American Girl Doll Basic Knit Dress Pattern and Tutorial

Learn how to sew a basic dress for an American Girl doll or other 18″ doll. This free pattern is versatile and easy to follow!

I’m obsessed with making 18″ doll clothes lately. It’s so much fun! If you would like to try making some doll clothes, I have come up with a very simple pattern that is super versatile and great for beginning sewers. Once you master this pattern, you can whip up a variety of outfits for your doll.
A sweater dress:


A comfy nightgown:


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Or a long, flowy maxi dress:
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So many possibilities with just one pattern! Let’s get started!
1. Print out the three pattern pieces. There are three PDF files to download. Click on the three links below, then hit the printer icon at the top of the page. 

2. Choose fabric. I suggest using stretchy knit fabrics with edges that don’t fray. That way you don’t have to roll edges under twice… which makes finishing the neckline and hems so much easier. This is a great project to use old t-shirts that don’t get worn anymore. If you decide to go with a woven fabric, you will need to serge all the raw edges and fold all the hems under twice. And that’s why it’s so much easier to just use knits! 🙂

3. Carefully cut out all your pattern pieces. If you are repurposing an old shirt, try lining up your pattern pieces to take advantage of the already-finished edges.


4. With right sides together, sew the front piece to the two back pieces at the shoulder seams using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

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5. Roll the fabric under about 1/8 inch and finish off the neckline. Be careful not to pull or stretch the fabric or your neckline will pucker.

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6. Roll the bottom edge over and narrow hem. In this photo, I took advantage of the shirt’s pre-finished hem, so I got to skip this step!


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7. With right sides together, match the sleeve center with the shoulder seam. Pin in place. Then match up the edge of the arm hole with the edge of the sleeve and sew, easing the fabric (that means fiddling with it to make the two pieces line up) as you go.

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8. With right sides still together, line up the bottom sleeve edges and sew from the sleeve all the way down to the bottom hem.

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9. Finish the back edge openings, then narrow hem the bottom edge. Add some velcro closures (I like to use a zig zag stitch) and you are done!

I see so many possibilities with this little pattern. Cut it short to make a tunic-style shirt to pair with leggings. Add a ruffle to the bottom hem. Use two fabrics for a color blocked look. Add a tuxedo bib detail. Use it as the bodice for a dress and add a gathered skirt. Or turn it around and make a cardigan with little faux buttons over the velcro. Fun, fun, fun!


Pin it so you don’t forget it.

Looking for more doll clothes ideas?


  1. Used your pattern an it is great. I used it to make a shirt for my daughter's doll. I didn't see where it said what seam allowances you used, so for most of it, I used the edge of my presser foot (about 1/4 inch). I will definitely be making more.

  2. I am delighted to find your pattern. I can understand your obsession. My youngest granddaughter (and I) are discovering the 18 inch dolls and she is having a doll party for her 7th birthday. My daughter realized all the girls invited would not have a dolll so we have collected Our Generation dolls from Target for the last couple of months. I am making gift bags for all of the girls with some necessities in it like a night gown (Hence the delight in your pattern!), sleeping bag, purse, wallet, totebag, money, checkbook, etc. I am also passing along the links to make all these and several clothing and furniture links to the Moms.

  3. Almost finished a knee length version. To finish the neck and sleeves, I cut a 1" strip of similar fabric and ironed it in half. I then attached it to the neckline with a 1/4" seam after sewing the shoulder seams and to the sleeve hems before sewing any of their other seams. Now I have a dress very similar to the one I am giving my daughter. Thanks so much for this great and versatile (and quick) pattern.

  4. We have a sparkly knit nightshirt (kinda looks like twinkling stars in the night sky), that both of my daughters used for about two years. I was sad at the thought of donating it to the thrift store, since it holds so many good memories for us, and no one would love it as much as we have. Your pattern is so perfect for turning it into doll dresses for my girls 18" dolls. Thank you so, so much for making this pattern available for free. God bless you!

    • I still have the very first crochet barbie dress i ever made when i was 23 pregnant with first(boy) and i couldnt make sleeves. so why not keep that one item


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