Sunday, December 11, 2011

Aemilia Ars Needle Lace Freebies

The Cultural Association "I Merletti di Antonilla Cantelli" has given a most wonderful selection of old Aemilia Ars needle lace patterns as a Christmas gift to their readers, students and followers!

This morning I received their newsletter in my inbox and with my heart racing I clicked on the link to read their full letter which tells the story that in the middle of the 1990s, Francesca Ortolani who was part of the religious order of the Sanctuary of Sacro Cuore in Bologna gave to Antonilla Cantelli's students some boxes full of large and small patterns for Aemilia Ars needle lace which had been used by the famous school which was headquartered at the Sacro Cuore beginning in 1912 which taught sewing, embroidery and lace to women.

Antonilla Cantelli being by then (the mid-1990s), a master of Aemilia Ars needle lace had begun her studies at the above-mentioned school which was well and widely known for the high calibre of Aemilia Ars needle lace made there. Antonilla had four students at the time of this wonderful donation from Francesca Ortolani and they were delighted to have their pick from the boxes of hundreds of patterns. 

Later, some of the students of Antonilla Cantelli formed the Cultural Association "I Merletti di Antonilla Cantelli" which continues to teach the methods of their master and to ensure that the breathtaking needle lace of Aemilia Ars is not forgotten. It is these ladies who have now decided to share a selection of their old patterns with us as a special Christmas present.

The 10 patterns are downloadable free from their website and have indications written on them (in Italian) for the execution of the lace.

If you should like to pursue Aemilia Ars needle lace but cannot get to Bologna to take classes, the ladies of the Association have published two fantastic books of instructions to help you. One is called "Bordi" [Borders] and one is called "Fiori" [Flowers]. You may still order them from Elena at Italian Needlecrafts until the 27th of December when she closes her shop. Elena also carries the lovely book of patterns and photos of Antonilla Cantelli's work written by her granddaughter Barbara: L'Aemilia Ars di Antonilla Cantelli.

For those of you interested in the history of Aemilia Ars needle lace, the ladies of the Association have begun to post original documents on their website under the "Storia" tab.


  1. Jeanine,
    I have become a devotee of yours as I have learned Aemelia Ars following the pattern you published in Needlework Magazine, and have bought two of the AA books and followed the pictures. I have been using DMC #80, but would like to try something a little larger. The books say to use #50, 60 or 70. What threads do you use, and where do you get them? Thanks for all the valuable information you share with all if us wielders of needles!
    Janet Peer

  2. Hi Janet, I'm so glad to know that you were able to learn from the article in Piecework! I use No. 60 DMC Cordonet thread which I got years ago when a needlework shop near here was closing. You should be able to find it easily enough online or perhaps at a needlework store near to where you live. The really important thing is to use the Glace thread for the support stitches so that they don't split while you're making the lace - it makes life *so* much easier! Check for my post on March 21, 2013 to read more about it.

  3. How do I download the freebie patterns?

  4. Sorry Jean, the website has been restructured since this post was written in 2011. The freebies do not seem to be available any longer.

  5. Hi Jeanine. Your site is full of wonderful resources! Thank you. I just took a day-long lesson in Aemilia Ars in Italy and am now home trying to reconstruct what I learned. Having trouble with figuring out how to route things. Do you know of any books with good, clear diagrams for how to take a piece of lace from beginning to end? I speak and read Italian pretty well, but it's the diagrams I'm really after. Many thanks! Carla.

  6. Carla, where did you take your class? The best books are with Nuova S1:
    or if you can download the back issue of Piecework May/June 2009