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Free Knot Dress Pattern and tutorial (girls, size 2 to 10)

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Free Knot Dress Pattern: Learn How to sew a Knot Dress with this free printable dress pattern.

A Knot Dress is a super simple dress to sew and is perfect for beginners. The dress is made with quilting cotton and there are no zippers or buttons!  The best part is, you can mix and match your fabrics to look just like a Wildflower or Matilda Jane Knot Dress. (What little girl does not love a fun, brightly patterned dress?  Plus, you get to say, I made that dress! )

Be sure to download your free copy today!

free knot dress pattern

Good News!  This Free Knot Dress Pattern/tutorial Now Goes up to a Girl’s Size 10!

I have a sweet new pattern to share with you today!  Actually, if you’ve been following along for a while, you can probably tell the pattern is not quite “brand new” as my sweet little miss (featured in these photos) is now in middle school.

The original knot dress pattern was just a hand-drawn bodice that went to size 6.  With Valentines Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to update this pattern to a digitized format and add a couple of sizes. 

I didn’t bother going up higher than a size 10 due to older girls not really wearing this style of dress anymore. (You could easily take the pattern up one more size by adding 1/4 inch to the bodice pattern piece width, 1 inch to the strap and .5 to the skirt and contrasting band pattern pieces width, and 1 inch to the skirt length. Any larger than that, you will need to grade the pattern to the size you need.)

free knot dress pattern

Valentine’s Day Themed Photo Shoot

I love holiday-themed dresses and I wanted to make a special dress for a cupcake/Valentine’s day photo shoot I had planned for the kids.

free girls dress pattern

I wanted my missy’s dress to be Valentine-ish, but not “scream” Valentine’s Day.  That way, she could wear the knot dress anytime.

I came across these pink and brown fabrics at Joann’s that seemed perfect for the occasion. I thought the sweet birdie print fabric apron tied in nicely and helped the outfit not be over-the-top Valentine’s Day.

Isn’t his bow tie cute? You can find the tutorial for the bow tie here: boy’s bow tie  He definitely got a kick out of wearing it.

valentines day photoshoot

Do you remember my ruffle dress/top tutorial from a few years back?  (Odds are, you probably don’t. That sweet little dress didn’t get much love- It was so cute and even included 2 pattern sizes…)  Anyway, I digress…  I used that pattern, with just a couple of tweaks, to make the pattern for this adorable knot dress for Valentine’s day. 

Knot Dress Details

A knot dress is a fairly easy dress to sew.  It’s almost all straight seams and has no zippers, elastic or button closures. (Although you will make a buttonhole for the straps.)

  • Sizes available – Girl’s, 2 thru 10
  • Skill Level – Beginner
  • Time Needed – about 4 hours

I was doing all sorts of “mom stuff” and photographing the tutorial process when sewing this dress and, I still finished it in about 3/4 of a day!  (A contrasting band instead of a ruffle is an incredible time-saver, lol.) 

The construction of this dress is very similar to my halter dress as well and is very simple.  (That halter dress is another one that is great for beginners) 

The printable pdf dress pattern is available in sizes 2 to 10. This knot dress is designed to be roomy and has about 4 inches of ease around the chest area.  This added ease allows the dress to slide over your child’s head, shoulders and hips without too much struggle. 

If you desire a tighter fit, you may want to size down, or add a piece of elastic in the back- you can get an idea of how to do that in my halter dress tutorial. (You can always create a quick test muslin with just a front piece and back piece out of scrap fabric to test your fit.)

Knot Dress Variations

This is a great basic pattern that you can easily change up to make it your own.  Here are a few ideas to make your own customized knot dress:

  • Add a ruffle to the bottom instead of a contrasting band (like this pillowcase dress)
  • Add buttons to the straps instead of the knots
  • Attach the straps to the front bodice instead of the back and add a single buttonhole to the back bodice so you can have a bow-back top.  (You might have to increase the length of the straps to get a bow.)
  • Use multiple fabrics in the skirt (like I did here)
  • Add a tiered skirt (similar to this tutorial)
  • Add pockets, a bow in the front, the list goes on!
Free knot dress sewing pattern for girls

PDF Knot Dress Pattern Details

When it comes to printing this pattern, I have included a couple of options for you.

Paper Saving Printing Option:

This knot dress pattern is a bodice pattern piece and a bunch of rectangles.  If you want to save paper and ink (and are comfortable using a ruler to draw out shapes,) I have provided cut charts for the skirt, contrasting bands, apron, and straps. 

All you need to do is select the size you want to print from the layers tab and print pages 1 to 3.  Then cut your pattern pieces according to the charts.

Please note, the cut charts do not instruct you to cut the pattern pieces on the fold, but the printable pattern pieces are designed to be cut out on the fold.

