So you’ve finished crocheting the base pattern for your amigurumi doll, good work! Now all that remains is deciding how to stuff it. You might not think stuffing for toys is something you have to think about, but there are many different materials out there, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses, especially in regards to something as specific as amigurumi.
In general, stuffed toys have a reputation for being fluffy and cuddly, but amigurumi can be either soft or have some stiff parts depending on their intended use. If you want to give them to children as playthings, you must consider overall wear and tear, the integrity of shape, whether or not they will wash in a machine, and so on. If you want your doll to be on display, you need to consider weight, the toy’s ability to be posed, and how it will sit on a shelf or in a display case.
These are just some of the criteria involved in deciding which toy stuffing to use for your project, but don’t let that intimidate you. Below are some of the different stuffing options and how each one can affect the appearance and texture of your crochet toys. Take your time choosing!
First, let’s look at the best amigurumi stuffing options. These materials are usually considered the best for soft toy stuffing, being easy to find, relatively cheap, and some of the most malleable substances on the market. When debating which of these toy fillings to use, keep in mind the specific look you want your doll to have.
Best amigurumi stuffing materials
Also known as “polyfill” stuffing, this fluffy padding is the most commonly used filling and is often found in stuffed animals, pillows, and coat linings. Polyester stuffing is created from a mix of various synthetic (polyester) fibers that are loosely spun to keep the light, airy texture. It is soft, extremely lightweight, and plushy, which makes it ideal for children and baby toys. When put inside a stuffed crochet toy, polyester fiberfill will also hold its shape perfectly.
Polyester cluster filling
Similar to fiberfill stuffing, cluster filling is also made from polyester, but instead of remaining loose and cloud-like, it is made up of smaller, individual groups of stuffing material all clustered together to form the main bulk. This provides a slightly different texture which allows you to stuff your creation a little at a time while still maintaining control over its shape.
All these options are reliable for amigurumi stuffing since they are supple enough to mold the doll’s body shape and, if your crochet stitches are tight enough, be hard-packed enough so they won’t run the risk of coming out through openings. Try using a small wooden dowel or the flat end of a knitting needle to get your stuffing all the way to the bottom of your doll’s arms and legs. If you want, you can pack it extra tight to give it a harder, denser quality which can help it stay posed.
These are another staple when it comes to stuffing for toys, especially ones that need to be weighted or held down for display. Pellets are made from synthetic materials like plastic and rubber and can give your toy a fun bean-bag texture. Crocheters most often use poly and silicone pellets to stabilize their projects, placing them in the toy’s bottom or limbs; then they can fill the rest of the toy with another material, like fiberfill. The pellets will help the toy sit or stand up on its own. However, because synthetic pellets are so small, they can pose a choking hazard to young children. You should place the pellets in a pouch before using them as a filling. This will stop them from falling through any spaces there may be between stitches.
Natural pellets and dried herbs
If you want to go all-natural with your stuffing while still maintaining the pellet feel, it’s as simple as looking to your pantry. Cherry stones (or pits) can be removed, washed and dried, and then placed into a pouch before being stuffed into your crochet toy. Alternatively, if you want to create a potpourri or scented doll, stuff a pouch with dried herbs and surround it with other filling. Herb-stuffed toys are excellent for helping babies sleep; double check with your doctor first to find out which herbs are safest for your child.
Non-recommended crochet toy stuffing
Now let’s look at some materials that are not suitable for toy filling. These may be good for other needlework projects, but they are best avoided when searching for the perfect stuffing for your crochet doll.
Sheep’s wool is a natural material, as well as one of the heaviest and most durable textiles since it protects sheep from all sorts of abrasive weather and living conditions. But when it comes to toys, the benefits fall short. Many people are allergic to wool, which can result in skin-irritating rashes. Wool also cannot be machine washed or dried since it will shrink inside the toy, making it deflate or work into lumps.
While a pleasantly fluffy soft toy filling, cotton is not really recommended for crochet stuffed projects. Crocheted toys in particular tend to be more posable, and cotton, while airy like polyester, will compress faster and squash out of shape with little applied pressure. It also cannot be machine washed or dried because the fibers will come apart and may even disintegrate.
Fabric and sock scraps
While it may be tempting to shred old T-shirts or socks and use them as a quick, cheap toy stuffing material, it will simply create frustration. These components are simply too tough for crochet toys and will cause them to become lumpy, hard, or in some cases, may even burst some of the stitches.
Glass and metal pellets
A close cousin of synthetic pellets, glass and metal pellets may at first seem like a good idea, but they are too heavy for most amigurumi toys. They can stretch the toys out and cause them to fall apart. Plus, they are usually more expensive.
This is shredded foam (sometimes called “memory foam”) which is made from latex and has been chopped or torn into cubes. It is quite dense and heavy, and cannot be easily shaped. Because it is so obtrusive, foam rubber tends to be a destructive toy filling that can break toy shapes and cause rapid wear and tear.
Hopefully this overview has helped you narrow down your choices for the perfect toy filling. Take your time trying the different benefits of polyester, cluster, and plastic pellets. After all, it will only provide opportunities to make more adorable creatures!