Amigurumi 101: Part 4 – Finishing Touches

Girl otter with pink and white striped shirt, navy blue vest, and pink bow.
Otter pattern from Animal Friends of Pica Pau

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 1: Never Give Up

Part 2: Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette

Part 3: Basic Skills

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!!

Amigurumi otter with yarn and pattern book.

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!

Facial detail of amigurumi otter.

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!

Amigurumi otter with pinned on ears.

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.

Amigurumi otter tail being stuffed.

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.

Amigurumi otter arm being stuffed with Poly-fil.

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!

Side view of amigurumi otter with pinned ears and arms.

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.

Sewing on tail of amigurumi otter.

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!!

Trimming weaved in ends of amigurumi otter tail.

Personal Touches

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!!


Amigurumi 101: Part 3 – Basic Skills

Amigurumi animals in a little red suitcase.

Every craft has basic skills that must be mastered before the individual can move on to more advanced techniques. Think of the ballerina who spends years at the barre perfecting the five positions of the feet. She cannot star as Clara in the Nutcracker until she knows those basic skills up and down, inside and out. This is also true for crocheting amigurumi. The fundamentals matter and once they are mastered the possibilities are endless!

Before moving on to this stage please make sure that you have visited my first two blog posts in the Amigurumi 101 series!

Never Give Up: Amigurumi 101 – Part 1

Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette: Amigurumi 101: Part 2

Amigurumi Basic Skills Video

These five techniques are best viewed in video form and I have created one especially for you!

Basic Skill #1 – Single Crochet

The most important basic skill you should master for amigurumi is the single crochet stitch, abbreviated as “sc”. Making amigurumi requires crocheting this simple stitch over and over and over again. It is often overlooked, but it creates a wonderful, tight fabric that is perfect for making amigurumi. You will come across other stitches that work in tandem, but the fundamental stitch that every amigurumi pattern I have ever come across is the single crochet.

Close up of amigurumi animals in red suitcase. Close up of bunny and pig.

Basic Skill #2 – Magic Ring

I have yet to make an amigurumi pattern that didn’t contain at least one magic ring. Mastering the magic ring will make crocheting toys a walk in the park! I have found after teaching techniques for making amigurumi that this is the trickiest skill. Making a magic ring isn’t difficult but it does take practice. It can feel awkward in the hands until the tension is mastered. After practicing this technique over and over again I can make them in my sleep, and you will too!

Side view of all the amigurumi animals in the red suitcase.

Basic Skill #3 – Tension

Tension is another skill that will ultimately make your amigurumi look better and better. Typically small tight stitches work the best when making crocheted toys. The goal is to have a fabric that holds its structure as well as keeping the stuffing from showing through. My earlier amigurumi toys have looser stitches and that is obvious from how the stuffing peeks out between the stitches. This skill will come with time, but try to make those single crochets small, consistent, and tight.

In the video I demonstrate how I use my left forefinger to keep the tension tight. (I am a right handed crocheter) After I complete each single crochet, I use that finger to pull my working yarn just a tad to make sure that stitch is as closed as possible without distorting the fabric shape. I exaggerate the movement in the video so that you can see exactly what I mean.

Close up photo of a puffin with a winter hat and a rhinoceros in pajamas.

Invisible Decrease

The invisible decrease is one of the essential techniques an amigurumi maker should master. It’s actually quite easy and won’t take long to learn at all. You make an invisible decrease by working over two stitches. You place your hook underneath the front loop only of the first stitch then again in the front loop only of your second stitch. Then pull the yarn through both loops, you should now have two loops on your hook. Finally pull the working yarn through both loops and voila, you’ve made an invisible decrease!

Changing Color

Many amigurumi projects will include color changing, but don’t freak out! It’s a really simple skill and you’ll have it down in no time! Make your single crochet just as you normally would. Before finishing the stitch, when you have two loops on your hook, pull the new color through to finish the stitch. By doing this you will finish the previous stitch in the old color and be ready to make the new stitch in the next color! Easy peasy!

Close up of Roddy Rat standing on the top lid of the red suitcase.

Right Yarn for the Right Hook

Setting yourself up for success is one of the most important things you can do before you ever make a toy! Choosing the right yarn for the right hook is critical. Usually a pattern will give you the yarn they chose for the project as well as the hook size. At this point I rarely use their recommendations for crocheted toys as I have my own preferences. I always use a 3.5 mm hook (size E) and a worsted weight wool mix yarn. I like the size of the toys made from worsted weight yarns and I have found that an E hook works perfectly with it! It creates the structured fabric I like and no stuffing peeks through!

Visit my blog post to see which yarns I recommend: Yarn Recommendations

View from above of all the animals in the suitcase.

Practice, practice, practice

Practicing these skills over and over and over is the best way to master them. The good news is that practicing them is so much fun! There will be times when you become frustrated, but don’t give up! Pushing through those moments will result in stronger skills and more confidence in making crocheted toys! As always I am here to assist you in any way I can! Let me know how your progress is going!

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 Mouse Tutorial. Then try making this adorable little mouse or any of her beginner amigurumi tutorials! I think you’ll be surprised that you can do it! Please share your little mice 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! Check out part 2 : Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette!

Wolf and Bunny Amigurumi Animals
!My fist amigurumi projects!