When I was in graduate school, and I had to render costumes every week, all of my classmates and I would get jealous over some specific technique that one of the other students could do without thought, that was so effortless for them, but gave such a specific impression. The technique I had that everyone was jealous of, was how I doodled lace. I wouldn’t bother to try to draw a specific lace pattern, even if I had a swatch of real lace. I would just do this sort of doodle bit, usually with a metallic pen, and it would easily communicate ‘gold lace’, without taking tons of time to painstakingly draw it. I feel like my specific scribble quilting is the same as my gold lace rendering. It’s what I can do without thought, but I have a really hard time doing OTHER shapes. Like I couldn’t do angular triangles all over. I would just end up with a hot mess. So when you practice, try different scribble shapes, till you find the one that you can just DO without thinking about it. Whatever feels natural.
As for your question, yes I do pin my quilts. I’m just unwilling to use spray basting. I don’t trust spraying adhesive into the air in my house. Especially since the only place in the house I can lay out my quilt sandwich is on my bedroom floor, which has wall to wall carpet. I just KNOW I’d end up with glue all over the floor forever. The floor my dog sleeps on throughout the day.
I iron my backing, and lay it out as smooth and flat as possible. (When I’ve done this on a hardwood floor, I’ve actually taped it to the floor with painter’s tape, so I knew it wouldn’t get dragged out of place.) Then I check my batting and if it’s wrinkled, I iron that too. I lay that out on top, working from corner, sort of diagonally across, slowly smoothing the batting over the backing, tugging any wrinkles that happen, till I have those two layers as flat and smooth as possible. Then I iron the quilt front, and do the same thing. Start at one corner, and smooth that onto the other two layers. I don’t lay the whole front down on the other layers. I just put down the corner, and do a bit at time, continuing to smooth and tug out any wrinkles from under layers.
When I’m happy with everything laying flat, I start pinning with large #3 safety pins (2 inches long). I start at one corner again, and kinda pin out a quadrant, or as far as I can reach to pin without having to lean my weight on the quilt.
I don’t have an exact space apart, but I’d say no less than 6", and not more than 8". Depending on the design, I’ll often place them based on the blocks. Small blocks might get 1 pin in the center of each. Or a quilt with sashing might get one at the center of each sash intersection. Large blocks might get 2-4. If I were doing something as small as a 12" square, like you asked, I’d probably do one in each corner, one in center, and one along each side seam (9 pins). Which works out to every 6", but that would also be because I’d have so much raw edge in such a small space. I like to make sure my edges are well pinned, because that’s the spot that’s most likely to get ‘fluttered’ or ruffled as you work, resulting in a pucker on top. If I were doing a slightly larger 18" or 24" space, I’d probably do the pins more like 8" apart, again maybe pinning more on my edges and worrying less about pinning that densely in the center.