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How to Crochet a Stuffed Animal


You can do a lot with a couple of balls of yarn. From making your own crochet clothes and accessories to creating cute and cuddly stuffed animals!


Amirugami, the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting yarn plushies, has been popular in America since the 2000s. With that comes a range of patterns and crochet techniques to help you create toys for you or your kids to enjoy.


Crocheting your own stuffed animals allows you to get creative with colors and patterns to yield a DIY project for your kids or babies to play with. You can also use them to decorate your home or start a crochet plushie collection!


This article will provide a comprehensive guide on crocheting stuffed animals, from the materials you need, the stitches and techniques you should learn to several patterns to try, and a step-by-step tutorial to help you get started.

Materials Needed

To crochet your own stuffed animals, you need:


Yarn in weights of light/DK or medium/ worsted. Cotton and acrylic yarn fibers are recommended for stuffed animals.

Crochet hook that is smaller than the yarn you are using. This will help you create tighter stitches for a clean and dense stuffed animal.

Yarn needle, which you will use to weave in ends and attach the legs, tail, and other parts of your stuffed animal.

Scissors to cut the yarn ends.

Pins to help you attach finishing pieces like your stuffed animal’s nose, eyes, etc.

Stitch markers to help you keep track of the rounds you are working.

Embroidery thread to create detailed stitches on your project.

Polyester filling to stuff your crochet projects.

Wooden stick to fill and shape your stuffed animal.

Wire to shape ears, tails, and other body parts.

Safety eyes to snap into your stuffed animals. Or you can opt to crochet eyes with yarn or embroidery thread.


All of these can be purchased in your local craft store or online. Mary Maxim has a whole collection of yarns for your stuffed animal crochet project. Browse our products today.

Understanding Crochet Patterns for Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animal crochet patterns come in a range of types, each helping you make a unique design with different crochet stitches and techniques. Here are some of the most popular:


Amigurumi patterns: Amigurumi is a Japanese style of crochet used to make small stuffed animals. These patterns usually create animals with large heads, small bodies, and intricate details. The stitches are worked tightly in continuous rounds.

Character patterns: Character patterns are based on popular animal characters in cartoons, movies, or books. They incorporate details like clothing, accessories, and facial expressions to make the character more recognizable.

Fantasy creature patterns: Fantasy creature patterns create mythical or fantastical stuffed animals like mermaids, unicorns, dragons, and fairies. They usually allow for your unique interpretation of these creatures, which means a lot of opportunities to experiment with shapes, colors, and embellishments.

Realistic animal patterns: Realistic animal patterns resemble real-life animals and use shaping techniques, specific colors, and stitches that help the crafter mimic the animal’s unique characteristics.


When you begin your search, you’ll find that there are plenty of crochet patterns you can use to make stuffed animals. To choose the best one for you, make sure to assess your skill level and personal interest.


Find a pattern that aligns with your taste and style, and determine if it matches your proficiency. Starting with a pattern you’re confident in will allow you to have a more enjoyable experience. You can always endeavor to try more complex patterns later on.


Crochet Techniques for Beginners

While every crochet stuffed animal pattern is unique, you’ll likely come across a couple of techniques present in each one. It would be helpful to familiarize yourself with them early on so that you can seamlessly and confidently navigate a pattern when you begin.


Here are some beginner-friendly crochet techniques you’ll typically find in a stuffed animal crochet pattern:


Increasing and Decreasing

Increasing and decreasing are basic crochet techniques that allow you to change the number of stitches in a row or round. As a result, these fundamentals help you shape your project.


There are different stitch techniques involved in creating increases and decreases. But for stuffed animals, you’ll likely need to learn how to do a single crochet increase and an invisible decrease.


Crocheting in Spiral Rounds

Most stuffed animal crochet patterns are worked in continuous rounds — which means you don’t join the ends in each round with a slip stitch like you’re used to. But crocheting in spiral rounds is easy, just like working stitches up a spiral staircase.


When doing this, you must be diligent in counting your stitches. We recommend using a stitch marker at the beginning of each round to help you keep track of your stitches.


Changing Colors

While not every pattern will require you to change yarn colors, you may come across a project that incorporates different colors and stripes in between rounds. Learning how to switch colors will be very helpful in these cases.


When it comes time to change yarn, stop crocheting before you pull through the final two loops on the hook. Drop the old yarn color and put the new strand on the hook. Use that to pull through the last two loops.


Learning Common Crochet Stuffed Animal Shapes

Stuffed animal crochet patterns aren’t that intimidating when you look at them in a series of shapes. For most patterns, you’ll be creating individual spheres, tubes, and 3D ovals (ovids) and sewing them together to create a stuffed animal.


