Face embroidery for your amigurumi dolls is a great way to give them lots of personality. The Spring Bear above (find the free crochet pattern here!) really comes to life after a little face embroidery. Safety eyes are still a great option, but nothing beats the cuteness of a uniquely embroidered face. Bonus points to embroidered amigurumi faces for being safer for children (safety eyes aren’t recommended for children under 3) and requiring fewer materials to complete!
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In the tutorial below, I share my method for face embroidery on your amigurumi crochet doll. In the tutorial video at the end of the post, I’m embroidering the face for my Tiny Cat – check out the free Tiny Cat amigurumi pattern here.
Materials you’ll need to embroider a face:
- Embroidery thread or lightweight yarn
- Embroidery needle
- Amigurumi project in need of a face
- Needle nose pliers (optional)
- Water soluble marker (optional)
Step 1: If possible, embroider the face before stuffing/finishing the project. Tame any loose yarn before starting.
It is infinitely easier to embroider on an open crochet piece than on one you’ve already finished and stuffed. Although you have a better idea of placement after you’ve finished your ami, it’s a lot harder to make clean stitches and fasten off your face thread.
Step 2: Have a picture for reference and plot the face
Most amigurumi patterns at least have a picture of the finished project you can reference to see what rounds the face should be embroidered on. You can try zooming in on images to try to see exactly how the face is made. In my patterns, I always give you the rounds various face elements should be on. For example, the Flower Gal free pattern embroidery instructions read: The nose is at the center of rnd 10, the mouth is at rnd 11, and the eyes are 4 sts wide and are placed on rnds 9-11. Take a look at the photo above to see how I count the rounds and stitches to place my face elements (round 1 of Flower Gal’s head is hidden by the petal!)
This would also be the time to use your water soluble marker if you’re using one. You would draw the face you want to embroider on with the marker, then embroider the face and rinse off the marker with water and let your piece dry before continuing your crocheting.
Step 3: Choose your thread or yarn, thread your embroidery needle and triple knot your end
It’s important to use the correct thread or yarn for your project. You want the thickness of your yarn to match the size and scale of your amigurumi doll. For small amigurumi (smaller than 7 inches tall), I use between 4-6 strands of black embroidery thread. For larger amigurumi (7-12 inches tall), I use lightweight black yarn. If your projects are jumbo, you can experiment with worsted weight yarn for face embroidery, too!
Step 4: Start from the the center and work outwards
First embroider the central features like the nose or mouth, then move to the eyes. This ensures that your face is centered on the pieces and you have a central reference point when embroidering the eyes. The order I work in is: nose, mouth, and finish with eyes
Step 5: Insert needle THROUGH the stitch not BETWEEN stitches
This is the step that will make or break your amigurumi face. If you insert your needle between stitches (the holes between each stitch), you’ll end up with loose and wiggly embroidered stitches. Inserting your embroidery needle through a part of your stitch (the part that looks like an upside down V), your thread will be more secure and will stay where you put it. The image above shows what the needle through the stitch looks like!
Step 6: Embroidery time!
Now’s where the magic happens. Embroider that face! My patterns will tell you what kind of stitches to make for each face element. But my most used embroidery stitches are the backstitch (used for eyes, eyelashes, and mouths) and the French knot (used for cute noses or small eyes like for Party Snail)
Step 7: Don’t be afraid to pull out thread and start again
I still do this ALL THE TIME. I would rather have my face looking right and redoing it a couple or even 3+ times, then finishing my amigurumi doll and hating the face and then hating the whole project. Just use the end of your needle to pull out the stitches you want to redo and breathe!
To see these embroidery tips in action, check out the IGTV video tutorial below!
I hope you’ll give face embroidery for your amigurumi doll a try. It takes a bit of practice, but the results are so worth it!