Back to Back Issues Page
April 30, 2012

V I V A Z I V A ! n e w s l e t t e r


Thanks so much for subscribing to the VIVA ZIVA! Newsletter.

I’ll be issuing a newsletter regularly, with a new free design each time... exclusively created for this newsletter.

This time, I also want to show you the CUSTOM DESIGNS that I have been creating over the last several months.

Learn the Milanese Stitch and create this 30’s chic design, ‘MILANESE MODERNE’:
a classic design created for a jewellery box insert.


  • New Designs & Updates
  • Your Stitch to Try
  • FREE Design
  • Ask the ZIVA DIVA!
  • Next Issue



Recently, I’ve had some ingenious and sometimes challenging requests for CUSTOM DESIGNS that I would like to share with you.

The following concepts that I presented to these clients were subsequently hand-painted on canvas for them.

They are all presently being stitched! I’m looking forward to showing you their final tapestries.

Throughout history, Symbolism has been used as a critical part of the art of design.

To celebrate a couple’s 30th wedding anniversary, I created the ‘DAY LILIES’ cushion design which displays several symbolic elements:

  • Intertwined INITIALS of the couple’s are placed in the centre of the cushion design.
  • The LILY, as the 30th wedding anniversary flower, signifies devotion, beauty, pride, and purity of heart.
    The stylized day lilies form a golden halo around the couple’s initials.
  • Also, symbolically, the PEARL is the anniversary gemstone: small beaded pearls will be added to the flowers’ stamens to contribute to the lustre around the initials.
  • GREEN is the colour for commemorating this occasion, represented by the lilies’ green leaves.
  • The Roman numeral, 30, graphically depicted at the top and bottom of the cushion, completes the symbolism in the design.

The cushion’s French Art Nouveau style, and its remaining colours, complements the living room of their French home with its soft yellow walls, cream trim and deep terra cotta sofas.

I modified the original Persian design for the ‘KHOSRO FOOTSTOOL’ to fit a very unique request…. to incorporate 16 family names into the design! Here’s how I did it:

  • Four ‘primary’ names were incorporated into the wheat-coloured border; one name centred on each side of the tapestry.
  • The other 12 family names were positioned symmetrically on an added outside border, with garden flowers and bushes interspersed between them.

  • The names have been purposely positioned to give the appearance of being an inherent part of the original Persian design.

    The lettering for the names has been created to reflect the intricate character and scale of the overall tapestry.

    Once completed, it will be a cherished family heirloom!

    Another design modification! This time, it’s a change to the ‘DUTCH IRIS’ Handbag.

    My client requested that I paint the Dutch Iris design twice in order to have the tapestry on the front and back of the bag…… but with a twist!

    She asked me to develop a modified design for the back of the bag to allow for a full width zippered pocket when making it up.

    Her idea makes the front and back designs slightly different and gives the whole bag a unique custom look. Brilliant!

    I hope these CUSTOM DESIGNS inspire you to challenge me to get my creative juices flowing and design something unique for you!



    The Milanese Stitch is a diagonal stitch with the arrowheads facing in opposite directions.

    It’s so easy to learn and quick to stitch!

    Once the first row of triangles is stitched in a diagonal band, the rest just falls into place.

    With very exquisite results!


    Study the chart to the right. Take a piece of scrap canvas and yarn and practice the stitch, following the steps below

    Note: The practice chart to the right shows the triangle created with this stitch over 4 threads.

    The ‘Milanese Moderne’ design for the jewellery box insert shown on the large charts below creates a larger triangle over 5 threads.

    1. Work the first triangle diagonally over 1,2 3 and 4 threads following the numbers on the chart
    2. Repeat this over the length of the diagonal.
    3. Start the second row with a stitch over 1 thread joining the stitch over 4 threads previously worked, and fit the stitches into the first row, by sharing the same holes and working the arrowheads in the opposite direction.
    4. Work compensation stitches along the sides of the areas worked to give a straight edge.


    Keep practicing until you feel confident that you’ve got it! Then you are ready to stitch the free design.



    The MILANESE STITCH creates a 30’s chic design, designed specifically as an insert to complement this stylized jewellery box from Sudberry House.

    This black square jewellery box (‘Betsy Box’) which also has a 1930’s look complements the tapestry perfectly. They were made for each other!


    This colour combination was perfect for my purposes as a gift for my daughter.

    Use your imagination and customize the design any way you like. For example, as an insert for a dark brown wood box (also available from Sudberry House), you may want to change the black to dark brown or taupe.

    Instead of the soft wheat colour accent, you may want to create something with bolder colours!


