TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ralli Quilts

Once again I have fallen in love... Oh, woe is me! I've known for a long time that quilts have had a long tradition across Asia and Africa, and I knew that the Sindhi women made quilts, but I didn't know about Ralli quilts until a couple of months ago. Since then, I have been buying them from a Pakistani dealer. They arrive dirty and smelly. I machine washed a couple of them, and lo and behold! They held up beautifully! So, now they all go through the machine after arrival.

Most of the quilts I have been getting seem to be from the 1970's or 80's. Many are silk with some cotton blends and are completely hand assembled. Some are complex patchwork designs, while others have a whole cloth in the center with a wild border around them. Color choices are often bizarre and unrelated (at least to my palette). All are twin size, perfect for the sleeping cots they use in the region. They are usually quilted vertically, although some will have variations.

There is usually another layer of fabric between top and back, serving as batting. Quilting threads are normally a thick cotton.

An example using a whole cloth in the center:

This one uses a batiked cotton as the whole cloth:

This X pattern seems to be a favorite. The first is newer and the second is estimated to be from the 1950's:

Here's another older one, all cotton, very nicely stitched:

Here's a strange one. The brown fabric is silk and the five squares are appliquéd on to it:

The backs are as interesting to me as the fronts. They often use the floral cottons that were imported from Russia and China, but will also have remnants pieced together without much apparent consideration for design.

Are you hooked now, too? There is a nice site with further information on the history of these quilts: http://www.ralliquilt.com/history.html They sell quilts made by local women as a way to help them earn income. You can support them directly there.

I just ordered a book on Ralli Quilts which will hopefully arrive soon.

Click on the book and it will take you to the Amazon review. Well, that's about it for today. I have my ralli quilts for sale in my Etsy store if you would also like to own one. They are beautiful as wall tapestries, but can be used gently as any older quilt.


  1. Rayela I love your purse. Beadwork is also a hobby of mine and your use of flat beads really adds a new dimension to your purse. I think there is so much that can be done with candy wrapper art that has not been done. I look forward to your future projects and to the development of candy wrapper art.

  2. Dear Rayela,
    I am glad to see some ralli quilt photos of desert Tharparker of Pakistan on your blog . Ralli quilting is one of oldest traditional textile art in the world.



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