Embroidery Cakes: A Collab with Thread Honey
I’ve been a fan of Jenn Riggs of Thread Honey and her amazing embroidery designs for a while now, so I decided to reach out to her last month to see if she’d be interested in collaborating on a little project I had in mind. After making my Otomi Cake I wanted to show you all a less intimidating way to bring in the look of embroidery to cakes, because I know how overwhelming that cake may look. So, that’s why I reached out to Jenn, and she was all for it! Jenn’s style is just so awesome – I’m sure you’ll all agree after you take a look at the incredible custom hand-embroidery designs in her shop. She sent me her Keep It Real hoop, because my initial intention was to just recreate that design in cake form, and share the process with you. But, that process seemed a bit too easy, so I decided to also recreate her I Got My Eyes On You hoop (pictured above). What’s extra awesome about this Thread Honey hoop is that it incorporates embroidery piping techniques AND painting on cake, which makes for a much more exciting tutorial. Plus, how incredible is the 60’s comic pop-art inspired design?! Continue on below for the DIY, as well as many more pictures of both Thread Honey-inspired cakes I whipped up.
First, I’m going to show you how to create this fun design in cake form. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find some words on what you’ll need to fully complete the look of the hoop (like I did in the “Keep It Real” cake).
- Buttercream-frosted cake
- Black buttercream frosting
- Gel food color
- 2-3 Tbsp of vodka
- Optional: Printout of your inspired design
- Optional: Wax paper + permanent marker
- Cosmetic sponges
- Piping bag
- Small circular piping tip (#1 – #3 will work well)
Because I wanted to keep everything to scale for the “Keep It Real” one, I went with a smaller cake which was pretty tricky. I’d recommend going with an 8-inch cake round to make things easier on yourself for the first go-around.
Also, before you start, you’ll need to make sure your cake has been frosted and is fairly smooth (so you have an even surface for your art!). The buttercream needs to be very stiff, so make sure to leave the frosted cake in the fridge until right before you’re ready to begin painting. If at any point your buttercream gets warm while you’re working with it, place the cake back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. When you press your finger on the buttercream, you shouldn’t be able to see your fingerprint and it shouldn’t indent at all. If it does, additional refrigeration is necessary.
While your cake is setting, prep the gel colors you will use to paint. Dilute each gel color, mixing a few drops of gel color with 1/2 – 1 Tbsp of vodka (depending on how saturated you want the color to be). [Note: If you need more help with this step, check out my Agate Slice Cookie DIY]. If you want a richer color, use less vodka and more gel color in your mixture. At this point, you’ll also want to have a piping bag of black frosting (with piping tip) set aside, with a couple cosmetic sponges.
Optional: If you want to use a template, printout the inspired design (if it belongs to someone else, you MUST ask first! It’d be considered stealing if you didn’t, and that is not cool at all!!). Once you have your printout, tape it to a window (or a lightbox if you’re fancy!) and make 2 templates by tracing the pattern onto wax paper with a permanent marker. Cut out your templates from the wax paper before continuing.
If you’re using a template, cut-out the section you wish to color from the template and then center it onto your cake. As you can see, I was going for the pink outer color first, so I cut my templates to just have the character cutout.
Dip your sponge into your preferred color of choice and lightly blot it onto your cake. Make sure to be gentle to avoid moving around the buttercream. Once you’ve added your first color, place the cake back in the fridge for 10 minutes. Next, cut out your next dedicated coloring area, and repeat (for me, that was the blue hair). Once finished with the painting part, set the cake back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Next, free-hand the other details with a toothpick. For me, that was the face, sunglasses, lips/nose, and collar. Don’t worry about it being perfect – in my opinion, that’s what makes it more of an inspired cake and not just an exact replica. Also, I wanted to add a bit more a turquoise to the hair and wanted to keep the painted colors light, to let the embroidery details shine – these were all personal preferences; don’t be discouraged to change it up a bit!
To add the “embroidery stitches”, gently pipe along the lines you created with your toothpick. At first, I went with the smallest (#00) piping tip, but realized that was too tricky to get clean, straight lines. Perhaps my hands were just a bit shaky, but I surprisingly found a #2 tip to yield the straightest lines with the most control while piping.
Once you’re finished, place the cake back into the fridge to set before serving. And don’t forget to take a photo of your painted masterpiece before you eat it!
For those of you who want to get very detailed, you can also use black sprinkles + tweezers to get the embroidery look (I attempted that a couple years ago for this cake).
For the “Keep It Real” cake I decided to make it look as similar as possible to the Thread Honey hoop. I used fondant for the wooden hoop frame and bracket details.
I just loved making these and hope you all enjoyed the DIY! And speaking of DIY, Jenn actually has some DIY embroidery kits now listed in her shop – wouldn’t those make for perfect gifts!?
Huge thank you to Jenn for letting me turn her incredible designs into edible form!