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Icing cakes can be the most challenging part of cake decorating…can I get an amen? 

At least it was for me when I first started… my cakes were… well, kinda ugly.

It took me time and patience and practice AND a little DIY tool…. the “Sewing Gauge Tool”.

Where did it come from? Pure and utter desperation *dun*dun*dunnnnn*

Scene: 10 years ago….

Me, bright eyed and bushy tailed, diving head first into cake decorating after binge watching (yeah you could do that back then) Food Network Challenge.

I was inspired! Now, I had been working at a bakery since I was 15, but they didn’t make these kinda cakes… I wanted to make the “OMG! NO WAY, THATS NOT CAKE! It can’t be!” kind-o cakes.

I dove in! I played, I learned, I dabbled. Which, I gotta say, family and friends thought they were “super cool”, but I’d seen what some of the cakes out there COULD look like. I knew I could do wayyyyy better and I desperately wanted to UP my game.

So, I changed gears and I put together my dinky little portfolio of cakes. I presented it to high-end cake studio (with all my fingers and toes crossed) and actually landed myself a job!

That’s right, I was gonna do this full time! *gulp*

I knew it was going to be hard work, but it was a place where I could learn and refine my new found passion… cake art!

Got in there and quickly realized their “bread and butter” was tiered weddings cakes (as with most high-end cake studios). (whomp whomp whomp)

Just to clarify, I LOVE wedding cakes, but back then.. I sucked at them. I couldn’t ice a cake *save my life*.

Level top? Ha, in my dreams.

Sharp corners? Wasn’t gotta happen.

Smooth sides? Not even close.

Bubbles? Yep.

It was my number one cake hangup.

This was one of my first buttercream cakes vs. what my buttercream cakes look like now…

Like I share in the video, I literally came up with this little life savin’ DIY tool while I was laying in bed one night… what I didn’t tell you is that I was WORRYING. I couldn’t sleep.

I was worried I would show up for another day of work and disappoint them (and myself). I didn’t feel like I was delivering the level of skill they required and it was eating me up inside.

Ok, dramatic? Maybe. But, it was my job…. and even more so? My new found passion that I REALLY wanted to pursue and I felt like this was a giant wall that I couldn’t climb.

I couldn’t let something like icing the cake (one of the most basic skills) get in my way!


SO, I tackled it, I wrestled it into submission (which I don’t suggest to do with cake, it gets messy) and came out the other side with a set of techniques that truly “fit” me.

Now, I know there are TONS of ways to ice a cake… And, honestly, I actually like a lot of the “newer” (meaning your grandma didn’t do it) techniques like the upside down method and acrylics (which I actually cover how to do both, my way, in my “Foundational Techniques for a Perfect Cake Course”). Shoot, now that I’ve gotten the swing of things, I even like the ole’ fashion way. However, I encourage you to find out what works best for you. There is no “right” or “wrong” way, it’s whatever way works! For me, this technique is still my go-to!

So, I’m sure you’re like “WOMAN, just show us the dang video!”

You can grab it here(100% free) and I’ll send it straight to your email along with the DIY on how to create the DIY tool!

You can use this tool with buttercream (American or Meringue based) or Ganache!

Bonus! That tool? You can also it to put level marks on your cake for making perfectly placed horizontal fondant stripes. AND, that’s not all, you can use this to level your cake layers!

Indeed.. you must have, am I right? Well, you make it yourself, from items you can find at your local hobby store.

Ready to see my method?

Good, cause I have this free tutorial for you! It’s actually a lesson taken from my “Foundational Techniques for a Perfect Cake”course. A sneak peek. 🙂

So just fill in this form and I’ll send the free video!

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  1. Annarella Poggioli 5 years ago

    Thank you for this tutorial, it is amazing!

  2. Susan J. Sias, Chocolatier Sias For Sweets 5 years ago

    Thank you Avalon!

  3. alex curry 5 years ago

    What do you do about your cake board showing?

    • 5 years ago

      If I’m creating a buttercream only cake, I usually put a buttercream boarder there. For fondant, it’s covered in the process of covering you cake.

  4. Brenda 5 years ago

    This is totally awesome! Thankyou for a great idea.

  5. Miranda 5 years ago

    Thank you that is so slick and helpful video !

  6. Sandra 5 years ago

    Thanks for a great tutorial!

  7. Irina Salazar 5 years ago

    Hi Avalon!
    What a great idea! I definitely want to try it. Can you tell me where can I find the plastic board? And Can you tell me the dimension of it. Thank you In advance!

  8. abigail 5 years ago

    I will definitely use this method. Thank you so much for sharing this. The process is way worth it.

  9. Cindy 5 years ago

    Fantastic! Thanks for the tip!

  10. Kerry 5 years ago

    Great ingenuity! Can you use this method for square cakes as well as round cakes?

  11. Xiaolu Hou 5 years ago

    This is awesome and far exceeded my expectations when I saw the tool. I figured it would mostly be for marking :). Do you think this would work for ganache as well if it’s been recently applied and then chilled briefly to firm up? Thanks!

    • 4 years ago

      Absolutely! Works great with Ganache, you might need to put your finger on the back of the pin while moving it around the cake in order to support it a bit more due to the ganache being a little bit harder then buttercream.

      • Xiaolu Hou 4 years ago

        Thanks so much! Also to follow up Alex’s question, is there ever a time when you want just a completely smooth-sided buttercream (no fondant) tier that won’t have a border at the bottom, how do you get the sides perfectly round and smooth? Since if you use the board as the guide at the bottom, it will be visible.

        • 4 years ago

          The best you can do it do a crumb coat using the board, get it really nice and chill and then do a thinner layer over it, trying your best to keep the shape as you scrape away buttercream. The cold layer underneath will really help! Hope that helps!

  12. Pam 4 years ago

    This tool has changed my life! Thank you so much for posting this! I love it so much that I made two!! <3

  13. olabisi 4 years ago

    Great. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Judy 4 years ago

    This is awesome! I finally bought my first hot glue gun to make it. I bought corsage pins. I also bought a longer sewing type needle.

    My question is: Why a floral pin? I only found 2″ ones at local stores; I see you are using a 3″ one. I found some doll needles–one is 3 3/4″ long and has a big thread hole. Are you using the floral pin because the head has more coverage for the glue? Would this doll needle work?

    Thank you so very much!!

  15. Judy 4 years ago

    Oh, yes. How do you cut out the bottom of the cake to prepare it the way you ice it? Is there a video on that? I am a real beginner.

    Thanks so much!


  16. kathy 4 years ago

    hi Avalon thanks for the awesome tutorial! i recently had to do a cake for a friend. i crumbed coated, filled (with a dam thickish) and second coat with buttercream. an american b/cream. left in fridge overnight covered with clingwrap. covered cake with fondant directly from fridge. found that after a while the fondant started to “bulge”.plse advise what went wrong. many thanks kathy.

    • Avalon Cakes 4 years ago

      Does you buttercream consist of mostly shortening or butter?

      • kathy 4 years ago

        Hi I used half butter and half white margarine. Many thanks Kathy

  17. Vanishea Troope 4 years ago

    where can I find the video on how this tool works.

  18. […] >>Show me how to make this tool!<< […]

  19. Amanda 9 months ago

    This is so amazing! Thank you so much for your tutorial! I only work with buttercream because I can’t stand the sight of people scraping off the fondant and throwing it away. Though I like the look of fondant. Have you played with roll out buttercream yet? I’d be interested in trying that and seeing if it tastes any better than fondant.

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