Railroading means to use fabric ‘the other way around’, that is, with the straight of grain across the width rather along the roll.
* Most fabrics are woven to be strongest running along their length, but just occasionally with a horizontally predominant weave there will be a note suggesting the cloth should or could be railroaded. This might be because the weft is stronger, or the weft and warp are equal but the pattern has been created to be seen either way.
* When strength is not an issue, any cloth can be railroaded, pattern and weave allowing. For example, a horizontal stripe is often railroaded to create a finished work with vertical stripes. In addition to the obvious stripes, the option to railroad applies to checks, any weave that has a horizontal rib or direction, and other weaves that can just as easily be turned–twill, herringbone, etc.
* Apart from the look, railroading might be chosen for reasons of economy of fabric, or to minimise seams–that is, anywhere a join might be close to an edge, where any bulk in the seam might cause a practical or visual problem, and where a fabric does not join easily – say with a handprint or check motif.
* In curtaining, the material needs to be joined with there seams across the width rather than with the usual vertical seam.
* For upholstery and loose covers the pieces almost always fit as easily either way around, so it’s just a matter of visual choice and judicious seaming. And there is no reason why both can’t be used together on one piece.
* For any window blind where the depth of the window is less than the width of the fabric, and especially when the width of the window is wider than the fabric width, we would suggest railroading in any case, to avoid vertical seams. Even for larger windows, a horizontal seam tucked into a blind rod is preferable to any vertical seam.
* Bedheads aslo look best without any obvious seams, and by railroading, the seam can very often be hidden behind the mattress.
* When the fabric has no obvious repeat we will railroad whenever possible with the aim, and attempt to, reduce unnecessary seems. Particularly for: window valances, sofa skirts, pelmets, piping strips, frills and box cushion gussets.