Amigurumi 101: Part 1 – Never Give Up

Amigurumi alligator, pig, fox, and puffin.
Amigurumi 101: Part 1 – Perseverance

Amigurumi 101: Part 1- Perseverance

This is the first post in a four part series all for the amigurumi newbie! Part one of Amigurumi 101 focuses on the most essential skill any beginner must have and that is perseverance. The following three weeks will describe and demonstrate the fundamental techniques that you will need to master and become a confident toy maker!

While it is best for someone to have some basic crochet experience before attempting amigurumi, don’t let that stop you from trying!

I am a serial “giver-upper”, also known as a quitter. I have dropped out of almost everything I have ever attempted. Violin, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, and hair braiding are just a select few. Clearly perseverance wasn’t my strong suit. Whenever the going got tough, I just gave up! Thank goodness that is all in the past and I finally learned how to persevere.

Amigurumi 101 – It’s a Skill not a Talent

First of all, amigurumi is a learned skill, not a talent. You read that right. I often have folks comment that they could never crochet toys. While I do admit it takes a great deal of time to become proficient at making amigurumi, it is a skill almost anyone can achieve. Yes, I do agree it comes more easily to some. But the biggest predictor of success is simply the desire to learn.

For instance, maybe you’re looking at photos of the animals I, or many others make and you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say!” But hear me out! It took hours upon hours of practice to make my amigurumi look the way they do now. Yes, I’m proud of them. I’m proud because it took a lot of hard work to be able to make them. I’m proud because I made umpteen million mistakes but the point is I kept trying. Humor me and let me show you how I started!

First Project

About a year after I began crocheting, I began making baby clothes. Why? I have no idea. I had no babies and had no intentions of selling the clothes. The sweet tiny sweaters and crocheted dresses were just so addictive. I began watching a lot of YouTube tutorials from the wonderful Wooly Wonders Crochet. I was beginning to get the hang of basic garment construction when I happened to notice a tutorial for a stuffed bunny, an adorable, chubby bunny that is! I worked and worked on this little bunny and was so pleased with myself when I finished. I knew he was wonky. It was obvious he had some issues, but I was in love.

Wooly Wonders Crochet Pattern
Wooly Wonders Crochet Pattern

Amigurumi Patterns

Soon after, I began looking for more amigurumi tutorials and patterns. I came across the Animal Friends of Pica Pau book and I bought it instantly. I had never read an amigurumi pattern before but I was so enchanted by the cover and knew this was what I wanted to spend time doing. I began by reading the book like a novel. Beginning with page one, I read all the way until I reached the pattern section. I felt like I had a solid grasp on the construction. Naively, I dove headfirst into the Victor Frog pattern. I quickly became discouraged and wanted to quit.

Arguing with Myself

But something was different that day. I calmed myself down and had a little conversation with myself that went something like this:

Me: I can’t do this! I quit!

Self: So you’re just going to give up again?

Me: Of course I’m going to give up! This is ridiculously difficult.

Self: Is it really that difficult or are you just not willing to work that hard? You must not really want to make that adorable frog.

Me: Well that’s not fair.

Self: Other people can make amigurumi, why can’t you?

Me: Ummmm, it must be harder for me.

Self: Is it harder or is it that you just don’t want to work for it?

Boom. Did you hear that sound? That was the mic dropping! Lol! That last question literally changed not only how I saw making amigurumi but how I saw myself. Most of my life I had put minimal effort into hobbies and then became discouraged when I couldn’t do them. I decided then and there that this time was going to be different.

Want to learn how to read a crochet pattern? Please visit my blog post: How to Read a Crochet Pattern

Second Project

I went back to Victor Frog with a completely different attitude. No longer was I huffing, puffing, and uttering curse words under my breath! I decided to take the slow and steady approach. Calmly and carefully I read over the pattern. I took each step as it came and worked at it until it was right. When I hit a stumbling block I would research YouTube and blogs to figure out what I was doing wrong. Within a week I had completed my goal and had a frog to prove it. He wasn’t perfect but I couldn’t have been more excited.

Amigurumi frog with hand on his hip.

Third Project

Next, once I had gained a bit of confidence I decided to tackle Harry Wolf. He was a much more difficult pattern but his adorable face and ears motivated me to push through. I didn’t yet own safety eyes so I just used buttons. My stitches were uneven and my color changes were sloppy. Also I had no idea that you weren’t supposed to stuff the ears! Harry Wolf turned out to be completely weird and adorable, and I wanted to continue to improve my skills. Each mistake taught me something valuable. Therefore with each project I learned skills that helped me progress to be able to make the next toy even better!

