How to Fold a Napkin Into a Swan

Dana Hinders
napkin origami swan

Folded napkin swans add an elegant touch to your dinner table, making them the perfect choice for whenever you want to impress your guests. This design can be folded from cloth or paper napkins, depending upon what type of event you are planning.

How to Make a Napkin Origami Swan

If you have more than one set of cloth napkins to choose from, this design looks best with napkins made from a relatively thin fabric in a solid color or a subtle pattern. If you're going for a hotel or cruise ship look, white linen napkins are the ideal choice. Lace trimmed napkins will work well if you're aiming for a dainty, feminine look.

This design requires a freshly starched and pressed cloth napkin to hold the creases property. If you don't keep laundry starch on hand, you can make your own by combining one tablespoon cornstarch, one pint distilled water, and one or two drops of essential oil in the fragrance of your choice in a spray bottle. Shake until the cornstarch is dissolved, then spritz the mixture on your napkin before ironing.

1. Once your napkin is freshly starched and ironed, lay it in front of you as a square. The finished side should be face down and the seamed edges should be face up. Fold the top down to the bottom edge, then fold the left edge over to the right edge so you have one smaller layered square.

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2. Turn the square diagonally to make a diamond shape with the folded open edges at the bottom. Fold the left and right sides in to meet the vertical center. When you're finished, you'll have a shape that looks like a kite.

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3. Carefully turn your napkin over. Bring the left and right sides to the vertical center line once more.

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4. Fold the top point down to the bottom of the napkin.

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5. Fold the left and right sides together underneath the napkin, then stand the fold upright on the base. If your swan won't stand upright at this point, it is possible that you need more starch in your napkin.

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6. Fold the narrow point over to form the swan's head. Gently separate the layers on the other side of the napkin to create the swan's tail feathers.

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Sit your napkin in the center of your guest's plate or next to his/her wine glass. If you're hosting a romantic dinner for two, you could also try facing two swans next to each other so their beaks form a heart shape.

Remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to any form of origami. If you're not happy with how your napkin swan looks on the first try, simply unfold the napkin, iron out the creases, and try again.

Alternative Method for Paper Napkins

Most napkin folding designs require cloth napkins, but many times cloth isn't a practical option for your event. If you're using paper napkins, this napkin origami swan from Luigi Spotorno is a good choice. This model is a slight variation on the traditional folded paper swan, using a special base at the end to help the finished bird stand up on its own. It looks particularly attractive using good quality white paper napkins that have an embossed design on them.

Uses for Origami Napkin Swans

Since swans are one of the most well known napkin folding designs, it's not surprising that they are used for a variety of occasions. They are appropriate for bridal showers, weddings, adult dinner parties, retirement celebrations, charity events, and any time you want to add a special touch to your table setting.

How to Fold a Napkin Into a Swan