I use my seam ripper as another finger to guide the blocks through the machine... the pieces are much smaller and you want the last bit of that block to be an accurate 1/4in.. I know sometimes the piece you are running through the machine may veer off a little bit.. the added hold of the seam ripper at the tail end keeps the block aligned with each other and on the straight with the 1/4in. I hope everyone knows what I mean..
I use a bamboo skrewer to do the same thing. It is much safer to use with the machine incase it would accidently get struck by the needle, less of a chance in damaging the machine. You are absolutely right about not veering off the end, a common mistake with beginners. I also use my finger as a guide. I think the trimming of the seams and pressing open will be the two things I can't wait to try. my first mini got a bit bulky and I think those two methods would really help with that. I used to sew clothing for my children thirty years ago, and often wondered why in quilting no one ever pressed the seams open. I guess it had to do with the hand quilting one quarter of an inch away from the seam, not really sure. I have heard more and more quilt designers talk about pressing seams open, which I was taught years ago was a no no in quilting.
actually they ironed to one side to keep the batting from coming out of the seams. I think the machines had a different tension that we have now and their fabric weave a little looser so they thought that would lock the batting in better..now that we have better quality fabric and machines it makes a big difference. Our batting is better too..that we don't get as many tuffs in the material as well..