Chances are if you’re anything like me, you’ve seen pictures of adorable crocheted animals or dolls floating around on the internet and thought, can I make that?
The good news is, it’s actually pretty easy! I was too intimidated to try making amigurumi for many years without any experience knitting or crocheting, but once I took the leap, I managed to make my first amigurumi from scratch in two days! It is possible to learn to crochet amigurumi over a weekend, or spread out over a week.
I learned how to make amigurumi (without prior any knowledge in crochet!) through online resources only, and now I’m here to tell you all my secrets. Truly, this is the resource I wish I had when I first started out, and I’m so excited to share it with you.
If you read the whole guide from beginning to end, I promise that you’ll be completely ready to start (and conquer!) your first amigurumi project.
So lets’s get started!
Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission. Know that I only recommend tools and services I personally use, test and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them.
Click the links below to skip around to different sections!
What is amigurumi?
Traditionally, amigurumi is the Japanese art of making stuffed animals with crochet. However, this definition has been stretched in recent years to include dolls, food, and all manner of other cute household objects. Actually, anything can be amigurumi if you just put eyes and a cute smile on it!
Amigurumi are usually made in parts using single crochets worked in a round. Because of this, all amigurumi have a very similar looking exterior. This is good news, because while beginner crocheters have to learn at least three stitches to get started on a basic scarf, an amigurumist only needs to learn one stitch to begin! I even wrote an entire article explaining why amigurumi is easy here!
Additionally, each part of an amigurumi doll or toy is formed in essentially the same structure: a sphere. This simple base shape can be endlessly extended to create tube-like arms, half domes which flatten into ears, chubby legs, and more. This means that after you learn how to make a simple ball, the world is your oyster.
If you’re interested in learning how to design amigurumi, click here to get a behind the scenes look into my process!
What materials do I need to get started?
All amigurumi use essentially the same materials, which makes getting supplies relatively straightforward and cost efficient.
You can find most of these materials at your local craft store — when I first got started, I found all my supplies at my local Michael’s.
The basic materials you need are listed below. I’ve linked each item to my recommended brand online, but feel free to find them yourself in a brick and mortar store.
- 3.5mm crochet hook
- Clover Amour hooks are my favorite because they have a really comfortable grip and glide like magic. They’re a little expensive, but if you get them one at a time it’s really affordable! 3.5mm is a great beginner size.
- Worsted weight yarn in the colors specified by pattern
- The weight of yarn refers to its thickness. Worsted weight is also called “medium” or “category 4” weight. If you look at the yarn label of any ball of yarn, it should specify the weight of yarn. Worsted weight yarn is also the most common yarn thickness out there, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it!
- 6.0mm safety eyes (NOT CHILD SAFE)
- Safety eyes are the go to way to add plastic eyes to your amigurumi. The pack I linked to on Amazon has a large variety of sizes, but see below for the Etsy store I recommend for individual sizes. If you only want to get one size, 6mm is a good size that will work for most amigurumi. If you’re making amigurumi for babies and small children, use felt circles or embroidery to make eyes.
- Polyester fiberfill stuffing
- Most amigurumists use polyester fiberfill to stuff their amigurumi. If you’re on a budget, you can also use scrap yarn, fabric, or even plastic bags!
- Stitch marker
- Do not skip this one! Stitch markers will save your life and they’re extremely inexpensive. See below for a way to use scrap yarn as an alternative.
- Sharp scissors are important because normal scissors (or ones you use for paper) are too blunt to cut through yarn. If you have fabric scissors for sewing, those will work too.
- Tapestry needle
- Tapestry or darning needles are large, blunt needles with a bigger eye to thread yarn through. These are important for attaching amigurumi pieces to each other and for weaving in ends.
I’ve also written out my full list of most used amigurumi supplies, which you can find at this link here (complete with zero-hassle links)!
If you’re just looking to try out amigurumi without buying a boatload of supplies, an amigurumi kit might be perfect for you. It can be a little more expensive than buying all the materials separately, but sometimes it’s worth it in terms of the convenience it brings. Personally, I love buying kits when I’m trying out a new craft so that I won’t amass huge collections of unused supplies from a past hobby.
If you’re interested in going this route, I highly recommend kits from The Woobles. They have adorable amigurumi kits geared towards beginners, which are even prestarted for you so that you don’t have to do the hard part.
