Textile Concept: Origami Fish Pouch

Two origami ballon-style fish, made out of Japanese printed fabric; one is smaller and made with an orange fabric, while the other is made with a black fabric. Both fish are sitting on top of a counter, facing right from the viewer.

Hey Everyone, this week, I have been working on some concepts that I’ve been wanting to make for a while: origami in functional designs! In this case, I have made a pouch with the balloon-style origami fish.

Recently, I have gotten myself a BOOX Tablet, which I am currently using to transcribe my handwriting directly! Despite my familiarity with tech, I find it hard to focus on a project when I’m limited to typing on a keyboard. Thoughts come in more naturally when I get to write, while typing can add more content to an existing thought. As you can see, I need a variety of ways to continue the momentum to write more content.

An origami balloon-style fish, folded out of paper; comments have been drawn onto the piece, to mark out places for stitching and potentially installing fasteners or zips.

Going back to the concept, it feels as if origami was meant to lend well to textiles; you can see the idea in action with the existence of towel animals and furoshiki wrapping techniques. I folded the origami balloon-style fish, and used that as a template to find out where would be best to apply seams or fasteners/zips; I also unfolded it to see which portions would become part of the container for the bag.

An origami balloon-style fish, folded out of paper; comments have been drawn onto the piece, to mark out places for stitching and potentially installing fasteners or zips. In this photo, the piece has been unfolded to view all the comments added onto it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this design were made with an actual furoshiki wrap, or printed square tea towel, since the pattern is about modifying a square piece of fabric; for this project, I found some fancy prints, and paired it with solid colours that were sitting in my textile storage. Depending on the weight of the fabric, sometimes one piece can hold itself well; you will see how this influenced by smaller pouch, as I used two different weights together.

While I could have easily brought out my sewing machine to stitch the edges together, I ended up sewing each of the pouches by hand; if you are going to stitch the pieces together by hand, I found that the basic running stitch was better to use than the back-stitch for flipping inside-out. The combination having a thinner outer fabric with thicker inner fabric, along with using the back stitch, made the smaller fish have a wave to its edge; I had to go back with a running stitch to keep it flatter, though it didn’t come out as nicely as the larger fish pouch.

While I was making the smaller fish pouch, I added seams in areas where the folds would usually enclose the interior space; I also added an opening, so that the area could be accessed in a way that didn’t interfere with the design.

Image of the smaller orange fish pouch, showing stitches along the folds that serve as the edges of the pouch.
Image of the smaller orange fish pouch, showing the opening that was cut mid-fabric, for the installation of the zipper. The opening is concentrated in the area that resembles the backbone of the fish.

As I was going through this process, I found that I had a better time installing the zipper first, before stitching the folds together; again, my larger fish pouch had benefitted from this discovery. Since the concept requires cutting in the middle of the fabric, it was a lot easier to keep the zip flat, along with the edges around it. If you are wondering where the zips came from, they were harvested from some old jeans; these turned out to be the perfect sizes for the squares, which derive from a letter-size sheet (8.5″ x 11″) and a ledger-size sheet (11″ x 17″).

Image of the larger black fish pouch, showing the folds being stitched into place from the underside of the fish design.

Once most of the sides were stitched into place, I started marking down where I’d like to put plastic snaps on; I used a pen to mark the fabric, poked a hole with an awl tool, and loaded the pliers with the snap pieces to fasten them together. I put the snap piece through the punched hole before loading it onto the pliers, so that it had a better chance of staying secure.

Image of the smaller orange fish pouch, showing the areas marked in pen, where the snaps are proposed.
Image of the smaller orange fish pouch, showing one half of the snap being inserted before being loaded onto the pliers for fastening.

The resulting pouches turned out fairly well; I think the smaller one would work better as a coin pouch, whereas the larger one is more of a small gift bag size. Overall, it has been encouraging to see that they are functional; I am already thinking about how other origami designs could be translated into pouches or bags.

Two origami ballon-style fish, made out of Japanese printed fabric; one is smaller and made with an orange fabric, while the other is made with a black fabric. Both fish are sitting on top of a counter, facing right from the viewer.
Two origami ballon-style fish, made out of Japanese printed fabric; one is smaller and made with an orange fabric, while the other is made with a black fabric. Both fish are sitting on top of a counter, with their snaps opened to reveal the zipper portions.
Two origami ballon-style fish, made out of Japanese printed fabric; one is smaller and made with an orange fabric, while the other is made with a black fabric. Both fish are sitting on top of a counter, with the snaps opened and facing down to reveal the undersides. Some of the stitches outline the areas that represent the pouch edges.

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