Curious about what safety eyes are? Then you’re in the right place! These are one of my favorite items to have when making amigurumi, so I use them often.
In this article, I’ll go over what safety eyes are, the parts of them, how to use them, when to use them, if they’re safe to use, and alternatives!
Related: what are stitch markers, what is a yarn needle
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What Are Safety Eyes?
Safety eyes are an object that you use when you’re making things like stuffed animals. They’re two pieces that connect with a shiny ball that goes on the outside of your work to make eyes! They come in a variety of sizes and colors.
I use safety eyes for my amigurumi primarily (like this bee!), but they work just as well in knit projects, felted projects and any other handmade items that you might need eyes on.
Most of the time they are just black, but you can find ones that are different colors, or have a black center with rings of color around the edge, like the human eyes.
How Do You Pick the Right Size??
Safety eyes come in a variety of sizes, and it can be confusing as to which ones to choose.
Some patterns will specifically tell you which size to get. But it really depends on what you want the final look to be! A general rule of thumb: the larger the eye, the more baby-like it will look. But you also want to match the size that seems to look the best. Play around with different sizes and pick which one you think is the best!
On the crochet pig pattern, you want smaller eyes to make it look more realistic!
Types of Safety Eyes
Typical black with plastic back
These safety eyes are the most common, having a plastic back and coming in a multi pack of various sizes.
If you don’t want the typical black eyes, you can also choose to have colored eyes! They’ll still have the black pupil, but have different iris colors.
Other Types of Safety Eyes
Looking for something different? There are some safety eyes that look like comic eyes, dragon eyes, or glittery safety eyes!
Other Similar Items
There are some other items that are very similar to safety eyes, like safety noses! They work the same, but are just different body parts. And are great if you’re making a lot of animals that need noses!
What Are The Different Parts?
Safety eyes come in two different parts – the front and the back. This is to keep them connected and theoretically unable to be removed from the outside (keep scrolling for my thoughts on their safety).
The front bit is the actual ball of the eye, the part that’s showing. It’s on a stem that’s ribbed to hold the back on. This goes through the project, so just the ball is seen from the front.
Then, the back piece is a small cone-shape that attaches to the stem. To attach, push the cone, with the wider end at the bottom (the narrow end closer to the ball of the eye).
Push this up the stem until you hear it click a few times, and is flat against the project back you’re working on. Then it’s secured!
When Do You Use The Eyes?
These eyes are great for any project where you’re making animals that need eyes!
The key part of using safety eyes is to put them on while you can still reach the inside of your project. This is because there’s a back piece, that has to be attached.
So if you’ve already closed off your project, then you can’t add safety eyes!
Tip for placement: The easiest way for me to decide where the eyes are going to go is for me to stuff my project, then put the main part of the eyes on. This way I can decide which size to use, and placement.
Then, to make it easier to put the back on, I take out the stuffing carefully, making sure I don’t accidentally remove the eyes. With the stuffing out, put the back on. Then continue on with your project!
Are Safety Eyes Safe?
This question is one I’ve been asking myself often lately. They are called safety eyes because they theoretically shouldn’t be able to come out.
But, they are also really small pieces and a choking hazard.
In the 7 years I’ve been using safety eyes, I’ve never had any come out from my projects just from the front. I can still remove the back with effort, but from the back, not the front.
That being said, I’ve been making toys for a 1 year old and the toys she gets have embroidered eyes. Once she turns 3, I’ll start using safety eyes because I think they look better.
They’re probably about the same safe level as buttons. If they come off, it can be come a choking hazard. If they stay in place, it should be fine.
Alternatives to Safety Eyes
If you either don’t feel comfortable with using safety eyes or just would prefer something else, my top two alternatives are embroidered eyes, made eyes, or buttons.
Embroidered eyes are a great choice for safety concerns, or if you want to do a specific style of eye. These are good to do while the back is still open too to easily hide the ends of the thread.
The main reason I hate embroidered eyes is because I can never get tow to look the same. Especially when I’m so used to having the eyes look exactly right with safety eyes.
So when I say made eyes, I mean using felt or crocheting a circle for the eyes. These will have to be sewn on later. This is great if the project is a bigger one, to make your own eyes and sew them on later.
If it’s a smaller project, these might not be a good idea because they could take up too much space on the face or it’s too difficult to make one that’s small enough for the face of the project!
(The image above does still have safety eyes, but with the circle outline crocheted on. This is what I’m meaning by made eyes)
Buttons have a place in some projects, and can be great for eyes. They’re a great option if you’ve forgotten to add eyes on earlier, or want an older fashioned look.
Of the options, these look the least like eyes, but it also does depend on the type of button. A shank button will give you similar looks to safety eyes!
Hopefully this has answered your questions about safety eyes! They come in large packs, often in various size options, so once you have some, you won’t have to shop for them for a while!