One question that often comes up when making amigurumi, but is never explained within in an actual pattern, except for a “start stuffing” in passing, is how to stuff your creation. It seems simple in concept, stuff the stuffing in, but there are so many things that can go wrong! Sometimes you end up with a lumpy bumpy animal, or one that looks like it has deflated. Or maybe you stuffed your creature so much there is literally stuffing popping out at the seams. I am not a stuffing expert and I am still learning with each new ami I make, but I am going to share with you my current technique for stuffing here, because right now it seems to be working!
First, the stuffing itself:
No matter what technique you use to stuff your amigurumi, the stuffing you use makes a huge difference. I tried a number of different brands before landing on the one I like best, and I suggest you do the same. If you are always frustrated during the stuffing process, it might be the stuffing, not you! Don’t settle when it comes to stuffing – try a variety until you are satisfied.
During my trials, I found some stuffing to be too dense, holding its shape a little too well (if I stuck my finger in it the finger dent would remain!!), while others, though fluffier, clumped more easily (very frustrating).
I am currently using the brand found at Canadian Walmart stores: EverSoft (www.eversoft.ca). It is from a company in Toronto, Canada (so is local, yay!), is made from recycled material and is eco friendly (bonus!), and since I can get it at Walmart, it is convenient and well priced. I can’t seem to go wrong with this stuff – I LOVE it. While I will show you my stuffing technique below, which works pretty well for even the worst stuffing, if I stray a bit and add this stuffing a little higgledy piggledy, my ami still turns out great. Also, unlike some other stuffing brands, you can reuse this stuffing because it can be easily fluffed back up to its original form after being squished and condensed.
I use polyester stuffing because it is convenient and the cost is right, but if you want a more natural material there are other options, such as cotton, corn, hemp, and wool. I have never tried anything but polyester, so I don’t know how the other materials behave, but it doesn’t hurt to experiment and find THE stuffing that is best for you!
There are basically two main methods of stuffing:
- Put as much stuffing as you can into the piece all at once in one big clump, then add more to the centre of the clump if needed. The key is to only add stuffing in the middle so the outside remains smooth and less lumpy.
- Put the stuffing in layer by layer, one on top of the other, until the ami is filled. The key for this method is to use fairly thin layers for smoothness and less lumpiness.
I have tried both methods, and by far my favourite is option 2. I have used the first method, and it does work pretty well when your ami is one big ball themselves, with no shaping (such as for my Koko the Owl pattern), but doesn’t work so well for all other designs (such as Harry the Moustache).
I stuff my amigurumi using thin layers of polyester stuffing layered on top of each other. Each layer is the same size in diameter as the area I am stuffing. For example, if I was stuffing a pointed piece, my layers of stuffing would start off very small in circumference, and then gradually increase in size as I work my way up the widening piece.
After each layer I place, I push it down into the piece, pressing on the entire surface area of the layer, but mostly at the edges. I push the back of my fingers (or hand, depending on the size of the piece) down on the layer, with my finger tips at the edge of the piece, and turn the piece as I do this (lifting the hand up and down as I turn), pushing the stuffing down all the way around. I do this for EVERY layer I place.
Yes, this process is long and a little tedious, but honestly, it is less frustrating than trying to stuff an amigurumi that always comes out lumpy. By pressing down each layer before adding more, I also get a nice dense filling that is less likely to deflate later. The ami does look a little funny during the whole process, a little bulbous where I have stuffed, but in the end, when it is complete and closed up, it works great!
If your amigurumi has little limbs that are part of the main body, such as the legs of my Felix the Elf pattern and Hanna the Squirrel, then stuff the limbs first really well, with many layers, using the method above before you start using large pieces of stuffing for the main body. If you jump to the larger sized layers for the body too soon, the legs won’t be stuffed enough compared to the body.
When have you added enough stuffing? Knowing this comes with practice. It depends on your stuffing, your technique, and what you prefer for your finished amigurumi. I like to stuff my amigurumi a lot initially because the stuffing tends to become less dense with time. Even right before closing the last stitch of a piece, I am sticking in more stuffing with a stuffing tool (ie. chopstick) so that it is filled up right to the end, in all corners.
So that is how I like to stuff my amigurumi. What about you? Do you have a special technique that works? Would love to hear about it!