Fabric Folding

Fabric folding is like origami but with fabric instead of paper. The major difference between fabric and paper is that fabric is softer and won’t hold creases well. Thus, unless you use fabric stiffener, objects folded from fabric will have rounded corners and look softer than traditional origami.



Napkin Folding

The most popular kind of fabric folding is napkin folding. These are commonly seen in restaurants where the napkins are folded in a decorative fashion. It is somewhat rare to have folded napkins for everyday-home use. But, if you were to have a party, folded napkins give your dinner table an extra touch of elegance. Unlike origami, folded napkins are meant to be unfolded and used.

Instructions for Napkin Folding
Instructions are often made available for free by establishments who also provide professional catering, party, or linen services.
NapkinFoldingGuide.com has 27 different napkin folds.
Napkin Folding Secrets has many designs
Wedding Details.com has 11 different napkin folds.
Robbie’s Kitchen has 14 napkin folds
• make a paper napkin rose by napkinrose.com
• watch epicurious.com videos on how to fold napkins

napkin folding


Looking for something a little less elaborate? Try these pre-folded paper napkins. Order them from amazon.

Or, try these beautiful napkin roses. Preprinted so that you can make paper napkin roses: green stem with white, pink, red, yellow or purple flower.


Books about Napkin Folding

  • The Simple Art of Napkin Folding by Linda Hetzer
  • The Art of Napkin Folding by Gay Merrill Gross
  • Decorative Napkin Folding for Beginners by Lillian Oppenheimer and Natalie Epstein
  • More Decorative Napkin Folding by Lillian Oppenheimer and Natalie Epstein
  • Simply Elegant Napkin Folding by Chris Jordan
  • Buy Napkin Folding Books here.



Towel Folding

Another kind of fabric folding is towel folding, sometimes called animal towels. It is not clear when or who started this trend, but it was popularized by Carnival Cruise Lines and continues to be a decorative element found in the cabins of some cruise ships. [Photo by Az Jade].

In the early evening, while passengers are at dinner, the room steward will place folded towels in the cabins. When the passengers return to their room, they find a delightful towel-animal upon their bed or nightstand. Stewards often know a handful of towel-folding designs so that the passengers may see a different towel-animal each night. It is small decorative element that cruise-goers truly adore.

Instructions for Towel Folding

towel origami



Books about Towel Folding

  • The Lost Art of Towel Origami by Alison Jenkins and Ivy Press
  • How to Make a Towel Monkey and other Cruise Ship Favorites by Carol Mulanax
  • see Towel Folding Books
towel folding



Fabric Origami Quilts

Recently, quiltmakers have started to fold fabric, origami style, to use in their quilts. This trend brings a new dimensionality to the age old craft of quilting. The folded fabric can be added onto a quilt like an applique, or the folded fabric itself is a block within the quilt. [Photo from Fantastic Fabric Folding by Rebecca Wat.]


Because fabric is soft, pliable, and thick, it can only be folded into simple forms. These simple fabric origami folds give the quilts a classic, timeless look.

Most folded fabric quilting books have instructions for traditional origami patterns that can be found on the internet. However, the beauty of the fabric origami pieces can only be seen in the context of the entire quilt. [Photo: Origami Quilts by Mabbs and Lowes.]

A particularly noteworthy artists is Kumiko Sudo. She is an internationally acclaimed quilt and fiber artist. Her books show an array of unique fabric folds and her projects are one-of-a-kind artistic expressions.



Fabric Origami

In contrast to the fabric folds used in quilting, Glenda from fabricorigami.com has discovered the secret to prepare fabric such that it can be folded like a piece of paper. Her fabric origami models are more complex than the models used in quilting, and because they are made of fabric, they are more durable than traditional origami models made with paper.

To prepare the fabric, smear a fabric stiffener onto a piece of fabric, allow it to dry, and then cut the fabric to size. This stiffened fabric can then be folded as if it was a piece of paper! It makes great boxes, lapel pins, wallets, ornaments, and decorations. [Photo by G Scott]

See Fun with Folded Fabric Boxes by Mills & Tubis




On a rare occasion, you may see fabric origami embedded in clothing. These are not lapel pins or waist-belts, rather they are origami models that are sewn onto the fabric or integrated into the textile itself. This type of wearable origami clothing has been dubbed orinuno (in Japanese: “ori” = “fold” and “nuno” = “fabric”).

Currently, orinuno is not available for sale. They have been shown in the SouthEast Origami Festival (Charlotte, NC), the opening of “Masters of Origami” (Salzburg), in Tokyo, and in other locations. So, the next time you see a blouse studded with roses, look again, they might be Kawasaki roses! See more origami clothing here (contemporary paper and fabric origami fashion).[Photo: an example of orinuno by S Wellenberg, copyright protected].

Reiko Sudo from the Nuno Cooperation in Japan has done some fascinating work with fabric. Included are a few origami folded clothing. Click here to see origami-tessellation pleated scarves.

More origami inspired fashion and pillows can be seen in Nitin Goyal London gallery.



Fabric Folded Toys

Last but not least, are the toys that are made from fabric folding. How many times have parents entertained their children by quickly knotting up a napkin or a towel into a hand puppet? For toddlers, making a bunny rabbit from a dirty wash cloth is like magic. Well, come to think of it, it is like magic.

We have found only a few of these tricks on the internet, if you know of more, please Contact Us and let us know!



Books about Origami Quilts and Fabric Folding

  • Origami Quilts by Tomoko Fuse
  • Origami Quilts by Louise Mabbs & Wendy Lowes
  • Fantastic Fabric Folding by Rebecca Wat
  • Simple Fabric Folding for Christmas by Liz Aneloski
  • Fantasies & Flowers: Origami in Fabric for Quilters by Kumiko Sudo
  • See Origami Quilt books

Buy Books about Origami Quilts


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    More Origami Diagrams and Instructions…

  • These free origami instructions are made available to you by the paper folding community at large. If you have a diagram you would like to share, or if your diagram is listed here and you wish to have it removed, please Contact Us. Diagrams are intended for personal use. Copyright of the models lie with the origami creators and designers. Please contact the designer and/or creator directly for non-private usage of a model and/or artwork.