These shapes can be worked using basic crochet stitches, which we’ll talk more about later.


Crochet Stitches for Stuffed Animals

If you thought crocheting stuffed animals will require you to learn advanced stitches, you’ll be pleased to know that you can get started with just the fundamentals!


Most stuffed animal patterns use the basic crochet stitches below — and if you’ve been in the craft for a while, you’re likely already familiar with them.


Magic Circle/ Magic Ring (mc/mr)

Almost all crochet animals use the magic circle or ring as their base stitch. It’s a technique used to crochet in the round, ensuring a clean start to your project. To make a magic circle, simply make the first round of stitches into an adjustable loop and pull the yarn tail to close the loop.


Single Crochet Stitch (sc)

One of the basic crochet stitches, a single crochet is worked by inserting the hook into the next stitch, yarning over, and pulling up a loop. Then, you’ll need to yarn over again and pull through both loops on the hook.


Double Crochet Stitch (dc)

A double crochet stitch is worked by yarning over, inserting the hook into the next stitch, yarning over once again, and pulling up a loop. Afterward, yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook. Finally, yarn over for the last time and pull through both loops on the hook.


Back Loop Single Crochet (bl sc)

A back loop single crochet is a variation of the basic single crochet stitch. Except this time, your hook enters the center of the stitch and exits underneath. This is in contrast to a single crochet where the hook is pulled through underneath the entire stitch. The back loop single crochet creates a ridged texture on the fabric.


To work this stitch, insert the hook into the center of the sitch and through the back loop. Yarn over and draw through, then yarn over again and draw through the last two stitches on the hook.


Front Loop Single Crochet (fl sc)

Another variation of the single crochet stitch, a front lop single crochet creates a twined ridge along the fabric’s surface.

To create this stitch, insert the hook into the front loop of the stitch and pull it up through the middle of the stitch. Yarn over and draw a loop through the fabric. Finally, yarn over again and draw two loops on the hook.


Single Stitch Increase (inc)

A single stitch increase, also called a single crochet increase, is an easy way to add a stitch to your rows. The most common approach is to work two single crochets into the same stitch.

It’s done by inserting the hook under both loops of the stitch and then making a single crochet. After, insert the hook under both loops and make a second single crochet.


Invisible Decrease (inv dec)
When working an invisible decrease, you should clearly identify your front and back loop stitches. The front loops are those outside of the circle while the back loops are inside the circle.
To work an invisible decrease, insert the hook into the front loop of the first stitch, then insert it again into the front loop of the next stitch. Yarn over and draw through the first two loops on the hook. Yarn over and draw through the remaining two loops on the hook. At this point, you’ve completed the invisible decrease and there should only be one loop remaining on your hook.

Slip Stich (sl st)

A slip stitch is used to join rounds, make crochet edging, or seam pieces together. It’s very easy to do. You just need to insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over, and pull through the stitch as well as the active loop on the hook. And you’re done!


Tips for Crocheting a Stuffed Animal

Crocheting a stuffed animal is easier than it sounds — even beginners can take on the project and complete it successfully. To help you out, here are a couple more things to observe while working on your project:


Pay attention to your tension and gauge: While crocheting stuffed animals usually calls for tighter stitches, you don’t want your tension to be too tight that your project turns stiff. A plushie should have a tension that’s loose enough to easily fill with stuffing.

Use stitch markers: Stitch markers help you keep track of the beginning and end of your rounds. It makes it easy to count your stitches, ensuring you’re following your pattern to a T.

Most crafters opt to skip stitch markers. But for beginners, doing so can cause confusion in your stitch counts and placements and throw off the shape of your project.

Avoid overstuffing your stuffed animal: Overstuffing can cause your stitches to stretch, increasing the likelihood of your stuffed animal losing its shape. Put just the right amount of stuffing and distribute it evenly throughout the parts of your project.

Learn seamless crochet techniques: Seamless crochet techniques, such as the invisible decrease or joining, make your stuffed animal look clean and polished. You also want to pay attention to finishing, securing, and hiding your yarn ends to prevent them from unraveling.

Read and understand the pattern: Your pattern will guide you through crocheting a stuffed animal. Make sure you’re familiar with all the stitch abbreviations and techniques before you start your project. Many beginners end up missing an increase or decrease, leading to a misshapen stuffed animal.

Don’t rush: While seasoned crocheters can finish a stuffed animal project in a couple of hours, beginners need to take their time and put their full attention to their projects. Rushing may lead you to skip stitches or mess up your stitch placements, which will result in a less-than-ideal final outcome.