Free girls dress pattern

How to Print Only One Pattern Size:

FYI, there’s a new printing option for you!  You can now print only the size needed.  (This pattern only, I’m slowly going back and updating the older patterns.) This function is super handy and makes it much less confusing when cutting the pattern, plus I love that it enables me to print in black and white.  (Color ink can be pricey!)

In the free adobe reader program, click the stacked paper icon and the program will show you the clickable layers.  Just toggle the layers you want off/and on.  (always leave the pattern marking layer on.)

free knot dress pattern for girls

Choose Auto/landscape portrait and actual size and print. (My free patterns are only guaranteed to work and print properly in adobe acrobat reader program, FYI.) You have to watch what pdf reader program you are using, many browsers use their own pdf reader as default.

How to Make a Fabric Saving, Less-Full Skirt

Sometimes fabric can be pricy or if you’re like me, have tons of fabrics in just 1-yard cuts. To save on fabric, I will sometimes do a one fabric piece, fabric-saving-less-full skirt.  What I mean by this is I ignore the fabric widths on a pattern and just make my skirt the full width of the fabric. (Most quilting cottons are 40 to 42 inches wide.) 

This method works fine up to a size 6 on this pattern, (and is what I did for the photos in this tutorial.)

Please note: Sizes larger than 6 will need a skirt wider than 42 inches.

Free knot Dress pattern: How to make a Matilda Jane Knot Dress

Knot Dress Pattern Fit Chart

knot dress pattern fit chart

Knot Dress Fabric Requirements:

Fabric required for up to a size 10:

  • Bodice: 1/2 yard
  • Skirt: 1 1/4 yard
  • Contrasting band: 1/4 yard
  • Apron: 1/2 yard
  • Straps: The straps are 3 inches wide on all sizes. If your fabric does not have a one-way direction, you only need 1/4 yard. If your fabric has a definite up/down, you will need 1/2 yard.

Materials Needed to Sew the Knot Dress:

  • Pattern (When printing, be sure to download the pattern to your pc, open in adobe reader choose auto/landscape and print at actual size.)
  • Fabric
  • Scissors, ruler, fabric pen, thread, iron, and other basic sewing supplies
  1. My favorite shops for fabric are Fabric.com, girl charlie, Etsy and Bluprint.  (My fave for knits is Funkalicious Fabrics.)
  2. My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist 600-Stitch Machine with Extension Table, Bonus Accessories and Hard Cover
  3. My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger
  4. Pinking Shears
  5. Rotary Cutter
  6. I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start off with a smaller Cutting set
  7. Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen
  8. Fray Check
  9. Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!

How Do I Get the Free Knot Dress Pattern?

To receive the free pattern, visit the pattern page in my shop HERE. <<== click that link

Add the pattern to your cart and navigate through the checkout process. (Don’t worry, this pattern is free, no payment info is asked for.) After the check out process is complete you will see a button prompting you to download the pattern. You will also find the link directing you to the page where the pattern sewing instructions are stored.

As long as you entered your email correctly, you will also receive an email with a link that downloads the pattern and directs you to the sewing instructions.

Knot Dress Sewing Instructions

Seam allowances are included and are 1/4 inch unless otherwise stated.

Step 1:  Printing pattern and cutting out pattern pieces.

Download pattern to your pc, open with Adobe Acrobat Reader (not the pdf reader in chrome.) Select your pattern size, choose auto landscape/portrait, scaling at 100% or actual size and print.

I recommend first printing page 2 only and checking that the one-inch square printed at one inch.  Once you have confirmed your printer settings you can print the entire pattern.

Don’t forget, this pattern has a paper-saving option. You can print just pages 1 to 3 and draw out the rectangular pattern pieces from the included cut charts.

Assemble the pattern according to the image above, lining up the outer edges of the gray boxes and the colored, lettered circles.  Tape together and then cut the pattern out.

Step 2: Cut out the Fabric Pieces

Transfer pattern markings and cut out pattern pieces.  You will have:

  • 4 bodice pieces (front and back and lining front and back)
  • 2 skirt pieces 
  • 2 contrasting band pieces
  • 2 strap pieces
  • 1 apron piece

Tip: If you are low on fabric, don’t forget about the fabric saving skirt option I shared on the Knot Dress Pattern Info/tips page.

Step 3: Assembling the Bodice.

Line up the 2 main bodice pieces right sides together and the 2 bodice linings right sides together.  Sew along the sides using a 1/4 inch seam allowance and press the seams open.

Fold the straps in half, longways, right sides together and sew along the long side and one of the short sides.  Flip the straps right side out and press flat.  Do both straps.

Slip the bodice lining (my lining is the brown fabric) over the bodice, right sides facing each other.  Line them up and pin in place.  Flip the bodice around so the backside is facing up.

