I love the look of satin stitch embroidery, but I don’t use it very often for my amigurumi because, I have to warn you, it does take longer to do than any of the methods I have shown you so far. It also takes a lot of focus, because you have to repeat the same stitch over and over again until an area is filled in. You will probably notice in this tutorial that by the time I got to the white part of the eyes, I had gotten a lot less picky about the straightness of my stitches. Looking back, I wish I would have taken a break halfway through or put the project aside for a day or so. Then I would have been able to come back to it fresh: fresh eyes, fresh mind. In the least, I hope you might learn from my mistake. If you find yourself growing frustrated or impatient, feel free to take a break. You certainly have my permission.
That aside, I think you will be pleased with the results you achieve by using satin stitch embroidery to add details to the faces on your amigurumi. I always think it looks very professional, as this is the technique most often used by large toy companies to manufacture stuffed animals for young kids. Satin stitch embroidery is a great choice for toys that will be used by children of all ages, because you don’t need to worry about any small parts that might present a choking hazard. While the big companies use machines to do all the work, I will show you how to do it by hand. After all, it’s the time and love that you put into it that makes a hand-embroidered stuffed animal so special.
2 long pins
DMC 25 Embroidery Floss in black, white, and your choice of eye color
Chenille or tapestry needle
1. Start with a blank canvas. I recommend sewing your amigurumi together completely before beginning to embroider the face. That includes sewing on the ears if applicable. Having everything in place will help to give you a better idea of where to place the facial features.
2. Give yourself a guide. Place a pin where you want the center of each eye to be. Be sure to step back and take a look to make sure they are even. If I’m not feeling certain about it, I might even count the stitches from each ear to each pin to make sure that they are even and to double-check that the pins are on the same row.
3. Outline the eye. With black embroidery thread and needle, back stitch a circle around the pin about 1/2” out from it. If you’re anxious about making it even, you might use a fabric pencil to draw a circle around the pin first.
4. Fill in the circle with satin stitches. Come up with your needle as close as you can get to the inside of the circle outline and go down on the opposite side in the same manner. Continue to fill in the circle, working from bottom to top. You don’t have to pull the thread really tight; it’s better just to make sure that each stitch lies flat with the others. Go back and fill in any gaps if needed.
5. Make the iris. With the eye color of your choice, satin stitch the iris. Come up as close as you can get to the pupil and go down about 1/4” to 1/2″ out. Continue in this way around the eye, making each stitch as close as you can get to the previous one so that none of the crochet fabric shows. This part always takes the longest, so I have to remind myself to be patient.
6. Make the white of the eye. With white thread, satin stitch a crescent shape on either side of the eye. Even on toys done with white yarn, I believe this is an important step because it will give the whole eye an even height on the surface of the fabric. (Note: If any of your stitches are uneven like some of mine are in this picture, you can go back and gently brush them with the tip of your needle in a motion parallel to the stitches.)
7. Make the white reflection spot. While you’re working with the white thread, go back to the iris-pupil area and add the white spot. You can make this as big as you like, from one single stitch to several.
9. Add eyelashes. Bring your needle back up at the top corner at the back of the eye and create a few long stitches for the eyelashes.
10. Make the nose. Thread your yarn needle with black yarn and, going in through the back, come out on the front where you want your bear’s nose to be.
11. Go down with your needle on the other side where the nose should end.
12. Repeat this several times to fill in the nose.
13. On the last pass, go down on the other side as you did in Step 12, but this time come out below the mouth, where you want the bottom of your bear’s smile to be.
14. Connect the nose and mouth. Carefully lift the stitches of the bear’s nose a bit and guide your needle down into the fabric at the center of the nose. Bring your needle out where you want the first corner of her smile to be. Smooth out the stitches of the nose so that the top of the line you just made is covered.
15. Make the smile. Guide your needle down into the stitch at the bottom of her mouth, coming out at the opposite side of her smile.
16. Bring your needle back down through the stitch at the bottom of the mouth.
17. To end, pass the needle to the back out the same stitch that you used to begin the nose in Step 10.
18. I like to tie these two strands in a knot, trim off the excess yarn, and push it all into the bear’s head to hide it.
And there you go. You have a beautifully embroidered toy that someone will cherish forever.
For a more detailed tutorial on embroidering a triangle nose with mouth, I’ve provided a PDF: How to Embroider a Nose and Mouth by Jennifer Olivarez
Visit Resources for more tutorials on a wide variety of techniques to add faces to your amigurumi.