The main reason why I recommend their kits is because not only does each kit come with the right materials, but there are also extremely helpful videos that go with each kit that walk you through it step by step. The best part is, the videos come with left handed tutorials too!
Many of my readers email me telling me that they got started with these kits, and I always recommend them for left handed crocheters who might have a harder time finding appropriate YouTube tutorials.
How to choose the right yarn
If you want to get a little more in the weeds about what makes good (or bad) amigurumi yarn, here are the full details.
- When you first get started with amigurumi, I highly recommend using worsted weight yarn because it strikes the perfect balance between being easy to hold and also not too thin. My actual preferred yarn size is sport weight (one size smaller), but you should try this out only after you’ve gotten used to using worsted weight yarn.
- I recommend using acrylic yarn for beginners because it’s extremely inexpensive, soft, and also slightly fuzzy (which hides mistakes!).
- Cotton yarn is stiffer than acrylic yarn, and also shows stitches more distinctly. However, it’s the best option for babies because it’s most easily washable and very durable.
For a whole breakdown of my favorite yarn in each category, check out my blog post of the 9 Best Yarns for Amigurumi!
How to choose the right hook
My all time favorite crochet hooks are the Clover Amour hooks in 3.5mm. They glide like a dream, and make crocheting that much easier and smoother.
However, they can be a little pricey, so if you don’t feel ready to invest in them yet, any aluminum hooks from your local craft store will do.
I often recommend this set to beginners because it’s insanely inexpensive for a whole set, and even includes a rubber grip that most basic crochet hooks don’t.
I also have a more in depth breakdown to all my favorite crochet hooks and why at this link here!
An important note about crochet hooks: Crochet hooks also have sizes (measured in mm) that go with different yarn sizes. Often, a given ball of yarn will say on the label what crochet hook size should go with it. However, you should always size down your hook around 1.0mm when working with amigurumi.
This is because amigurumi requires tighter stitches and smaller gaps, so often the recommendations on yarn labels will be geared towards garment makers and inaccurate.
For a more in depth look into exactly why this affects amigurumi and how to compensate for it, check out this blog post I wrote!
Tools I wish I had when I first started
Stitch markers: Guys, when I first started making amigurumi, I didn’t know about stitch markers. And because of that, I redid my first amigurumi at least 5 times (*cries*). But you can skip this step! Just get a stitch marker (or follow this tutorial to just use a scrap piece of yarn).
Safety eyes: Pretty much every single amigurumi project you’ll ever come across uses this thing called safety eyes. They’re basically the easiest way to add eyes to a crochet project, and consist of a plastic screw with a backing. You can get them in a variety back from Amazon here (what I started out with), or if you know you’ll only want one size, you can get them here (where I source mine now). Despite the name, these are not child safe. If you plan to give your amigurumi creations to children, I recommend either gluing felt circles onto your amigurumi or embroidering by hand. I wrote an entire blog post here on how to use safety eyes and my favorite sizes!
How do I find amigurumi patterns?
You can find the patterns for all of these projects in my shop!
Amigurumi patterns are my favorite part of crocheting amigurumi! Since crochet is a very systematic art, it can be written out in a series of steps (kind of like a recipe), so that you can recreate any design as long as it’s written out in a pattern.
There are all kinds of amigurumi patterns out there, from food, to dolls, fanart, teddy bears, and anything under the sun. And if you can’t find a pattern for it, you can design it using my full guide here!
When you’re first looking for amigurumi patterns, you can find free patterns on YouTube, Google, and Pinterest. You can find paid patterns on Etsy and Ravelry (more on these below).
What to look out for:
- Ball-shaped amigurumi: All amigurumi are essentially made out of variations of ball shapes, so when you’re first starting out, the simpler the better. Go for ball shaped amigurumi first, and then ones with small limbs, and eventually more complex amigurumi.
- Easy stitches and techniques: If possible, you should read through the amigurumi pattern you’re about to attempt first and make sure that there aren’t any terms that you don’t understand. This is a little inevitable if you’re just starting out, but trying to minimize the amount of googling you have to do up front can be a big time saver.
- Materials list: Scan through the materials to make sure that you have everything the pattern calls for, and if you don’t, make sure you’re okay with going without it.
- A pattern that excites you! Fair warning: you’re probably going to mess something up at least once when you first try out amigurumi. But if you’re actually excited about making something, then it’ll help carry you over the hump. So I’m totally okay with beginners trying out more advanced patterns as long as it makes you more motivated to finish!
