Basic Dress Pattern for 18″ Dolls
This is a great, basic dress pattern that will fit your 18″ American Girl Doll! It is versatile, simply because it can be used to create the look of so many different styles! Use specific colors to create the look of your favorite Disney Princess, use glittery red fabric to make a holiday dress, add ribbon to the hem or embellish it with sequins. It is easy enough for the beginner seamstress or first-time sewer! This pattern includes a long and a short version of the dress.
Advanced Video Instructions
I also created a slightly more advanced version of this basic pattern. This pattern includes video instructions and some advanced sewing skills like pressing seams. The pattern itself is the same, which has just a couple of minor changes.
Find instructions for the striped Neapolitan dress HERE
Updated Access to This Pattern
Hey, friends! After almost 10 years of providing this printable for free to my readers, I’ve had to make the hard decision to move it to my shop page where it can now be purchased individually or as part of a giant printables collection!
Many of you know, my website experienced a huge loss this year as it was down due to a cyber attack for over a month. I’m attempting to rebuild and regain the income my family lost. I would love for you to check out my shop page and let me know what you think!
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Instructions for this dress are included in the pattern as well. The pattern already factors in a 1/4″ seam allowance. I created this pattern to be as simple as possible. Because of this, I skipped fancy back closures or zippers. Simply leave the back open and close with a ribbon or belt! Here are a few of the steps to help you get started.
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Cut 2 top pieces. Position pieces with right sides facing together. Sew all the way around, leaving the bottom open so you can turn it right side out. After turning it right side out, sew under arm areas together, then flip so the seem is now on the inside. This is probably the easiest part.
Once the top is done, gather the bottom so it matches up in width from one side of the top to the other (one side of the back opening to the other). Line bottom up with the top so right sides are facing in and each side of the bottom lines up with the top to create an opening all the way down the back of the dress. Sew together top and bottom, with right sides facing together, and bottom flipped up over the top, so that after you sew it together, you open it up and the seems will be hidden!
Putting it all together
Since this is a very basic pattern, I am trying to provide basic instructions. You may want to check YouTube for beginner sewing lessons if this concept does not make sense. You may also want to go to THIS POST to find a video that give step-by-step instructions for the Neapolitan dress, which is very similar to this pattern.
This is a great pattern for a basic dress for American Girl dolls. I have made a few for my daughters and they have all been very happy with the results.
I really like what i sow on you site in Pinterest the other night. and would like to use the free patterns that you are offering.
I would like to get the doll sewing pattern to sew a matching dress for my baby and her doll
Joan M. Culler
I was trying to print out the pattern for the dress. The first 4 pages out of the printer were printed in full page, full color. They were not part of the pattern and wasted a lot of my expensive ink. Is there some way to print it without wasting all that ink?
Yes, when you print something, you have the option to select which pages to print. Instead of printing all pages, select just the page number you want to print.
Thank you for this pattern. I just made one for my daughter’s Kanani with batik fabric. She asked for a dress, we got Kanani used, and she came with a judo outfit. I modified by seaming the back up to 5″ from the top, and then using a hook and eye closure at the top. I attached the ties when I sewed the sides of the bodice closed. I used a 1/8″ rolled hem for the skirt.
I believe I will be making more of these in the future from different/fancier fabrics.
Where did you sew the back ties in the dress? Were they sewed on the bottom or top? And do you sew them before finishing the edges? Also on the pajama bottom pattern, I am going to make them into pants for the doll. What material would you suggest using?
Thank you in advance!
I used your pattern to make Angel Gowns (burial gowns) for babies who went to heaven by re-purposing wedding gowns. Would love to send you pictures.
What a beautiful, special thing for you to do! I would love to see pictures of the dresses – you can email me at [email protected]
How kind of u to share your AG patterns. My granddaughters r in love with these dolls and their clothes. I am able to make matching big girl outfits too. U r a great gal.
Why are the instructions not included with the pattern?
i like these patterns of 18 inch dolls i m falling in love with those dolls clothes sorry for the english for a french peopal i try
The dress is pretty and I would love to make it, but I have only one question; how much yardage do you need to make this dress?
Hi, I’m trying to make this dress but I don’t know what fabrics to use. Does it matter or does it have to be a specific kind?
No, it will work well with any fabric!
