About 3 years ago a very good friend gave me a birthday gift wrapped in a piece of beautiful cotton fabric instead of paper.  I was over the moon with the fabric and the thoughtfulness of it and little did I realise at the time that this is known as the traditional Japanese art of Furoshiki (wrapping cloth used to carry clothes, gifts and other goods).  Can you imagine anything nicer than receiving a gift wrapped in fabric if you are a patchwork and quilter or if you like to do your bit for reducing waste. 

Edges turned over and zig-zagged

If you visit YouTube you will find lots of lovely videos on how to wrap gifts and tie bags using fabric of all types.  I have mostly used 100% cotton.  For a small gift you will need a fat quarter.  The piece doesn’t need to be square as oblongs give you a bit more length to tie a knot with.  I neaten the edges by folding over and zig-zagging but you could leave them raw if you preferred and I do also iron mine to get out the creases and wrinkles.

Each wrapping is fixed in place by a reef knot and I guess many of you will remember these knots if you were a Brownie / Guide / Cub / Scout etc.  But if you don’t know this knot it follows the pattern of ‘left over right and under, right over left and under‘.  This gives you a firm knot that can easily be undone.  There are lots of diagrams online if you search on reef or square knot.

A gift tag can be tied on and a flower  pushed though the knot.  A couple of bells would make it very festive.

This gift on the right is an iPhone box so you can see the size of a gift that fits nicely in a fat quarter  wrapping cloth.  How I tied this was by placing the box in the middle on the cloth diagonally and wrapping two sides of the cloth around it  corner to corner.  This then left two ends free (two corners) for the remaining fabric to be gathered up firmly and a reef knot tied to secure. You need to play around with the knot ends a little to get them to sit neatly. There are different ways of doing this (see YouTube) but this worked well for me.

Fabric works well for wrapping odd shapes and bottles.  Of course you need to adjust the size of the wrapping cloth according to the size of your gift and I wouldn’t want to wrap anything too large in fabric.

You may want to try using cloth to carry things to parties etc. On the left the image is of two wine bottles wrapped carefully for carrying, they can’t fall out, the knot makes a  good handle for carrying and it looks pretty.  This isn’t cotton fabric (which would have been easier and less slippy to tie!) but an inexpensive scarf bought in a pack of four from an online store.

As an aside I have used these scarfs to tie into bags to hold over night cloths when going to friends houses and they are always very much admired.

To wrap a couple of bottles, stand two wine bottles in the middle of a scarf (see A below), without moving the bases lay the bottles down facing diagonal corners (see B below).

A) Stand the bottles in the center of the scarf
B) Lie the bottles down  and then bring up the front to wrap over and roll up.

Wrap one side of the scarf over the bottles and then roll them up carefully. Stand the bottles up again in their original position and gently pull the fabric a little to make sure they are secure. Tie a reef knot for the handle.

Yes you do have to fiddle a little to hide the rolled ends and  make it sit neatly but practice does make perfect – or so they say.

Finally, I use Bento bags to take to the shops to carry loose fruit and veg home (to save using plastic).  These are simple bags which tie at the top and I think these would make great gift wrapping for Xmas with the added bonus of having a fruit and veg bag to use all year round.  You can find lots of patterns online for these and I have them in different / useful sizes.

OK I can hear you say this is a nice idea but an expensive way to wrap gifts – and of course you are right.  


It is, of course, more expensive than using wrapping paper but……. it is a reusable wrapping which you may get back the following year (one can live in hope), it can be factored into the price of a gift, eco warriors will be so happy to receive something they can recycle and quilters will be ecstatic to receive a bonus fabric piece (like I was).  For non-quilters you could purchase inexpensive fabrics such as polycotton which would do the job very well and using fabric that doesn’t have a Xmas design on it makes it more usable for different occasions (make it festive with additional decoration).

I will certainly be fabric wrapping many of my gifts this year and have a pile of wrapping cloths all ready to go.

How about you?