Amigurumi Wolf.
Harry Wolf – Animal Friends of Pica Pau

From that point forward I began crocheting toys with the sole purpose of improving my technique. I wanted my stitches to be more even, I wanted my embroidery to be more uniform, and I wanted my sewing to be neater. I frogged sections that looked bad. Improving my technique became the motivating factor when choosing patterns.

Amigurumi Wolf closeup.
Button eyes, stuffed ears, and sloppy color changes! Oh my!

Want to see a side-by-side comparison of my first wolf and my third one to see the improvement practice and perseverance makes? Visit my blog post: You Can Make Amigurumi: A Tale of Two Walters.

You Can Make Amigurumi

I promise you can do this. Don’t believe me? Try it! Start with a YouTube tutorial. Work at improving your skills. Keep at it even when you feel like you aren’t making progress. Within a few months you will be able to see how far you’ve come.

Amigurumi 101 – Homework

Finally, this week’s homework is to watch Wooly Wonder’s YouTube video, Very Easy Crochet Bunny Tutorial. Then try making this adorable little rabbit or any of her beginner amigurumi tutorials! I think you’ll be surprised that you can do it! Please share your bunnies with me! I would love to see your progress!

Next week’s post will be all about how to choose a written pattern and color palette!

Wolf and Bunny Amigurumi Animals
My fist amigurumi projects!


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How to Edit Photos for Free

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I used to think photo editing just meant adding a fancy Instagram filter to my pictures. My favorites were Lark, Juno, and Ludwig. Now there’s nothing wrong with those filters but using an actual photo editing app gives you so much more control. More control = more happiness! Haha! Well, it does for me anyway!

I am not a photographer and I don’t claim to be an editing expert. I’m sure that a professional would cringe at my photo editing, but the way I do it makes me deliriously happy and it’s just so darn easy!

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Snapseed

The first thing you will need is the free app for your phone, Snapseed. There may be better editing apps out there, but this one is FREE! I love free! It’s also incredibly easy to use and I need easy. Head to your App Store and download this handy little tool!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to I photograph my amigurumi please visit: How To Photograph Amigurumi

I highly recommend playing around with the app so that you become comfortable with the different tools. I promise it becomes second nature once you’ve familiarized yourself with it. The great thing about it is if you don’t like your edits you can always revert the photo back to the original. So there’s nothing to lose!

Let’s get editing!

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Choose the photo you would like to edit

Open up your Snapseed app and tap on the large + sign on the screen and choose the photo you would like to edit.

Tap “Tools”

When you tap on “Tools” an entire menu will pop up.

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Tap “Tune Image”

Tapping on “Tune Image” will first bring up “Brightness” but if you scroll up on your screen it will bring up all the different tools in this section!

Brightness– This tool is fairly self explanatory. Scroll right to add more light to your photo and scroll left to bring that brightness down. Once you’re happy with that, scroll up to find your next tool.

Contrast– I like a decent amount of contrast in my photos. It increases the dark tones in the photo and helps them stand out. Play around with increasing and decreasing the contrast to see what looks good with your photo. When you’re satisfied scroll up to our next tool!

Saturation– This tool is one of my favorites and I can get a little “saturation happy” if I’m not careful. I try not to add too much saturation to my photos because it can distort certain colors like red and bright pink. If it’s overused the photo can lose its natural look. Of course if you’re going for a something a little wild then turn that sucker up!! Now scoll up to find our next tool.

Ambiance– this is a tool I really like. It can bring some light to dark sections without making it look bright. I especially like how it looks on natural wood. It takes away some of the shadows in a photo as well. Taking the ambiance down brings out the shadows and looks fantastic when you want those dark moody looks! Scroll up to find the next tool.

Highlights– this one is pretty self explanatory. It adds light but doesn’t seem to be a shadow reducer. Play around with adding and subtracting highlights to see what looks best in your photo. Typically I only add a little highlight to my photos. Let’s scroll up for our next tool.

Shadows– this is a tool I use sparingly. It is great when you need to reduce some of the shadow in a photo but I find that it can begin to look unnatural when it is overused. See what looks best for your photo. Do you like more or less shadow? Scroll up to find our last tool for this section!

Warmth– I definitely have warm tones in my photos but I typically don’t add much warmth to them. I usually never reduce the warmth to give my photos a cool tone. Which appeals to you more? I find that keeping photos either warm or cool in your Instagram feed helps give your account a more cohesive look.

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Once you’re happy with how your photo is looking, click the check mark on the bottom right corner!

Now let’s click back on “Tools” to keep editing!

