Welcome to my new tutorial series, Making Amigurumi! This is the first installment!
New to making Amigurumi? You’ll need some tools first.
I will discuss – 1. Must Have purchases, 2. Project dependent items, 3. Optional Tools, and 4. Do not buy
YARN – If you are new to crocheting I’d start off with a Worsted Weight yarn – it is easy to find at craft or yarn shops.
What type of yarn? Optimally, acrylic is inexpensive and washes well – thus very good for starting the amigurumi hobby. You may also chose wool based yarn. For a newer crocheters (or one not used to TIGHT gauge) I’d avoid 100% cotton yarns for now as they don’t have much give, thus harder to work with. Blends of acrylic, wool, cotton, bamboo work well. Check out my Yarn Reviews for yarns that work well for amigurumi.
Do not get nubby yarn. Do not get crazy fuzzy yarn. Heck, I’m still not patient enough to use nubby lumpy yarns – the tight gauge makes the stitches hard to see and the yarn snags on the hook too much.
What colours? What do you want to make? (pssst, how about my easy Octopus amigurumi pattern?)
Getting started, I’d purchase a white and some attractive solid (non varigated) colours.
HOOK – Which size of hook you will need will range greatly on how tight you crochet and the yarn used. Sadly, all worsted weight yarn is not created equal – some are thinner than others.
3.5, 3.75, 4, 4.25mm hooks cover me for all of the variances of worsted weight. If you were looking to not buy a ton of hooks, I’d start with a 3.5mm and 4mm hook for worsted weight, and go from there.
Not all crochet hooks are the same as brands like to sometimes have different handles and head shapes. They also come in various materials such as metal, wood, bamboo and plastic. I HIGHLY recommend metal crochet hooks – if you don’t know your “sweet spot” gauge yet + crocheting tightly = snapped hooks, especially the plastic ones. The plastic hooks look very nice, but don’t buy them! When I was new to crochet, I bought the pretty rainbow pack of crochet hooks and broke all of them. Bamboo and wooden crochet hooks are pretty nice and have a bit of grip to them – I’d go with those if you cannot get a metal one.
Crochet hooks are easy to find at yarn or craft shops, and even at places like Walmart and dollar shops. Another good hotspot for crocheting or knitting tools is thrift shops or garage sales.
STITCH MARKER – To decrease errors, you’ll want to mark each start of the round. There is lots of stitch markers out there, but I prefer the trusty small gold safety pin. Safety pins are cheap, easy to find, and have multiple uses. The crummy issues with safety pins is accidentally getting stabbed in the finger, and yarn getting caught in the spine of the pin.
They make these nice plastic stitch markers, however I find them a little too big for the size of amigurumi I make.
Ditto with these spiral things being too big for amigurumi crocheting.
You may also use scrap yarn and thread it through the stitch, but I find using a closing pin is much more secure and faster to use.
STUFFING – You will need to fill your amigurumi with something! Thankfully, polyfill is pretty cheap – cheaper if you buy it in larger bags.
I prefer this style of fill – it lasts a long time, squishy yet holds form.
I used use a different stuffing that was “Eco friendly” but found my amigurumi turned out really hard, heavy and not as filled up.
It is easy to get mixed up and buy the wrong fill! I’ve received fill that was actually quilting backing or pillows – not the same stuff!
Finding stuffing can be hit and miss. Craft stores should have it. Yarn shops sometimes have it. Walmart sometimes have it in stock. Dollar stores (especially Asian dollar stores like Daiso) have stuffing, but often in small packages enough for 1-2 amigurumis, thus not cheap if you plan to make more amigurumi than that.
EYES – this will be the trickiest part, but thankfully, I have been noticing safety eyes showing up more at craft stores. See my Amigurumi Eyes FAQ for further information.
YARN NEEDLE – These yarn needles piss me off as I constantly lose them. Some shops dare to sell the plastic pink ones for like $3 each. You can get a wide, blunt metal one for $0.25 to $4. Find one that has a wide “eye” so you can thread your yarn through.
I prefer the metal needles as they have weight to them, plus are thinner making it easier to fit inbetween tight stitches.
If you cannot find a wide eye’d needle, you may be able to get away with your crochet hook, though life is much easier with the yarn needle.
SCISSORS – you know, to cut your yarn with. You probably have some on hand.
Depending on your project, there are a few other tools you might need:
EMBROIDERY FLOSS – You’ll need this stuff if you want to sew on mouths, noses or even eyes. Floss will be your friend if you are making amigurumi for young kids, as safety eyes aren’t recommended for young children.
