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Free Knitting and Crochet Patterns from Elaine Phillips

American Girl Doll Empire Waist Lace Dress

Difficulty level: *** Intermediate

Free Doll Dress Knitting Pattern

Your doll will love this dress! The skirt is knitted using a lace motif that leaves a pretty scalloped edge along the bottom. The lace motif is pretty simple and should be easy even for a less experienced knitter.

The dress is knitted from the bottom up, with seams in the rear and along the shoulders. It features a back closure.

The high empire-style waist leaves you with many options. The full-length dress you see in the picture is made with 6 repeats of the lace pattern. Try knitting 4 or 3 for a more casual summer-length dress. 2 or 3 for a "Tinkerbell" look.

Skills Required/Techniques Used:
-Knit & purl, cast on & bind off
-Increasing, decreasing

Materials: Tencel Wool by Cleckheaton (affiliate link) 70% Tencel 30% Wool DK weight yarn 91 m (100 yds) / 50 g - 2 balls.

Needles: 7 (4.5 mm) and circular 5 (3.75 mm) OR SIZE NEEDED TO OBTAIN GAUGE.

Notions: yarn needle, 3 sew-on metal or plastic snaps, 3 decorative buttons (optional), a 30" long piece of 1/4" wide satin ribbon, any small embellishments, like beads or satin flowers (optional), sewing needle, sewing thread the color matching the color of the yarn.

Gauge: One lace pattern repeat (10 sts) is 2.25" (6 cm) on size #7 (4.5 mm) needles.
20 st x 24 rows = 4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) in stockinette stitch on size #5 (3.75 mm) needles.

k - knit
p - purl
ssk - slip, slip, knit
k2tog - knit 2 together
cdd - center double decrease: 1) slip 2 sts on the right needle knitwise, 2) knit the next st, 3) insert the left needle in the slipped 2 sts and pass them over the just knitted st. = 2 sts decrease
RS - right side
WS - wrong side

Pattern Notes:

Stockinette Stitch:
Row 1 (RS): knit
Row 2 (WS): purl
Repeat 2 rows

Bluebell Lace Pattern:

Multiple of 10 sts . Foundation row (WS) - purl.
Row 1 (RS): yo, k3, cdd, k3, yo, k1
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8 (WS): purl
Row 3 (RS): k1, yo, k2, cdd, k2, yo, k2
Row 5 (RS): k2, yo, k1, cdd, k1, yo, k3
Row 7 (RS): k3, yo, cdd, yo, k4
Repeat rows 1-8

The selvedge/edge stitches are worked as follows: slip the first stitch knitwise and purl the last one.


The dress is worked from the bottom up back and forth with the opening on the back, as one piece up to the armholes. Then the front and the backs are worked separately. The dress has back and shoulder seams.

Using bigger needles, cast on 93 sts. Work the foundation row (WS): purl.

Row 1 (RS): sl 1, k1, *yo, k3, cdd, k3, yo, k1 - repeat from * 9 times, p1. (=93 sts)

Rows 2, 4, 6, 8 (WS): purl

Row 3 (RS): sl 1, k1, *k1, yo, k2, cdd, k2, yo, k2 - repeat from * 9 times, p1.

Row 5 (RS): sl 1, k1, *k2, yo, k1, cdd, k1, yo, k3 - repeat from * 9 times, p1.

Row 7 (RS); sl 1, k1, *k3, yo, cdd, yo, k4 - repeat from * 9 times, p1.

Repeat rows 1-8 five more times.

Row 49 (RS): sl 1, k91, p1. Transfer all the stitches to the smaller circular needles and block the skirt.

Continue on smaller needles.

Row 50 (WS): sl 1, p 92.

Row 51 (RS, decrease row): Sl 1, *k1, k2tog repeat from * 30 times, k1, p1. (=63 sts)

Row 52 (WS): sl 1, p62.

Row 53 (RS): sl 1, k61, p1.

Row 54 (WS): sl 1, p62.

Row 55 (RS, eyelet row): Sl, k1, *yo, k2tog- repeat from * 29 times, yo, k1, p1.

Row 56 (WS): sl 1, p62.

Divide all the stitches on the needles as follows: 17 sts for the right back, 29 sts for the front, 17 sts for the left back. Continue to work the front and the left and the right backs separately, either from 3 balls of yarn or one by one.

