Recently, we were given the challenge of promoting a client at a local fundraiser for children. Knowing that there would be 30 ten-top tables at the event, we decided to create centerpieces. But, not just any centerpieces, T-Shirt Cakes! The idea stemmed from a recent baby shower where someone gave a diaper-cake as a gift. As always, we were on a tight deadline to bring our creation from idea to tabletop. Here’s how we did it.
Cake boards (varying sizes)
Rubberbands: 10 per centerpiece
Burger King crown
High quality pictures
Metal wire (for pictures)
T-shirts: 10 per centerpiece
Hot glue gun and super glue
Gold spray paint
Scotch Tape or strong double-sided tape
Gold Duct Tape
The Bottom Tier
Start with cardboard scraps, repurpose old moving boxes if possible. Roll the scraps into cylinders and secure with a hot glue gun. The height of these scraps will determine the height of each level (distance from lower cake board to middle, and so on).
Unless you’re a cardboard magician, your cylinders will not be perfectly circular. We remedied that by wrapping the cardboard cylinder with bubble wrap. You can use simple scotch or packing tape to secure the bubble wrap to the cardboard
At this point, you’ll want to practice rolling a few shirts. They’ll need to be the same height
as the bubble wrapped cardboard cylinder.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust your rolling method based on the size of the t-shirt. Don’t forget to keep the logo facing outward, for all to see! Tie each shirt with a rubber band to hold in place.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to break the process up among the team. Have a few people working on rolling the shirts and a few others rolling cardboard and wrapping in bubble wrap.
Now that you have a production line hard at work, it’s time to spray paint the cake boards.We chose a regal shade of gold. You can find your favorite color at any big-box or local hardware store. Be prepared to show ID. Pick an exterior location, in the grass if possible. Be aware that any overspray will permanently stain anything it lands on, including nearby cars, sidewalks, and passersby.
Assemble each T-shirt bundle around the bubble wrapped cardboard cylinder and hold in place with a ribbon. We discovered that a thick ribbon lined with wire may work best. Next, tie into a nice bow.
Once the spray paint has dried, assemble the T-shirt foundation onto the bottom cardboard cake. Though we did not glue the bottom layer down, you may do so with tape or hot glue. Stand up for a celebratory stretch, as you now have your first layer complete. Any popping you may hear is natural. It’s just your bones finder their way back to where they belong.
The Middle Tier
For the second layer, you can repeat the first layer’s steps, or you can change it up a bit. To ensure we only used 10 t-shirts per cake, we used a different folding method. We rolled the t-shirts diagonally and wrapped the shirts horizontally around the bubble wrapped cardboard cylinder. Then, we tied the ends of the shirts together with a rubber band. If the shirts are long enough, you may be able to tie the ends together with the T-shirt itself. To hide the knots and add some flare, use the same gold ribbon as you used in the first layer. To save ribbon, tape each end of the ribbon to the top and bottom of the structure instead of running the ribbon through the center of the structure.
Add the mid-sized cardboard cake plate to the top of your first T-shirt structure and attach with hot glue or double sided tape. Take your second T-shirt structure and attach with hot glue or double sided tape to the mid-sized cardboard cake plate. Next, attach the smallest cardboard cake plate to the top of the second T-shirt tier with hot glue or double-sided tape.
You should now have both T-shirt tiers and all cardboard cake plates in place.
The Top Tier
Here is where you can get creative. For the sake of this blog, we will discuss how we built the top of the T-shirt cakes. Because TMC wanted to highlight each child of the Wolfson Children’s Hospital Birthday Party, we printed out high-resolution photos of each child.
First, spray paint each BK crown. At this point, you’re probably just as excited as we were to put the crowns together, but resist the urge and bedazzle that bad boy first! Once the gems have dried, you can use a pair of scissors to trim the crown down to a size that’s easier to work with. Now, fold the crown to your preferred size and secure it with hot glue. From here, you’ll simply place the crown to the top of the cake, again using hot glue to secure it in place.
Cut out pieces of styrofoam, 2 inches by 2 inches and wrap them in gold duct tape. Try to make each side as flat as possible. It should look like a golden nugget. Glue the gold nugget in the middle of the cardboard cake plate in the center of the crown. It may look a little silly, but we promise it serves a purpose.
Add bedazzle gems to each layer in a uniformed pattern. You can be fairly liberal with the gems; just don’t use so many that they distract the eyes from the logos on the T-shirts. To add flare, use balloon ribbon and curl with a scissors. Tape one end of the curled ribbon to inside top of the cake (inside of the crown works just fine) and the other end of the curled ribbon to the bottom of the cake. This will prevent the curly cued ribbon from flying.
Ta-Da! You’re now T-Shirt Cake ninja! Feel free to put your own sense of style into it, while keeping the theme/goal in mind. Most of all, don’t get discouraged.