Friday, January 11, 2013

How to Make A Sewing Machine Cake Internal Structure

There are a lot of "how to make a sewing machine cake" articles out there, but I couldn't find one that showed the internal structure and wasn't made of rice krispies. I made a sewing machine cake recently and took photos beforehand of the structural parts of it.

The electronic machines today are different from older models, in that the better machines are pretty enclosed. The tops are smooth and the thread is all on the inside. The last two cakes that I've made were specific brands, so they don't have the thread spool on the top of the cake. If you wanted to change to one of the older models you could just add the spool on top, the basic internal supports would stay the same.

The basic structure is cake on the base, cake on the side, cake on the top, and styrofoam or something else for the needle housing part. Since that's the part that hangs down it would be structurally unstable to have that made from cake too. You can attach the non-cake part either by hot gluing it to the bottom of the board, or by wrapping it with tape, which is what I did.

So I'm going to give you the internal structure, and you can take it from there.

Start with two greaseproof support boards, both 13" long. One should be 6" wide and the other about 4 1/2" wide.

Cut three plastic dowels to 7" long. It's important that they're all exactly the same length and flat so that they stand up without wobbling.

The dowels will go between the two boards, with the narrower board on the top and the wider board on the bottom. If you're not going to be moving the cake from place to place you can use a wooden dowel for the single one, since that's the end that has the needle and the presser foot and should be narrower. The wider support will be more stable, though.

The part that hangs down from the upper board can be made from styrofoam or oasis. You could make it from rice krispie treats coated with melted chocolate, but why bother? It will be more stable with something that's more solid. The oasis gives you the advantage of being easy to carve into shape, but it also tends to be more difficult to stick the fondant to later in the process, so it's a trade-off. Attach that to the upper board by hot glue for styrofoam or using packing tape, which is what I did in this situation since hot glue doesn't stick to oasis very well.

 Make a hole in the center of the oasis and insert one of the dowels all the way through it. If you're using styrofoam this could be a difficult step, so you might have to carve out the styrofoam a little before inserting the dowel to get it started.
This is how it's going to go together. See how the part that hangs down is now going to be the needle housing part?
Cut another board that's 6x5", and mark on it where the dowels in the back will go through. I was using the tape and extra oasis to make sure the board was going to fit through the dowels and the legs were going to be flat on the top and bottom boards.

When you stack the cake, dowel the  righthand side of the bottom cake even though it's only one layer. Put the smaller board on top of that, then put the two dowels through the holes. Put two layers of cake on top by pushing them down over the dowels. you can trim off the sides to make sure that they're even later. At this point you just want to get the cake stacked high enough to make a level top section.

Get the layers stacked, then cut them off level with the plastic dowels. The top support will sit right on top of that and the front leg should support the board on the left and make a flat surface for the top cake. Put a couple of wooden dowels into the cake to provide support between the top board and the 5x6" board that supports the cake on the right side.

Stack two layers of cake on top and carve it down into the shape of the machine you're making. For this cake I used two 9x13 cakes and had just enough to piece the cake together. If you don't want to do as much piecing you could start with three 9x13 cakes.

So that's the internal structure, and you can take it from there, If you wanted to cover the styrofoam section with fondant or modeling chocolate BEFORE putting the upper cake on it it might be easier to handle in the long run, but you can do it either way.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA


Loving Traditions Cakery LLC said...

Hi Kara:
That is awesome; thank you so very much for sharing; all that you do. I have learned so very much from you. debbie

Melanie Calleja Tonna said...

Did you use butter cream to cover the foam in sugar paste please?

Kara Buntin said...

I usually just use water, but you can also use corn syrup or a little piping gel. Anything that's sticky.

1000Vows said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
1000Vows said...

Hi Kara! How
Does the top board stick to the rest of the cake? If i read correctly.. I put my first layer then i put the 5x6 on the right, i put the dowels trhough the 5x6 board, i stack the cake up to the dowel size, then i trim it so its equal on both sides, then i out the top board(which will already have the styrofoam and the dowel glued together)

Kara Buntin said...

As long as the top board is supported by the plastic pillars it will be totally stable. There's enough cake and other thick material that it will prevent the cake from shifting around. Just make sure that the pillars are cut flat and are sitting flat on the boards. People tend to over-dowel long as everything is flat and the cake is supported the way it shows you'll be fine.

The top part will stay on the board with no problem as long as everything is built correctly. I don't think I even glued the pillars to the lower board, it isn't necessary. The cake that the pillars go through will keep them in place. Also, this particular cake was going to be covered in fondant, which adds some stability to the entire piece, and I refrigerate everything so that the cake is cold when it's transported. As long as you don't drive like a maniac, there's not w lot to worry about if you build it right and transport
it cold.

Carolee said...

Maybe you can help me. I'm trying to figure out how to make a Valmet straddle carrier 3d cake for my son for his birthday at the end of next month and I don't know where to begin. I figured it would be easier to have it straddling a container or holding one. They can straddle up to 3 40 foot containers. here is a picture of what they look like, but the container would be longer. Here are some links to the ones my father-in-law has at his hay pressing business. I know I'm just a novice cake decorator so I'm not expecting it to look perfect but recognizable. :) I'm hoping to have as much of it as I can be edible. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated it.

Kara Buntin said...

For that (I looked up photos of it) I'd do the entire frame of it out of a structural material like pvc or Metal bars that were anchored to a board with bracing, then pout the cake on an attached platform halfway up, The cake would be the container itself, so the platform it sits on would have to be attached to the framework with bracing too. I don't think I'd try to make the framework edible, because it's too thin and realistically there's no way to do it. That design would take some engineering to make the framework, so that's going to be the main part of it.

Carolee said...

Thank you so much Kara! That helped me out a lot! Thanks for your help :)

Unknown said...

Hello, thanks for your help! I just have one question: for how many people is that cake?

Kara Buntin said...

Probably about 30-35

Miss22Mariam said...

Thank you! Is the best tutorial I could find!

Kara Buntin said...

Thank you, that's very nice of you to say!

Tamika Drayton-Ashby said...

hi there, did you cover the cake in panels or did you just drape the fondant over the entire cake and then smoothed it out??

Kara Buntin said...

Tamika, I probably covered the top part with one piece and then did the bottom in sections. I always try to do it with one piece so that things aren't going to slip out of place and they'll all be connected.