Book review: Learn to do hand quilting in just one day, by Nancy Brenan Daniel

I recently bought this slim A4 size paperback of 64 pages after seeing very good reviews of it on It was originally published in 1996, but the first edition had about half the pages, and only a few projects. This edition, from 2008, has been expanded to have eight projects (most of them new ones), but the basic text is the same.

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After the large title of ‘Learn to do hand quilting in just one day’ it is easy to overlook the sub-title, ‘…and then practice for the rest of your life’. The author, Nancy Brenan Daniel, makes it very clear from the beginning of the book that basic hand quilting is an easy skill to pick up, but it is constant practice which makes an average quilter into an expert one. There are many tips that Nancy imparts, in a friendly but informative tone. The early pages, describing equipment and materials, give the pros and cons of various things you could choose, rather than being bossy about what you ‘should’ use.

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The ‘Getting ready to hand quilt’ section shows you how to start and end your threads, and detailed descriptions with diagrams on how to make the ‘dimple-style’ running stitch that you will use to quilt. There is a good Q & A section at the end of that chapter about how to improve your technique.

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Then the projects. Personally, I am not into ‘quick and easy’ modern-style projects, even though I can see their usefulness. I want to get straight on with the difficult stuff! There are both types in this book. I was drawn to buy this book by the picture on the cover, as that is the kind of project I want to make – an almost ‘wholecloth’ look, with just a little patchwork around the edge, more like a deep border than a patchworked piece, really. Maybe that’s ambitious, but it’s likely to be the first project that I tackle from this book. The instructions for it are detailed, with template designs for all the elements printed full size on the pages, and suggestions for how to finish the quilt.

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At the back of the book are several pages of quilting motifs, to use in your own projects (not just the ones in this book), which make it good value for money, as buying individual quilting stencils can work out quite expensive.

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I can see why this book gets such good reviews on Amazon – it really is a useful book. There are many books on patchwork designs and techniques, and on machine quilting, but not many on the hand quilting side – especially the more ‘traditional’ aspects.

It is published by the American School of Needlework, and costs $9.95 (I paid £5 on Amazon). ISBN 978 1 59012 230 3.


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3 thoughts on “Book review: Learn to do hand quilting in just one day, by Nancy Brenan Daniel”

  1. Thanks for this review Janet! I too am drawn to wholecloth quilts and hand quilting, though I’ve never done any (it’s on the list!). This book looks fantastic, love the motifs at the back of the book.

  2. Many thanks for the good review. Hand quilting isn’t for everyone. As I wrote in the book — it’s for marathoners not sprinters. Glad you got the point of the book. The cover quilt is still my very favorite quilt. Not sure I could match those stitches I did back then, but, I do still love to hand quilt.
    Nancy Brenan Daniel

    1. Hi Nancy – glad you liked the review 🙂 Yes, hand quilting is certainly not for people who love ‘quick and easy’ – but then, I prefer things that have effort put into them, in order to make something special, rather than just things that can be completed in a couple of hours with a few scraps of fabric and often a tube of glue! I’m still practising my quilting stitches – they’re nothing like as small as the ones in your book, but I’m prepared to work on it!

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