I'm always eager to get started with my sewing project, so test stitching feels like a roadblock to me. With experience, I've learned that ripping out a bad seam is an even greater roadblock to finishing my project. Now I test about 80% of the time. It's the 80-20 rule, right. Here's how I decide...
If I've just completed one project and I'm moving on to another using similar fabric, I'll start without a test if I feel comfortable the thread is a good match. For most everything else, test stitching is ultimately a time saver. Simply cut a small scrap of the fabric you plan to use and sew a few stitches.
I always test:
- If I have not sewn for a few days. It's easy to leave the stitch width and needle in an unexpected position – like when you want a straight seam and you forgot the machine was set to zigzag.
- Before I do any top stitching, I use a scrap of the fabric and try the thread I've selected to see if the look is what I want; or I try a couple different thread colors to help me decide.
- For delicate fabrics, always test on a scrap of the fabric you're using. Having to rip a seam out of delicate fabrics is tedious since it's easy to ruin dedicates.
- Test with scraps when sewing through more than 2 layers, or with heavy fabrics.
Look over your test. Check both sides of the fabric. Stitches should lie flat against the fabric and neither pull nor pucker the fabric, nor should you see loops of loose thread. Adjust stitch length and tension appropriately. Check your sewing machine manual for specific directions on adjusting stitch length, style and tension. Repeat as needed until you are satisfied.