Learn how to crochet amigurumi! Amigurumi are cuddly and cute and tiny little toys or keepsakes that are hugely popular at the moment. Amigurumi is the Japanese word for a crocheted or knitted stuffed toy. The word ‘Amigurumi’is made up from the Japanese words ‘ami’ which means knit or crochet, and ‘nuigurumi’ which means wrapped or stuffed doll. An inexpensive and portable hobby.
How To Crochet Amigurumi Tutorial
Amigurumi animals can be knitted, but are more commonly crocheted. They are associated with the ‘kawaii’ movement. Kawaii means cute! This means they are usually cute little animals or characters with large heads and small bodies. Some people like to make amigurumi which resemble foods or plants. They are never realistic!
Crocheted dolls and toys have been around for centuries, but this particular style of making small stuffed toys only started getting popular in Japan in the 1970s and only in the west as recently as the mid-2000s.
Creating amigurumi is an inexpensive and portable hobby. All you need is some crochet hooks and suitable yarn. The best thing about making them is that they are easy to make, as long as you know how to do single crochet stitches! They are also quick to crochet, as they are generally small.
- YARN - Cotton yarn is traditionally used, but not essential. Acrylic worsted weight yarn is a cheap option for beginners and is easy to source and crochet with. Once you have more experience, you can move from acrylic yarn to thinner cotton yarns. Most amigurumi projects look best with yarns that are not too fluffy. If you do want a fluffier amigurumi, then try wool or wool blends. Sport weight yarn can also be used for amigurumi. Read more about the type of yarn to use for crochet.
- CROCHET HOOK - Check the label on your yarn for the recommended hook sizes which is suitable for your chosen yarn. Your pattern may suggest that you go down a size or two in hook in order to create a denser fabric with smaller holes. When holding your sample gauge up to the light, there should be very little holes. I use a worsted weight yarn with a 3.5 or 4 mm hook.
- STUFFING - Polyester toy stuffing. There are specialty toy stuffings that are less lumpy and give better results. The advantage of using specialty stuffing is that your toy will do better after being washed. If you can't get polyester stuffing, try fabric scraps cut up small.
- EYES - Safety eyes can be used for faces or you can embroider the eyes with floss or yarn. There are also safety noses available.
- FLOSS - Embroidery thread for extra details and embellishments.
- NEEDLES - A yarn needle or tapestry needle is needed for stitching the characters up and weaving in ends. They can also be used to embroider faces and details on your characters.
- MARKERS - Stitch markers make counting rows a lot easier. If you don’t have stitch markers, safety pins work just as well.
Skills Needed For Amigurumi
There are 6 basic skills you need to learn how to crochet amigurumi. If you can already crochet a few stitches you can probably do these already!
SKILL 1 - Slip knot
SKILL 2 - Chain stitches. Many crochet projects begin with making a length of chain stitches. This is known as the foundation chain. It is not used all that often in amigurumi, as most of them are crocheted in the round but may be needed for some patterns.
SKILL 3 - Single crochet stitches. This is the most common stitch used when creating amigurumi. Luckily, it is also the easiest! If you are using a UK pattern it will be called double crochet. It is perfect for these little creatures as it is small and creates a dense fabric with no gaps, which is easy to stuff.
Refresher for single crochet:
- Insert the hook into the work, second stitch from the hook.
- *Wrap yarn over the hook from back to front.
- Draw the yarn through the work only. (2 loops on hook)
- Yarn over again. Now draw the yarn through both loops on the hook. (1 stitch left on hook)
- Insert hook into next stitch.
- Repeat from *to make the next single crochet stitch.
SKILL 4 - Magic circles. These are also called crochet magic rings. Most amigurumi start by making a magic circle and working in the round. The magic circle is an adjustable ring of yarn where you can pull the hole tight so that you don’t leave a visible hole in the center of your work, and no stuffing can leak out of your creation!
SKILL 5 - Increasing Crochet. To single crochet increase, work 2 stitches into a single stitch in the row below. This will create more stitches in one row or round.
SKILL 6 - Decrease crochet. Skip a stitch to create fewer stitches in the row. If this creates too large a hole, there is a method of invisible decrease (inv dec) which is explained in my article on how to crochet. Your pattern may also use the abbreviation of sc2tog.
SKILL 7 - Changing Yarn. Most amigurumi tend to be in block colors, but in case your pattern calls for a stripe or yarn color change, here is the easiest way to do it.
- Crochet to the end of the row until you have one stitch left on the hook.
- Take the new color yarn and yarn over and pull through the new color. Tighten the loop from the original color.
- Continue crocheting with the new color.
