Amigurami Tips and Tricks

I make a lot of stuffies. I’ve been making them for a long time, and then suddenly they became very popular, and they became known as amigurami, which is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. Over the years, I’ve discovered a lot of little tricks that I do when I make them. I’ve also picked up tips from other yarn artists. I decided, since I have a lot of new patterns coming over the next few months, that now is a good time for me to try to put some of those tips and tricks into one blog post.

If you’re new to amigurami, or even if you’re not, you might find some of these tips useful. I know there are a lot of other things I could include in this post, so I’m sure I’ll add more to it as time goes by. For now, though, here are the tips that I’ve put together.

Gauge

For the most part, there is no gauge in amigurami. Most patterns will tell you what hook size to use and what yarn size to use, but as long as your hook matches the yarn that you’re using, the pattern should work. For example, most worsted weight yarns (like Red Heart) will say on the package to use a J hook. For amigurami, I tend to use 1 hook size smaller than what they suggest. So I would use an I hook. But I could make the same pattern with a chunky yarn that says to use an L hook, and use a K hook instead.

For amigurami, you want a tight stitch. Many people learn to crochet by making hats, scarves, and blankets. With things like that, you want a loose stitch, so that’s how people learn. I tend to crochet very tight stitches because I’m used to making stuffies, so it takes some concentration for me to stitch loosely with clothing and blankets. Tight stitches matter. If you stitch loosely, or use a hook that is too big, your stuffie will end up looking like this…

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Nobody wants a stuffie with big gaps in it. If you tend to crochet loose, use a smaller hook than is recommended for the pattern. It will help tighten up your stitches so that your stuffie looks more like this…

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Using a smaller hook than the pattern suggests will also make your stuffie smaller, though, so if you don’t want that, then you can use a thicker yarn and go down 2 sizes with your hook to tighten up your stitches. Once you get used to making amigurami, you’ll eventually have an easier time making your stitches tighter.

I should also note that some yarn has a lot of stretch to it, and isn’t as good for amigurami as others. I like using stiffer yarns personally. They aren’t as soft and cuddly, but they don’t have stretch to them so it’s easier to get tight stitches that will stay tight once you stuff it.

Decreasing

There are a few different ways to do decreases. I’m going to talk about 3 of those in this post. Let’s start with the typical way. You pull a loop up through the first stitch…

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Then pull a loop up through the next stitch, so there are 3 loops on your hook…

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Next, you yarn over and pull through all 3 loops. This is the way that most people learned how to decrease, and it certainly works. But if you’ve made stuffies this way then you know that the end result shows where those decreases are. It ends up looking like this…

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Most of the time, this is still the way I do my decreases. I don’t usually mind the gaps that show where the decreases are, but I will admit it doesn’t look great.

The second way you can decrease is to simply skip a stitch. I’ve also been doing this method a lot lately. The end result looks like this…

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As you can see, there are still gaps where the decreases are. With darker yarns (like this one) they’re particularly noticeable.

The hidden decrease is definitely the best way to go. First, you put your hook through the front loop only of the first stitch…

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Next, you put your loop from the bottom up through the front loop only of the next stitch…

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Then, pull a loop through both of these…

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Yarn over, and pull through both loops. The end result looks like this…

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Doesn’t that look so much better? You can still see where the decreases are if you look for them, but it doesn’t leave the gaps that other methods do. The only problem that I have with this method is that it works better for right-handed people than for left-handed. You want to be sure that the side facing you is the outside of your pattern, and I find that when I work up patterns the side facing me ends up being the inside. If you use this method with the inside facing you then you end up with a line where the decrease is. For some patterns, though, I use this hidden crochet method because it really just looks nicer.

Now, I have to say that I picked up this hidden crochet method from another crocheter a year or two ago. I cannot remember who that crocheter was, though, so if you know please drop me a comment so I can credit the proper person for this.