Left Back

Row 57 (RS): sl 1, k15, p1. (=17 sts)

Row 58 (WS): sl 1, p16.

Repeat row 57-58 six more times.

Row 71 (RS, shaping neckline): bind off 7 sts for the neckline (one stitch remains on the right needle), k8, p1.(=10 sts)

Row 72 (WS): sl 1, p9.

Row 73 (RS): SL 1, k7, p1.

Repeat rows 72-73 one more time.

Row 76 (WS): Repeat row 72.

Bind off. Cut Yarn.


With right side facing, attach yarn, and work the front:

Row 57 (RS): Sl, k27, p1. (= 29 sts)

Row 58 (WS): Sl 1, p28.

Repeat rows 57 - 58 four more times.

Row 67 (RS, shaping neckline): Sl 1, k9, bind off 9 sts, k9, p1. (= 10 sts and 10 sts). Continue to work the shoulders from 2 balls of yarn.

Row 68 (WS): Sl 1, p9. (twice)

Row 69 (RS): Sl 1, k8, p1. (twice)

Repeat rows 68 - 69 three more times.

Row 76: Repeat row 68.

Bind off sts of both shoulders, cut yarn.

Right Back

Row 57 (RS): sl 1, k15, p1. (=17 sts)

Row 58 (WS): sl 1, p16.

Repeat row 57-58 six more times.

Row 71 (RS): repeat rows 57.

Row 72 (WS, shaping neckline): bind off 7 sts for the neckline (one stitch remains on the right needle), p9. (=10 sts)

Row 73 (RS): Sl 1, k8, p1.

Row 74 (WS): Sl 1, p9.

Repeat rows 73-74 one more time.

BInd off.


Join shoulder seams.

Join the back seam of the dress from hem up to hipline, leaving 15 cm (6") open at the top. Weave in all yarn ends.

Thread a length of ribbon in the eyelets at the waistline.

Sew on 3 snaps on the bodice backs. Sew decorative buttons on the edge of the right back over the snaps (optional).

Sew any additional embellishments (optional).


Pattern was updated on September 5, 2018.

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There are 40 total comments on this article.

Leave a comment about the article.
Poster: Dian Freymiller
June 8, 2014

Linda Shephard did you have extra stitches after the pattern was done for each row?? I have had extra stitches on the 4th, 5th and 6th rows.
Poster: Nicole
September 15, 2014

Does it fit a 18" doll.
Poster: Lisa Savage
June 15, 2015

I am having the same problem, ended up with 4 extra stitches on the 4th row!!! Did you ever figure it out??? Please help!
Poster: Marie
September 21, 2014

Kerri, Re the American Girl Doll Empire Waist Lace dress, I just completed the skirt part and am at the point of dividing the stitches for the left and right backs, plus the front. I'm confused -- it says work each section individually and then finish up by joining the back seam. How about the side seams of the bodice? Are they left open? Hope you can help me. Thanks in advance. Marie
Poster: Elaine Phillips
July 1, 2014

Any DK weight yarn.
Poster: Elaine Phillips
December 1, 2012

Any DK weight yarn.
Poster: Kristi
January 18, 2014

Here is a good link on how to block
Basically, you are telling the stitches where to stay put. There will be a gap of time between when you knit the skirt and when you finish the top portion.
During that time, you will basically wash the skirt and then pin it to a foam board to dry in the rectangular position shown in the images below.
Once dry, you then start knitting again. what you see at the top of the image (black string) is the circular needle left in the work to hold the stitches until the work is dry.
Poster: Jeanie
September 15, 2013

I just finished the dress and have the same question! I'm new to knitting and don't really know how to plan a buttonhole. Can you let me know if you found a solution? I'm making three of them for my granddaughters.
Poster: Kristi
January 18, 2014

The easiest way to make a buttonhole is to do a yarn over.
On this pattern, I would work all stitches until you only have 3 left, at that point, I would to a yarn over and then continue knitting the remaining 3 stitches.
Once you turn the work, you will purl 3 and then purl 2 together (you will purl the yarn over and the original stitch together) this will get you back to the original number of stitches you had.
It is up to you to decide how many buttonholes you want.
Poster: Joanne
October 7, 2013

Dear Jeanie,
I made small crochet chains and sewed them on the dress as loops. It worked but I should have asked someone who crochets to do it for me. Hope you've found something that works.
View All Comments (40)

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