In the last post I mentioned that I was going to try spray starching my block instead of using a tear away stabilizer on the back. I did try that, and it worked beautifully. So no more stabilizer! That saves a tedious step in the process. I would still want to use the stabilizer if I were doing a satin stitch, but for the blanket stitch it is not necessary. After starching all the light squares for my quilt, I finished the stitching on all the applique. For these blocks, I had spray starched the applique fabric (on the front, to avoid affecting the fusing process) and thus had a minimal amount of fraying around the pieces.
I am now working on the dark blocks. In my rush to make the blocks, I managed to forget about starching the applique fabrics ahead of time. My first machine stitching resulted in a lot of fraying and I was not happy with the result. So the next thing I tried was to spray starch the whole block, front and back. This avoided the need for the stabilizer and also resulted in a much cleaner look to the applique on the front, as you can see by comparing the two photos below.
I think there is going to be a lot more spray starch in my future. Before committing to it I will have to rinse out a couple of blocks and make sure the fraying doesn’t happen later, but so far I am pleased with the results. This is a much faster way to get a good result. Of course if you do this be careful about breathing the fumes!