***Only read this if you want to avoid an expensive mistake***
At Pacific, our goal is to always meet or exceed the expectations of our clients and their customers. Part of that challenge is to clearly communicate. One of the most ambiguous and misunderstood phrases in our industry is “Railroaded”.
Here is why:
The industry definition of “Railroaded or non-railroaded” is the direction of the pattern in relation to the selvedge. Whether or not a fabric is railroaded is an attribute of that fabric. When a fabric is labeled Railroaded, it is woven like the fabric in the column on the left in the diagram with the stripes running from Selvedge to Selvedge, or the width of the fabric, most commonly 54″.
Railroaded fabrics work best on upholstered furniture. Non-railroaded fabrics are commonly used for draperies because the pattern can run as long as needed for panels, although it can still be used on furniture, but may require seams if the piece is wider than 54″as demonstrated by the red lines.
We have provided a matrix of the four possibilities of how to manufacture furniture. The image in the upper left quadrant represents over 90% of the furniture manufactured with the fabric running vertically.
Sometimes a designer asks to “Railroad” a fabric. This is confusing, especially when they request to “Railroad” a non-railroaded fabric. It is best to specify if you want a pattern to run horizontally or vertically regardless of how it is woven.
Most upholstered furniture is manufactured with the predominant pattern running vertically and centered on the piece as in the top row in the picture. Quality manufacturers have the skills to match the pattern in all 4 directions. Even if a fabric is non-railroaded, manufacturers will turn the fabric to run vertical and insert seams where needed.
Solution: Don’t assume!
If the direction of the pattern is important to you and your client, please specify and don’t assume your manufacturer will do it the way you expect. Pay special attention if you want to run the pattern horizontally as in the bottom row of the picture.
Good to Know: