How to Design your own Amigurumi Crochet Pattern

11 Steps to making your own Amigurumi Pattern

So you’ve fallen in love with amigurumi and you want to design your own crochet pattern. Well you’re in the right place! This step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to design your own amigurumi crochet pattern from inspiration to finished product! I’ll take you through my entire pattern design process – in this case, for my Day & Night Owls crochet pattern!

Pin it now, read it later!

Crochet owls and various amigurumi crochet supplies on a white backdrop

Click the links below to jump to each step!
Step 1: Have an idea & gather inspiration
Step 2: Refine your idea
Step 3: Sketch your design & develop your style
Step 4: Choose scale & create a size grid
Step 5: Gather your materials: choosing a color palette, yarn, & hook
Step 6: Break up your design into pieces
Step 7: Crochet a draft doll & write down the pattern as you go
Step 8: Type & polish up your pattern
Step 9: Make note of process pictures you’ll need (if publishing)
Step 10: Follow your typed pattern to crochet a final version
Step 11: Finalize, format, & publish your pattern

Before you jump in…

A white background with pencil sketches of owls, digital illustration of owls, and crochet owls. Text overlay says "Design your own amigurumi pattern - a step-by-step tutorial"

Before you design your own pattern, I recommend that you get extremely comfortable with crocheting amigurumi. It is crucial that you know how to follow another designer’s amigurumi pattern and understand the steps it takes to get from beginning to end. Even after designing amigurumi for years, I still learn SO MUCH from crocheting other designers’ patterns. The learning process is ongoing and you’ll always be leveling up your skills and techniques.

If this is your first time designing a pattern, keep it simple!! Don’t try to design an elaborate amigurumi with a billion pieces to make and attach. You’ll be much better served if you pick a simple design and work intentionally through the process.

Also, decide if you want to publish your pattern or if you’re just writing it for yourself. For publishing, you’ll not only need to design a unique pattern, but you’ll also need to write it clearly so others can understand it, take step-by-step and final photos for it, and choose a publishing method.

Step 1: Have an idea & gather inspiration

First, you have to know what you want to design. Usually an idea for a new amigurumi just pops into my head and pesters me until I make it. But sometimes I’ll have a more general idea like designing an owl.

After I land on what I want to make, I do a Google search and find some inspiration. If it’s an animal, I’ll usually start with looking at images of the real animal just to get a sense of the animal’s features – for an owl most have a round body with wings, talons, a beak, etc.

A photo of a small owl on the left. An illustration of an owl on the right
owl photo source unknown • owl illustration by AomAm

I also search for a “kawaii” version of my idea. Kawaii means cute in Japanese and pretty much anything you can think of has been drawn in a kawaii style, even a calculator! Searching for a kawaii version will show you how you can play with shapes and proportions to make your amigurumi as cute as possible.

Lastly, I look at what amigurumi designs already exist for my idea. This step is necessary because I want to make something original. You might think – well an owl’s an owl… I can’t do anything original with an owl! But there are so many ways you can make an owl unique using different colors, shapes, and variations. Check out the variety of owl crochet patterns I found in the pic below!

Remember, only be INSPIRED by and don’t COPY other ideas. Even if the idea is just an illustration and not a crocheted item, it still won’t be your original design if you copy it.

4 different owl crochet patterns by various crochet designers
Click the links below to check out these cute crochet owl patterns!
  1. Ollie the Owl by Snacksies
  2. Mr. Murasaki the Owl by Amigurumei
  3. Otis the Owl by The Loopy Lamb
  4. An Owl is Born by Uljana Semikrasa

Step 2: Refine your idea

I have my initial idea (an owl) and I’ve gotten inspired, but my idea isn’t ready yet! As we saw in the last step, there are many ways to design the same thing. In this step, we’ll take a deep dive into our subject and break it down. But your idea can be original and “you” just be changing the colors and shaping. If you want to make a straightforward design, do it!

Ask yourself these questions and jot down some notes:
What are the elements of your subject? For an owl, we have the wings, claws, eyes, body shape, beak, feathers, tail.

What makes your subject unique? Owls can turn their heads 270 degrees, they perch on branches, they fly, they’re nocturnal.

