Crocheting an amigurumi doll can be tricky. If you don’t get the toy exactly right, it can look creepy. Your kids will be running to you in the middle of the night screaming, “Mommy, that doll is looking at me!”
That’s not exactly the reaction we were hoping for.
These seven tips are going to help you crochet an adorable amigurumi doll, but even if you’re going for macabre, these tips will work for you too.
1 – Stuffing Your Amigurumi Doll
Stuffing seems like such a simple thing to do. But it is something that can make or break an amigurumi project.
Because of the increases and decreases needed to crochet a round head, if it isn’t stuffed properly it can end up looking like a hexagon.
To avoid that particular geometric shape, stuff the head firmly. Stuff it until you think it can’t take any more.
Hopefully you used a yarn suitable for amigurumi and that your tension is tight (which we will talk about shortly).
Use small pieces at a time, don’t just grab a handful and stuff… like we do with Doritos and our mouths. Little by little gets the head right.
Make sure to smooth out the outside of the head as you’re stuffing. You’d be surprised how many mistakes can be corrected just by fussing over the head. Run your hands over your stitches, smoothing out any bumps or lumps.
If you would like for your amigurumi doll to stand make sure to stuff those legs firmly. More is better because over time stuffing deflates a little or a lot.
The opposite is true for the arms. You definitely want to watch your stuffing in this area. Make sure to lightly stuff your doll’s arms starting with the hand.
Decrease your amount of stuffing as you work your way up. Approximately 2/3 of the way, stop stuffing. Leaving the upper arm and shoulder area unstuffed will ensure that the arms don’t stick out straight at the sides.
2 – Choose the Right Amigurumi Doll Pattern
Choosing the right pattern for your amigurumi doll is one of the MOST important decisions you can make.
Why does this matter?
It matters because if you choose a doll pattern that is overly complicated and you’re a beginner, you won’t be happy with the results. If you choose a doll that has a lot of facial embroidery and that’s an area you’re still working on, you might be disappointed, frustrated or both.
Look at the details of the doll before choosing the pattern. Let’s use the Lula Doll Pattern as an example of what I mean.
Lula and Little Teddy Bear Amigurumi Pattern
The Lula and Little Teddy Amigurumi Pattern is not just totally adorable, it’s a fantastic doll pattern for so many different reasons.
- Very little embroidery
- Minimal attaching of limbs and other body parts
- Very few small pieces to crochet (excluding the teddy bear)
- Not a lot of color changes
- Easily customizable
This adorable pattern is a collaboration between the illustrator Nour Abdallah and the fabulous ladies behind Granny’s Crochet Hook.
I absolutely love this pattern and the design. Lula has so much character without all the fuss.
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She is a very big amigurumi doll so make sure you have plenty of yarn and especially Poly Fil Premium Fiber Fill.
You can get your very own, very adorable Lula and Her Little Teddy Bear pattern here.
3 – Yarn Choice
Choosing the correct yarn for amigurumi can be a difficult task. I go into a lot more detail in my post: Amigurumi Yarn Recommendations.
I wish I could go with you to the yarn shop to choose the perfect amigurumi yarn. There are so many variables and what makes one yarn great could be the very thing that makes another terrible.
There are good and bad yarns for amigurumi.
There really are. You want a yarn that has some structure. A flimsy yarn will never hold the shape you want to achieve.
A yarn with a slight halo (a little fuzziness) will hide slight imperfections.
Especially for dolls, choose yarns that have flesh colors.
If you are completely lost and just need someone to tell you exactly what to get, here are my recommendations, these are my tried and true yarns that work wonderfully for amigurumi dolls and animals.
Amigurumi Doll Yarn Choices
For Lula I used Paintbox Wool Mix Aran in the colors Vanilla Cream, Midnight Blue, Paper White, Granite Grey, and Coffee Bean. I also used Soft Fudge for Lula’s little teddy bear.
I am also a big fan of Berroco Vintage, it has a slightly fuzzier texture than the Paintbox and is oh so soft.
You can’t go wrong with either one of those yarn choices and I always use my FURLS Odyssey 3.5 mm hook with both the Berroco and Paintbox Yarns.
Another extremely important factor is to make sure you choose a strong yarn.
I once used a 100% Merino Wool that was fine while I was actually making the toy, but when I went to attach one of the limbs it broke in half.
It literally broke in half.
Now, I am extremely cautious when using a new yarn and pull and tug on it to make sure it doesn’t fall apart.
4 – Tension
As with all amigurumi projects, tension is very important.
If you’re using the right size yarn with the correct size hook, you’re already well on your way to creating gorgeous toys. But if you’re seeing a lot of holes, you may have a tension issue.
Here are a few things to try:
- Tighten up your stitches
- Go down a hook size
- Try a heavier weight yarn
- Choose a yarn with a slight halo (slightly fuzzy)
There will be times when you are going to end up with holes no matter what.
Any time there are big increases or decreases you can end up with holes. This is especially true for me around the neck area. If a toy has decreased quite rapidly there’s really not much you can do about it.
But you can hide the holes.