Crochet Stuffed Animal Patterns

Now you’re ready to try your hand at crocheting a stuffed animal! We have a range of patterns that can get you started, from a baby bee to a little mermaid-inspired plushie. Take a look at our easy-to-follow pattern recommendations below.


Yarn Weight: 4 Medium Worsted

Hook Size: G-6 (4 mm)


This crochet animal trio pattern will walk you through how to create three fun-sized stuffed animals: an elephant, a hippo, and a lion. Using only a couple of yarn colors and basic detailing, this project will prove to be both easy and enjoyable.


Yarn Weight: 6 Super Bulky

Hook Size: G-6 (4 mm)


Make your own Salie Sloth with this easy-to-follow pattern. It uses super bulky yarn to yield a soft stuffed animal your baby will love to cuddle with.


Yarn Weight: 4 Medium Worsted

Hook Size: F-5 (3.75 mm)


This cute baby bee pattern is a good beginner’s project to take on. It incorporates basic stitch techniques, only three yarn colors, and minimal detailing so you can try your hand at Amirugami before tackling more complex patterns.


Yarn Weight: 4 Medium Worsted

Hook Size: F-5 (3.75 mm)


This little piggy pattern is going to make a bright addition to your stuffed animal crochet collection. It uses medium worsted yarn to create intricate detailing and even dresses the stuffed animal in a cute lavender dress. Feel free to change the yarn colors as you wish!


Yarn Weight: 4 Medium Worsted

Hook Size: F-5 (3.75 mm)


Make a crochet Ariel and Sebastian duo with this pattern. It guides you through crafting a baby mermaid and her lobster companion in easy-to-follow steps. You can design the mermaid’s top and fins as you wish to make this project personalized and truly yours.


Yarn Weight: 4 Medium Worsted

Hook Size: G-6 (4 mm)


Add a touch of fun to your home by crocheting a sock monkey to hang alongside your plants and shrubs. Or use this pattern to create a toy that your kid will love to cuddle and play with.


Yarn Weight: 6 Super Bulky

Needle Size: 8" (20 cm) Double Point Ndl. Size 10 (6 mm)


Your baby will surely love this happy-go-lucky ducky. Using super bulky yarn, this pattern will create a soft and snuggly duck with realistic detailing. It’s the perfect bedtime companion for your little ones.


Step-by-Step Tutorial for Crocheting a Stuffed Animal

Now that you know all the techniques and fundamental stitches you need to crochet a stuffed animal, how about trying out this basic dumpling kitty pattern? It’s one of the easiest crochet stuffed animal projects to help you get started.


This pattern creates a miniature 4” tall kitten and will take you approximately 3 hours to finish. Let’s get to it.


Ears & Body

Round 1: Start 6 single crochets in a magic ring.

Round 2: Create 6 single crochets.

Round 3: Single crochet one, increase, single crochet 2, increase, and since crochet 1. Do the same process to create a second ear.

Round 4: Chain 4 with the yarn still attached to the second ear. Insert the hook into the first stitch of the first ear. Yarn over and pull through a slip stitch. Single crochet into the next stitch and place a stitch marker.


When you reach the back of the first ear, work into the back of the chain. When you reach the end of the fourth chain stitch, work into it. At this point, you should have 24 stitches. Weave the yarn’s tail in from where you fastened the first ear. Cut off the excess yarn. Then single crochet 24 around.


Round 5: Single crochet three, increase, single crochet 11, increase, and single crochet 8.

Round 6: Single crochet 4, increase, single crochet 12, increase, and single crochet 8.

Round 7: Single crochet 5, increase, single crochet 13, increase, and single crochet 8.

Round 8: Single crochet 6, increase, single crochet 14, increase, single crochet 2, change to your second color in the next stitch, then single crochet 5.

Round 9: Single crochet 2, change back to your old color in the next stitch, single crochet 4, and increase. Single crochet 7 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 2 times, then single crochet 2, change back to your second color in the next stitch, single crochet 2, increase, and single crochet 1.

Round 10: Single crochet 2, change back to your old color in the next stitch, and single crochet 33.

Round 11: Single crochet 7, increase, single crochet 18, increase, and single crochet 9.

Round 12: Single crochet 8 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 3 times. Then single crochet 4, change back to your second color in the next stitch, single crochet 3, increase, and single crochet 2.

Round 13: Single crochet 4, change back to your old color in the next stitch, single crochet 2, change back to your second color in the next stitch, and single crochet 7.

Round 14: Single crochet 4, change back to your old color in the next stitch, single crochet 4, increase, single crochet 20, increase, and single crochet 11.

Round 15: Single crochet in all 44 stitches.

