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American Girl Shell Lace Nightgown/Dress

By Dawn Adcock

For 18" dolls, with Bitty Baby 16" doll version changes in parentheses (...)

Yarn used: Lion Brand Jiffy, 2 skeins (1 skein for Bitty Baby size)

(I almost made the large size with one skein, but needed the second to finish the upper back)

Needles: size 10 US circular-16" long , size 8 US double points (size 9 US circular-16" long, 7 US double points for Bitty Baby size)

Sizes: about 16Ē long (12") (but once on the doll, some of the length is taken up as it rounds out)

Gauge:  3 sts = 1" (3 1/2 sts = 1") measured on the plain knit columns of the pattern stitch, and also on the garter stitch edge stitches.  A repeat of the shell stitch (the 3 knit stitches plus the "shell" and it's YOs on the skirt) is 2 1/2" (2 1/4").


YO = yarn round over needle, creating an eyelet increase stitch. On the next round or row work this loop of yarn that is over the needle as a regular stitch, without twisting it, to create an eyelet hole.

P3tog = Purl 3 stitches together

K2tog = Knit 2 stitches together (for a right slanting decrease)

SSK = Slip Knitwise, Slip Knitwise, Knit together - slip one stitch as if to knit, slip another stitch as if to knit (so now they are on the right hand needle), stick point of left needle in two slipped stitches in front of the right needle and knit. This is done to produce a left slanting decrease. You can also use another left slanting decrease, like SKP (slip one, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over stitch just knit).


Construction note:  Gown is knit in the round from the bottom upwards, until the division at the underarms.  The front and back are then knit back and forth in rows to the shoulders, where they are joined by a Three Needle Bind Off, creating a seamless garment without any further finishing.  When you're done knitting, you're really done!  (Or see Finishing note at end for sewing option if you prefer.)  Stitch used is the same as the wallpaper you see here, but with the knit columns starting with 3 stitches, and decreased down to a 1 stitch column on the body.

The Bitty Baby size gown is altered only in the length of the skirt and lower body sections, the width is only changed by the reduction of gauge by using a smaller needle size.  (Bitty Baby dolls are almost as wide as regular American Girl 18" dolls.)



Start out by casting on 64 sts loosely on the size 10 circ needle (size 9 circ) (use larger needle for looseness if needed).

To do the scalloped bottom edge: Join the cast on sts into a circle, being careful not to twist, place marker at join to indicate beginning of round, and proceed in the round.

Do 2 garter ridges [knit 1 round, purl 1 round, knit 1 round, purl 1 round].

Do the scalloped gatherings row as follows: Drop the next stitch (the first stitch of the round) off the left needle, and unravel it all the way down to the cast on edge (forming a column of ladders all the way down). Take right hand needle and go from front to back under the fabric, wrap the working yarn around the needle in the back, and bring the newly formed loop back around to the front and to the top edge, gathering up the horizontal straight strands of ladders formed when you dropped and unraveled the stitch.  Place this new loop onto the left hand needle, ready to knit it. Knit this loop as a regular stitch, gathering up the bottom into the scallop as you do so.

Knit 7 stitches, then repeat the drop-stitch gather stitch.

Continue around doing a scalloped gather stitch between every 7 stitches. You'll end the round by knitting 7 stitches.

(Note: This new stitch you make to gather the ladders also REPLACES the stitch that was dropped off the needle and unraveled.  Your total stitch count should be the same after completing this round as when you cast on, [64 sts].  After the new stitch has been placed on the left needle, just knit it as any normal stitch, with just enough tightness to gather the fabric into a scallop.  There will be 8 total scallop sections formed7 knit sts between each gathering stitch, so 8 sts per section X 8 sections = 64 sts total.)


Now, begin the pattern stitch for the skirt section:


Rds 1-3) Knit 3 rounds

Rd 4-Purl Pattern round) K2, * YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO, K3 * repeat between **s until 6 sts from end, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO, K1.    (There will be a 3 knit-stitch column between each purl shell section)


Repeat these 4 rounds for pattern, for 10 (8) repeats total [40 (32) rounds after doing scalloped garter edge], ending after completing purl pattern round. [91/2Ē (7") approximate total length now].


Switch to size 8 (7) double pointed needles, and do the waistline decrease rounds as follows:

Dec Round 1) *K2tog, K6* to last stitch, but donít knit this last stitch, just leave it on the left hand needle to begin the next round with it.

