toys. It could be useful in everyday life (wrapping up your lunch, for example). Filled with snacks like fruit, nuts, and cheese, or with a few treats and a small candle, it might make a striking hostess gift the next time you visit a friend's house for the evening.

You can also bring along a wrapped baguette to go with the other snacks, or even a bottle of wine. For diagrams showing how to wrap bread ("Entou tsutsumi" style, which will work for at least a section of a baguette) or a bottle or two ("Bin tsutsumi" styles one and two -- style two might also work for two halves of a baguette), visit the Japanese government's furoshiki information page. And check out our detailed feature article on furoshiki for much more information on this fascinating topic.



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