The room temperature deposition of self-assembling silica nanoparticles onto D-shaped optical fibres ("D-fibre"), drawn from milled preforms fabricated by modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD), is studied. Vertical dip-and-withdraw produces tapered layers, with one end thicker (surface coverage >0.85) than the other, whilst horizontal dip-and-withdraw produces much more uniform layers over the core region. The propagation of induced fracturing over the core region during drying is overcome using a simple protrusion of the inner cladding. Thick coatings are discernible through thin film interference colouring, but thinner coatings require scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging. Here, we show that fluorescence imaging, using Rhodamine B, in this example, can provide some qualitative and speedy assessment of coverage.