Why do you use a thread tree?
I personally do NOT like the horizontal thread holders built into sewing machines. I find that they can cause all kinds of tension issues, so I use a separate thread tree for my thread. I explain this in more detail in the video.
What settings do I need to set my machine to?
First sew normally with some test fabric to be sure your tension is okay. Then change your foot to a FMQ foot. Set your machine to stitch length 0. This will disengage your feed dogs from pulling your fabric. The feed dogs will still move up and down, which is fine. Most machine quilters “drop” their feed dogs, but I find I have prettier stitches when I leave my feed dogs up. If you do this, you MUST set your stitch length at 0.
My machine does not have automatic needle down. What do I do?
When you stop quilting you ALWAYS want your needle down into the quilt. Some machines have a setting to stop in the downward position, and some don’t. If you machine does not have this setting, carefully pick up one hand from your quilt and use your hand wheel to put your needle down. Then you can remove both hands.
How do I start and stop?
When you start, you need to put your needle down into the quilt once, then bring the needle up. Tug on your top thread just a little and your bobbin thread should pop up to the top. Pull your two threads back out of the way so they are fairly long and begin stitching.
When you stop, put your needle up, lift your presser foot, pull your quilt out and cut your threads long.
When you are finished with your blocks you will bury your thread tails in the quilt layers. See this video tutorial on how to bury your thread tails.
How fast should I go?
Start off at a slow or medium speed. What speed you go is a preference, but whatever the case you need to make sure you move your hands at the right tempo for the speed you are going on your machine. If your hands are moving faster than your machine, you'll have super-long stitches. If your hands are moving more slowly than your machine, you'll have itty bitty stitches. Try to find a balance that gives you medium, evenly-spaced stitches.
This takes time, and lots of practice, so don’t fret. And don’t rip your stitches out unless the stitches greatly affect the quality of the quilt, as in they may fall out when washed. Keep in mind no one will ever be looking at the stitches as closely as you are!
What if I do end up needing to rip some stitches out?
As I said in the question above, ONLY rip out your stitches if you made a HUGE mistake or the quality of the quilt is at stake. If you do end up having to rip stitches out here is a Un-Tutorial on how to seam rip a quilt by Angela Walters.