Ralli is termed “patchwork” in the west, a nomenclature used because of combining fine craftsmanship with thrifty recycling; more so, because it is the joining of shaped pieces of patterns or colored fabrics to form a rich mosaic. The technique offers a limitless scope to experiment with patterns, color and textures.
Adorned with bright colors and bold patterns, the quilts are also called rilli, rilly, rallee or rehli derived from the local word ralanna meaning to “mix or connect”. For sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion in terms, used in different places of ralli production, the term “Ralli” has been used in this post; which by no means be taken as a standard term.
In Pakistan, rallis are made in the southern province of Pakistan including Sindh, in Balochistan province and Cholistan desert in Bahawalpur district of Punjab. Just across our borders, in India the art is found in the adjoining states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
In Appliqué or the applied patchwork motifs are cut from plain or decorative fabrics. The edges are turned under the pieces and are hemmed or slipstitched to a background fabric. Sometimes the edges are left raw and a buttonhole stitch is used to join the fabric to the base in a more elaborated way.
The pattern making possibilities offered by patchwork are almost infinite, but the traditional patterns are still the most popular. The simplest patchworks are one-patch design based on a single geometric shape such as a triangle, a square or a hexagon. Beautiful effects can be achieved by using different fabrics to create patterns. For instance, in the tumbling block design, light, dark and middle tones are used to create a three-dimensional illusion.