Then there are my studio journals which are large working journals where I make notes about techniques Or products I've tried, and where I sketch out potential quilts or free motion quilting designs. When I get an idea, I guess I'm worried I'll forget it before I get around to making a quilt, which I probably would, so I make a quick pencil sketch, and later I usually make a more detailed drawing and color it.
Most of the time, the original sketch doesn't look anything like the final quilt, but it's a starting point. For example, my quilt, Farmed and Dangerous started off with a very rough pencil sketch, then evolved to the watercolor sketch on the left, and finally, to the quilt on the right. Now I like the sketch better than the quilt. Farmed and Dangerous 2 coming up.
I've read about art quilters who plan out their piece in great detail before ever cutting a single piece of fabric, and then stay true to their design all the way through. I'd like to do that, since it seems it would save time and fabric, but I tend to be a two steps forward, one step back (sometimes 3 steps back) style quilter.
I've also heard other quilters say they go straight to their design wall with a pile of fabric and a vague idea of where they are going, and start working. That would be cool too, but wouldn't work for me. Even though I don't follow my design very faithfully, I still need a starting place, and for me, that's a sketchbook.