Pull the bodice back piece and back lining piece apart and slide one of the straps in between the layers.  The raw (un-sewn) side of the strap will go in first and line up with the raw edges of the top of the bodice, as shown below.

Line the strap up with the pattern markings (about 1/2 inch from the edge) and pin in place. Repeat for the 2nd strap.

Sew along the top edge of the bodice 1/4 inch from the edge, all the way around, front and back.

Snip the corner piece and cut little v’s into the curves of the arm, be careful not to snip into the seam.

Flip the bodice right side out and press the edges flat with your iron.

Topstitch around the entire top edge of the bodice, front and back.

Pull the bodice and bodice lining apart and press the edge of the lining up and to the inside 1/4 inch.

Step 4: Adding the Buttonholes

Buttonholes:  

Create a 3/4 inch buttonhole according to your machine’s directions on the buttonhole pattern marking. (All machines are different – so be sure to practice your buttonholes first!)  (The buttonhole placement is about 5/8 inch from the top and 3/4 from the edge and 3/4 inch long.

Repeat on the other side for a 2nd buttonhole.  

Use your seam ripper to open the buttonhole.  (Take care not to seam rip past the top of the buttonhole.)

Step 5:  Assembling the skirt and apron.

Skirt:

Right sides together, sew the 2 skirt pieces together so you have one skirt piece.  Do the same for the contrasting band. Press the seams flat.

Wrong sides together, fold the contrasting band in half longways and press. 

Lay the skirt fabric out right side facing up and line up the raw edge of the contrasting band with the bottom of the skirt.  

Sew along the edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance and finish this edge with a serger, pinking shears or a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.

Press the seam of the contrasting band and skirt up. (for topstitching later)

Fold the skirt panel in half right sides together.  Sew the skirt sides together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

Finish the side seam(s) with your serger, sewing machine or pinking shears.

Turn the skirt right sides out and topstitch around the contrasting panel.  The top stitch should catch the finished seam you pressed up.

Apron:  

Fold both side edges over 1/4 inch and press, then another 1/4 inch and press again.  Sew along the edge.

Repeat the folding, pressing and sewing on the bottom edge of the apron.

Step 6:  Gathering and putting the skirt, apron, and bodice together.

To gather the apron, change your sewing machine setting to the longest stitch length and sew a straight stitch across the top of the apron, 1/4 inch from the top edge.  

Pull on the top thread and slide the fabric down the thread to gather the top of the apron.  Keep pulling and gathering until the apron is about 6 to 8 inches wide.  (My size 6, is gathered to 8 inches, you might want to go up/down about 1/2 inch per size.)  Spread your gathers as evenly as possible.

Follow the same instructions to gather the top of the skirt.  Keep gathering the skirt until it is the same width as the bottom of the bodice.

Fold the bodice in half to find the front center.  Mark this spot with a pin or your fabric marker.  Fold the apron in half and find the center mark as well and mark it.

Place the apron and bodice right sides together and line up the center marks and raw edges.  Use a few pins to hold the apron in place.

To attach the skirt, line up the skirt seam(s) (center or sides) and raw edges with the right sides of the bodice and skirt together.

Start pinning the skirt to the bodice, sandwiching the apron in between.

Once you have pinned about half the skirt, you can flip the skirt and bodice around so the bodice is inside the skirt to make the pinning easier.

After you have pinned the skirt all the way around, be sure to go back and remove the pins you used to hold the apron in place. 

Sew right along the gathered seam.

Remove all the pins and flip your dress inside out.  The bodice lining you folded and ironed earlier will hide the gathered seam.

You have two options to secure the bodice lining in place, you can do a simple fell stitch or whip stitch by hand.

Or you can do what I do:  Flip the dress right side out and with one hand inside the dress and the other hand outside the dress, I pin from the outside and use the other hand to make sure the pins are holding the lining in the right place. 

Then topstitch around the bodice from the outside.  This will usually catch all of the lining and sew it in place.  If you miss anything, you can go back and hand stitch any missed spots.

This method works well. You can see, the only thing I missed was the folded edge in this small area. 

Flip the dress right side out and admire your work…  Adorable!!

Pin the Knot Dress For Later:

Knot dress tutorial with free pattern

Now go take some pictures and come back to share.  You can share an image to my Facebook group here or tag me on Instagram using the #scatteredmompatterns.

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36 Comments

  1. Debbie Dominguez says:

    I recently made this dress in a size 2 for my youngest granddaughter. It was fun to make and she loved the dress but because she is a petite little thing it turned into a maxi-dress! Love the pattern though and my 3 other granddaughters have requested their own!!

  2. Thanks for the tutorial! I followed it to make the first dress I have ever made and it turned out great. I made it for my 18 month old daughter. She loves it too!