Hello. I love your dress pattern but I have a 27inch doll. Do you have any patterns for a larger doll? I would appreciate your help. Joyce
Hello! Thanks so much 4 the pattern. You mentioned in one of your comments u have some tutorial videos on you tube. Can u please post the adress here, i just couldnt find it. Im a begginer sewing and it woul be really heplfull. Thanks again!
My mom and I are looking for patterns for her to make for my daughter’s doll. Thank you so much for posting these. I wish I could make them with her. We had another idea for fabric: Find a top or outfit on clearance–buy 2 if possible. Then you can use the second one for a matching doll outfit. Thrift store is a great idea. We cannot usually find duplicates, there though. Thanks again for al the free downloads.
This is really a sweet and versatile pattern! Thank you so very much for sharing it for free. I am making AG clothes for our pastor’s granddaughters for Christmas. This will be perfect, as well as a few others on your blog. Many blessings to you for sharing! xx
I have been looking for a dress pattern like this. Thanks so much. Can’t wait to start making it!!
I am so grateful for this post! I was going to go measure the doll and make my own, but this saves so much time and the need to do math hahahah. My only question is – do your patterns include seam allowance? If so, is it 1/4″ or 1/2?
I’m so glad you found us and that this was helpful! Hey, we’re all about saving time and less math lol! Yes, the pattern does already include seam allowance, just cut out the exact size of the pattern and I believe I used a 1/4″ Hope that helps!
Sarah, are you sure about the 1/4″ seam allowance? Any variation would make a big difference in fit, and I have no doll here to try it out on. Thanks!
I just double checked on the same dress. I also added a picture above that shows a ruler! Hope that’s enough reassurance :)
I made this dress with my daughter today. It was her first sewing project and definitely will not be her last! It only took us about 2 hours with a few breaks here and there. Thank you for making such a fun and simple dress! We will be making the PJ’s tomorrow.
Thank you so much for posting this. My daughter has been begging to get clothes for her AG doll, but they are not in my budget. I really appreciate you generously posting these patterns. I will be making this dress today!
I so enjoy making doll clothes for my granddaughters AG dolls (18″ and Bitty Baby). I buy baby and girls clothes at local thrife stores and cut them to make the doll’s clothes! I use the trim, logos and accents. I have a sweater that I needed advice on cutting down for a doll outfit. Thanks for the directions of Sweater Outfit you gave.
I just had a question with the pattern. The pattern for the bottom skirt page 1 has a place where it says center fold. Then to cut 1 on the fold. What does all that mean? Thanks! Jessica
Hey Jessica! That simply means, because you want the skirt nice and full, you fold your material in half and line the side of the pattern that says “center fold” up with the edge of the folded fabric. You cut out 3 sides so you can open it up and the skirt will actually be twice as wide as the page. Does that make sense? Another way to do it would be to print two of those pages out and tape them together so it is twice as long. Now there is no need to fold fabric or cut on the fold, you have one long piece you will be cutting out. Hope this helps!!
Yes, that makes so much more sense!! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to start on the dress. Thank you for such a cute pattern!
Oh my! These patterns are really amazing. These look great. I will surely give these patterns a try. I hope I will get it right.
Thank you for the dress pattern, will give it a whirl. Pixey
thank you so much for sharing this pattern; i am a “seasoned” (old) seamstress with hundreds of patterns collected for all kinds of dolls, but i really enjoyed this one, with no shoulder seams! made turning the bodice right side out so easy!! i’m making the pattern as part of a sew-along on the SGOT American Girl Yahoo group, and it turned out beautifully!! thank you and God bless you!! sande
You’re bringing back sweet memories of when I sewed doll clothes for my own little girl way back when. The basic dress also reminds me of a dress I sewed for myself in home ec class back in the 60’s. Thanks for sharing this great tutorial. I am now selling American Girl doll clothes in my etsy shop and a good basic dress pattern is always appreciated.
This is the link to my shop if you’d like to take a look at my “Basic Dress”:
Wow! So adorable! You really have the talent. It looks great. Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I wish I know how to sew dresses like these. But I guess I could give it a try.
Awesome!! I have been looking for some free patterns for my daughters AG doll and this is great! Thanks so much for posting these!!
Thanks so much. This means more than you can know. I have lots of Barbie patterns, but found out last minute granddaughter is getting the American Girl Doll. Limited budget, already had barbie matching outfit cut out. There is no way I can buy outfits on SS.