I don't have a long arm so any machine quilting I do is done on my little Elna. I thought I would share a few tips I have learned over the years. I am no professional but hopefully you will learn from my trials and errors!
First, preparation is everything. Press and iron your pieced quilt top and backing. Get it all as flat as possible! I don't starch the fabric because I have found that it causes it to shrink a bit. Then it starts to un-shrink when I handle it causing puckering issues.
Next lay out you backing right side down. I do this on the carpet. Using T pins I stretch the backing til it is very taunt. These pins can take the tension while lighter weight ones won't. Now place your batting on top on the backing, smoothly it from the center out. Next comes the top. Smooth it out on top of the batting. The backing needs to be tighter than the top! If you don't get this right you will get tucks on the back of your quilt that will make you cry!
Notice that the back is much larger than the top. I will trim it down later. Now is not the time to worry about wasting fabric. You can use the left overs for making blocks or hexies!
Now that everything looks smooth and tidy I begin pinning.
I use large flower straight pins and pinmores (how to make your own here) about every 2 to 4 inches. I really don't want the layers to shift so the more pins the better. These are easy to remove as you quilt so don't be stingy! Now you can trim your edges. I still leave a couple inches of batting and backing beyond the edge of the top just to give me a little wiggle room. Next time I will show you some gadgets I use to make the quilting process easier.