Genue Inc.
October 22, 2018

Handmade Elegance in Japanese Tenugui – DIY Ideas!

This month, we’re amazed and inspired at the limitless possibilities of the Japanese tenugui! Tengui is a simple rectangle of fabric that originated centuries ago in feudal Japan. Decorated in all sorts of traditional and modern designs, it comes as a cotton terry-cloth, similar to a hand towel…but it can be used for anything you can imagine! In this article, we’re exploring the many uses for the handy tenugui, from dyeing your own tenugui patterns to turning a premade tenugui towel into something new. Read on to get inspired!



DIY Tenugui

DIY Shibori Indigo Dyeing Tutorial via In Color Order


Shibori Indigo Dyed Fabrics


Skill level: Easy – Intermediate, depending on the dye method you choose
$30 – $55 (depending on how many different dye techniques you use, you will need different materials for each method)
Amount of time:
1 hour – 3 hours, depending on the complexity of your design and how long you soak your fabric in the dye


Why not try your hand at creating your own textile designs with the traditional Japanese dyeing method of “shibori”? In Color Order has created a handy guide for basic indigo dyeing with a wide variety of easy shibori methods to try! If you’ve ever tie-dyed a t-shirt, then you’ve technically used shibori dyeing methods—the whole idea behind shibori dyeing is to use “resists” to block dye from coloring the fabric to create a pattern on its surface. This can be done using anything from rubber bands to popsicle sticks, to even small marbles. How you alter your fabric before submerging it into the dye is all up to you! Experiment on some small pieces of cotton fabric to decide what techniques like best, and then prepare your tenugui cloth for dyeing by soaking it in cool water.


Follow the instructions on your indigo dye kit to prepare your dye in another container. Once it’s ready, remove your soaking cloth from the clean water and submerge it in the dye, and stir your fabric gently, keeping it under for at least 5 minutes. Then, pull out your now-dyed cloth, squeeze out any excess liquid, and let it drip unattended for 20 minutes. It will look green at first, but the oxygen hitting the indigo dye will turn it a beautiful blue color! You may decide to repeat the submerging process when your fabric is done drying, depending on how deep of a color you like—you can repeat the process 2 or 3 times! When you’re satisfied, unwrap your fabric and remove all of the resists, and then rinse in cold water with a gentle detergent until the water runs clear. Let your fabric air dry overnight, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind shibori masterpiece that can be used for any purpose and any occasion!



DIY Tenugui

Japanese Omiyage Gift Bag via Free Tutorials


Traditional “Omiyage” Gift Bag


Skill level: Advanced
Cost: $25 – $30
Amount of time: ~1 hour


If you have basic sewing skills, how about making this adorable ‘omiyage’ drawstring bag from your tenugui? This easy-to-follow photo guide by Free Tutorials shows you how to make this traditional Japanese gift bag! All you need to start is two 50 cm by 50 cm squares of fabric. Sew the two squares together, with right sides together, leaving a small hole for you to pull the fabric back through. Turn your square right-side-out, and use a hand sewing needle to stitch the hole shut. Next, fold your square in half, so that it looks like a triangle. Cut off the tip of the triangle (use a ruler to ensure that your cut is straight!) and then open up your square. Consult the photos on the Free Tutorial website to make sure that your project is looking the way it should—You should now have a long skinny shape that’s attached in the middle, with triangle points on either end. Topstitch a straight line down the middle of this shape, and then fold it in half. It should be starting to look the triangular pouch in the photo, now! Bring your hand sewing needle back out to stitch up the sides of the bag. Now, fold the little triangle flap down, and topstitch across the entire length of the top of the bag, making a hole to put your drawstring cord through. Thread your chosen cord through the hole and pull it tight—you’ll now have an adorable drawstring bag!



DIY Tenugui

Furoshiki DIY via The Felted Fox


“Furoshiki” Gift Wrapping Cloth


Skill level: Intermediate
Cost: $15-$25
Amount of time: 30 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes (depending on the complication of your design, and allowing time for the paint to dry)


The Felted Fox has made these beautiful hand-painted “Furoshiki” wrapping cloths that would make ingenious gift wrap for future holiday gifts…and there’s no reason why you can’t apply the same idea to the smaller tenugui cloth! The first step is to cut some appropriate cotton fabric into a square to make your own tenugui. Then, draw out your desired pattern onto the cloth using a pencil. To recreate the geometric design The Felted Fox has made, use a ruler to mark out your stripes. Then, use a fabric marker to draw out your solid details (in this case, the black diagonal lines going across the fabric). Next, it’s time for fabric paint! Use artist’s tape to protect any sections that you’d like to leave white, and then paint your design using fabric paint the color of your choice. You may need to use multiple coats to get the color that you desire. Once you’re finished, give the paint plenty of time to dry, and then use a sewing machine to give the square a hem—simply roll over each edge of your tenugui twice, so that no raw edges are sewing, and top-stitch close to the edge of the fabric. Give everything an iron, and you have a beautifully personalized tenugui!


Would you like to try your hand at creating your own tenugui cloth? Let us know which project was your favorite in a comment!

The best way to understand Genue is to try it!

So ready... GIVE IT A TRY