A note of warning: “Beginner” amigurumi patterns often encompass a wider range of skills than just those of complete beginners. Most patterns that are marked beginner might be aimed at those with a few projects under their belt. If you’re just getting started, I suggest using the keywords “complete beginner “or “first amigurumi project.” That way, the pattern likely has relevant tutorials that complete beginners might need.
Where can I find free amigurumi patterns?
You can find free amigurumi patterns on YouTube, Google, Pinterest. Just do a search for “free _____ amigurumi pattern for complete beginners” on any platform and you should get tons of results.
For brand new amigurumists, I would highly recommend you search for tutorials on YouTube rather than other platforms at first so that you can watch a video tutorial as your first project.
One of my most popular blog posts outlines the exact projects that I made when I first got started with amigurumi, and the first project is a free video tutorial for complete beginners that I would highly recommend.
You can find all my free patterns here, but since they’re written I would suggest you follow a few video tutorials and learn to read patterns before diving into them.
The main positive of free patterns is that (you guessed it) they’re free! Bloggers and designers (including myself) often put free patterns on the internet as a way to build an audience and help beginners, so most of them should be fairly reliable.
However, the standard for free patterns is generally lower than those of paid patterns, and sometimes they may not be tested or professionally edited before publishing.
Also, if a free pattern appears on a website, it will often have ads on it. This is because ads help the designer (who has often spent 20+ hours creating the pattern) pay for their website and materials fees.
There are sometimes complaints by blog readers who say that free patterns aren’t free if they have to look at ads. My friend Abby at Ollie Holly Crochet wrote a great explainer about this complaint, and if you have the same question, I urge you to check it out here.
Where can I find paid amigurumi patterns?
You can find paid amigurumi patterns on Etsy, Pinterest (if they’re marked as paid), Ravelry, and designers’ individual webstores. They usually vary between $3-7, and are usually in the form of a downloadable PDF document.
Paid amigurumi patterns have a variety of benefits:
- Well edited and formatted: Paid amigurumi patterns are always pattern tested (meaning a few crocheters have tried the pattern out for themselves and provided feedback) and are usually formatted in an easily readable, appealing way. This means that they’ve already been pre-vetted, are polished, and have fewer mistakes or typos that might trip you up.
- Printable: Paid patterns are almost always sold in PDF format. This means that they can be saved to your computer to view online, and also can be printed onto regular paper for use offline. This can be a great option if you know you don’t like following instructions on a screen.
- No advertisements: Since you’ve paid for the pattern directly, you won’t see any advertisements (which are a way for the designer to be compensated).
- Reviews: Often, if you buy a pattern on Etsy, you can see past projects of previous customers. This can help you get a sense of how successful the average crocheter is when tackling a given pattern.
- More step-by-step photos: Paid patterns often include more step by step photos which can help you out even more when following the pattern!
- More complex patterns: Many designers publish their more basic patterns for free on a website, but the more intricate designs might be paid. Looking for paid patterns opens up your options to the entire collection of a designer’s works!
You can find all my paid patterns in my shop here! Although I offer many free patterns, the majority of my patterns are paid.
Where can I find amigurumi pattern books?
Amigurumi books are an entire category on their own. They straddle the difference between free and paid patterns because although they’re paid, an entire book of patterns (often over 20) usually costs a fraction of the amount it would if the patterns were sold separately.
Because of this, they can be extremely cost effective even if you’re on a budget, and are especially useful to those who strongly prefer following printed instructions.
In my experience, amigurumi books sometimes don’t include as many step by step photos as paid (or even free) patterns might because there is a limited number of pages designated for each pattern, so I would suggest trying a few digital patterns first before diving into a book.
However, once you get started, an amigurumi book can be perfect for a particular style or topic of amigurumi that you adore!
Here are some incredible amigurumi books from designers that I love and admire:
How do I read amigurumi patterns?
Amigurumi and all crochet items are made of a series of different stitches crocheted in a particular order. Each stitch is a building block, and they are arranged so systematically that the crochet instructions are often written in a standardized way — a crochet pattern.
Each stitch is usually written out in abbreviated shorthand. This often looks like complete gibberish to new crocheters (including me when I started!), so in this section I’m going to talk through the most important points you need to know when beginning to tackle an amigurumi project.