What is the essence or vibe of your subject? Owls are frequently depicted as wise, I think of the Tootsie Pop owl, they’re magical and sometimes spooky.

Now take a look at your notes and think of how it could translate to an amigurumi design. I take each section and break it down further, coming up with multiple ideas.

ELEMENTS:

  • Eyes: Owls have very large eyes, I could play on the round shape and make them into flowers or suns.
  • Wings: Owls can have their wings spread or all cuddled up.
  • Body shape: I could make an owl with a distinct head or more round overall.
  • Feather patterns: Some owls have a heart-shaped face or an oval belly.
  • Beak: I could make the beak open or closed. It could also be holding something in its mouth.

UNIQUENESS:

  • Turning their heads: I could make the head able to swivel on the body.
  • Perched on branches: I could incorporate a branch into my design.
  • Active at night: I could design my owl in pajamas or incorporate the moon or stars.

ESSENCE:

  • Owls as wise: I could give my owl glasses or include books in my design.
  • Magic/spooky: I could make my owl with a witch’s hat or cauldron.

This list could go on and on as you break down your subject’s behavior and appearance. Pick a couple elements you want to play around with for the next step – sketching!

Step 3: Sketch your design & develop your style

Sketchbook with pencil sketches of owls and two crochet owls next to it.

In this step, you’ll take your ideas and sketch it until you have one final, executable idea. I decided I want to focus on a “night owl” theme and bring in some night elements like stars or the moon into my design. I also decided I wanted my design to be whimsical instead of realistic and have a cozy, round shape.

Even though I’ve narrowed my idea, there are still so many ways I could sketch this one idea.

  • An owl with stars for eyes.
  • A moon for the belly.
  • Embroider stars on the belly.
  • Have the owl perched on a moon or star.
  • Design the opposite of a night owl – a day owl who’s sleepy.

Have fun trying different versions of your subject until you find one that you love. Make the sketch as close to what you want the finished piece to look like. Even if you’re not the best drawer, try to get the shapes correct. Once you land on one sketch that you love, you’re ready to move on to the next step!

Step 4: Choose scale & create a size grid

You’ve landed on your perfect idea and have a sketch you want to make. Excellent! You’re almost ready to grab your crochet hook.

For this step, get out your measuring tape and decide exactly how many inches tall or wide you want your finished amigurumi to be. You can compare it to another doll you’ve made that you like the size of. I only decide on one measurement I want, usually the height of my doll.

I want my owl to be about 4 inches tall. To make sure the scale of my sketch will match my finished amigurumi, I create a size grid for the sketch that I compare my amigurumi to as I’m working on it. It’s easier to create your size grid if you take a photo of your sketch and bring it into your computer. But you can also just draw a grid right on top of your sketch with a ruler and pencil. 

So after bringing my sketch onto the computer, I like to vectorize it in Adobe Illustrator so I can give it any final tweaks, but this is completely optional.

Digital illustrations of 2 owls with a grid overlay.

Using the ruler in my program (again, I’m using Adobe Illustrator, but you can also use Photoshop or any other photo editing program where you have a ruler and can make lines), I add a line at the top of my owl and then at each ½ inch mark until I reach 4 inches. Looking at the owls above, each square represents 1/2 inch. You’ll be using your size grid to check on the size of your amigurumi as you crochet it in step 6.

Step 5: Gather your materials: choosing a color palette, yarn, & hook

two crochet owls in the center of crochet supplies like yarn, stitch markers, crochet hooks, and scissors.

Color Palette

I have a pretty extensive yarn stash at this point (yay!), so I usually jump to my stash to decide what yarn and colors I want to use for my project. Because I digitize my sketch, I like to add colors during the last step. If I need more inspiration for my color palette, I head to this fun color palette creator website.

YARN

For amigurumi, I prefer using cotton or cotton blend yarn because of the crisp stitch definition and color options. I tend to use light weight (DK) or medium weight (worsted) yarns for my work. You can reference some of your favorite amigurumi patterns to see what yarn and hook combos they used and replicate that.

Some of my favorite DK weight yarn is Ricorumi Cotton DK yarn, Rico Baby Cotton Soft DK, and Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK.

And some of my favorite worsted weight yarns are Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran, Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton, & Rico Creative Cotton Aran.