Around the neck area, try adding a scarf, a turtleneck sweater, a cute collar, etc. Hiding those holes due to decreasing is a trick that will keep your amigurumi dolls looking beautiful.
Necks are always an issue, aren’t they?
If it’s not the holes it’s the instability. Thankfully, there’s a solution to that.
I honestly don’t remember where I learned this trick, but it has proven invaluable for those wobbly necks.
- Take a piece of cheap felt (or quilt batting, thick fabric, etc) and cut it into a long rectangle.
- The height of the rectangle just needs to be high enough to fit the neck, a little into the head and body.
- Roll the piece to fit inside the neck, think of the shape of an empty toilet paper tube.
- Place the rolled up felt into the neck with stuffing below and above to keep the felt in place.
This technique will add stability to the neck while keeping it soft. It works so much better than struggling to stuff enough Poly Fil into the space only to watch it to flop over in a few short months.
5 – Seaming
Seaming is one of those skills that just takes a lot of practice.
Don’t be afraid to try different techniques. When people ask me how I sew on body parts, I always hesitate to answer because I may do it totally different the next time.
My biggest piece of advice is to always leave a long tail when finishing a section so that you can use it to sew on all those pieces.
Rip it out if it looks messy and do it again. Each time you’ll get a little better and eventually it will become second nature.
Straight vs. Bent Yarn Needles
I’ve tried using bent yarn needles many times and I cannot, for the love of Pete, get them to work for me.
In theory bent yarn needles make so much sense for amigurumi, but for whatever reasons they legit fall out of my hands.
Use what works for you. It’s totally a personal decision.
6 – Don’t Skip the Details
Honestly, this is the place I think many toy makers can improve, and I count myself in this category.
There are times when we just want to finish a project. We’ve been crocheting for hours, we are bored with the pattern and we just want to be done.
But this is the time to push through and focus on the details. While it may seem like such a small thing, the details add so much character to an amigurumi doll.
For instance, I was tempted not to add the buttons to Lula’s overalls. I just wasn’t sure that it would make much difference.
I was being lazy. I didn’t want to get my button box out. I didn’t want to have to find a matching thread. But I’m sure glad I did.
You wouldn’t think such a small thing like tiny little buttons would make much of an impact. It’s a teeny tiny design element, but it adds an unexpected touch of whimsy and cuteness.
In my opinion, the face is the most important part to focus on when it comes. to details. People are naturally drawn to looking at the face of an amigurumi doll first.
Make sure to get your embroidery right. For Lula’s mouth I only used one strand of black embroidery floss. I find that using multiple strands or even yarn can end up looking messy.
Don’t be afraid to rip it out and start again if you don’t like the result. I rarely embroider things once. It usually takes. me several tries to really get it right.
Cheeks are one of the easiest ways to add some detail and adorableness to your amigurumi doll.
There are several different ways to enhance the cheek area:
- With pink yarn , make 6 single crochet in a magic ring and close. This creates a little cheek applique that you can sew onto the face.
- For Lula’s pattern there is simple embroidery underneath the eyes to create a pink cheek.
- My current favorite is to add blush. I’m doing this technique more and more and I love it every single time I do it. My advice is to start light and add more if needed.
If you’re using safety eyes, choose different sizes to see which looks best with a project. Adding slightly larger or smaller eyes than recommended can change the look of your finished toy.
The placement of the eyes is an important section. Make sure that you’re placing the eyes and double checking to make sure they are even.
Ask me how I know…
I now quadruple check my eye placement before adding the back of safety eyes. I’ve made the mistake of thinking they were in the right position only to discover I’d made a big error.
It is no fun trying to remove the back of a safety eye and sometimes it’s impossible to do so without ruining your toy.
Accessories are one of the easiest ways to add a few unexpected details.
You may be tempted to skip this part of a project, because the finish line is so close. But it’s a fairly simple way to add a ton of character.
I was a bit worried about crocheting Lula’s teddy bear because it is the smallest amigurumi I’ve ever made. But I’m soooooo glad I did.
I believe that little teddy bear adds something so special to the whole project. Every single time I look at it, I just smile.
Don’t underestimate the value of those little touches.
Another example is the little squirrel I made from the designer Bigbebez. His little acorn purse brings personality and whimsy to a simple woodland creature.
7 – Experiment
Now ignore everything I just old you…
Just kidding, sort of. Now’s the time to experiment and make your amigurumi doll your own.
Once you have these fundamentals down you’re ready to get creative:
- You can follow a pattern
- The yarn you’re using works well for toy making
- Your stitches are even
- Seaming is fairly neat
- You’re comfortable making small detail changes
This is the time when you can make creative changes.
The sky is the limit. Your only obstacle is your own imagination.
Certain personality types are naturally going to be drawn to experimentation. They feel freedom in being able to totally customize an amigurumi doll.
I am not one of those people.
Being pretty conservative by nature, I don’t like risk… even of the toy-making variety.
But you do you. Go off the rails and make it all your own,.
Amigurumi Doll Happiness
Finally, if you’ve read this far, can I give you a big virtual hug?
Crocheting amigurumi dolls is one of my favorite things to do and I sincerely hope that this guide will help you create toys that you love.