What does it mean when a fabric is RAILROADED?
A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the first photo.
Do you see the stripe going horizontally from selvage to selvage? When the design, or in this case, the stripe, is horizontal instead of vertical or “up the roll,” the fabric is considered RAILROADED. The next picture will show you why fabric is made this way.
The same fabric is turned on its side and the bolt can unroll for a continuous piece without any seams which is why RAILROADED fabrics are ideal for wide cornices, headboards and furniture. Keep in mind that the vertical direction is limited to 54″ (the width of this fabric and most home decorating fabrics) from the bottom to the top of the design or in this case, the bottom of the stripe to the top of the stripe. So this pattern would not work for long drapes.
Sometimes, The Fabric Mill labels a fabric as “TURNABLE.” This simply means that the fabric may be used in either direction. This is typical of solid fabrics or small designs. The best test is to turn the fabric yourself and decide if it would look good in either direction. Many florals are also turnable.
Here are two more photos that will demonstrate RAILROADED FABRIC:
The birds are not vertical. They do not go up the roll, therefore this fabric is RAILROADED.
In the next picture, I turned the fabric onto it’s side and opened the bolt and stretched it across the sofa. The birds are now in the right direction for seamless upholstering.