Hooked on Rallis!

Posted by admin on May 30, 2015

I first became aware of ralli quilts in 1996 when I moved to Islamabad, Pakistan for a few years. I saw my first ralli at the bottom of a large stack of textiles in a handicrafts shop.  It was geometric, bold, colorful and very intriguing.  It had the solid colored rich hued fabric that reminded me of Amish quilts in the US.  The zigzag border was something new….


The following week, I found a second one.  It was charming and also geometric, but there was something unusual in the border with small appliqued snowflake-like patterns that did not fit the Amish style.


The third ralli I saw was entirely different than the first two!  It had organic shapes that were covered with shiny sequins and seemed to move.  I was amazed and very curious about the ralli quilt tradition by now.


These first rallis that I “met” set me on a path to discover more about these beautiful and interesting textiles.  I wanted to know all about them — who made them, how were they used, where were they made, what inspired the quilters, etc.

I found that ralli quilts are an indigenous tradition among many different cultural groups from southeastern Pakistan and western India.  Traditionally, there are three styles of ralli quilting: patchwork, applique and embroidered.  Patchwork is based on colored fabric cut into geometric shapes and stitched together, applique designs are made from cut fabric sewn to another cloth, and embroidered quilts use embroidery as a method to both decorate and hold the quilts together.

I hope to share with you in this blog some of the wonderful and interesting things I have learned and continue to learn about the beautiful tradition of rallis and the amazing women who make them.  More to come. . .