Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) analysis is used as a petrofabric indicator for a set of four identical-setup sandbox models that were shortened by different amounts and simulate contraction in a fold-and-thrust belt. During model shortening, a progressive reorientation of the initial magnetic fabric occurs due to horizontal compaction of the sand layers. At the early stages of shortening, magnetic lineation (k1 axis) rotates parallel to the model backstop with subhorizontal orientation, whereas the minimum susceptibility (k3 axis) is subvertical, which indicates a partial tectonic overprint of the initial fabric. With further shortening, the k3 axis rotates to subhorizontal orientation, parallel to shortening direction, marking the development of a dominant tectonic magnetic fabric. A near-linear transition in magnetic fabric is observed from the initial bedding to tectonic fabric in all four models, which reflects a progressive transition in deformation from foreland toward hinterland. Model results confirm a long-held hypothesis where the AMS pattern and degree of anisotropy have been suggested to reflect the amount of layer-parallel shortening, based on field observations in many mountain belts. Results furthermore indicate that grain rotation may play a significant role in low-grade compressive tectonic regimes. The combination of analogue models with AMS enables the possibility to predict magnetic fabrics in different tectonic settings and to develop quantitative links between AMS and strain.