Tutorial – Needle Sculpting an Amigurumi Doll Face

In amigurumi, needle sculpting is a way to add contours to an otherwise smooth surface. Carefully placed stitches are pulled tightly to draw the fabric in and make it pucker. This is a particularly useful technique for sculpting facial contours on both knit and crochet amigurumi projects.

Needle Sculpting an Amigurumi Doll Face - tutorial on Stitches n Scraps

This tutorial will show you a few basic steps to create eye sockets and a nose. Applying the same concept further, you could sculpt cheek and chin contours, eyebrow ridges, even wrinkles if you want to! The uses and methods of needle sculpting are as varied as faces themselves, and the technique allows a lot of room for creativity.

Needle Sculpting Photo Tutorial:

(scroll down for video tutorial)

For this tutorial, I’m using the head from my Serrana the Mermaid pattern.

My head already has some crocheted shaping in the front, making the “chin” area stick out. This same process for the eyes and nose should work on most amigurumi doll faces, with or without that shaping, and is not specific to just this pattern.

Step 1 – Placing Markers:

We start by placing markers to define the shapes we are creating. Needle sculpting experts may be able to skip this step, but I find it very helpful to have these guides in place.

Needle Sculpting - marker placement - Stitches n Scraps

Place markers for the eyes close to the outside corner of the eye socket. The bridge of the nose will be the inside corner. Pins mark a triangle for the nose right in the middle of the 2 eye markers. Place the pins so that they cross just slightly above the line of the eyes. This will put the bridge of the nose in line with the eyes.

Step 2 – Eyes:

Start by sewing a piece of skin-colored yarn in through the top or back of the head, and out at one of the eye markers. Don’t sew in the starting tail yet, leave it to do once you’re sure you’re satisfied with the face.

Needle Sculpting - Starting first eye - Stitches n Scraps

Stitch across one stitch (to lock the yarn in place), going down into the head and out at the other eye marker. Pull your stitch tight while holding the starting tail, and you should see the eye socket depress slightly.

 Neeld Scultping - first eye - Stitches n Scraps

Stitch across one stitch on the other eye, going down and out through the back of the head. Pull on the working yarn and the starting tail tightly to form the eye sockets.

Needle Sculpting - 2nd eye - Stitches n Scraps

You can repeat the process of adding a stitch in each eye to further secure the shaping, but it is not entirely necessary. The first eye may loosen as you work, but if you pull the tail tight before weaving it in, it will tighten again.

Step 3 – Nose:

Once you’re happy with the eyes, bring the needle up at one side of the bridge of the nose. Be sure not to pull too tightly and create a dimple at the back when you do this.

Neeld Sculpting - side of nose 1 - Stitches n Scraps

Using the pins as a guide, sew back and forth across the nose, tugging gently with each stitch. It should only take about 2-3 stitches for our nose in this example.  

 Needle Scultping - side of nose 2 - Stitches n Scraps

Without pulling, bring the needle out at the bottom of the nose, near the center. Sew one stitch in either direction, and bring the needle out in a diagonal line through the other side of the nose, near the top.

Needle Scultping - bottom of nose - Stitches n Scraps

Come back out the middle and repeat the last step, in the opposite direction. This should make the tip of the nose curl under slightly.

Needle Sculpting - marker placement - Stitches n Scraps Needle sculpting - side view - Stitches n Scraps

Once you are satisfied with the face, bring your needle out through the back of the head and weave in both tails. Remember to pull a little on your starting tail before weaving it in.

Video Tutorial:


Try this technique out for yourself on my Serrana the Mermaid pattern!




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