Turn Swaddling Blankets Into An Elephant

I’ve never been on a cruise, but I’ve seen plenty of pictures of those cute animals cruise ship teams make out of towels, and I’ve always thought they’re pretty freaking genius and cute.

When I received an invite to a friend’s baby shower, I knew I wanted to give her a pack of Aden & Anais swaddling blankets (one of my Top 10 Newborn Essentials), but the creative side of me wasn’t satisfied with just wrapping them in pretty paper. That’s no fun! I could have tried to turn them into a diaper cake, but that’s been done before. So how would I creatively present them to her?


I searched YouTube videos and Googled until I figured out just enough to turn them into an elephant.

It’s really very easy to do. All you need is:

2 swaddling blankets (I used Aden & Anais. They come 4 to a pack, and I was able to get them at Target. You can also order them from Amazon in other patterns. The pack from Target happens to come in cute safari animals, which was perfect.)
Aluminum foil
Scrap ribbon and scrap felt

While these directions are specific to the Aden & Anais blankets, I’m sure once you get the general idea, you can fidget with it to get it to work on most flat, thin baby blankets.

The first blanket you work with will be the elephant’s legs. Tear off two pieces of foil equal in length to the blanket and lay them in the middle with the blanket completely flat (or the edges draping over your island… you get the idea).

It works out that the foil (standard size here) is just the right height that you can now fold the blanket in thirds around it.

Starting at one end, roll tightly until you get to the mid point of the blanket.

Then roll the other side to meet it in the middle.

As you may have figured by now, the purpose of the foil is to make it easier to mold the elephant and help it hold it’s shape.

Now set the body aside and get the blanket you want to use for the head.

For this, you’ll want to fold the blanket it half, and then fold that in thirds (instead of just in thirds, like you did for the body).

Then tear off two small pieces of foil. You want them just big enough to go from the bottom of the blanket and stop a few inches short of the top (not horizontally like the body, vertically this time).

Unfold the blanket enough to place them inside, in the middle, then fold back.

Now, identify the middle of the blanket lengthwise. Starting at the mid point, roll inward in a V shape. This is really hard to describe, so take a look at what I’m talking about. You can also get a good idea by watching this video. No need to use your teeth since the foil helps you along the way.

You’ll want to keep it as tight as possible toward the center (that point will be the tip of the trunk), but you can let it get a little loose out toward the ends, which will be the ears.

Then do the same thing with the other side until the two rolls meet up and look like this.

Now grab the body, roll side up, and place the head, roll side down, on top of it. The trunk should be hanging off the body about 1.5-2 inches.

Take your scrap ribbon (I used scrap tulle) and wrap it around the head and body about 2-3 inches from the top edge of the blanket (not the rolled ears sticking out behind it).

Flip it over and tie it tightly at the back of the legs, then cut off any excess.

Flip it back over, and fold the top of the blanket over the ribbon to create the top of the elephant’s face.

Fold the legs to stand the elephant up and fluff out the ears.

Almost done! See him coming together now? Awwww! Let’s roll up his trunk (this is when the foil you put in his head really comes in handy).

Time to give him a soul and put some eyes on him. I just cut 2 circles out of scrap felt. They will stay on without using anything to adhere them, BUT I strongly advise you don’t place them there until you get to your destination. This guy lost his eyes in a gust of wind just as we were walking into the shower.

What you do with him from here is up to you. To be honest, my creativity and time was pretty tapped after I made him, so he just got to ride in a basket, along with the 2 other blankets and a BornFree bottle.

I’m sure you guys can come up with lots of ways to display him, though. Please come back and share what you do with him! I’m trying to figure out how to fold other animals. I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

If these pictures aren’t descriptive enough, this video really should help clarify things for you. Feel free to ask any questions or link up to your own folded swaddling blanket animals in the comments below.

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  1. What a good idea and SO cute. I would have just shoved the blankets in the basket and put cookies on top to distract from my lack of creativity.

  2. I have been on cruises and always got a kick out of the different animal shapes they made out of towels!

    Such a fun idea! Those A&A swaddling blankets? They are thebomb.com for sure.

  3. Hi Jill! This is such a cute idea! I love the Aiden and Anais swaddle blankets, too, they will make a great gift!

    By the way, could you send me a Pinterest invite? Thanks so much!

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  5. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this! I saw it on Pinterest and loved the idea. I just finished making two of them for my cousin for her baby shower (she is having twin boys). I think I bought a set of swaddling blankets that was the larger version of the one you posted pictures of. But, they came out adorable! Thanks again. 🙂

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  9. Thanks for posting this! I am making a diaper cake for my sister’s baby shower and am going to put the elephant as the cake topper 🙂

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  13. Thank you for sharing this sweet little elephant tutorial. I don’t have any blankets yet. So, I used some paper to try to make him. The paper was a bit stiff & the legs wouldn’t stay folded. So, I looped the string around his legs, underneath the trunk & head/ears & tied it up at the back. The excess string acts as a tail him. 🙂

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