First a minor note:
Quilting is like any other art. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to do it. Start with something small, pot holders, lap quilt. Just like when a baby learns to crawl and drags itself around on it's elbows instead of running a marathon, a new quilter is better off with a small project they are likely to finish than attempting a queen sized quilt and getting discouraged 1/8th of the way though. Discouragement leads to dispair which leads to UFOs (UnFinished Objects).
While there are lots of helpful tools like rotary cutters, acrylic rules and self-healing cutting matts (I can't live without mine!), until you know whether you are going to continue quilting or not it's best to start with inexpensive equiptment. Cut a cereal box into squares for templates. DON'T go to a local quilt shop (LQS) and buy $11 a yard fabric! Though some quilters would disagree with me, it doesn't make sense to spend that much money on a first project. If you have a JoAnn Fabrics near you, right now they have FQs for .99 cents. Or use fabric you have lying around--just make sure it's 100% cotton and not too thin!
Just for the sake of this, I'm going to explain how to make a basica 4-patch block offset by "plain" squares.
Buy 2 FQs of a semi-solid print/color (stripes, spots, flowers just make sure it's a fairly small scale print so it doesn't clash with your bigger setting squares.)
Buy 2 FQs (Fat Quarters, a piece of fabric 18"x22" roughly) of a light or white.
Buy 2 FQs of a fabric that coordinates with your semi-solid but is a larger print (these are for your bigger setting squares)
When you get home, open and iron your FQs. You can prewash them if you want--if they are dark or bright colors they might bleed on your lights. Just toss them in a load of wash and iron them when they are dry.
Take your cereal box, dismantle and using a ruler draw a 3" square and a 5 1/2" square on the plain cardboard side of the box. Cut these out. These are now your templates.
Use the 3" square template to draw 3" squares on the WRONG side (the back) of the semi-solid and the light/white fabrics. Use the 5 1/2" square template to draw squares on the back/wrong side of the larger print.
Unlike sewing where you use a 3/4" seam allowance, for quilting you are going to use 1/4". Take a semi-solid square and a light/white square and lay them right sides together. Sew your 1/4" seam down one edge. Open and press the seam toward the darker fabric (helps hide seams). I will make a couple of these later and post pics of this process. Now repeat so you have two of these 2 patch units. Place them right sides together with the light of one touching the dark of the other and sew 1/4" seam down one long edge. Your piece will look like this:
You now have a 4 patch! Make up as many of these as you can with the rest of your 3" squares. You're then going to lay your quilt out alternating these with a plain 5" suqare. Sew the blocks together with your 1/4" seam allowance. Press.
TADA you have a quilt top!!
I'll explain pinning and quilting later, my daughter just learned how to take all our movies out of the shelves! I'll post pictures of this process later, because I learn better by seeing the steps as they happen and you might too!