Our Story

Eleanor Burns

Eleanor BurnsOver thirty years ago Eleanor Burns introduced her first Quilt in a Day book, beginning a quilt making revolution. She invited all types of sewers to participate in an age-old tradition using her unique style; a diverse combination of cutting and sewing applications which replaced scissors and templates with rips and strips, bringing rotary speed to patchwork. She also introduced an incredibly rapid stitching system, applying the method of assembly line sewing to piecework. Her concise, step-by-step directions were easy to grasp, allowing anyone to be successful at making a quilt. Eleanor Burns gave quilt makers techniques that compacted months into merely a day, a quilt in a day. Today, as she continues to passionately devote herself to nurturing and motivating thousands of want-to be quilters with needed self-confidence, her name and techniques have become synonymous with quiltmaking.

Since 1978, when Eleanor self-published that first book "Make a Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern," she has become a prolific author, revered teacher trainer, popular television personality, and celebrated industry role model. She has authored over eighty additional books that sell at a rate of well over 6,500 per week. She has trained thousands of instructors throughout the world who teach her quiltmaking methods. In 1990, Eleanor pioneered the way people view quiltmaking with television. Her Quilt in a Day TV series began airing on PBS and is still broadcasting nationwide and abroad, even teaching in Japan. Adding to all of that, she has developed her own "Signature” fabric lines, several special edition sewing machines, and received numerous awards and recognition for her lifetime of achievements.

The story of how Eleanor became so popular, mirrors the process of constructing an heirloom quilt. Her life, like a patchwork quilt assembled from pieces collected over time, has blended into an inspiring and beautiful story. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1945 and quite early on began sewing on a small, crank-handle toy sewing machine. Seeking out any available fabric, she discovered her Aunt Edna’s chicken feed sacks, allowing her hours of stitching time. By thirteen, she polished her skills up on her mother’s newly purchased green Elna sewing machine. Her childhood brought out an enterprising spirit that was expressed in persistent tenacity. Being dyslexic developed her extraordinary ability to make difficult things simple, and teaching others was a way for her to impart her passion for learning. As a young woman, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Edinboro State College. Her graduate work at Penn State University culminated her preparation to be a special education teacher, and she began teaching for the Pittsburgh school system. In 1967 she met and married Bill Burns and the process of piecing together her work with family life began.

Even though Quilt in a Day is over thirty years old, it is so very contemporary. From the Internet to her ongoing sales of that first book, Eleanor continues to uniquely inspire thousand of quilt makers worldwide everyday, one person at a time. Eleanor Burns and Quilt in a Day will always be a big part of the patchwork community. All the pieces of her life do work well together, so beautifully, bringing quiltmaking an inspiring presence that was meant to be. With the continued help of her son Orion and her sisters Judy and Patricia, she will keep bringing people into every stitch of her life, encouraging them step-by-step throughout her delightful patchwork path. So as Quilt in a Day celebrates over thirty years of quilting, you could say that Eleanor Burns has quilt making nicely sewn-up.

Throughout her career she has published over 104 ‘How-to‘ quilt books, developed an Eleanor Burns Signature Pattern Collection and designed a variety of specialty rulers produced to aid the quilter in successfully completing their quilt.

Biography Notes

“Make a Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern” First Edition 1978. It is now in its Fifth Edition, 2000.

Business Advocate Award for San Diego, 1993. An award for her positive impact for women
business owners.

San Diego Book Awards Association 1996. A certificate of award for outstanding accomplishments in “How To” books.

Primedia Awards 1992, 1994, 1998, 2003 Awards of Excellence: “Quilter’s Almanac” 1992, “Appliqué in a Day” 1994 (Certificate of Excellence), “Bears in the Woods” and “Flying Geese Ruler” 1998, “Underground Railroad Sampler” 2003.

Michael Kile Award of Achievement 1999
Eleanor Burns was the recipient of this “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Bestowed upon her by Quilts, Inc., the host of International Quilt Market, for her support of the quilting industry and her work to achieve a long-lasting effect for the advancement of quilting. This award is the most prestigious and coveted award presented in its field.

North County Times, San Diego 2002 Women of Merit Award
Eleanor Burns was honored with this prestigious award for her contributions and achievements for Women in North County.

All American Quilter
In 2005, Eleanor Burns was named one of 5 quilters voted All American Quilter.

The research for naming the top five quilters came from the American Quilters Society. They asked their members to name one living person whom they felt had made the greatest contributions to quilting in recent years. From thousands of entries, Eleanor won the honor of All American Quilter with 4 other major quilters.


Elna USA made Eleanor Burns an official spokeswoman in 1997. In 1999 she was honored with a limited edition “Quilter’s Dream Signature Series” sewing machine. After the Elna Sewing Machine label was sold in 2006, Eleanor was invited to rejoin the Tacony Corporation, makers of Baby Lock Sewing Machines, as spokeswoman for the Quilter's Dream Sewing Machine Series. Tacony Corporation is an underwriter for the Quilt in a Day TV series.

Benartex, Inc. and Eleanor collaborated to design Eleanor’s Anniversary Florals in 1998. This fabric line was showcased in “Grandmother’s Garden Quilt” book. With the overwhelming success of this line, Rainbow Florals was introduced in 2001. Eleanor designed 6 color ways consisting of large-scale prints, floral strips, checks, and tone on tone prints. A third line of fabric, Yours Truly, Eleanor Burns and Yours Truly Holiday debuted in May, 2003. Since then, she has designed 4 additional fabric collections for Benartex including Magic Vine, Victory Garden, True Blue and Perennials (2 colorful seasons).

Quilt in a Day, the television series has been shown on PBS stations Nationwide for over 22 years. RFD-TV began airing the Quilt in a Day series in 2005 and continues to draw large audiences. With introduction of streaming video via the internet, Eleanor can also be found on YouTube.