    The small triangles of the Milanese stitch allow you to add more or less of them in a single diagonal row, to suit other box sizes.

    Just add the compensation stitches (as shown in the chart above) to square it off to the size you need. Adding a border can also make up the dimension difference.


    You also can see in the photo that I stitched my daughter’s initial ‘H’ in the centre of the design. All with the compensation stitch, which is similar to the Satin or Gobelin Stitch.

    If you want to make up this free design, I’ll create a chart for your initial of choice, just contact me. My pleasure!



    • CHART COLOURS: To make the charts easier to read for you, I picked strong accent colours, i.e. green, red, blue and mauve, to depict the 4 shades of grey , from dark to light respectively.
    • The Milanese stitch has been rescaled by working the diagonal stitch in each triangle over 5 threads before the repeat.
    • Compensation stitches follow the angles of the Milanese stitches and become an integral part of the design

    CHART N° 1

    The first chart below shows the total insert design.

    CHART N° 2

    The second chart below depicts approximately a quarter of the design so you can see the individual stitches more clearly.


    All colours are chosen from Appleton Tapestry Yarns

    They are readily available at your local needlepoint shop or online.

    To stitch the design in the dimensions as shown, you will need four skeins of each colour.


    You will also need :

    • mono interlock canvas at 13 mesh,
      Size: 8” x 8” (20x 20 cm)
    • Needlepoint Needle: For 13-mesh canvas, use size 18 or 20 needle
    • Masking Tape
    • Scissors
    • black (or colour of your choice) square box (‘Betsy Box Sudberry House or equivalent

    Go to the ZIVA site for more detail info on the MATERIALS required.


    • As usual, start by putting masking tape on the canvas edges to protect the yarns from getting frayed.
    • STARTING UP : In the photo above left, I stitched the Milanese stitch in black and in the 3 grey colours diagonally 8 times to make up the first row.
    • I then stitched Milanese stitch triangles in the opposite direction in the soft wheat colour on either side of the greys as shown. The black Milanese stitch at the bottom of the photo shows the centre of the design starting to set up.
    • IN PROGRESS: In the photo above right, you can see the design emerging as you change direction with the stitch and start another quarter of the design (bottom right of photo).


    After blocking the tapestry, check the dimensions again to be sure that the stitched area is still 5” square.
    NOTE: Sometimes the canvas will shrink slightly when wetting it as you are blocking.
    If necessary, compensate by adding another outside row(s) to be sure of a perfect fit with the jewellery box top insert.

    As mentioned above, I purchased the black jewellery box from the Sudberry House. Be sure when you purchase one of their boxes (or the equivalent from someone else) that it specifies ‘5” x 5” Visible Design Area’ to be sure the insert design ‘Milanese Moderne’ will fit.
    The mounting instructions, which I found easy to follow, are included with the box.


    Dear Sylvia,

    I’ve noticed on your site that you use mostly wool tapestry yarn for your designs. Can I substitute another yarn fibre? Thanks, Bev, UK

    Dear Bev,

    You’re right; I use wool almost exclusively for my designs. Aesthetically, wool has a rich texture and lovely depth of colour. There are an amazing number of beautiful colours from several manufacturers, such as Appleton, Anchor, DMC, etc.

    But equally important, because I have a lot of seat covers on the site, wool, being a strong fibre, wears well on upholstered pieces.

    You will note, however, that I have used cotton yarn for some of my small purses and bracelets, where I wanted more vibrant colours, and there is less wear on the tapestry to be concerned about.

    Other fibres?

    Of course, it’s your choice if you want to use another fibre yarn for one of my designs. But please discuss it with me, so I can advise you if I see a problem.

    Silk is a beautiful fibre, providing vivid colours with a lovely sheen. But, for example, it would be too fragile for a footstool cover. It would be better suited for a cushion, a small clutch bag, a necklace or as a decorative accent stitch.

    Silk and Wool yarn blends give you the benefits of the two fibres, but can be very expensive.

    I hope my response helps you in your decision of what fibre yarn options you have.


    The next VIVA ZIVA! Newsletter #1212 will be issued in the fall of 2012 .

    I’ll be including:

    • New Designs & Updates
    • A new Stitch to Try with a
    • Free needlepoint design: to be announced on my What’s New blog in the summer, 2012.
    • And lots of other features!

    Please contact me if there is a particular stitch you’d like me to use for a free design in a future newsletter!

    Share this newsletter with friends and relatives.
    They can also go to my subscription page on the site to get on the mailing list for the next VIVA ZIVA! Newsletter

    Looking forward to sending you the next newsletter!

    Sylvia McLeod

Back to Back Issues Page