What Is Amigurumi? Our Full Guide to This Japanese Craft

If you have spent any time in the world of crocheting, then there’s a good chance that you have heard the Japanese term amigurumi (ami‧gu‧ru‧mi). Directly translated, it stems from the words ami, which means crocheted or knitted, and kurumi, which means wrapped.

Browsing through amigurumi crochet patterns, you might get a sense of what this niche of the craft is, but you may not know for sure. Projects vary widely, from simple to complex works of art.

They also range the gamut in size, with folks making their amigurumi out of the smallest weight crochet thread (micro amigurumi) and tiny hooks. Others use bulky yarn and large crochet hooks to make large, fluffy projects.

While the finished product varies in appearance, the basic premise of amigurumi is that it’s a three-dimensional item that is stuffed and typically only made using single crochet stitches.

Common Features of Amigurumi

The most common type of amigurumi creation is crochet dolls. These are small dolls that are made using single crochet stitches, typically worked in spirals (rather than joined in the round), and made using lightweight or worsted weight yarn with relatively small crochet hooks.

The idea is that you create a tightly joined spiral with no gaps because you stuff the doll and don’t want the toy stuffing to come through the finished fabric of your work.

This is the Kurumi part of the original Japanese portmanteau. You sort of “wrap” crochet stitches in a continuous spiral to form the fabric of the piece.

You can utilize increases and decreases to change the shape and size of this spiral of single crochet stitches, and in this way can make pretty much any shape!

Creating an Amigurumi Doll – to Sew, or Not?

Amigurumi is usually made in separate pieces (the head, the body, the arms, etc.). Those pieces are stuffed individually and then joined together at the end to create the final doll.

However, some patterns are created that require little to no sewing whatsoever. If you’re like me, sewing all of the bits together at the end can be a bit of a task!

Often, other types of stitches (such as bobble stitch and popcorn stitch) are used to create limbs, ears, and tails.

There are tons of no-sew amigurumi patterns. So, if you’d prefer to try out amigurumi without having to do a ton of sewing, I recommend looking up no-sew patterns, like this really cute triceratops pattern from Etsy shop StichGlitchCrochet:

Other Details

Amigurumi dolls usually have faces. They may be made using basic stitches (such as embroidery) or mixed media, such as glue-on craft eyes or the more popular safety eyes.

Dolls can also have hair, horns, wings, petals, and leaves… You name it, and there is most likely an amigurumi doll with it!

The dolls may be designed to represent humans, animals, or fanciful creatures. The faces are often designed to have a very cute style representative of the anime or kawaii (Japanese for “cute”) style of Japan, where the niche of the craft originates.

Here are some examples of amigurumi projects made in an anime/ kawaii style!

That said, people sometimes make the dolls creepy or work them in other styles. Here are a few examples of other styles!

Are All Crochet Dolls Amigurumi?

This is where the definition starts to get tricky. Some people will call any doll made in crochet an amigurumi doll.

Other people say that amigurumi is more specific – that it’s the single crochet big-eyed doll described above. However, other people differentiate by size – big stuffed animals are not amigurumi but small stuffed toys are.

Many crocheters are somewhere in between. The word “amigurumi” itself, when translated from Japanese, broadly encompasses any knit or crocheted stuffed doll or toy.

I personally think that if your item is three-dimensional and is constructed with a continuous spiral of single crochet stitches, it qualifies as amigurumi!

Are All Amigurumi Dolls?

Amigurumi doesn’t have to be a doll toy, although this is very common. In fact, what might be even more common is stuffed crochet food.

Many times, the food is also designed with a face similar to those of Japanese cartoon characters. However, not all crochet food will have a face added on. Again, whether or not you call it amigurumi depends on how strict your definition is of that word.

A Few Fun Things to Know About Amigurumi

Here are a few other things that you might want to know as you begin playing with amigurumi:

  • This technique is very common with crochet projects, but amigurumi can also be created through knitting.
  • Because it uses only basic crochet stitches, you can easily learn how to crochet amigurumi even as an advanced beginner to the craft of crochet.
  • You can begin learning amigurumi by simply learning how to make a three-dimensional stuffed crochet ball.
  • You only need to know a few things about crocheting to begin making amigurumi. You need to be able to make slip stitches for joining. You need to be able to crochet in the round, and you need to know how to single crochet, including how to increase and decrease in single crochet.
  • There are many amigurumi crochet patterns written in English. However, there are many, many more written in other languages. Those patterns often include symbol charts so if you find out that you love amigurumi, you might want to learn how to read crochet symbol charts.
  • Some people create teeny tiny amigurumi; look up micro-crochet to see some amazing creations!
Melissa Camp
Melissa Camp

Melissa has been crocheting for close to twenty years and loves making amigurumi and designing patterns. She specializes in making beginner patterns that help reinforce the basics of crocheting. In her free time, she can usually be found out in the garden or playing her ukelele!

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