When you first learn to crochet, scarves and potholders are ideal projects, as they are simple and rectangular. However, as you get more comfortable with your crochet hook and yarn, you can move on to projects like Japanese amigurumi! The term refers to small crocheted dolls that are often made to look like cute animals or other anthropomorphic objects.
In this guide, learn everything you need to know about how to crochet amigurumi, from where to find free and easy patterns to a list of the supplies you’ll need to create your first stuffed toy.
What Is Amigurumi?
Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed dolls. They are often made to look like animals, but you can also create them to look like foods (like cherries or avocados) or other whimsical objects, like mushrooms, clouds, or rainbows. They’re generally small and made in the Japanese kawaii style, which simply means cute.
The Origins of Japanese Amigurumi
The word amigurumi comes from the Japanese words ami, which means crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, which refers to a stuffed doll. Japanese amigurumi likely originated in China, as there are records of crocheted dolls dating back to the Shang dynasty. The craft likely migrated to Japan with increased interaction between Japan and China in the 17th century but really took off in the 1970s with the growing popularity of kawaii-style characters like Hello Kitty.
So where do you start if you want to learn amigurumi? First, you need a pattern. Fortunately, you can find free amigurumi patterns for nearly any animal (or food item or other object) that you could imagine. From well-known characters like Pikachu to more generic animals like bears, tigers, and pigs, you can find these patterns with a simple Google search.
Easy Patterns for Beginners
If you’re new to crochet, you may be looking for easy amigurumi patterns for beginners. While many patterns require crocheting multiple pieces and then sewing them together, some patterns are less intensive and more beginner-friendly. Animals that are mostly round—like a bee or whale—don’t require too many additional pieces, making them ideal for beginners.
How to Make Amigurumi
The simplest way to learn amigurumi is to purchase a kit. Buying a pre-made kit will ensure you have everything you need to make your doll from start to finish. Kits generally include a crochet hook, yarn, stuffing, a darning or tapestry needle, and a pattern. However, some kits go the extra mile and include video tutorials or even a pre-started crochet piece.
Alternatively, you can find free amigurumi patterns for nearly any kind of animal. However, if you’re new to crocheting, the patterns may look like gibberish at first. Patterns generally consist of several lines of instructions, which include numbers and abbreviations. For example, “1 sc, inc,” which means one single crochet, followed by an increase to two stitches in the same stitch.
Reading the patterns may be a little confusing and cumbersome at first, but once you become familiar with the terminology, you will be able to work through the pattern quickly and efficiently.
Creating these little stuffed dolls requires just a few tools: crochet hooks, yarn, stuffing, and a needle.
One of the most important amigurumi tools you’ll need is a crochet hook. There isn’t one specific size hook to use for amigurumi projects; it’s more a matter of preference. Over time, you will learn what type of hook feels most comfortable in your hands and allows you to achieve the right tension for your project. You can typically buy a set of crochet hooks that include several different sizes, so you can figure out which works best for you.
Amigurumi patterns typically call for medium weight or worsted yarns. Yarn weights are measured on a scale of 0 (the finest) to 7 (jumbo). Crochet yarn generally falls at a 4, which is right in the middle of the scale.
Beyond yarn weight, also consider different materials for amigurumi yarn. While cotton, wool, and silk yarns are great for projects that will be worn (like hats or scarves), acrylic is a great option for amigurumi animals because it is affordable and forgiving.
You will also need some material to use for stuffing your amigurumi creation. Some crafters will simply use yarn or material scraps that they have available, or you can buy fiberfill stuffing online or at your local craft store.
Most amigurumi patterns will instruct you to create a few separate pieces (e.g., the animal’s head, body, and legs). To connect them together into one doll, you’ll need yarn needles, which have large eyes and dull points.
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Amigurumi Animals: Examples and Patterns
This amigurumi giraffe pattern is simple in some ways, but complex in others. It only requires three colors of yarn—all shades of orange—but it does require you to create all of the elements of the giraffe separately, including the arms, legs, and tail, all the way down to the giraffe’s horns.
Sweet and simple, this amigurumi duck is one of the best patterns for beginners. The head and body is made in one single piece, so the only additional pieces you will need to connect are the wings, feet, and beak.
For under $5, you can get this amigurumi panda pattern, which is suitable for beginner and intermediate crocheters. The pattern even comes with step-by-step pictures, so you can follow along and make sure your bear turns out just right.
This tiny amigurumi lion stands at just eight inches tall. The legs, body, and head are crocheted as one piece, which you stuff as you go. At the very end, you add the lion’s mane with a series of stitches, slip knots, and slip stitches around the lion’s head.
This amigurumi bird pattern calls for plush chenille yarn, so your finished product won’t only be cute—it will be soft to the touch! Plus, it takes less than a skein of yarn to create each bird, so creating a whole flock is easy and affordable.
This adorable amigurumi horse boasts a long, flowing mane that makes it stand out from other amigurumi animals. While this pattern is more complex than others—it requires you to make and connect several different pieces to create the final product—the pattern comes with illustrated instructions to make sure you stay on track from start to finish.
A larger doll, this amigurumi rabbit stands 18 inches tall. The pattern breaks the rabbit down into several different pieces, which you then connect together to create the final product. It’s a more advanced project, but the tutorial provides helpful tips and pictures every step of the way.
Looking for challenges for beginners? This tiny fish is perfect! It’s just four and a half inches from nose to tail, and the head and body is made from just one crocheted piece. Add the fins and tail, and you have a complete fish. This pattern also allows you to practice color changes, which is what gives the amigurumi fish its colorful stripes.
This dapper amigurumi koala is donning a striped shirt and suspenders—making him a darling and unique addition to your amigurumi collection.
A more advanced option, this amigurumi lamb has a head full of fluffy wool, a collared shirt, and striped pants. Unlike many of the other animals on this list, this lamb has stitched eyes rather than safety eyes.
Create Your Menagerie
Once you learn how to crochet amigurumi, the possibilities are endless. Start with exercises for beginners—like fish and bees—and then move on to more advanced and complex projects, like dinosaurs and reindeer. Amigurumi is a fun challenge that results in adorable creations to both keep and share!
Make Your First Amigurumi!
Beginner’s Guide to Amigurumi Crochet