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Free Knitting and Crochet Patterns from Elaine Phillips

American Girl Doll Vintage Empire Waist Dress

Difficulty level: *** Intermediate

Free Doll Dress Knitting Pattern

This dress for the American Girl Doll was inspired by fashions from the 60s. The dress features an Empire waist and bell sleeves. The front is decorated with the jabot.

You will find the pattern for the matching beret here.

Skills Required/Techniques Used:
-Knit & purl, cast on & bind off
-Increasing: yarn over (YO), knit front and back (kfr&b), make 1 (m1)
-Decreasing: knit 2 together (k2tog), slip-slip-knit (ssk)
-Working in the round on double pointed needles
-Picking up stitches
-Basic crocheting

Materials: Knit Picks (affiliate link) Palette fingering weight 100% wool yarn 231 yds (210 m)/ 50 g, main color (A): Mist 1 ball, contrast color (B) either Tomato or Blush - small amount.

Needles: US #1 (2.25 mm) circular needle and double pointed needles OR SIZE NEEDED TO OBTAIN GAUGE.

Gauge: 28 st x 40 rows = 4" x 4" (10 x 10 cm) in stockinette stitch.

- 4 stitch markers
- Stitch holders or 2 pieces 10” long of contrasting color waste yarn to hold stitches
- Yarn needle
- 4-5 sew-on snaps size 2/0 or 3/0
- Sewing needle and thread of color matching the yarn for attaching the snaps
- Small buttons the color of the contrast yarn
- Crochet hook 2.5mm

dpn – double pointed needles
K – knit
P – purl
St, sts – stitch, stitches
pu&k - pick up and knit
as est. - as established, work as the pattern demands,
co – cast on
RS – right side
WS – wrong side
kfr&b - knit front and back
m 1 - make 1 increase - I used the increase described by Elizabeth Zimmerman: make a backward loop over the right-hand needle and in the next row/round purl/knit it as a regular stitch.
bb – button band
pm - place marker
sm - slip marker
ch - chain
sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet

Pattern Notes:

Stockinette in rows:
Row 1 (RS): knit
Row 2: purl
Repeat 2 rows.

Stockinette in rounds: All rounds knit.

Garter stitch in rows: all rows knit.

Garter stitch in rounds: knit the first round, purl the next round. Repeat 2 rounds.

Raglan increases: in every right side (RS) row, work till 1 st remains before the marker, yo, k1, slip marker (sm), k1, yo. There are 4 raglan lines, repeat on each raglan line, thus the number of sts in each RS row will increase by 8.

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

Button Bands (bb) are worked in garter stitch on 3 stitches in the beginning and in the end of each row.


Dress is worked top-down, seamlessly, with raglan sleeves. First the dress is worked back-and-forth with the opening on the back to the hip line, then worked in rounds. The dress has an empire waist, the front of the dress is decorated with crocheted jabot. The bell sleeves are worked in the round on dpn. Button bands (bb) are worked together with the body of the dress, in garter stitch - all rows knit.

With yarn B cast on 60 sts and work 2 rows in garter st: both rows knit.

Change to yarn A, check the stitches and place the markers:

1 edge st - 3 right bb sts - 6 right back sts - 2 raglan sts (place the first marker between these 2 sts) - 10 right sleeve sts - 2 raglan sts (place the second marker between these 2 sts) - 12 front sts - 2 raglan sts (place the third marker between these 2 sts)- 10 left sleeve sts - 2 raglan sts (place the forth marker between these 2 sts)- 6 left back sts - - 3 left bb sts - 1 edge st.

Row 3 (RS and all RS , increase, rows): *knit till one st remains before the marker, yo, k1, sm, k1, yo - repeat 4 times, knit till the last st, p1. (+ 8 sts)

Row 4 (WS and all WS rows): k4, purl till last 4 sts, k3, p1.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 nine more times.

After row 3 the number of sts = 68

After row 5 = 76

After row 7 = 84

After row 9 = 92

After row 11 = 100

After row 13 = 108

After row 15 = 116

After row 17 = 124

After row 19 = 132

After row 21 = 140

Divide for sleeves and bodice:

Row 23 (RS): k21, transfer 32 sts to a piece of waste yarn, co 5 , k34, transfer 32 sts to another piece of waste yarn, co 5, k20, p1. = 86 sts

Row 24 (WS): k4, p78, k3, p1.

Row 25: k85, p1.

Row 26 like row 24.

Row 27 (RS, increase row): k4, *m1, k2 - repeat 26 times, m1, k3, p1. = 126 sts

Row 28 (WS): k4, p118, k3, p1.

Row 29 (RS): k125, p1

Repeat rows 28-29 twelve more times (rows 30-53). Repeat row 28 one more time (row 54).

After row 54, transfer the 4 sts of the left button band to a dpn. With RS facing, overlap the button bands and knit 4 sts of the right and left button bands together:

Place the spare needle with 4 sts over the 4 sts of the right bb, hold them together in the left hand. Insert the right needle in the first stitch on the spare needle, then in the first stitch on the left needle. Knit the stitches together. Repeat for the remaining 3 pairs of sts. Place a marker between the second and the third sts to mark the beginning of the round. (= 122 sts)

Work 20 rounds in stockinette: all rounds knit. If you want a longer dress, work more rounds.

Change to contrast, B, yarn and work 4 more rounds in garter stitch:
round 21: knit, round: 22 purl, round 23: knit, round 24: purl. Bind off.


Transfer 32 sts from waste yarn to dpn, distribute evenly.

Round 1: starting with the middle (it's 3rd) underarm st, pu&k 3 sts, k32, pu&k 2 sts. (= 37 sts)

Round 2: knit 37 sts in-the-round.

Repeat round 2 twelve more times.

Round 15: *k2, kfr&b - repeat from * 12 times, k1. (= 49 sts)

Rounds 16-29 knit around.

Change to contrast, B, yarn and work 4 more rounds in garter stitch:
round 30: knit, round: 31 purl, round 32: knit, round 33: purl. Bind off.


With color A yarn, co 4 sts and work in garter stitch a strip about 1" long.

With color B yarn and crochet hook, make a row of sc in each st around 3 sides of the strip: start in the upper corner , work along the first long side, then along the short side, then along another long side. Turn.

Row 2: ch3 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc in the same sc, 3 dc in each sc across. Turn.

Row 3: 1 dc in each dc across. Tie off.

If you cannot crochet, using dpn, pu&k stitches along 3 sides of the strip. In row 2 make 3 sts out of each one stitch: knit front - back- front each st. In row 3, knit across, bind off. Knitted ruffle looks and feels heavier than crocheted one.


Weave in all yarn ends. Block the dress and jabot.

Sew on 4-5 snaps on the button bands.

Sew 3 small buttons on jabot. Sew jabot to the dress front.

With color B yarn, chain 2 strings about 10" long. Insert the strings into small holes of the increasing row on the sleeves. Put the dress on the doll, tie the strings. If you do not crochet, take 2 pieces of yarn about 10-12" long, tie together on one end. Twist the pieces, insert the end without knot into yarn needle, thread through the small holes of the increasing row on the sleeves.

Have fun!

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There are 1 total comments on this article.

Leave a comment about the article.
Poster: Rachel Small
April 17, 2019

Thank you so much for this cute pattern. I was looking for something new to knit and you just gave it to me.

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