Why Test Stitching is so Important

If you read any forums or follow social media groups, you undoubtedly have seen some of the blunders (and plenty of frustration) that can happen during the embroidery process. Much of that can be avoided by doing a test stitch of the design before applying it to the final product.


Problems happen: Needles get damaged, the stabilizer combination is not working, bobbin thread is showing, stitches are out of alignment, the fabric shows through, or puckering runs amok. Embroidery is like baking. There is a “recipe” for each scenario.


Often, we get in a hurry and do not take the time to adequately test. You have heard the saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” You will ideally want to test once, stitch once. Here are some reasons why it is so important:


Mistakes are Expensive

Whether you are embroidering on a tote bag, a jacket, or a towel, and it is an item for yourself, a gift, or client order, you really don’t want to buy another one to replace the item that was ruined during the first embroidery.


Time is Valuable

It doesn't matter if you embroider for fun or profit. Either way, most of us value our time. It never fails that you sit down late one evening to stitch a “simple” project, usually a gift needed for an event the next day, and not only do you have problems, there isn’t time to buy another blank and re-stitch the piece.


The Fun Factor (or Lack Thereof)

When it is no longer fun, we have better things to do with our time. Test stitching helps eliminate the frustration by weeding out problems in advance.


Designs Can be Compromised

Design quality can be lacking although that is generally not the case if you buy from a reputable source. But because embroidery designs are digital, they can become corrupted during download. Other times, they have a quirk, relevant to certain design formats, which probably occurred during the conversion process.


Sometimes, just downloading the file from the vendor a second time eliminates a cyber glitch. If that doesn’t work, contact the vendor to see if there have been any issues with that particular design. Be considerate. Don’t post rants and technical problems on social media. Call the vendor or send them an email, or private message. Digitizers may not be aware of a problem until after the design becomes public. When they do, they almost always correct them and release them again.


Best Way to Test Stitch?

Use a similar product. If you are embroidering on towels, have a similar weight and blend towel on hand to use for testing. Embroider test stitches on that towel until there is no space left.

Same thing for t-shirts and quilting cottons, they come in a variety of weights and blends. Keep scrap fabric and a sample t-shirt on stand by.


Problems will still happen, but with less frequency and lower frustration levels if we take the time to test the stitching first.


Debbie SewBlest



Comments (3) -

Let me add that you can use these test designs, assuming that they don't fail, for samples, placing on other items and just keeping for a reminder of what happened under what circumstances.  Make sure you place these tests in a bag or folder with notes on what was used.

May you be blessed in ways you have not yet imagined.  

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

Good point, Pat! Here is a link to a past blog on what to do with those test stitchouts:


WOW, I just looked at the 'test stitching' blog and those items are so beautiful!  I am so in love with that blue bird!!

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

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