Fabric terms can be confusing!

Let’s talk about the fabric terms up the roll and railroaded. When you’re looking at fabric swatches, you’ll see these terms on the back of the fabric swatch. What do they mean? How do they apply to you? These terms refer to the direction that the fabric print is run on the roll of fabric and consequently how it’s intended to be used.

How Do I Know If My Fabric Is Railroaded or Up The Roll?

When the term up the roll is used, this means the fabric print is intended to be used in the direction of the yardage. So up your roll of fabric or up your fabric yardage. If your fabric says railroaded, the print is intended to be used up the width of the fabric, salvage to salvage. That would be the left to right as you’re looking at a piece of fabric.

To clarify these terms I have created a free PDF download you can print. On the pdf, I have added images that show examples of the two types of fabric. If you’re dealing with a printed fabric, you’ll see in the salvage of the fabric an arrow indicating the up direction of the fabric. Up the roll and railroaded is also important if you’re using a fabric with a nap. A nap definitely has a direction, and sometimes again, it can be railroaded or up the roll. You need to keep the nap consistent as you’re upholstering your project. Again railroaded would be from salvage to salvage or side to side and then up the roll would go in the direction of the yardage.

I hope this has helped you understand those terms. So next time you’re picking out fabric for your project. You’ll understand what they mean.

See you on the inside, Kim