How to Make an Origami Napkin Swan

origami napkin swan

The Spruce / Chrissy Pk

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Impress your friends and family with a lovely origami napkin swan as part of your table setting. All you need to make one is a simple square white napkin. Paper napkins are easiest to work with, but you also can make this swan with a cloth napkin that's been pressed in half and in half again. Plus, ironing the cloth napkin while folding the origami swan is recommended to make the creases precise. The origami napkin swan is quite easy to learn, and once you understand the folds you can get each swan done in a matter of minutes. This tutorial uses a paper napkin, which is best for learning the process.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Iron and ironing board (optional)


  • 1 Square paper or cloth white napkin


  1. Start Folding the Origami Napkin Swan

    Start with your napkin nice and flat. If it's not already, fold the napkin in half and in half again. And make sure the open points of the napkin are at the top right corner.

    Fold the napkin in half diagonally, bringing the bottom right corner up to the top left corner. Crease the fold well.

    Next, unfold the napkin back to where you started.

    origami napkin swan tutorial step 1
    The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  2. Fold the Base of the Swan

    Fold the top left and bottom right corners to either side of the crease you just made, leaving a narrow gap. The bottom left corner should be a sharp point.

    Next, fold the top left and lower right diagonal edges in again to the same place, and crease them well.

    Rotate the napkin so the bottom left point is pointing toward you, and bring that point up to the very top point. But do not press this crease.

    Then, fold the napkin in half, bringing the left side backward to the right. The thinner point should be at the front, wrapped around the larger back section.

    origami napkin swan tutorial step 2
    The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  3. Continue Folding the Napkin Swan

    Pull the longer point up to form the neck of the swan. Once you have decided on the position for the neck, crease the base of the neck well. Don't position the neck too far forward, or the origami swan will topple over.

    Open the neck, and focus on the back of the neck where the head is going to be formed. Fold the top point down a little more than a nail's width.

    origami napkin swan tutorial step 3
    The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  4. Shape the Swan Head

    Taking the top of the point, flip it back over to create a Z-shaped crease. This creates the beak, which can be as long or short as you like.

    Refold the body of the swan, and form the head bend by creating diagonal folds (as shown in the bottom left photo).

    Spend some time adjusting the beak and neck until you are happy with the shape. If you are finding this tricky, it might be because your napkin is too thick. If it's a two-ply napkin, you can peel off a layer. And if it's a cloth napkin, make sure the creases are pressed as flat as possible.

    origami napkin swan tutorial step 4
    The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  5. Bring It All Together

    To secure the tail of the swan so it won't fall over, find the very last layer of napkin underneath the tail. Pull on this flap and flip it over, creating a diagonal crease on the inside of the swan.

    Then, flip the swan to the other side, fold the tail over, and then tuck it inside. If you wish, you can fold it over one more time inside to completely secure it.

    origami napkin swan tutorial step 5
    The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  6. Add the Finishing Touches

    Start peeling the layers of the tail backward; you can use all of the layers or just a couple. Peel them toward the head, and then pull them up and out toward the back of the tail. Be careful not to rip the paper if you're using a paper napkin.

    origami napkin swan tutorial step 6
    The Spruce / Chrissy Pk