SKILL 8 - Finish off crochet. When you have finished your shape, you need to fasten off your yarn so that it doesn’t unravel. To do this, you pull up your final stitch into a large loop, pull the end of the yarn through that loop, and pull tight. This will secure it. Weave the leftover yarn into the work for extra security.
Abbreviations Used in Amigurumi:
Here are the most common abbreviations that you will find in your amigurumi patterns. All the instructions here are written in US terminology. Always check the origin of your crochet pattern as different terms are used for UK or US patterns.
- ch = chain stitch
- sc = single crochet
- hdc = half double crochet
- dc = double crochet stitch
- inc = increase
- dec = decrease.
- st(s) = stitch(es)
- sl st = slip stitch
- rnd = round
How to Amigurumi Shapes
You may have been browsing the internet and found all manner of cute patterns for amigurumi, which you are dying to create! There are so many free patterns available. However, it may be best to start simple with your first amigurumi project, to avoid frustration! If you are new to crochet, start off just making basic shapes using amigurumi techniques. Generally, each little creature or character is made up of a variety of spheres and tube-like shapes.
How To Crochet Amigurumi Spheres (Used for Heads and Bodies)
This can be used as a stuffed ball, or as a head for an amigurumi.
- Foundation: Start by making your magic circle.
- Row 1: Work 6 sc into your magic circle. Sl st to close the ring. Tighten it up firmly.
- Row 2: Work 2sc into each of the 6sc. (You should now have 12 sts. Check!) Use a stitch marker to check where the end of each round is, and to keep counting your rounds.
- Row 3: Continue increasing 6 sts evenly around every round. So now you will sc 1, inc 1. (18 sts.)
- Row 4: Sc 2, inc 1 all the way around. (24 sts.)
- Row 5: Sc 3, inc 1 all the way around. (30 sts.)
- Row 6: Sc 4, inc 1 all the way around. (36 sts.)
If you want a bigger sphere, keep increasing in this manner. For this example, we will stop increasing here.
- Rows 7 – 13: Simply sc into each st as you go around. No shaping. Use stitch markers to keep track of your rows. It will form a cup shape now.
Now, to ‘close off ‘ the sphere, we will start to decrease.
If you are adding safety eyes, it is best to add them now before you start to decrease.
- Row 14: Sc 4, then decrease by sc 2 tog. Continue like this all the way around.
- Row 15: Sc 3, dec 1 all the way around.
- Row 16: Sc 2, dec 1 all the way around. You should start stuffing your sphere with acrylic toy stuffing here, as it gets more difficult as the opening gets smaller.
- Row 17: Sc 1, dec 1 all the way around.
- Row 18: Dec each st.
Keep adding stuffing as you complete each row. Stuff it very firmly. It may feel like you are overstuffing it, but it must be very firmly filled.
- Finishing: Sl st through each remaining stitch, and then finish off your yarn by pulling it through tightly to close the hole up completely. Weave the yarn through the ball to make it secure and invisible.
If making a head, and not using safety eyes, embroider eyes into position. Add any other facial features you wish to include.
You can now make another, usually smaller ball for the body. With amigurumi, the heads are usually the largest feature.
How To Crochet Amigurumi Tubes (Used for Arms And Legs)
- Round 1: Make a magic circle, sc 6 sts into magic circle and pull tight.
- Round 2: 2 sc, inc 1, twice. (8 sts)
- Round 3: Sc into each st all the way around.
- Round 4+: Continue until your limbs are the desired length.
- Finishing: Stuff firmly. You can use your crochet hook to push the stuffing down into the narrow tube. Cut yarn and fasten off.
If you want fatter limbs, crochet increase more times. Sew up the top of the limb, and sew it onto the body in the appropriate position. Add hair or a hat and any other facial features you may want.
How To Crochet Amigurumi Twists (Used For Curled Limbs)
If you don’t want to make stuffed limbs, or you want to make a little octopus or spider, here is how to make twirly, twisted limbs. These toys with twists for limbs are said to be very beneficial for preemie babies, as they grab the tentacles instead of pulling on vital tubing or monitors. They are also comforting because they give the baby a feeling of familiarity- the tentacles are like grabbing onto the umbilical cord within the womb.
They also just make cute little creatures, whether for a child or not!
- Join the yarn onto the base of your sphere. Ch 25.
- Start in 2nd ch from hook. (2 sc in next st, sc in next st) 12 times. Fasten off. This is one tentacle/spider leg.
- Make 8 tentacles/legs in this way.
How to Finish Amigurumi Pieces
How to Insert Safety Eyes
Before you close up your spheres or stuff them, you need to add facial details.
Safety eyes are made up of a bead-like shape with a rod extending back from it, and a washer to keep the eye in place.
