As I searched the internet for inspiration, I noticed two things ...
First, although there are many great pictures of finished turtle "cakes," I could not find a free turtle tutorial anywhere.
Second, from reading the descriptions of finished turtle-shaped "cakes" and tutorials that could be purchased, it seemed as if all of them were meant to become keepsakes ... That is, they were held together with glue, ultimately making the diapers and other components unusable.
Since I'm up for a challenge (and I've been feeling crafty lately), I decided to give my own "turtle diaper cake" a try ... And, in the spirit of practicality, I made sure that all the baby items used to assemble the turtle could later be used by my husband's cousin and her newborn son.
On with the tutorial ...
Making the upper shell:
Starting with the open end of the diaper, I rolled seven diapers and secured them in the middle with rubber bands.
To create the top of the upper shell, I opened and flattened out another diaper and covered the top of the seven rolled diapers. I used another rubber band to secure it in place.
Next, to give some depth to the shell, I took four more diapers, fully opened them, and then rolled them lengthwise. I layered and wrapped them around the bottom of rolled diaper shell piece and secured them with a large rubber band.
To complete the upper shell, I opened folded diapers (six in total) and fed them up to the crease under a rubber band that was stretched around the top of the central shell piece. With the rubber band securing the crease of the inside of the diaper, I folded the rest of the diaper back down.
Four more diapers (folded lengthwise), were added on top of the original ring of folded diapers to help "pad" the very bottom of the shell even more and to make it protrude a bit more than the very top ...
Once in place, and working in a counter-clockwise fashion, I used the tabs on the diapers to secure them to the central piece, thus completing the upper shell.
Making the lower shell (including the head, tail, and feet):
In order to avoid gluing any pieces, I started by taking a basic paper plate and taping three diapers (opened and rolled lengthwise) along the edge ... I played with this a bit, making sure that the final upper shell would sit nicely on top of the plate, with the rolled diapers protruding from below.
At the front, I created a large arch with the diaper so that the turtle's head (a styrofoam craft ball wrapped in a baby washcloth and secured with straight pins) could be attached (via safety pins) to the paper plate underneath.
I also secured the tail (a rolled baby washcloth) on the plate opposite of the head.
For the feet, I used four baby socks (stuffed with plastic from some baby socks I had received for Pearl) and secured them with embroidery floss to the plate from below.
Putting it all together:
Lastly, to hold the upper and lower shell pieces together, I embellished the turtle with ribbon and other various craft items (as well as some additional small baby gifts). This was also useful in covering up any "flaws" or portions that did not look as nice as I would have liked ...
Overall, I was pretty pleased with my final "turtle diaper cake." It was fun to try and figure out how to make everything work (and stay together), while creating something that still looked good and was, ultimately, usable.
Definitely a fun little weekend project!