Dec Round 2) SSK this last stitch of the previous round with the first stitch of the next round to decrease 1 stitch, (placing the marker to the front of this knit stitch for beginning of round now) K5, *SSK, K5* to end. (48 sts total now) (all decreases where done on the knit columns, making the 3 knit stitch columns into 1 knit stitch columns now, to cinch in the waistline)

K 1 round even, (no decreases)

Continue in pattern over these 48 stitches, but now you will be doing just one knit stitch between each purl shell as follows:

Rd 1-Purl Pattern round) *K1, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO* repeat to end of round

Rds 2-4) Knit 3 rounds

Continue in pattern until 5 (4) repeats on the body section [15 (12) purl shell pattern repeats total from bottom], BUT ENDING AFTER DOING ONLY 1 KNIT ROUND AFTER A PURL SHELL PATTERN ROUND.


Divide at underarm for front and back:

Knit across front 22 sts, then increase 1 (by knitting into the front and back of next stitch), Knit 1

(25 stitches worked for front) Work back and forth on these 25 stitches for front, leaving back stitches on needles (or stitch holder), unworked.

Purl 1 row

Do pattern Row (*K1, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO* 4 times to last stitch, K1)

Purl 1 Row

Knit 1 Row

Purl 1 Row


Neck opening Row: K1, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO, K2, Bind off center 9 sts LOOSELY, K1 (after the 1 stitch on your needle from binding off the center stitches, so youíll have 2 knit stitches on the right needle at this point) YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO, K1

(Leave first 8 stitches on extra needle, or stitch holder to be worked later)


Work Left side: P6, P2tog

Knit 1 row (7 sts)

Purl 1 row (7 sts)

K1, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO, K1

Purl 1 row (7 sts)

Knit 1 row (now leave these 7 stitches on extra needle or stitch holder, breaking working yarn)

(* See finishing note at end if you donít wish to do a three needle bind off to finish the shoulders)


Work Right side: Join new yarn on inside of neck edge on other front side, with the wrong side facing you, ready to start a Purl row.

P2tog, P6

Knit 1 row (7 sts)

Purl 1 row (7 sts)

K1, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO, K1

Purl 1 row (7 sts)

Knit 1 row (now leave these 7 sts on extra needle or stitch holder, breaking working yarn)

[You will have worked 18 (15) total purl shells sections from bottom edge to top of the front total now-itís a good idea to count them on both sides of front to make sure they match at this point!]


Work upper back: With right side (outside) of work facing you, join new yarn on right side of back.

Knit across back 22 sts, then increase 1 (by knitting into the front and back of next stitch), Knit 1

(25 stitches worked for back) Work back and forth on these 25 stitches for back.

Purl 1 row

Pattern Row) *K1, YO, P1, P3tog, P1, YO* 4 times, to last stitch, K1

Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Purl 1 row

Repeat last 4 rows

Repeat Pattern row

Purl 1 row


Finish off top edges/join front to back as follows:


Do a 3 Needle Bind Off to join the front shoulder edges to the back as follows:

Knit 1 stitch from back together with 1 stitch from the front (the edge stitches from the front and the back shoulders) repeat with the next stitch from the back and the front, then bind off one stitch. Repeat until front 7 stitches are joined and bound off. Continue binding off across the back stitches by LOOSELY binding off 11 center back neck stitches. Then again do the Three Needle Bind Off with the 7 stitches from the other front edge shoulder.


Finish off the ends, being sure to neaten up the front neck edge with the tail of the joined on strand to make the beginning of the bound off neck stitches flow nicely around the curve of the edge.


*FINISHING NOTE: If you donít wish to do the Three Needle Bind Off at the top edges, itís simple to just bind off each edge of the front shoulders (the 7 stitches on hold on each side), then bind off all the stitches on the back top (just bind off all 25 back stitches), and then sew the front shoulders to the sides of the back, leaving the 11 center back neck stitches as the back neck opening. The choice is yours, which ever you prefer. I use the Three Needle Bind Off so that the edges are perfectly matched stitch for stitch, and the garment is completely seamless.

© 2001 by Dawn Adcock. You may copy and share this pattern for personal, non-commercial use, as long as this copyright notice remains intact. Please do not post to the internet, include on a website, or republish without prior permission.  E-mail: dawn@3gcs.com