If you are already experienced with free motion quilting you may not need this step. Your choice! We're going to get a feel for free motion stitching, and work out any initial problems you encounter. So, get out your practice pad (a quilt sandwich to practice on, I recommend 12 by 18 inches).
Draw four vertical lines about 2" apart on the right side. I used a regular pencil.
Wind up some bobbins.
If your sewing space looks like this, clear it off. Free motion quilting will vibrate all that crap right off the table anyway.
Now cozy on up to your sewing machine.
If you have an extension table for your machine, put that on. (If you don't, we'll talk about that soon.)
Feed dogs down/covered?
Stitch length set to 0?
Darning foot on?
Let's make sure you've read this post or watched the video.
Now let's get you used to moving your quilt sandwich! We'll start by stitching those lines you drew. It doesn't have to be perfect. If you don't end up right on the line, or if your lines are crooked or wobbly that's fine. I want you to get the feel for stopping and starting, and I want you to start trying for the right number of stitches per inch. Start at the top of the line closest to the edge, by locking your stitches. Put your hands in the "U" shape, and start stitching down the line while pushing the quilt away from you. When you get close to your thumbs, stop, reposition your hands, and continue stitching. Do this to the end of the line. Lock your stitches, cut your threads, and go back to the top to stitch the second line. And then the third. And the fourth. I know, your lines aren't straight. Mine either.
Now let's take your quilt off the machine and see if there's any glaring issues that need to be fixed. Are there loose loops of your top thread on the bottom? If so, you probably need to increase the tension on your top thread by a number or two (most people do need to increase their top tension for free motion quilting). The picture below shows the bottom side when I stitched with the top tension too low.
Next we're going to fill in the spaces between the lines. In the first column, between the first and second lines, stitch a bunch of straight-ish lines. You don't need to lock your stitches at the end of every line now, you're probably getting the hang of that. Instead, when you reach the end of the line, take a couple stitches to the side, and then stitch back up the quilt sandwich, pulling the quilt toward you. I know, it's weird, you can't totally see where you're going. Try it anyway. Keep going, down and up, until you've filled up that column.
Take the quilt sandwich off again. How's the tension looking? Fiddle with it if you need to.
In the next column, try stitching a bunch of zig zags, by moving your quilt side to side while you stitch. The quilt doesn't need to be turned or angled, your hands do all the work of guiding it where you want it to go. You are drawing by moving the "paper" instead of the "pen".
In the last column make a bunch of loops. They don't have to be pretty!
Check out the tension again. Sometimes things look fine with straight lines but then get loopy at the apex of a loop or the point of a zig zag. Fiddle some more if you need to. We don't want any loose loops on the back.
The rest of the blank area is for trying whatever you'd like and getting more practice moving the quilt and stitching at the same time.
Remember: It's not uncommon to have troubles at this step. Maybe you keep getting loopy threads on the bottom, or your thread keeps breaking. Initial troubleshooting includes rethreading (make sure the foot is up when you thread), trying a different thread, and trying a different needle. Make sure your machine is clean and lint free, and that you remembered to put the darning foot down when you stitch (I screw this up occasionally!).
If you had to adjust your tension and you found one that works, note in your journal what number your top tension was on when it worked. If a specific thread or needle made a difference, make a note of that. This will be a good place to start the next time you sit down to quilt. Anytime you are stitching on a new machine or trying to do a basic test of the tension, I would try stitching some straight lines, some zig zags and some loops for a quick analysis.