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Tap “Details”

Details are probably my favorite tool in Snapseed. I think this is where you can really make your photos shine! I’m going to be completely honest here and admit something that makes me sound like an idiot…I really have no idea how these two tools are different  from one another! Yikes. But I use them with free abandon!!! You don’t need to know how they work to enjoy them, sort of like electricity, and airplanes, and telephones!

Warning! Adding Structure and Sharpening is a great tool for showing details, it’s not great on the aging human face! So I would skip this if this is a photo of yourself, but if it’s of your mother-in-law turn it up! Just kidding! Sort of. Teehee!

Structure– add more structure if you want to bring out the details of a photo. This is especially good for showing stitch definition and details!

Sharpening– Like the structure tool, sharpening makes your photos crisp and clear.

Tap the check mark

Tap back on “Tools”

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Tap on Tonal Contrast

Tap the check mark to see if you like what this does to your photo. I probably use this about half of the time. It brings out the details and adds some texture to the photo.  Tonal Contrast generally does not look good on human flesh. It makes skin look either very wrinkly or dirty, so that is no bueno in my book.  It can also distort some background images. You can always add it and then if you don’t like it tap on the back arrow icon to undo the edit.

Tap the check mark if you like the edit or the “x” if you don’t want to add it.

Tap back on “Tools”

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Other tools to play with

Some of the other tools that I occasionally play with are:

  1. Lens Blur – this tool is such a fun toy to play with! Add it to a photo to blur the background of photo. When you tap on Lens Blur it will add a bullseye to your photo with the focused section in the center, slightly blurred in the middle, and most blurred in the outermost section. You can even move the bullseye center for where you would like the focus to be. Also you can change the shape of the bullseye from a circle to an oval. This tool can give your photo a very interesting aesthetic and give your viewer something to focus on.
  2. Vignette – this tool is something I only occasionally use. It makes the photo darker around the edges and is another way to keep the focus exactly where you want it to be. It can also add that moody dark style that looks so good.

Snapseed has 28 total different tools and they each do something different. It’s a fun tool to play with and can bring out the best in your photos.

The Lazy Gal’s Guide to Beginner Embroidery

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I’m lazy. I hate doing things the hard way. I always have. If there’s an easier way to do something, sign me up! If you want to stitch a beautiful embroidery project with half the effort, this is the tutorial for you!

This beautiful design by Lolli and Grace is perfect for the beginner embroiderer. Not only will learn how to make several foundation stitches, but how to prepare to embroider as well. The Lazy Gal’s Guide to Beginner Embroidery will help you stitch a beautiful hoop without any fussy, unnecessary steps!

Disclosure: Please note that some of these links are affiliate links, and at no cost to you, I will earn a teeny, tiny commission if you decide to purchase them from Amazon. These are products that I know, love, and trust. I have and will continue to recommend them regardless of my affiliate relationship with Amazon. Thank you for supporting Le Petit Saint Crochet!

MATERIALS:

Home, Love and Dreams from Lolli and Grace

Embroidery Floss

Darice 39104 Wood Embroidery Hoops 7in

Caydo 12 Inch Embroidery Hoop Bamboo Circle Cross Stitch Hoop Ring for Art Craft Handy Sewing

Edmunds Quilters No-Slip Hoop Tape

Wrights 8823005 Water Soluble Marking Pen, Blue

Aleene’s Fabric Fusion Permanent Fabric Adhesive 4oz

Linen fabric

Felt for backing

Embroidery needles

Scissors

Step 1: Prepare Your Hoop

I have stitched embroidery hoops before and spent too much time trying to keep the fabric stretched taut inside the hoop. The lazy way is use hoop tape that secures your fabric so you don’t waste precious energy adjusting it every five minutes! Hoop tape has an adhesive side and a rubbery side. The adhesive side touches the hoop while the rubbery side touches the fabric. Carefully wrap the tape around the inner hoop. The package will have good instructions as well.

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You may not think you need this hoop tape, but you do. Just buy it. It’s not expensive. But it will save you the time of having to constantly stretch you hoop and keep it taut during the stitching process. Make sure that as you apply the hoop tape you work hard to keep it neat.

Step 2: Prepare Your Floss

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When you separate your floss and keep it well organized it makes for an easier time, but honestly its not necessary. Do it if you want, but skip this step if you are on the extreme end of the lazy spectrum.

Step 3: Transfer Your Pattern

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Before you begin transferring your pattern make sure your fabric is unwrinkled. Mine needed a good hot ironing, but that’s because it is linen and had large lines from where it had been folded. Do this step as lazy as possible! You might even hang up your fabric in the bathroom when you take a hot steamy shower. But just make sure the wrinkles are out! Transferring the pattern is a necessary process and it’s kind of fun. I pin the paper pattern underneath my fabric so that it doesn’t move around while I am tracing.

