My first point would be that a small project is far more likely to be completed than a large quilt. While a large quilt top can be made first in small parts and then sewn together, it can still be difficult for a beginner to cope with layering and quilting a large project if they have not done it before.
This is why I often start beginners on a tote bag, baby quilt or cushion cover. This way they can learn to make patchwork quilts - and find out what the jargon means - relatively quickly. This gives the satisfaction of seeing something beautiful that is hand made and the desire to make another quilt soon follows.
There are several things to look for when searching for quilt designs for beginners. The first and most simple design would be using squares and making a design through the different colours of the fabrics used. This is simple to measure, cut and sew, making it an ideal beginner quilt pattern. Next a pattern that introduces rectangles as well could be attempted. This quilt design will have right angles only, so that the construction is simple, but there is now a bit more complexity introduced by virtue of the differing sizes of the quilt blocks.
One of the most simple quilt design ideas for this stage is the log cabin quilt. This is one of the most traditional quilt blocks, even having been used by the ancient Egyptians. The basic log cabin design is for a red square in the middle which represents the hearth. This is surrounded by frames of rectangles representing the logs. Variety is achieved by using different colours and different widths of rectangles for the logs, giving stunning results when the quilt blocks are sewn together.
Once a beginner quilter has a little confidence, different shapes can be introduced into the quilt design ideas. Triangles are the most obvious next step but it would be best to stick to right angled triangles at first. These are made by cutting two squares of different colours along one diagonal and then sewing two triangles of different colours back together again. This obviously gives you a square again, although it will be a smaller square than those that were originally cut along the diagonal. At this stage the number of quilt designs that can be used by the beginner increase dramatically. Using careful placement of colours, stars and flowers can be created using just squares and half square triangles.
When considering quilt design ideas, it is not only the shape of the quilt blocks that needs to be considered - the size of the blocks also has a bearing. It is more difficult to make a quilt with lots of small, fiddly constituent parts. Big blocks are more easy to work with and also help the quilt to grow more quickly. This again helps the confidence of the quilter.
For more information on learning how to quilt, visit Ludlow Quilt and Sew. Sign up for the free newsletter to receive a simple tutorial for a new beginner quilting project each week. http://www.ludlowquiltandsew.co.uk