These contemporary needlepoint handbag designs owe their conception to the delicate beauty of the iris... the essence of springtime.

Spring irises... What an amazing inspiration they have been for so many artisans and artists over the centuries!

Particularly in the Art Nouveau period… from the sophisticated glass vases of Gallé to the lyrical paintings by Monet and van Gogh.

The stylized spring irises from this period became my inspiration as well… a perfect source for two handbag designs for the ZIVA Needlepoint Collection... Dutch Iris Handbag and Iris Buds Clutch Bag.


So exactly how did spring irises from the Art Nouveau period influence my design for contemporary needlepoint bags?

I fell in love with the sinuous contours I saw painted on a Dutch Art Nouveau earthenware dish dating from 1900.

I also had long admired irises as painted by such illustrious artists as van Gogh and Monet.

Both these painters were influenced by Japanese woodblock designs, popular in Europe at the time.

Van Gogh in particular used black contours, a typical design element in woodblock prints, in his ‘Irises’ paintings.



In this photo of the ‘Dutch Iris’ handbag, you can see a variety of curved silhouettes of irises bound by the wavy, twisting, and curling lines of their leaves.

Classic Art Nouveau!

The contemporary shape of the hobo bag integrates well with the delicate curves of the stylized Dutch irises.

And the colours I used?

I combined contemporary colours of a golden tan, and taupe with the timeless Art Nouveau colours of turquoise, mauve and peach tones.

Everything is outlined in black contours…in true Art Nouveau fashion!

This colour combination also gives the needlepoint design a very contemporary feel.



Looking at this composite photo above , you can see the stages for creating this needlepoint bag:

  • In the photo at left above, the detail stitching has been completed and I am filling in the black background with the Basketweave Stitch. Click here for more information on this basic stitch.
  • The centre photo shows the blocking stage after you have finished the stitching. Click here for more detail info on blocking your needlepoint.
  •  PLEASE NOTE: You can also check back issue #0901 VIVA ZIVA! Newsletter for more detail on these two stages of this ‘Dutch Iris’ handbag design.
  • The photo at right shows the exquisite finished needlepoint tapestry.

What a stunning example of needlepoint art !

Thank you Messieurs Monet and van Gogh!



I used a black medium-weight wool fabric for the back of the bag and for the side gussets which continue up to make the shoulder strap.

I also recommend a small inner zippered bag be made up for the safety of your personal items.

 You'll find Making-up Suggestions are included in ZIVA"s Needlepoint Kits.  


I have also reworked this same ‘Dutch Iris’ design to create a full width zippered pocket for the back of the handbag in the same  colours.

This pocket design also makes a chic small purse or clutch bag!

See ‘Iris Buds’ Handbag Design below.


In keeping with the classic colour combinations used in the Art Nouveau period, I created two colour variations from the same palette.

The concept drawing on the left emphasizes the taupe colour more, for those of you who wear more browns and taupes.

With the concept drawing on the right, I used the turquoise colour to create a broad area of vivid colour, for those who want to wear more colourful handbags.


All valid options for the Art Nouveau ‘Dutch Iris’ handbag design inspired by Van Gogh!



My client, Karen B. from Arizona USA, loved the Dutch Iris handbag design, but she wanted to make it her own!

So she asked me to create the bag with the following changes:

  1. Paint the design TWICE on 14 holes per inch canvas (normally 12 hpi)
  2. Break the design on one side to accommodate a zipper when making the bag up
  3. Make the design larger at 16” wide (normally 14” wide)
  4. Recommend another fibre other than wool due to a slight wool allergy

No problem!

Here’s the FRONT of her finished Dutch Iris handbag!

She’s stitched it exquisitely in a silk and wool blend thread from Silk and Ivory.


The bag was beautifully made up in a buttery black leather by Quail Run Needlework, Inc., Arizona, who provide making up services throughout the US and Canada.




At left is the BACK of the bag with Karen herself!

Note the slight change in the design to accommodate the zipper.

Karen now has a stunning unique needlepoint handbag, created to her wishes.



Allow me to create a custom design for you!


I created and hand-painted the 'Iris Buds' design as a back pocket for the ‘Dutch Iris’ Handbag.

A very large pocket perfect for quick access to a cell phone, keys, etc!

It has the same strong outlines, colours and flattened images… again, typical Art Nouveau elements.

The photo at right shows the hand-painted canvas just before I started stitching it.



But as I was stitching it, I realized that it would be perfect as well as a small elegant handbag on its own!

Its dimensions, approx. 14 inches by 6 inches, make it an ideal size to wear for an evening out, when you don’t want to be carrying a large bag.


It can be worn as a clutch bag, or with shoulder straps. Handles can also be added to it. Your choice.


I've also reworked this same design to create an elegant COLLAR NECKLACE to accent and enhance your basic ensemble!


These contemporary needlepoint handbag designs owe their creation to the paintings and decorative arts from the Art Nouveau period.

Thanks again, Mr. van Gogh!


For other original needlepoint handbag designs in the ZIVA Collection, click here.

From these irises designs, go to Home Page.

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