Graphic Texture-- Intro to the Ralli Quilts of Pakistan

Graphic Texture-- Intro to the Ralli Quilts of Pakistan

Every month in the Meander Guild, we "travel" to a different part of the world and learn about the quilt-making style that evolved there. Recently we explored the gorgeous and graphic Rallis of Pakistan!

Rallis are made in the Indus region of Pakistan and India and are among the most vibrant quilts in the world. They are rich with color and tradition as quilt patterns are passed down from mother to daughter, though the designs are seldom drawn or written down, they are kept in the memories of their makers.

Rallis are made primarily by women, both Muslim and Hindu, from many different castes, villages, and nomadic tribes. They play a huge part in the cultural identity of the region, and quilts are an essential part of the dowry system still in use in much of this region.

Rallis can be made with patchwork, applique, embroidery, or a combination of these. They usually contain rich and varied colors, with different tribes having favorite color palettes, though they’d occasionally be made with a simple 2 color palette.

Rallis were and are used to keep warm on cold desert nights, to be given as gifts, and to maintain a sense of cultural continuity. Rallis reflect the quilter’s creativity, ingenuity, and love of color. Some would be embellished with sequins or tassels, and like many quilting traditions, most were made with recycled cloth from clothing or other linens.

In Meander, we explored how to make Rallis in the traditional manner (by hand), a few different machine applique options, as well as some other creative variations. We also played with mixing in the different graphic pieced blocks most used by Ralli makers. 

If you like the idea of experimenting with different styles and techniques, I think you'd love the Meander Guild! It's an online guild where we explore different quilt-making styles, master color, grow creatively, all alongside other likeminded quilters from all over the world. Click here to learn more and sign up!


Now, I'd love to hear from you! What do you think about Rallis? Think you might enjoy making one of these vibrant beauties? Leave a comment below!

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These pictures of Rallies made by my husband Khalid Mahmood (late) in our home floor.

Zarqa Khalid

I am from Pakistan and loved reading your post on the ralli quilting technique. It is a time consuming, intricate process entirely done by hand. I have a few quilts myself and would love to share pictures

Seema Khan

I love to experiment be it quilting, changing a pattern, making my own pattern or changing a recipe. But I am stumped. Have material from another there are a lot of different colors and shades to use and a special piece for focal point. Problem nothing in color to match focal point all is like a damask and maybe type of silk . Can’t seem to get my mind working. He wants a dinosaur on it. I’m


I am an Artist living in the Sacramento, CA, area. I’ve been quilting for many years. I LOVE all types of quilts (traditional to abstract). I am a color nut! I ALWAYS begin with Color; then I let my color selections talk to me; only then do I start the design process which is open to change through the entire quilt top process. I look forward to seeing what other quilters create; it is ALWAYS INSPIRATIONAL. Many Thanks, Lindsay, Artist & Quilt Maker❣


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