Round 16: Single crochet 36, change back to your second color in the next stitch, and single crochet 7.

Round 17: Single crochet 6, change back to your old color in the next stitch, single crochet 3, and increase. Single crochet 10 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 2 times. Then single crochet 3, change back to your second color in the next stitch, single crochet 6, and increase in the last stitch.

Round 18: Single crochet 6, change back to your old color in the next stitch, and single crochet 41.

Round 19: Single crochet in all 48 stitches. Count down from the tip of the ear and place the eyes between rounds 11-12, 6 stitches apart.

Round 20: Single crochet 11, increase, single crochet 24, increase, and single crochet 11.

Round 21: Single crochet 50.

Round 22: Single crochet 11 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 4 times then single crochet 2.

Round 23: Single crochet 54. Fasten off and weave the ends into the inside of the body.


Base

Round 1: Start 6 single crochets in a magic ring.

Round 2: Increase in all stitches.

Round 3: Single crochet 1 and increase in the next stitch. Repeat this 6 times.

Round 4: Single crochet 1 and increase. Then single crochet 2 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 5 times then single crochet 1.

Round 5: Single crochet 3 and increase in the next stitch. Repeat this 6 times.

Round 6: Single crochet 2 and increase. Single crochet 4 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 5 times then single crochet 2.

Round 7: Single crochet 5 and increase in the next stitch. Repeat this 6 times.

Round 8: Single crochet 3 and increase. Then single crochet 6 and increase in the next stitch — repeat this 5 times then single crochet 3.

Round 9: Single crochet 7 and increase in the next stitch. Repeat this 6 times. Do not fasten off.


Join the body with 54 stitches by inserting the hook into the next stitch. Then insert the hook into the first stitch of the last round on the bottom of the body. Yarn over and complete a single crochet through both pieces. Continue to work single crochets around through both pieces.

Stuffing: When you’ve worked ¾ around the base, add stuffing and pack it tightly. Fasten off and weave in the ends.


Feet

Round 1: Start 6 single crochets in a magic ring.

Round 2: Single crochet 6.

Round 3: Single crochet 1, increase, single crochet 2, increase, and single crochet 1. Press the fabric flat and single crochet 3 stitches across the top. Yarn over and pull through to fasten off. Create 2 feet.


Tail

Round 1: Start 7 single crochets in a magic ring.

Round 2: Single crochet 7.

Round 3: Single crochet 7.

Round 4: Change to your old color and single crochet 7.

Round 5: Single crochet 7.

Round 6: Single crochet 7.

Round 7: Change to your second color and single crochet 7.

Round 8: Single crochet 7.

Round 9: Single crochet 7.

Round 10: Change back to your old color and single crochet 7.

Round 11: Single crochet 7.

Round 12: Single crochet 7. Fasten off.


Assembly

Legs: Count 3 to 4 rounds up from the bottom of the body. Insert your yarn needle and work into the three stitches at the top of the leg. Bring your yarn needle out in a stitch below the leg and insert it through the bottom of the leg and back into and out of the body. Repeat this 4 times until the leg lays flat against the body.

Fasten off and weave in the excess yarn. Place the second leg 1 stitch away from the first leg and repeat the process.

Tail: Pin the tail to the back of the body and stitch it on.


Finishing Touches

The finishing touches are what bring your crochet stuffed animals to life. After you’ve completed your pattern pieces, you’ll need to stuff your animal, sew the openings, and add details (nose, eyes, and mouth).


Stuffing: Take small amounts of stuffing and push them into the openings of your project. You can use the back end of your crochet hook to push the stuffing into small areas. Continue adding stuffing until you achieve your desired firmness.

Sewing: Thread your yarn needle with your yarn. You can sew openings using a whip or ladder stitch. Insert the needle through both loops of the last round on one side of the opening. Then insert it through the corresponding loops on the other end.

Continue doing this until the opening is completely closed. Weave the yarn end securely into the stitches on the backside of your project.

Adding details: To add your stuffed animal’s nose, eyes, and mouth, insert them through the stitches of your desired position and fasten them on firmly.

If you opt to embroider your details, you can use a tapestry needle to sew in your desired facial features. Secure the yarn ends on the back of your project and weave in the ends.


Conclusion

Crocheting a stuffed animal is one of the most versatile and fulfilling projects you can take on. There are so many different types of animals you can create, along with a range of colors and techniques you can adapt to make every project your own.

The best part is that crocheting a stuffed animal is easy, with most using the fundamentals that you are already familiar with.

So why don’t you go ahead and start making your very own crochet stuffed animal? We promise you the journey’s going to be worthwhile. And soon enough, you’ll have a whole collection of projects you and your kids will enjoy.