Decide exactly where you would like the eyes to be placed. It is worth experimenting a bit with this placement, because where the eyes are placed changes the whole expression of the face. Do you want them to be close together or far apart? Do you want them low on the face or higher up? Be sure you are happy with this placement, as once the safety eyes are attached, they can’t be moved. Place pins to mark the correct position once you have decided.
To attach safety eyes, insert the rod through the crochet fabric from the outside in. Place the second eye as well, to make sure they are even. Then go to the inside of your crochet and push the washer down onto the rod, until it reaches the fabric. Your eyes are all set!
Embroidered Faces for Amigurumi
Many crocheters prefer the look of embroidered eyes and faces on their amigurumi. Again, this needs to be done before closing or stuffing your character. You will need a needle with a large eye and some thick embroidery thread or very fine yarn.
Select the placement of your eyes carefully, and place pins in the position where you would like them to be.
- Draw circles around the pin heads using a water erasable marker pen.
- Make a knot in the end of your thread. Insert threaded needle through the back of the work, making sure that the knot stays inside the fabric.
- Stitch satin stitch to cover the marked circle, then change direction and stitch again to cover any gaps.
- Make a small back stitch at the back of each eye to end off the embroidery.
- You can add a small white ‘glint’, (just a single stitch or french knot.) at the top of each circle to make the eyes come to life.
- Using your water erasable pen, draw 2 semi circles where you want the eyes to be placed. Stitch over these curved lines with back stitch or split stitch.
- If you want to add eyelashes, make a single straight stitch for each lash ,perpendicular to the curves.
- Place a pin where you want the nose to be.
- You can choose to stitch a few horizontal stitches on top of each other to make the nose.
- Or you can draw a triangle shape with your erasable pen and use satin stitch to fill in the triangle.
- If your amigurumi is an animal, insert the needle under the nose shape and bring down one long vertical stitch towards the mouth.
- Mark the mouth with the erasable pen.
- Use backstitch or split stitch to sew along the line you have marked.
- You can chose an upward curve for a smile, a downward curve for a grumpy face, or simply a straight line!
How To Stuff Amigurumi
To stuff your character, the best choice is acrylic toy stuffing which is often called polyfill.
- Pull small pieces of the stuffing apart, and stuff little by little. Lots of small pieces are more effective than one big lump of stuffing, to create a smooth, rounded finish.
- Push the stuffing down as far as possible to the bottom of the shape. If you have narrow nooks and crannies to stuff, use you crochet hook to push the stuffing all the way in.
- Pull the next small bit of stuffing apart, place it inside the shape and push down firmly.
- Keep doing this until the shape is full.
- Your toy must be firm and well stuffed, or you will have lumps and bumps in your creature. Just don’t stuff it so full that your crochet stretches, and the stuffing is visible through the gaps!
How to Join Amigurumi
Once you have completed all the other steps, you will need to sew all the parts of your amigurumi together. It is good to leave a long tail every time you end off your yarn, to have yarn to use for stitching together the parts.
- When joining spheres- use a vertical stitch.
- Insert the yarn between crochet stitches of the first piece, and draw it through. (I have used contrasting yarn for clarity.)
- Now go down vertically and insert yarn between the stitches of the second piece.
- Pull up firmly to draw the 2 pieces together.
- Continue all the way around the sphere. If your yarn is the same color, the stitches will be almost invisible when they are pulled tight.
- When joining limbs onto sphere - bring the needle between holes on the open end of the limb.
- Then insert needle between stitches on the side of the body at the correct height.
- Pull firmly, and continue to work all the way
Finding Amigurumi Patterns
Free Amigurumi Patterns
There are many online sources of free patterns. These free patterns are often simpler and are a great way to improve your skills. Many of the sites offering free patterns such as www.amigurumi.com also have paid patterns.
Paid Amigurumi Patterns
Paid patterns that are generally of higher quality can be found on Etsy, Ravelry, and numerous blogs and designer sites. Most crochet patterns are under $8 for printable versions without ads.
Is amigurumi easy?
Amigurumi is actually quite easy since it mainly uses one of the simplest stitches which is single crochet. Once you can crochet a sphere you can make all kinds of animals simply by changing their faces and expressions.
What is the difference between crochet and amigurumi?
These two things are actually the same. Amigurumi uses crochet stitches to make soft toys. It is a technique using predominantly single crochet stitches made in the round to produce spheres and tubes which can be stitched together to create animals and characters. Crochet is a broader term that encompasses many stitches.
How To Crochet Amigurumi - In Conclusion
As soon as you have mastered the basic skills of amigurumi crochet, you can start making any number of cute characters. It is fairly easy to design your own critters, but if you are not comfortable with that yet, there are many free patterns available. Give one a try! Even if you don’t have a child around who would enjoy a cute amigurumi toy, make one for yourself! Amigurumi toys are irresistible!