For your first amigurumi project, you also need to learn how to crochet each stitch, so I highly recommend following a video tutorial that has a pattern accompanying it. That way, you can learn to read a pattern while learning the stitches at the same time.
I recommend this process in my blog post of the easiest patterns to start with, but I’ll also link my recommended first project here:
This is a tutorial for complete beginners and goes through how to create the entire project from scratch. The accompanying PDF pattern can be found here.
This is actually the exact video I used for my first project, and it helped me learn the basic terminology so that I could try patterns that didn’t have a video component in the future.
What are the most common abbreviations?
The most common abbreviations for amigurumi are listed below (US terms):
- ch: chain
- inc: single crochet increase
- dec: decrease
- rnd(s): round(s)
- sc: single crochet
- x sc: single crochet x number of stitches
- sl st: slip stitch
- st(s): stitch(es)
- ( ): repeat steps between brackets for the specified number of times
- (x sts): total number of stitches x you should have at the end of each round
We’ll go into what each of these all mean later, so don’t worry about that. These are the most common stitches and abbreviations used for amigurumi (which aren’t really that many! hooray!), and they’re almost always abbreviated this way.
However, with less common abbreviations, designers may vary a little in terms of how exactly they abbreviate certain terms, but if you’re ever confused in a written pattern about what an abbreviation means, you should go to the abbreviations section to see it written out in full.
There’s always an abbreviations section, and once you see the stitch fully written out, a simple Google or YouTube search should get you to some great tutorials for how to execute it.
Let’s take a look at an example!
I’ll walk you through an example for the first few rounds of my chubby chicken pattern.
Deciphering Round 1
Translation into English: You will now begin round one of this amigurumi piece. Work six single crochet stitches into a magic ring. There should now be six stitches total after finishing round one.
Deciphering Round 2
Translation into English: You will now begin the second round of this amigurumi piece. Work an increase six times. There should now be twelve stitches at the end of the second round.
Deciphering Round 3
Translation into English: You will now begin the third round of this amigurumi piece. Work the stitches within the parentheses six times. In other words, work these stitches “sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc” onto your previous round. There should now be twelve stitches at the end of the third round.
How to read other notation systems
Okay, I have to come clean here. The abbreviations I listed above aren’t always the most common abbreviations, because all of these follow the US system.
Luckily, this tends to be the most common system out there, but it will always be listed in the pattern what notation the designer follows.
A word of warning: The one time this becomes tricky is when you encounter the UK notation system. This is because their notation is very similar to the US system, but with a few things switched around that will result in a big difference. Everyone has made the mistake at least once of following a UK pattern when they thought it was written in US, so don’t make that mistake!
Aside from abbreviation systems, Japanese amigurumi patterns are often written in chart form. I won’t get into that now because you likely won’t need it, but if you’re curious you can check out this blog post by Yarnspirations here.
What are the basic techniques I need to know?
All right, now we’re ready to get into learning the basic techniques. If you follow the specific tutorials below while creating the whale project that I linked to above, this should help you get a handle of each specific technique as it arises while still being able to watch an entire video tutorial!
How to hold your crochet hook and yarn
This one is a big one, y’all. Learning how to hold your yarn is maybe the most important part of crocheting. This video does a fantastic job of walking you through the two main ways of holding your hook (I recommend the knife grip) as well as holding your yarn.
However, I’ve been crocheting long enough to know that there isn’t really a right way to hold your hook and yarn. Pretty much everyone does it “wrong” in some way or another, and as long as your way works for you, it’s totally fine even if it doesn’t match the video!
All amigurumi pieces start with a magic ring (also known as a magic loop). This is because a magic ring allows you to crochet in the round and create a 3D sphere.
This technique is crucial to master because you’ll have to do it every time you start a new amigurumi piece.
This is a fantastic video that walks you through how to create a magic loop — and more importantly — how to crochet the first six single crochet stitches. This is probably the hardest part of making amigurumi because at this stage your work is the smallest and most fiddly, so don’t worry if it takes you a few tries. It took me an hour or so to figure this out, so don’t panic if you don’t get it right immediately! I promise you, it’ll click eventually, and then you will have gotten the hardest part over with!
The single crochet is the building block of all amigurumi. This stitch is also the foundation of all the other crochet stitches out there, so once you’ve got this one down, all the others are just slight variations.
