Using Quilting Sewing Machines at home is not that difficult to get started, and there are a few simple rules to be aware of: First, ensure you pin your quilt strictly by stretching first & while actually quilting, begin from the center and spiral outwards as you work. If you work side to side, or begin from a corner, you will probably end up distorting your quilt, so you have been warned!
I find wearing a pair of quilting gloves allows a good grip on the quilt while moving it under the needle. If you are trying to create complex patterns on your quilt then using some specialized techniques such as stipping and / or loopies around the main element of your design will greatly enhance the finished article. Also try to do some background quilting along with some 'stitch in the ditch' around the main design which improve the overall quality of your quilt design.
A midarm machine is the best system for quilting as they are great for stitching three layers while keeping a good tension between them (top, backing and batting). Another benefit is that it allows for the best working space without being too cramped (which is what you unfortunately get with smaller set-ups).
As there are lots of different machines in the midarm market, ensure you research all the different options before deciding on which model you are going to buy. I find the best setup is a 15 "- 18" deep throat 'WITHOUT' a Stitch Regulator. These automatic stitch regulators develop glitches over time and will end up hindering your workflow in the long run. Please try a number of different machines & frames before finally deciding on which make and model of machine you will buy, while remembering that a good machine can also be cheap !! A basic machine is usually more reliable (as there are less things to go wrong) and extremely cheaper too!
Do not attempt to use Longarm Quilting Sewing Machines for home quilting, as the large 28 "to 30" throats & 14 "frames are mainly designed for the bedspread industry. quilting at home, which is why they were cleverly marketed to the home quilting crowd with great success.
When deciding on your machine, it's essential you can access the battling whilst quilting. If you can not reach it, or it is awkward, then this will be a problem. Ask for a demo in the shop first !!
Using an ironing board is a great tip. Simply take off the cover and you will notice the ease of movement as the quilt glides smoothly on the metal surface. The ironing board can easily be adjusted to suit and also folds away when finished.