  3. Awesome! Thank you so much! It worked great. I will see if I can figure out how to attach a pic of my daughter in hers. I am very much a beginner at sewing and your instructions were fantastic!

    1. I'm glad you were able to get it done! did you end up having enough fabric? I would love for you to share a picture on my facebook page!
      ~Jamie

  4. I am soooooo stinking excited I found your tutorial! I have successfully made my girls their Easter dresses for this year. For someone who has taught themself to sew on her passed mom's 50 yr old machine, reading the antique instructions, your tutorial was super and so helpful. Not sure how to send you a photo, but I have one of the coordinating ones I made for them. Thanks again!

  5. I received this email earlier today and thought I would add it to the comments in case anyone else has similar questions. (It sounds like she bought a knot dress pattern and it turned out larger than she wanted it to be. FYI, Knot dresses are usually very wide- if it is too narrow, you won't be able to get it over your childs head and shoulders:

    "i have read over your tutorial and I'm not sure I'm doing it correctly do u sew two fronts and two backs together and also my finished product was suppose to be a size 2 according to the pattern I purchased and it is so wide and big around arms it fit my 6 yr old? Any tips on what I could be missing thank you so so much:)"

    1. Yes, you sew a bodice front to a bodice back – and a bodice lining front to a bodice lining back. (then put them together.) It is a very wide bodice top since it doesn't stretch needs to fit over a child's shoulders and hip and is designed to fit over an undershirt.

      The finished bodice width should be around 11 3/4 inches. (the actual measurement of the size 2 paper pattern is around 6 1/4 to 6 3/8 on the bottom – depending how you cut it.) Let me know if yours is much wider than this. It may be a printing/printer issue and it might be necessary for me to go back to the tutorial and add measurements to the pattern.

      I just put together a size 2 bodice front and back and my 6 year old definitely could not get it over her hips.

      What I have done in the past to tighten up a too loose bodice is to add a piece of elastic to the back of the dress/top.

      To do this: Create a casing in between the back bodice top and lining. Insert a piece of elastic, (maybe around 10 inches long – you will trim it down once you have customized the fit.) sew the elastic down on one end. Have your little one try on the dress, tighten the elastic and secure with a safety pin. Then sew the other end of elastic down and remove the pin. (Very much the same way I created the casing in this tutorial: (skip to step 4) .

  6. Love this!!! Made this dress for my granddaughter, it turned out so cute! I made the dress in the size 6, and it ended up being way big, So I added side ties so its adjustable! Thank you for your wonderful tutorials

    1. I do tend to make my stuff on the large size(and long). On this dress I was worried she would not be able to pull it over her head, plus I want a few years wear out off anything I make. If an item is lined, you could always add a small elastic casing in the back bodice and if it is single layered, try adding a few rows of shirring.

      I appreciate the feedback, I will mention to the readers that they should compare the pattern to something they already own before sewing.
      ~Jamie

  7. beautiful pictures! love the coloring.
    thanks for the (very clear) tutorial!

  8. That came out super cute! I LOVE the birdcage fabric you used for the apron.

  9. That is such a cute dress. I have all kinds of anxiety over putting two prints together in a single dress and you put four of them together. I am so intimidated by you. 🙂

  10. Love the combination of all of those fabrics. Great look and the pictures are just too cute.

  11. What a thorough post….thanks for sharing the tutorial for this dress!! Ohhhh, and those pictures are too precious for words….

  12. The photo shoot and editing is terrific. The how to is perfectly detailed and documented. The color combo for the fabrics is really fun. I love the whole thing!
    Great Job Momma!
    with love-
    Jo

  13. Oops! (Messed up on that last comment, LOL)

    Cute, cute Valentine's day look! Adorable pics!

  14. Hi! I'm your newest follower. I love sewing and recently came up with a couple of maxi skirts for myself and my daughter to wear. I gotta tell you though- your photo shoot is way cooler than anything I come up with! What a beautiful blog!

  15. A darling dress. I love that she can wear it with or without a T under it. Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing this.
    Donna @onceuponasewingmachine.com

  16. That's a very cute dress! I often wish my sewing skills were up to par for making my little girl cute dresses and skirts…and yes that little bow ties is adorable as well.

    Thanks for linking up to Sharing Saturday

  17. Adorable! I love knot dresses. And I like that it's not too Valentine-y. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Very cute dress, and nice photos! What do you bribe your kids with for all those great shots? Mine jump in the mud or fight everytime the camera comes out. 🙂

    1. Well now I'm her newest follower! I can't wait to visit your blog.

    2. I loved your ruffle dress tutorial! And I love this one too 🙂 the fabrics you picked out are just perfect! Thanks so much.

  19. This is just darling, as are your cute young models! Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial. I almost picked up that cute bird print the other day at Joann's to use on the back of one of my granddaughter's quilts. They had so many fun choices.