Hair

This is such a big topic, that I almost think it needs its own post. There are so very many different ways to add hair to the dolls that you make. In fact, I still experiment with different ways all the time. This is how I do it most often. I cut the yarn to the size that I want, usually making it much longer so I can just trim it later. Then I put the hook through the spot I want the hair…

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I take 1 or 2 pieces of yarn (depending on how thick I want it) and grab it in the middle with the hook…

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Then pull the yarn through…

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Keeping the loop on the hook, grab the other side of the yarn…

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And pull it through the loop…

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Then pull it tight…

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It would take a long time to cover a whole head with yarn this way, and it would also make it way too thick. So I generally only use this method when I plan to do ponytails.

With this doll, I planned to do 2 ponytails, so I attached yarn down the middle on each side, and then across the bottom and back up to the top, leaving the center of each side empty. Then I gather up each side, brushing it out really well with my fingers to make sure it’s all pulled tight…

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Then I use a piece of yarn in the same color to tie it up. Once the ponytails are done, I trim all of the hair to make it even.

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It’s a cute way to do hair, and also works really well with 1 single ponytail because you just have to insert hair around the edges and pull it up.

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This method also works really well if you sew a hat onto their head first. You can simply insert the hair under the hat.

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Speaking of hats, they work great for dolls because it’s less hair to add, but also less likely to fall apart if a child is playing with it.

Hats also work well for curly hair.

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Curls are really easy to make. Just make a chain longer than you want the hair to be, then single crochet two or three times into each chain. You’ll have to test different lengths until you get it how you want it, but it comes out really cute, and you end up with two tails on one end that you can just tie onto the head under the hat.

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Another way to do hair is by making a cap. Generally you can do this by following the pattern for the dolls head, but instead of decreasing, add a few more rows. When I make caps, I keep testing it on my dolls head until it’s the size I want it.

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And there are a lot of different things you can do with hair caps. You can add edging on it…

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You could even add a ponytail or two to the cap the way I attached the hair up above. Or you can just sew it onto the head, which works great for boy hair.

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I found a couple of other methods of doing hair that I haven’t tried yet, but that I plan to. This website shows a really great way to do boy hair that uses a cap but then they sew over it. The hair looks so natural, and it’s very sturdy. I’ll definitely be doing this soon, and when I do, I’ll add pictures to this post.

For more visual learners, there are a lot of videos on youtube that show different ways of attaching hair to dolls. If you want to make more natural looking hair, with a seam down the center, this video shows a neat way to do it using thread, then sewing it on the doll’s head. Or, this video shows how to make a seam right on the doll’s head using yarn instead of thread.

The Friendly Red Fox also has a post that she did showing how she attaches hair to her dolls. There are really so many different ways to do it, so test a few of them out and find what works best for you.

Extras

Here are a couple of little extra tips.

When you sew things together on your stuffie, you end up with ends sticking out like this…

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You can weave them in if you’d like, but I find that takes a lot of time. Instead, I tend to just use my hook to pull them inside of the stuffie…

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It hides the ends, and does it quickly.

If you’re putting eyelashes on your stuffie, and you’re using safety eyes, make sure to do the lashes before you put the backs on the eyes, or else you won’t be able to get them close to the eye. Just find the spot where you’re going to place your eyes, then use embroidery thread and a needle to sew in the lashes.

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Insert the eyes and add on the backs.

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If you want your amigurami to have rosey cheeks, just grab some blush. I don’t ever wear blush, but I have this blush that I bought just for stuffies that I make. I use a brush to apply it.

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If the doll is played with a lot, or you wash it, then it would probably come off eventually. But you can always just reapply it. Most of the stuffies that I make just tend to sit on a shelf, so the blush stays on them just fine, and it adds an extra touch to make them more lifelike.

When you’re sewing pieces onto your stuffie, especially if you’re sewing an open piece on, I find it useful to use straight pins to hold it in place.

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The pins are also a nice way to see how it will look before you start sewing, so you can adjust the placement if need be.

That’s all of my tips for now. I’ll try to add more as they come to me. If you have any tips that I didn’t think to add, leave me a comment or message me on Facebook. I’d love to have this one blog post with everything that a beginner would need to know to start making adorable stuffies. Thanks for reading!

 

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