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Thursday, November 10, 2011

DIY American Girl knot dress tutorial

Nellie (our American Girl) was in need of some new dresses, specifically Christmas dresses according to Peighton.

Peighton already had some new knot dresses for this Christams so I decided to make Miss Nellie a few to match!

I took pictures along the way and made a quick tutorial so anybody can whip up a few for the girls in their life.

Here's how I did it:


Scraps of coordinating fabrics
(I was able to use leftovers from making Peighton's knot dress)

1. Start by cutting all the pieces. All the pieces are rectangles which makes it super easy.

Top: 7 1/2" x 3". Cut 2 of the main fabric and 2 of the lining.
Straps: 11" x 1 1/2". Cut 4.
Middle section: 14" x 6". Cut 2
Bottom section: 14" x 4". Cut 2.

2. Take all 4 pieces of the "top" and fold them in half with the short sides together.
Make a mark 1" down the side and 1" in from the right side. (I used my disappearing marker for this step and you can kind of see it in the picture.)

Cut a semi circle connecting the two lines like this:

You could also trace a cup or other circular object but it's really not hard to just eyeball it.

When you open them up you should have 2 linings and 2 main pieces that look like my picture above.

3. Put all pieces right sides together.
Sew the straps on the 2 long sides and 1 short side. Leave one short end open for turning.
Sew only the short sides of the top together. Repeat for the lining.
Sew the short sides of the middle section and the bottom section together.
*I used my serger to finish all the seams but you could also use a zigzag stitch or pinking shears to stop the edges from fraying.*

Turn both straps right sides out with a turning tool.
Press with an iron and topstitch.

4. Turn the middle section right side out.
Match the seams of the bottom section to the seams of the middle section.
Pin and then stitch all the way around.

5. Press the seam up towards the top and then topstitch.
Press the bottom of the dress up 1/4" all the way around then then press it up another 1/4" to make the hem.
Stitch the hem.

6. Turn the main top piece right side out.
Place the lining over that piece so the right sides are together. (See picture below)
Next insert the straps in between 2 of the layers.
Place them about 1 inch in from each side.
Pin, matching side seams and sew all the way around the top.
(I like to clip the armholes just a bit so they lay flat when turned right sides out.)
Turn right sides out, poke corners out and press.

Once it is turned right sides out and pressed, topstitch all the way around.

7. Take the skirt part and make a gathering stitch around the top.
Lay it next to the top section and try to make them about the same width.
Match side seams and pin together.
Then sew all the way around.
Finish seam with serger/zigzag/pinking shears.

8. Make button holes in the top section.
I make mine about a 1/2" down from the top and 1/4" in from the sides. It doesn't have to be exact.

Press the whole dress and try it on!

Please forgive Nellie in the following pictures for wearing her tap outfit under her new knot dress....she was rudely pulled out of "Tap class" for modeling purposes.


  1. Fabulous! It's such fun to make things for American girls!

  2. I'm making this today for my daughters dolls as part of her bday cute and thanks for the tutorial!

    I was just wondering what pattern you used to make the dress for your daughter? I'd love to make my daughter a matching one as well! :)

    1. How cute! I love making my kids birthday gifts!
      I used this one:

      Good luck!

  3. Love this dress. I'm making it to match a birthday dress for a 10 year old. Just wondering - what seam allowance did you use for this? I may be overlooking it but I didn't see it listed.

  4. Thanks so much!
    I use a standard 5/8" seam allowance.
    Happy sewing!