Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sizing Up: Does size matter when it comes to selling amigurumi?

Lately, we've been having a discussion about size on the team page. Here's the "big" deal... team member, ElinAmanda asked:
I'm working on some big projects at the moment, but starting to worry if they'll sell. Maybe people are more keen on buying smaller items?
Our team members had a lot of thoughts about the ideal size for amigurumi... but the consensus is... smaller sells.

Ollie the Octopus by Yarn Menagerie
Most team members make larger amigurumi from time to time and some members, Like Yarn Menagerie, even stock the larger items in their shops. Take Yarn Menagerie's Ollie The Giant Octopus, for example.

This giant cephalopod is a whopping 17 inches (43 cm) tall and spreads his tentacles 19 inches (48 cm) across.

But with each larger project comes larger project costs. Of course, more materials are needed (more yarn, more fiberfill, etc.) and you need larger embellishments (for example, larger doll eyes). All these things can add up.

With larger projects, customers often also expect more detail. For example, no one would expect the kind of detail you find in Peachy Paws's prize-winning 12-inch-long peacock in a smaller version. It's just not possible when you get smaller than 6 inches (15 cm).

Ecochic Peacock by Peachy Paws
But amazing details like this take time... and even for artists, time is money. And sadly, more often than not, it's money that people don't want to pay for a hand-crocheted object.

So, larger projects equal higher material costs and more time... resulting in a higher price tag that people often balk at. The solution? Smaller pieces.

Lotus Tiny Dancer by Silly Kitty (shown with Pukipuki doll)
Smaller pieces can also appeal to a broader market of buyers. Says Trinlayk of Etsy shop Silly Kitty, "tiny things have given me a broader market! I now have a lot of purchases/views from the 'doll people.' And, people in the dolls and miniature collecting demographic will pay the same price or more for something teeny tiny (as compared to the same thing at a larger size). They want something that is a good size for their collectible dolly or for in their dollhouse."

Some Amigurumi Team members have also had great success by creating their own collectible dolls -- and the consensus there is that collectible dolls should remain small. The Etsy shop, Hooked on Chibis is just one example of amigurumi in the collectible doll market -- where tiny dolls can fetch big dollars.

Black Mage by Hooked on Chibis
Each of the designs in the Hooked on Chibis shop is the same basic design (a head and a body). The design is then given a unique personality through embellishments. For example, this black mage from the final fantasy series uses the same basic form as all the other creations in the shop, but the colors, cape, and hat give it a one-of-a-kind presence that will be recognized by any Final Fantasy fan.

Even though the mage tops out at a tiny 4 inches (10 cm), Hooked on Chibis explains that her customers are willing to pay $20. This is because of her quality work and materials -- and because of the item's collectability.

Says QuitaPita, another designer who uses the head/body style design, a lot of people who like to purchase collectible dolls will be displaying these items on a desk or bookshelf. That makes smaller designs more suitable to larger ones.

So what does all this mean for someone who is just starting out as an amigurumi seller on Etsy? There is a place for larger amigurumi, but that place is typically with competitions and custom orders. When stocking your shop, think small to reach the largest audience and get the most return on your work.

And no matter what size you choose, remember that even with amigurumi, content is king. Both large dolls and small dolls will sell if the content appeals to your market.


  1. Thanks so much for the post, great ideas and contents. Now I prefer to make so tiny/micro or portable sizes for amigurumi sales.

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    Thanks for stopping by.