Disclaimer: By no means am I an expert at free motion quilting. This is ONE method of doing free motion quilting and there are hundreds of different ways. No way is more "right" or "wrong" than others. You have to find the way or ways that work for you. Depending on the size of the throat of your machine, you might have to blend a few ways into something that you can work with.
What you need:
A Quilt Top
Here's the top I'll be using.
Tracing Paper; a Pen; Stencil; Quilting Pattern
What you do:
Do a rough layout on your quilt as to where you want the quilting pattern to go. Test it out - see if it fits. Play around, you may need to use a photocopier to shrink a quilting pattern.
Play with the stencil/s. See if it fits your quilt. It's a process of trial and error. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don't. If you're very new to free motion quilting, stick with stencils that are "continuous line" to quilt. That just means you're not going to start and stop. The whole design will be quilted with ONE huge line.
Once you've settled on a design, trace the design on tissue paper.
I'd suggest cutting a square, but I forgot to take a picture. Sorry! So, cut a piece of tissue paper, and trace the stencil onto the tissue paper. If your fabric is dark, pick an ink color that you can see (doesn't matter what color, you'll be quilting over it. Yes, you're actually going to be quilting ON the tissue paper.
Here's a (kinda bad) picture of the traced stencil.
Once you've settled on a design for the border, trace the design on tissue paper. Make as many as you need. Since my quilt is square, I need 4 corner pieces.
If it's a pattern that I'll need more than once (as in the case with the corners) I'll trace one and then check to make sure it fits. It does, so I'll trace 3 more.
Then, continue to trace the rest of the pattern. The one that I chose to use for this quilt had the corner pieces as well as the border pieces. I got the free pattern at Forest Quilting.
When you're done tracing the borders, lay out the tissue paper on the quilt top and see what you think of it.
If you notice, I didn't do the zig zag part yet, or the outer border. I ran out of time tonight, and to be honest, I'm still thinking on how I want to quilt those parts. For right now, I'm thinking that the inner tan part will have small feathers, and maybe pebbling in the zig zag - I'm not quite sure. :)
Real life is going to be kinda crazy the next few days, but I promise that I'll get back to the tutorial next week after I have some time to think on how I want to quilt this one! :)
As another side note:
There are some amazing quilting motifs out there, and a lot are free. If you like one, don't hesitate to download it/print it/buy it. It is important to note the name of the designer of the motif, especially if you want to put the quilt in a show.
The site that I got the free pattern for the border from is Forest Quilting. Stop by her site, she has a ton of free Quilting Motifs and a bunch of free paper piecing patterns.