HOOKS

My favorite crochet hooks are Clover Amour hooks – I don’t use any other hooks! Depending how tight I want my stitches, I’ll vary my hook size. When I use lightweight (dk) yarn, I’ll use a size B or size C hook. When I use medium (worsted) yarn, I’ll use a size C or size D hook.

This blog post goes more in-depth on changing up your yarn weights and hook to get different size amigurumis.

Other supplies

Gather the other odds and ends you’ll need to make your amigurumi. If you’re planning to publish, make note of every single thing that goes into your pattern for your materials list! For my patterns, I always use toy stuffing, stitch markers, a tapestry needle, an embroidery needle, black embroidery thread, and scissors.

Step 6: Break up your design into pieces

Various pieces of the crochet owl in during the amigurumi design process

Before you start crocheting, you’ll need a gameplan on how you’re going to execute your design. Identify each separate piece of your design – for my owl, I have a body (1 piece), eyes (2 pieces), wings (2 pieces), rainbow (1 piece), and embroidered stars. Figure out which piece needs to be made first.

For my owl, the body needs to be made first because all of the other elements attach to it. You also need to decide how each piece will connect to each other and how you’ll want it to be constructed. If you’ve made a lot of amigurumi, you’ll know there are many different ways you can make a doll. Use your past knowledge and experience to decide what would be best for your project.

amigurumi shaping

After you’ve broken your amigurumi into pieces, you can identify the shapes of each piece. Amigurumi is fairly straightforward in that it’s usually made up of three-dimensional shapes achieved through increases and decreases or simple flat shapes. My owl’s body will be a spherical shape, the eyes are flat circles, and the wings and rainbow are flat semi-circles.

Hooked by Kati has a great tutorial on amigurumi shape construction. If you get stuck on a shape or technique you’re not sure how to do, you can look at another amigurumi pattern that has what you’re looking for and see how the piece is constructed.

Step 7: Crochet a draft doll & write down the pattern as you go

Initial versions of pieces for the amigurumi owl

FINALLY, we are ready to crochet! Gather your materials, keep your size grid and tape measure close by, and have your pencil and paper ready. In this step, you’ll crochet the first draft of your amigurumi. This step sometimes requires a lot of frogging (aka pulling out your work) and starting over to get it right. You can see all the less-than-perfect versions of the eye, wing and rainbow in the photo above!

Having a size grid really helps keep you on the right track. When I’m working I’ll use my tape measure to check my progress. For example, my owl’s widest point is about 3 inches, so I will increase my stitches until I reach that width, and the height is about 4 inches, so I’ll stop adding rounds when I reach the correct height.

While you’re crocheting, write down each round or row that you make. If you don’t write it down as you go, you WILL forget. I crochet my first round and then immediately write down what that round was in my notebook.

4 amigurumi owls, two draft versions and two final versions

Usually I only need to crochet 1 complete draft doll before I move on to writing up the final pattern. You can see how similar my draft and final owls are in the photo above. The first one I made was the draft Night Owl. Then, I made some changes when crocheting the draft Day Owl. And then applied any additional changes to my pattern before making the final owls! Don’t move onto the next step until you are happy with your amigurumi!

Step 8: Type & polish up your pattern

In this step, you’ll take the pattern you wrote while you were crocheting the draft doll and type it into a pattern format.

If you’re just writing the pattern to keep for yourself, you can write it any way you will understand it later. But if you want to publish your pattern and share it with other crocheters, it’s important that you use the correct terminology and formatting so that someone else will understand it and get the same result from your pattern.

The elements of a pattern I include are: an intro, materials, finished size, crochet abbreviations used, special techniques used, notes, the written pattern, and step-by-step photo tutorials for attaching, embroidering, or any other special techniques I want to elaborate on.

This list of crochet abbreviations from the Craft Yarn Council is the industry standard – you can reference it to write your pattern. Every crochet designer writes their patterns a tiny bit differently, but the most important thing is that the crocheter making your pattern can understand what they need to do.

When you’re writing up the pattern stick to the same conventions. So if you write “Rnd 1: sc 6” use the same format throughout your pattern. Don’t switch it up to say “Round 1: 6sc”. In crochet patterns, every nuance can mean something different. You need to make it as clear as possible. This post by Kim Werker goes in-depth on getting your crochet terminology done correctly.

