Newborn Elf Hat Knitting Pattern

This article contains the free knitting pattern to knit a very cute newborn baby elf hat.

As you can see from the photo, this hat design made it (well the very cute baby and the awesome photo made it, actually) to the front cover of a magazine.

The photo was taken by the professional photographer Bumps, Babes and Beyond. This incredibly talented photographer isn’t in the photography business any more, and indeed I am no longer in the newborn photo prop hat making business. There is a reason for that, but it is perhaps a story for another day.

Anyway, this newborn elf hat is so cute that I have decided to publish the knitting pattern. The hat in the photo on the magazine cover was designed and made by me a few years ago, and I have knit up a new one to help with writing out the knitting pattern.

Please read on to find more information about knitting newborn photo prop hats and to get the free knitting pattern.

Please note that this post may contain some affiliate links. You can read more about what this is here.

About Newborn Photo Prop Hats

A very important issue regarding newborn photography prop hats is that they are only for that purpose. They are not suitable garments for general wear.

What makes a hat a ‘photography prop’ are features such as long tails and tassels, or oversized pompoms and so on. Such garments are therefore not safe for every day use and are to be worn only under adult supervision.

These added features make a hat stand out – the fact that it is not an ordinary hat adds interest to a photo, and extra impact and so on. This is why they are used as props – to help with the creation of a unique and unforgettable image of precious new babies.

The fashions and sales of newborn photo prop hats have changed over the years. When I used to make and sell them, very chunky hats were all the rage. These days, intricate headbands and delicate bonnets are more popular. However, chunky elf hats and oversized pompom hats are still used as newborn photo props and their cuteness factor on top of a sweet, tiny head has never worn off.

The newborn elf hat knitted to create the knitting pattern below.

Chunky Newborn Elf Hat

The newborn elf hat that appeared on the cover of a magazine was knit on 8mm straight needles. The tail was made using double pointed needles and was formed via the making of an I cord.

The original hat was made by using a regular bulky yarn for the ribbed edge, and a hand spun yarn for the main piece. I think I bought it from the UK based Etsy store The Fibre Tree. If you live in the US, I can recommend Spinning Wheel Studio and The Gingko Leaf for hand spun yarns. I have imported yarn to the UK from this stores. There are many other great places to buy handspun yarn on Etsy too – I am just recommending these ones as I have actually purchased from there myself and was very pleased with the yarn.

When buying handspun yarn, it may be advisable to ask the seller if the thickness will fit the knitting needle that you wish to use for your garment. These yarns are however often irregular in texture and can be used with a variety of different sized needles to great effect.

To help me to write out this free knitting pattern, I have made a new hat, using memories to recreate the one on the magazine cover.

I have used a thick and thin texture yarn that I bought at a pound shop (lucky day!) and the main part of the hat was knit in Creative Smile by Rico.

Newborn Elf Hat Free Knitting Pattern

Materials required

  • 1 pair of 8mm knitting needles. Please use 9mm if you are a tight knitter.
  • 1 pair of 8mm double pointed needles.
  • Approx 30g each of two colours of bulky yarn that works with 8mm knitting needles.
  • Scissors and tapestry needle for sewing up.


With border colour, cast on 30 stitches.

Work 5 rows of 2 x 2 rib.

The wrong side will now be facing. Cut the yarn and add in the main colour. Make sure you leave a long tail of yarn for the main colour to help with sewing up the hat later.

With this main colour, work one more row of 2×2 rib. When you have done this, the right side will be ready for working.

Working a row of rib on the wrong side, with the contrast colour, will give a lovely appearance to the trim of the hat.

Now work a few rows of stocking stitch (knit right side rows, purl wrong side rows) , until piece measures 12cm from the cast on edge, ending on a wrong side row, so the next row that is to be worked is a right side row.

Work the following decrease rows:

  • (k3, k2tog) across row
  • purl
  • (k2, k2tog) across row
  • purl
  • (k1, k2tog) across row
  • purl
  • (k2tog) across row
  • purl

Now take your double pointed knitting needles. You should have 6 stitches left on your needle and the right side should be facing.

We are now going to create an I cord. With the double pointed needle, (k2tog) three times, thus leaving 3 stitches on your needle.

We will now knit these 3 stitches until a long tail is formed. All you have to do is slide these three stitches to the opposite side of the double pointed needle to that which you used to knit. So, you knit three, then slide, knit three, slide. There will be no purl rows.

Do this until the tail is desired length. Then, (k2 tog), k1. Now K2tog.

There will be 1 stitch left on your needle. Cut the yarn, leaving a tail of around 25cm, and thread it through this stitch. Pull to secure. Cut 2 more strands of this yarn, 50cm long, and 3 strands of the white yarn the same length. Hold these strands together and fold in half. Push through the fabric of the end of the tail and thread all strands through the loop, pulling to make a tassel and tighten. Trim to neaten.

Now sew up the back seam and weave in all ends and you are done!

Please note this knitting pattern is subject to copyright. You may however sell anything made from the pattern.

Where To Buy Newborn Photo Prop Hats

If you would like to buy newborn photo prop hats, or simply look at some examples for some knitting inspiration, here is a list of some beautiful Etsy stores that sell them. You could alternatively run a search for newborn knitting patterns if you would like to dive straight in and get knitting some fun and cute little baby hats!

  • Babies Republic – based in Ireland, this photo pop store is one of the biggest and most popular places to shop for newborn photo prop hats.
  • Verity Isabelle – a UK based newborn photo prop store, the knit and crochet work here is nothing short of stunning. A luxury hand made wares shop.
  • Le Ange – One of the most popular USA based photo prop online stores. This shop has the cutest ever baby garments!

Thanks so much for visiting The Knitting Times. I hope you have enjoyed this free newborn baby elf photo prop hat free knitting pattern.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s