Over the years I have made several samples of quilting designs. Some of these I have learned from teachers such as Harriet Hargrave, Diane Gaudynski, Sue Nickles, and Maurine Noble. Others designs have been developed from my own doodling. I keep a sketch book handy to draw out interesting line designs I see in ironwork, buildings, and signage. There is much to see and record if you look around.
When I was teaching beginning machine quilting, I used Maurine Noble's book Machine Quilting Made Easy. It's a great starting point, affordably priced, and is probably in it's 30th press run by now. I had been quilting for awhile when I had the opportunity to take class from Maurine. Although not technically a beginner, I certainly learned a great deal from her because she was the author of the book and there's those little things gleaned from her experience that I really treasured.
Here's the sample I made from Maurine's book and used to teach from her book:
Another teacher who came to town was Harriet Hargrave, the godmother of machine quilting. She taught me the importance of excellent mechanics, such as precision piecing, fabric care, batting choices, and choosing a quilting design to properly compliment the quilt's style. Through her I came to love stencils and saw how a simply quilted grid on a traditional style quilt is often the best choice. I love to quilt grids, such as these:
About five years ago, I went to Harriet's Machine Quilting Celebration in her hometown of Denver, Colorado. There I took class from Diane Guadynski and learned some of her exquisite free-form designs, such as Bouncing Bananas:
Eventually, I designed a sampler that incorporated the use of free-form designs, stencils and grids, along with the mechanics of stitching-in-the-ditch. A quilt using stitch-in-the-ditch, along with a simple grid can be an excellent choice for providing good integrity for the quilt and making it last through wear, tear, and washings.
Hanging your samplers near your quilting area will help spark ideas when deciding how you desire to quilt your quilt!