The Apple-A-Day Blog Hop: Let's EPP With Curves!

03 Jul 2015

Apple Core Potholder

The Apple-a-Day Blog HopIt's time for another EPP blog hop to celebrate All Points Patchwork, and this month, we're playing with apple core templates.

I adore apple cores - not only are they so freaking cute, it's great fun to play with curved seams in English paper piecing. Not as relaxing as making hexies, perhaps, but an entertaining challenge that yields impressive results. (And incidentally, you can get lovely precise apple core templates in several sizes from Paper Pieces.)

Apple Core Potholder

So, I made these simple potholders with my 2" tall apple cores, and I'll use them to illustrate some of my favorite tips for working with this shape. (My book goes into vastly more detail. These are just some highlights.)

Apple Core Potholder

The apple core is an especially good shape for learning to work with curves because it contains both kinds – convex, or outward-bulging, and concave, or inward-caving. Each kind of curve bastes a little differently.

For the outward-bulging curves, you use a tiny gathering stitch and some little anchoring stitches. The video above walks you through that.

Apple Core Potholder

For the inward-facing curves, it's all about careful clipping – but not too much clipping. See above, how my clips end a generous 1/8" away from the edge of the paper template? That's important. That allows you to wrap the fabric smoothly around the edge of the template, but without any danger of those clips creating holes at the edges of your patches.

Apple Core Potholder

Apple Core Potholder

As you're basting apple cores, there's a lot to pay attention to because you're switching back and forth between these two kinds of basting. But it's also important to keep checking the front of the patch. Make sure you're getting that fabric wrapped smoothly over the template. It's okay to pull the fabric a little more here and there to help it get smoother as you baste.

Apple cores simply take a little practice. Your first basted patch may look wonky. Mine sure did! But I guarantee that your third one will look much better, and your tenth one will look amazing. Don't stress about it - you can always re-baste your early ones.

Apple Core Potholder

...And always press your patches before you sew them together. You'll be amazed how many little wrinkles and lumps magically disappear through pressing.

(These photos are also a good place to mention this: as you baste, worry about getting smooth coverage, not about how your basting stitches look. See how crazy-uneven mine are here? Basting comes out, so it doesn't matter what it looks like!)

Apple Core Potholder

Stitching apple cores together isn't hard if you know a couple simple tricks. First, place your patches side by side for sewing – not right-sides-together like you're used to with hexies. I like to use a couple Wonder Clips to hold them together while I sew.

Apple Core Potholder

...And I use the same whip stitch I use for other EPP shapes, but it's a stitch that skims along the backs of the patches, as you see above.

Apple Core Potholder

When I was playing with my apple cores, I got all excited about these groups of four. But here's something I learned the hard way: you need to assemble each group exactly the same way so that the units fit together. Can you see above how these groups of four are assembled so they fit and don't-fit?

Apple Core Potholder

In terms of making the potholders themselves, I stitched up some EPP units and then appliqued them to some background fabric before assembling. There are lots of great potholder tutorials linked here, so feel free to choose the style you like best, and go to town.

Apple Core Potholder

Curvy applique like this with EPP can be a little tricky, so here are some good tippy-tips:

Tip #1: When you've finished the EPP and all the paper templates are still in place, press it, press it, and press it again. Press especially well around all the outer edges. Feel free to use a little spray starch if you like. You want the creases along the outside edge to be super sharp, so they hold their shape once you take out those templates. When you press, always let the fabric cool completely before you handle it - that allows the creases to stay as sharp as possible.

Apple Core Potholder

Tip #2: Press in or trim away any little sticky-out bits. With apple cores, these mostly happen at the corners. Fold them to the back and press them down so they're invisible from the front. Or, carefully snip away the little sections that stick out - that's legal too.

Tip #3: When you're removing the basting and templates, handle with care. Try not to fold or wad up or otherwise distort your work. Keep it as flat as possible.

Tip #4: Once the basting and templates are out, press again just to flatten out all the seam allowances and settle those outer edges. And "press" in the literal sense here: press the iron straight down onto your work; don't slide it back and forth. Sliding the iron just messes up the seam allowances.

Apple Core Potholder

...So the moral of this whole story is: don't fear the apple core! This week, you'll see some amazing things you can make with this shape, and I hope that inspires you to order up some templates and give it a try.

As each of our blog hoppers posts this week, you'll see the linky update below. Click the thumbnails to learn more about the projects!

In fact, to help you get started, we have an awesome giveaway! Paper Pieces has generously donated a pack of 168 of their 3" apple cores, and Clover has donated a pair of their Patchwork Scissors. Those babies have a lightly serrated blade that cuts fabric with great precision - perfect for cutting curves!

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop Giveaway

To enter, leave a comment on any of the participating blogs this week, and register your entry by clicking the Rafflecopter box below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Love your work!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

Thanks for the tips! I have always wondered how to hand-stitch these curved edges together. Now I know!

i love apple cores! Thanks for the chance to win!

I am going to have to try this. I've never paper pieced curves before.

I am so ready to take my EPP beyond hexies so the release of your book could not be more timely. Apple cores and clam shells are my next challenges.

i am so intrigued by apple cores, but i will admit the curves are the littlest bit intimidating. though you book is helping me get over this fear. :)

I really like the turquoise fabric..Also the patch work scissors will be a great help when cutting all the pieces of fabric ..TY

I've never tried EPP but this does look interesting!!

Those look like the exact scissors I've been trying to find for epp! Thanks for the tips. I've been using your book a lot the last few weeks. It's excellent!

this is so clear, have not tried apple core yet but I am loving your book, have a few on EPP but this by far the best

Thanks for the tips.I`ve never tried apple cores and they make a gorgeous rainbow!

I love seeing all these ideas and advice. I am actually starting a apple core mini and was sewing them right sides together like regular EPP until I read this post!! Thank you so much for the super helpful advice!!

Oooh, love these curvy things! I've never seen them before (Or maybe I have but haven't noticed), what a gorgeous silhouette they make! Ah-mazing tutorial.

Thank you for the helpful information. I love apple core quilts!

I love EPP! Thanks for all the great tips!

Awesome giveaway!


Thank you for the cute tutorial - I am just starting EPP and it really helps to have such clear instructions and photos!!! :)

I wondered how apple core Epping worked, now it's been demystified. Thanks


Love your work. Do you think you will make an entire quilt with these?


Hi, Maureen -

Thank you! I would like to make some larger apple core projects - I have a lot of color ideas to play with. Time is the precious commodity these days, but a gal can dream!