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International Quilt Museum

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM) in Lincoln, Nebraska, is partnering with American Patchwork & Quilting to share information on quilting traditions from around the world.


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Uses for Ralli Quilts

Ralli quilts are used as bedding, floor coverings, tent walls, wrappings, and even as bags for carrying snakes. This quilt combines the three techniques typically found in ralli quilts: piecing, appliqué, and embroidery. While ralli quilts are used for everyday events, a quilt such as this, with its fringe and beadwork trim, was likely made for a special event, perhaps a wedding. Ralli quilts are also an important part of a girl’s marriage dowry and owning many quilts is a sign of prosperity. (Remember that the next time someone suggests you have too many quilts!)

Fabric in ralli quilts is typically cotton and often recycled. "When we have access to so much fabric, it’s sometimes hard to remember that fabric is still very valuable and therefore reused in many cultures," Ducey says. These quilts have no batting: instead layers of fabric are held together with large stitches and thick threads, similar to Japanese sashiko stitching. The colors of this quilt, made between 1950 and 1960, are typical of many ralli quilts.

Photo courtesy of International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2006.001.0001.