What Is Railroad Fabric?

What Is Railroad Fabric?

Many fabrics are often described as railroaded but what does this exactly mean? We explain how can railroaded fabrics be used and what is good about them?


The diagrams above help to illustrate in our description of what railroaded fabric is.

On most curtain fabrics the main pattern (the nap; the raised surface of certain fabrics e.g. velvet/ chenille) is printed or woven from selvage to selvage horizontally (up the roll) where the pattern looks up right, shown in Diagram A.

However, on railroaded fabric, the pattern is printed or woven along the selvage vertically (side of roll). This gives the impression that the pattern is on its side, shown in Diagram B.

Railroaded fabric is mainly used for upholstery because the vertical weave or print allows the fabric to go across a piece of furniture without too many seams. This is especially useful when there is a large pattern, stripes, velvet or chenille.

It is always best to check with your upholsterer.

Fabric Tip- If making a roman blind or a flat pelmet with a drop no longer than the width of the railroad fabric, e.g. 54-60”- railroaded fabric can very useful, as there would be no seams and draping is not necessary, unlike with curtains. Railroaded fabrics tend to be thicker, so a sample before purchase is important.

We do not advise to use railroaded fabric for curtains.