Amigurumi 101: Part 4 – Finishing Touches
Today’s post is all about the finishing touches! This is when the project finally comes together and you get to enjoy all of that hard work and perserverance! But if you haven’t visited the three previous parts please do so before moving on!
Part 2: Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette
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Crocheting amigurumi is the bomb dot com!!! My kids will think I’m so dumb for actually typing that out! But seriously, isn’t this the best hobby? I believe there is something so incredibly wonderful about making an object that has only one purpose in life, to make someone smile. Amigurumi isn’t utilitarian. It has no practical uses whatsoever. They simply exist to bring happiness and a bit of whimsy into someone else’s life. I can’t think of a better reason than that!!
But we aren’t finished yet! We now have to master those finishing touches. This is another part that will take practice and patience. There’s just no way around it. Embroidering, eye placement, stuffing, pinning, sewing, and personal touches are skills that will get better with time. So don’t panic if it isn’t perfect the first time! And watch out at the end where I let you in on the secret imperfections of my own Olivia Otter and why it doesn’t matter one lick!
Finishing Touches #1 – Embroidering Facial Features
Embroidering facial features is the most finicky of the finishing touches. I know you are probably sick of seeing the word “practice”, but I’m going to write it again. It just takes practice. There really are no tricks, but I do have some suggestions that may help it go more smoothly. I prefer using black embroidery floss, but you can use yarn. For Olivia Otter I embroidered the snout piece before I attached it to the head. If you aren’t careful the embroidery floss can become completely tangled if you don’t keep those long ends (the ones you are going to use to sew on the snout) out of the way. I just hold them away and and regularly check to make sure things aren’t getting crazy back there!
Another tip is to watch those straight vertical lines. It’s tempting to just follow the natural space between the stitches but that typically won’t give you the look you’re going for. On Olivia Otter she has a vertical line connecting the bottom of her nose to her mouth. I had to split the bottom-most stitch to be able to keep the vertical line straight. Visually it is very obvious when a single embroidered vertical line isn’t straight.
Finishing Touches #2 – Eye Placement
I take my time when placing eyes. Once you place the back on a safety eye it is pretty much there until the end of time. I always wait until the snout is totally complete and sewn on before adding the eyes. When I add the eyes I try my best to make them evenly spaced away from the sides of the snout. I add them but never put the backs on right away. Sometimes I try different size eyes to see which one I prefer. Only, and I mean only when I’m totally happy do I put those little buggers on the back!
Finishing Touches #3 – Stuffing
Stuffing is a fairly straightforward finishing touch! But there are a couple of tips that you may find helpful. First, add small bits of stuffing at a time, especially when doing small pieces like arms or snouts. I have found that the tool that comes in some Poly-Fil packages to be quite useful. But one thing I do is break it in half so that it has one smooth end and one rough end. The rough end tends to grab the stuffing easier and helps push the fibers through without slipping. I also like using the eraser end of a pencil. The rubbery texture aids in sticking to the fibers and getting them where you want them to go.
When stuffing arms I only add the Poly-Oil about 2/3 of the way up the arm. Leaving the top part of the arm, where it attaches to the body, unstuffed allows the arm to lay flat. Otherwise it will stick out. For the general body and head I stuff it really full. Your toy will deflate over time so overstuffing it a bit is a good idea. Because single crocheting generally creates a less stretchy fabric this shouldn’t affect the shape of the toy at all.
Finishing Touches #4 – Pinning and Placement
Take your time when pinning and placing body parts. It truly is worth the effort to pin and adjust. Try pinning body parts in different places and see how it changes the look of your toy! It’s pretty amazing how small adjustments like that can lead to a very different look. Placing ears at the top of the head looks very different from placing them further down the sides. Play around with it. I also like for my ears and arms to line up along the sides of the body, but that is just my personal choice. You will discover what your preferences are over time and it will become second nature!
Finishing Touches #5 – Sewing on Body Parts
This is also another area that can be finicky for beginners. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube for how to do it and in my video I show you how I sew on the snout and arms. I use two different techniques for each one and there’s good reason why. For the snout I am extra careful because sloppy sewing will be quite noticeable. I go over and under each stitch on the snout and then catch a stitch on the face closest to that point. I pull it taut but not enough to distort the fabric. I typically will go around something circular in shape more than once to make sure I pick up each stitch.
For the arms and ears my goal is to make sure those suckers don’t come off! I employ a little different technique. I make horizontal stitches in the top of the arm and then anchor them with another horizontal stitch in the body. I pull it quite tight to secure. My stitching here doesn’t need to be as neat because it will blend into the body and won’t be very noticeable.
Finishing Touches # 6 – Weaving in Ends
Weaving in ends is one of those finishing touches that just must be done. It isn’t glamorous and if you do it right no one will even notice it. The most important tip I have is I never weave them in until I am absolutely certain I like my placement and my sewing job. There is nothing more frustrating than having to undo a piece once those ends are nicely tucked away! I leave long tails so that I can weave my ends in very securely. My goal is for this toy to last a long time and for it to never ever unravel!!
Finishing touches are so important for making amigurumi. This is where your skills can really shine! Adding your personal preferences is a way to make your toy all your own! For Olivia Otter I added a little hair bow just to make her a little more girly! (You can find a free pattern and chart for the hair bow here!)
Go off the rails in a pattern and add or subtract any detail you want! Make ears smaller, make snouts larger, change the colors, and make it all yours! Big or small adding your own personal touches will give your toy so much personality!
Throw Perfectionism in the Trash!
Now is the time to show you that perfect isn’t cool! I once heard the phrase that perfection is the enemy of good, and I couldn’t agree more! First of all I totally flubbed and didn’t add the snout in the right spot. I should have added it directly across from the color change so the color change jog would be in the back of the head instead of the side. But oh well, it really doesn’t matter!
Secondly, the colors don’t line up well on the snout and head. Ideally they would be perfectly lined up and half the face would be the oatmeal color and the other half would be white. But that didn’t happen. For a while I was a little worried about it and almost made another snout, but experience taught me that it wouldn’t be necessary! Sometimes it is very important that a piece be frogged and redone. In those cases I do just that. I don’t have a problem remaking a section or piece if the imperfection will matter. For this one I knew it wasn’t critical. Also if I knew it was going to bother me then I would have remade it no matter what. But always remember that perfection isn’t the goal, a finished toy is though!
I hope you enjoyed this post all about finishing touches! It warms my heart when you leave comments and let me know what you’re working on! Let’s keep in touch and keep on crocheting!!
Olivia is absolutely precious. Her details are amazing! My grandson watched the video with me and couldn’t keep his eyes off of you! Wonderful post:)
Awww!! How cute!!! Thank you so much, Angela!! 💗💗💗
Love Olivia!! I just finished my own otter and decided he was definitely my favorite of the picapau book. I plan on finishing all of them!! Love your Instagram and blog!! Keep putting a smile on my face!!
Awww! Thank you so much!! The otter pattern is awesome. I also really really love the pig!
What an excellent series! I love that you shared what you say is an imperfection, I never would have noticed and I think it just adds to the personality of the otter!
Thanks so much, Jenn! It has been a labor of love for me!! I’ve enjoyed helping others be able to make amigurumi as well!
This was so helpful, as details really make a difference on a project like this! I loved the eye placement tips… nothing is weirder than eyes in the wrong spot!
Haha! That is so true about the eyes! The visual made me laugh!! 👀