Luckily, floss is cheap! $0.25 each cheap, though it can range up to like $2 for high-end silk material. You can find floss at most craft stores, dollar stores, and Walmart. Sometimes they sell them in the toy section in friendship bracelet kits.
Colours? This is project dependent, but 90% of the time I use black embroidery floss. Occasionally I will use white, pink and red.
SEWING NEEDLE – You may need a needle that has a sharp point instead of the yarn needles blunt point. The eyes on these are usually really small, so you couldn’t use as your yarn needle.
This is needed to sew on the embroidery floss – especially if you want to stab the floss through stitches. You can also use a sewing needle to sew on felt pieces.
FELT – Felt can be used for many things: eyes, face, noses/beaks, pink cheeks, feet, spines, spikes, hands, ears, clothing, tails and more! If you can’t crochet something (like the beak is too tiny) you can glue or sew on a bit of felt to compensate. You can add felt behind the safety eye to change the look of the amigurumi or make the eyes bigger. Luckily, felt is quite cheap and easy to find at craft or dollar stores.
You can also find felt that is stiff, patterned or covered in sparkles.
Of course colour selection is project dependent, but for me the most commonly used colours are white, black, orange, and pink.
FABRIC GLUE – If you choose not to sew on felt pieces, simply fabric glue them on. Good fabric glue can be flexible enough so the form can move, but also hold up to spot clean up.
You will also want a glue that is clear and does minimal discolouration when dried.
NOSES – Maybe your amigurumi needs a nose? You can purchase plastic noses, similar to safety eyes. I touch on this briefly on my Amigurumi Eyes FAQ.
PLASTIC PELLETS – If you want to add weight to your amigurumi, say to keep it sitting upright, you’ll want plastic pellets. Plastic pellets work amazing for amigurumi with feet to keep the toy standing! I put plastic pellets into “very optional” category as I feel I can live without them. You can somewhat make do with rolling and packing stuff tightly on the bottom and some amigurumi can sit on their own with a well made pattern or feet/tail balancing. (Of course not applying to an amigurumi that’s all big head + no body)
In my experience, plastic pellets are not that cheap and pricey to ship due to weight. A few times I’ve see a good deal on them, but it is for like a giant bucket of them. If you are truly desperate and cannot find the pellets, cannibalize a beanie baby or stuff toy for them. Plastic pellets are also a choking hazard for young children.
To use, I just simply sprinkle then pack them into the feet or bottom of the amigurumi. From there, stuff the rest of the form. You may also sew the pellets inside scrap fabric.
How about beans or rice? Those can attract pests or have issues if you amigurumi get wet. I had a nice frog a cousin made me for Christmas, stuffed with beans. His legs got wet and he swelled up and started to stink – it was awful.
PINK OR RED FABRIC PAINT / BLUSH – Want blushing cheeks on your amigurumi? You’ll want fabric paint , though cosmetic blush does the job too. By the way, you’ll want something to apply the paint or blush with, such as a brush or q-tip/cotton bud. I prefer to glue on pink felt as cheeks.
STITCH COUNTER – these doo hickies are little counters you can use to keep track of what row/round you are on.
Stitch counters are mostly found with knitting supplies as you can attach them to your knitting needle. They work just as good not attached to anything. They are fairly cheap, running around a couple dollars a piece.
Do you need one? Maybe. I use them, especially if I’m crocheting away from home. Can you live with out it? Most likely. You can keep track of what round you are on by simply printing out the pattern and marking rows completed or use scrap paper or text document on your computer to keep count. If you are crocheting on the bus, using a stitch counter is easier than pulling out paper and a pen to mark your rounds.
Don’t bother to buy:
Stuffing stuffer tools – I had one come free with my package of stuffing, but you can also buy them from craft stores and amigurumi crafting sellers. Don’t bother to buy! First off – your fingers can stuff your amigurumi easily enough. If you need to insert stuffing in really small spots, like long narrow legs, you can simply use the back end of a crochet hook, knitting needle, pen, chop stick or yarn needle.
The stuffer I got for free with my giant bag of stuffing is pretty much 1 wooden chop stick. Other models look like a plastic yarn needles with the “eye” chopped, giving you a 2 pronged device, which you can make yourself, though using the end of your crochet hook works just as well!
I hope this post helps you inspiring amigurumi makers out there! I plan to do a few more related tutorials in the future!