If you ever want to see a little girl well and truly geek out, you have to take her to an American Girl doll store. The first time we took the nerdettes was about two years ago, and the amount of excitement was just as palpable as any Call of Duty or Harry Potter release I have ever attended.
*Conversely, this means that as nerds, we act just like little girls in a doll store…so take that #GamerGate….but I digress.
After that first trip, the girls both came home with American Girl dolls of their very own (thank God for grandparents). Nerdette the Elder has Saige, a spirited young girl who loves art and horse back riding, while Nerdette the Younger has Emily, a shy and quite girl who faces an uncertain world with a brave smile. I know this about my daughter’s “dolls” because they also come with books and movies. What I did not realize at the time of purchase was that Saige and Emily would not be like the dollies that came before. No, they are not dolls at all to my girls, they are new miniature family members, each with their own birthdays and subsequent parties, fashion preferences, and distinct adopted personalities. Since welcoming them home, I have had to; learn how to style doll hair with tiny brushes and clips, play nurse and give dolly check-ups, scold naughty dolls that were misbehaving, and even pretend to change a doll diaper or two. Just the other day, Nerdette the Younger (who is still learning about family dynamics) asked me if I would rather be Emily’s uncle or grandpa.
What I also didn’t know walking out of the store (although my wife tells me I should have), is that this trip would start an apparently never-ending pursuit to have the best and biggest doll wardrobe possible. At $25 per outfit minimum, this could have turned into a significant problem. Luckily, my wife’s mother is amazingly good at sewing and has kept them supplied with most of what is needed. However, if I am going to be an American Girl Grandpa, then I am certainly going to do everything I can the nerd out the American Girls.
So what does every nerdy American Girl doll really need?
A super hero cape!
You start out with a shirt that the wife won’t miss too much. I used a “personalized” shirt that was sent to us without being personalized.
I cut out the back to use the fabric. It was a size 6 child and the back was enough material for both capes.
Now unlike my mother in law, I do not sew. My original intent was to just leave the edge raw, but, due in part to the fact that t-shirt material curls and due to the fact that I apparently don’t cut straight either, that wasn’t an option. That’s ok, because as every good dad knows, “Duct tape fixes almost anything.” Make the duct tape at the top longer than the actual cape to give it an easy way to attach to the doll.
***Dad TIP, you should really wait to duct tape the sides until after the next steps. You have been warned.
Now every good superhero needs a logo. So the girls took over the next step. They colored the picture of their choice onto some ultra-fine sandpaper using old crayons. It is important that they bear down harder than the would on regular paper so it transfers better. I intended to have a live action shot of them designing, but the nerdettes have a talent for knowing when a camera is pointed their way so:
Next we put the sandpaper face down and used a hot iron to transfer the crayon wax onto the capes. (mad props to Cindy Hopper @ alphamom.com for the idea!)
Nerdette the Younger picked a Unicorn motif
While Nerdette the Elder chose a Butterfly
You’ll notice that Elder’s is much darker. This is because she did a better job bearing down while drawing.
Now if you didn’t follow the Dad Tip above, your next step will be to re-apply duct tape and scrape all the melted duct tape off the iron before the wife gets home. That way you’ll just have an interesting anecdote instead of a “What happened was…” moment.
Finally, attach some self-adhesive Velcro to the duct tape on each side of the top and finally attach the capes to the dolls. Now the nerdettes and Ameri-nerd Girl dolls are ready to take on any villain.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. Also if you have any ideas for other fun nerdy stuff I can try out on the nerdettes, please let me know.