Now insert the quilt under the needle and what I do different from many machine quilters is that I start quilting in the center. This is the hardest part of the quilt to do. It's easiest for me to start there and work outward.
This quilt reminds me of sunshine and water so the quilting design will be waves and water ripples... or at least my impression of those. Plan your design ahead of time... even practice drawing it on a piece of paper with an ink pen or magic marker.
Once you can "quilt" a sheet of paper and are happy with how it looks, you'll be ready to try quilting your quilt.
So once you're in the center of the quilt, take your needle down and up to grab the bobbin thread (see the loop below?).
I'm using invisible thread so it's hard to see my top thread but the bobbin is white cotton. On most of my quilt tops I use YLI invisible nylon thread ... or Wonder thread. Using this thread, I can work over the whole quilt without any thread showing on the blue or the white or the green. If my quilt is one color, I'll use a cotton on top to match... BUT whatever I use on top, the bobbin is always cotton. I've tried the nylon in my bobbin and it works, I just prefer using cotton.
The picture below shows my bobbin thread pulled to the top.
Now the needle gets inserted right where the bobbin thread came up...
And you're off and sewing. I wear sticky fingers or garden gloves to quilt (machine quilting gloves can be bought at most quilt stores or fabric store such as JoAnns). It helps to have something on your hands or fingers to help GRIP the quilt top. There is also a C shaped hoop that sits on the top only (has some grippers on it). I haven't tried it but I hear it works well.
Watch out for pins as you quilt. Your eyes should be looking to where you're headed. DO NOT look at the needle. You'll need to see where you have open spaces to quilt and where the pins are. If you start to get into a tight spot STOP. Stop with your needle down so you don't lose the spot you are in... then take a look around and plan your next move. If you've worked yourself into a corner, end your thread and start somewhere new. Always end and begin with multiple stitches of ZERO length to LOCK you line of stitching.
Below is a picture of the design I'm using... just a random swirl/waves all over the center of the quilt.
Click the link below to see me quilting:
Hope this helps all of you that are thinking of trying free motion machine quilting. As with anything new, practice makes perfect (well, maybe not perfect but better ;)