Step 9: Make note of any process pictures you’ll need (only if you’re publishing the pattern)

Before you make your final amigurumi, take a look through your pattern and decide if you want to take any pictures during the process to better communicate how to make the item. For me, it’s usually how to embroider the face, how to do any tricky steps, how to attach the limbs or other pieces. Basically, I want the process to be as clear as possible for the crocheter following my pattern. I use this list in the next step.

Step 10: Follow your typed pattern to crochet a final version (& take process photos)

This is the most fun part – now you can just have fun crocheting your design from the pattern you just worked so hard to design! Follow the pattern exactly and edit any typos and errors as you crochet your final amigurumi. I like to print out my patterns and make any notes or corrections in pencil directly onto my pattern.

This would now be the time to get your pattern tested. Pattern testing is when another (or several) experienced crocheter works through your pattern and makes note of any errors or difficulties they had making your design. If you’re new to crochet design and want to sell your pattern, I encourage you to get your pattern tested to make sure it’s error-free. You can put a call out for pattern testers on your social media accounts or in crocheting Facebook groups. If you want to read more about pattern testing, check out this in-depth post by 1 Dog Woof.

If you plan to publish your pattern, make sure to stop and take any process pictures you need. I have my photo backdrop and camera set up and at the ready so I can just hop over and shoot some photos of the process quickly and get back to crocheting my final doll.

Step 11: Finalize, format, & publish your pattern

You’ve made it to the final step! Congratulations! Now you need to fix any pattern errors you found while you were making your final doll and incorporate feedback from your pattern testers. If you’re just designing the pattern for yourself, you’re done! Give yourself a round of applause!!

Publishing your pattern

If you want to publish your pattern and send it out into the world, there’s a bit more work to be done. I take photos of my finished pieces and edit those as well as my tutorial photos. You’ll need to know what size your photos should be for your pattern template or post.

If you need more help taking and editing photos, I have 2 Skillshare classes on those topics. You can read more about my Skillshare classes on my Classes page. If you use this link, you’ll get 2 free months of premium Skillshare to take as many classes as you want!

The next thing I do is put all of the pattern information I wrote in Step 8 and my edited final pattern into my pattern template in either a blog post or digital PDF format.

The digital PDF version of the Day and Night Owl amigurumi pattern.

Paid versus free crochet patterns

Free crochet patterns are usually available on an ad-supported blog (so you can get paid for your work!) You can check out some of your favorite crochet blogs to see how they format and organize their patterns.

A paid pattern is usually in a digital, PDF format that you can download and print. If you’ve used a PDF crochet pattern before, you’ll have an idea of how the pattern should be formatted to publish. You can use a pattern template like this one by Knitatude or make your own pattern template in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, Adobe Illustrator, or other editing program. You can then sell your digital patterns in an online shop.

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I hope this tutorial on designing your own amigurumi crochet pattern has been helpful! Leave any specific questions you have for me in the comments section below. And I would LOVE to see the patterns you create – leave a link to your pattern so I can cheer you on!

Pencil sketches of owls, digital illustrations of owls, and two amigurumi owls on a white background with. alight blue graphic. The overlay text reads "how to design your own amigurumi pattern - a tutorial by tiny curl"

How to Design your own Amigurumi Crochet Pattern

6 thoughts on “How to Design your own Amigurumi Crochet Pattern

  1. Fantastic. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to get started.

    1. I’m so glad this post is helpful for you! Can’t wait to see what you design!!

  2. This was such a great post! Thank you so very much and I had no idea there were pattern templates out there!! Thank you!

    1. Thank you Elise! Yes – pattern templates can be so helpful! And I’m trying to mentally challenge you and make this blog post into a YouTube video! Now to just find the time 🙂

    2. Wow, this is SO incredibly helpful! Thank you!!!

      I’ve been thinking about designing my own patterns but I was intimidated by the whole process. These tips you posted & resources you linked to are gold! Thank you!!!

      I’m definitely going to check out your class!

      1. I love to hear that! The process can definitely seem like a lot, but you can do it! You’ll only get better if you try it out 🙂

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