You will also need a light source. I used my ipad opened up to notes, but you could use a light box or even tape it to a sunny window. It’s critical that you use a water soluble pen so that if/when you make a mistake you can take it out. It also makes finishing the pattern super easy.

Step 4: Cut Your Fabric

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If you have a large piece of fabric you will need to cut it. I used a 12″ embroidery hoop to trace a circle to cut the extra fabric. You don’t need to purchase an additional hoop but this is the lazy way. Otherwise measure 1.5 – 2″ away from the outside of the finished hoop and draw a circle to cut the excess fabric. You will want to have your fabric in a circle shape to make finishing the hoop super simple. Since my linen fabric had the habit of fraying at the edges, I used a little bit of fabric glue on the edges to keep it from fraying. You could also use Fray Check or a similar product.

Step 5: Stitch Your Pattern

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Backstitch

A majority of this pattern is backstitched and even when it’s not perfect it turns out really nice.

The next stitch you will do is the Lazy Daisy. This is another super easy one but once you see how it’s done you realize that the term “lazy” is the perfect adjective. You will also need to Split Stitch and Satin Stitch in this pattern. The Satin Stitch is the most difficult but with a little practice you will become more comfortable and proficient at it.

Backstitch Tutorial

Lazy Daisy Tutorial

Leaf Stitch Tutorial

Satin Stitch Tutorial

Step 6: Finish Your Hoop

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To finish your hoop you will want to make a running stitch on the outside of the the excess fabric. It will gather all your fabric and create a neat little package to hide underneath your felt.

Step 7: Erase Your Blue Tracing Marks

This step truly is the most fun part! You’ve done the hard work and now you get to see the results! I used a wet paper towel and gently patted the fabric. Magically the marking disappears and leaves your gorgeous stitching! Voila!

Step 8: Prepare Your Backing

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I know I need a manicure!

To make your embroidery hoop look neat and professional you will want to add a felt backing. Using your water soluble pen trace an outline of your embroidery hoop onto a piece of light colored felt.

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Carefully cut just inside the line so that when you place it on the back of your hoop it doesn’t show from the front.

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This is where this project really gets lazy. Using your fabric glue add a generous amount to the outside edge of your felt backing.

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Press the felt backing to your hoop, making sure that the fabric touches the inside gathered, excess fabric. Finishing a hoop in this way hides all of the unsightly things on the back side of your project

Step 9: Impress Your Friends and Family

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This is when you get to impress your family and friends! Only you and I will know that this wasn’t as hard as they all thought it was.

In all seriousness embroidery is such a fun hobby and with a few tips you can make a beautiful hoop without a ton of effort!

Poppy Pig’s Tutu Tutorial

IMG_3560As I was sitting in church on Sunday an idea popped into my head. I wasn’t super happy with how the new piggie I was making was turning out. Something just wasn’t right. Thankfully the heavens opened up and the word “tulle” dropped right into my mind! I immediately knew that the pig needed a tutu! These are the steps I took and I hope that you find them useful!

I used light pink and purple tulle but any color or combination of colors would look great. I bought it at Walmart for only $0.97/yard so I bought a yard of each color. I likely only used 1/2 yard total.

I cut the tulle in strips of 1.5″ wide and 9″ long. This worked well for the length I wanted the skirt. To make a skirt the length you want, measure and then double the number since you will be folding the strip over when attaching it. My pig’s skirt is 4.5″ long from where it is attached to the bottom.

  1. I knew I would be adding a skirt from the beginning of making the pig. So at the waist I crocheted in the BLO (back loop only) to be able to attach the skirt easily. IMG_3505
  2. Next fold over the tulle strip, insert your hook underneath the loop and pull the tulle from the center fold. IMG_3506
  3. Pull the tulle strip through the loop. IMG_3507
  4. Continue to pull the tulle strip through the loop. At this point I adjusted the ends so they were even lengths. IMG_3508
  5. Now you have a large tulle loop on one side of the stitch and two tulle ends on the other side. Pull both ends through the tulle loop. IMG_3509
  6. Pull the loop taut to secure. IMG_3510
  7. I added two strips for each stitch and alternated pink and purple.
  8. Finally I trimmed the ends so they were mostly even but perfection wasn’t the goal.

TA-DAH! IMG_3525

I am ecstatic about how she turned out and am sure that every single animal I make from this day forward will have a tulle skirt!