If you watched the previous video, you’ve already learned how to create single crochet stitches in the round, but this video is specifically on the single crochet if you need a refresher.
Increasing is the method of making your amigurumi piece bigger (as suggested by the name). You do this by working two single crochet stitches into one stitch, which makes the piece a little bit larger.
There isn’t anything special to this, but if you want to see it in action, check out the video below:
Now that you know how to make your crochet work bigger, how do you make it smaller?
Decreasing is just combining two stitches from the previous round to become one stitch, making the piece a little smaller.
This is my preferred method for decreasing in the round for amigurumi!
How to stuff amigurumi
After you’ve almost finished your amigurumi piece, it’s time to stuff it before you close it off. This is an extremely important part because if you don’t stuff your amigurumi correctly, it might not turn out as squishy as you want. A good rule of thumb is to stuff your amigurumi until it feels overstuffed, or it holds its shape on its own. Watch this video for some helpful tips!
The right side and wrong side of amigurumi
Believe it or not, there’s actually a right side and wrong side of amigurumi. However, I want to preface this with saying that there isn’t actually a real reason one side has become the “right” side — it’s mostly convention.
However, the reason why I want to point this out is because all amigurumi patterns will show one side facing out, usually without mentioning that you need to flip it inside out at some point before you close it off. If you don’t know this, then it can get confusing if your own work doesn’t match up with the designer’s process photos or finished product.
Watch this video to find out how to identify the right side and wrong side!
Fastening off your amigurumi piece
Fastening off or finishing off your amigurumi piece is vital to ensuring that it doesn’t come undone. This technique can also be used to hide the pucker from your last round of stitches, and if done correctly, results in a seamless, smooth surface.
This video demonstrates my own favorite technique for this portion!
How to use safety eyes
We went over safety eyes in the materials section of this post, but how do you actually use them?
This quick video goes over the simple installation method, but fair warning: once you put these in, it’s extremely difficult to take them out (without pliers), so make sure you’re happy with where they are before putting the washers on!
What should be my first amigurumi project?
As mentioned previously, I strongly suggest you follow the order of projects I recommend in my blog post 10 Easiest Amigurumi Patterns because it’ll help you build your skills and confidence at the same time!
The first project that I recommend is this amigurumi whale video since it’s a complete beginners video tutorial that you can follow along and learn how to read patterns at the same time.
For a second project, I would recommend any of these below, since they’re all generally ball shaped to help you practice your basic skills, but have a few extra bits that can push you and make your amigurumi that much more adorable! The Totoro pattern has a complete video (and written instructions) to it, so I would generally recommend that as a second project. However, the other two are relatively straightforward so if you feel confident then go for it!
Read the rest of my post here to find out my other recommendations for later down the line!
How do I up my amigurumi game?
Whew! That was a loooong post. If you’ve finished reading to here, congratulations! I promise you that you are well are your way to becoming an amigurumi master, and you won’t regret a second of it!
If you feel like this article was so long that there can’t possibly be anything left to learn about amigurumi…. here are some more advanced beginner techniques that you can come back to in the future when you feel more confident!
How to sew amigurumi pieces together
Sewing can feel intimidating to some people, but I promise with the right techniques it can be so much easier!
My friend Abby at Ollie Holly Crochet made this amazing video on how to sew together amigurumi parts, including arms, a head, and ears (which pretty much covers all you’ll ever need to know). Check it out!
How to change color
Changing color when making amigurumi is something that might come up as you get into more advanced patterns.
In this video, you’ll learn how to make crochet stripes and change color seamlessly.
How to embroider a face
I love embroidering on my amigurumi, and if you get a good handle on this technique, then you can really go crazy on embroidery!
I normally only embroider a small “v” for a mouth on my amigurumi, which only requires the most basic embroidery skill.
This tutorial will take you through it all!
How to make amigurumi cuter
If you’ve made a few amigurumi and are just a little confused about why exactly your project doesn’t look the same as the photo, have I got a few tips for you!
My favorite part about amigurumi is that they’re just so cute! I’ve found out a few easy rules of thumb that work for me to always create the cutest amigurumi, every time.
Here’s my blog post I wrote that breaks down how I use these rules to my advantage and how you can too!
More tutorials for beginners
If you found this blog post helpful, check out these other tutorials! Also, if you’re interested in getting more beginner amigurumi related content or want to ask me a question, scroll down and sign up for my newsletter (and click the beginner amigurumi button.)