With its distinctive checkered and striped patterns, gingham fabric can be seen in a variety of fabric products from tablecloths, napkins and window curtains to bedspreads and gingham bed skirts. An endless spectrum of color combinations make gingham fabric a perfect choice for many room and home decorating themes. Gingham fabric is also used to produce different clothing items from shirts and blouses to dresses, skirts and slacks.
Gingham fabric has been used for centuries in the manufacture of clothing, linen and decorative cloth pieces. Some gingham fabric patterns resemble calico though there is a significant difference between the two fabrics. Calico fabrics feature patterns that are printed onto the surface of finished fabric, while the patterns of gingham are woven into the fabric with the pattern visible on both sides of the fabric.
The term gingham is believed to have originated as part of the Malay language and refers to cloth with a striped pattern while other sources credit the term to the Italians. Today, gingham fabrics can be found in a wide variety of patterns and colors. Most often weaved from cotton fibers, gingham fabric patterns range from checks and stripes to decorative designs like plaid.
Originating in south central Asia, gingham was exported to Europe in the 1700’s eventually being produced in English and French textile mills. Today gingham is produced and available worldwide. The production of gingham is similar to that of other fabrics in that thread or yarn is weaved on a loom. Two sets of threads are needed. One is the warp which runs the length of the cloth, while the weft or woof runs crossways. Gingham is always made using dyed yarns or fabric fibers.
Cotton gingham has been joined by gingham fabric made from synthetic fibers like polyester and cotton polyester blends. One of the most widely used fabrics in the world polyester is wrinkle resistant and long wearing. Polyester is an extremely durable fabric fiber that is strong, stain resistant and used in clothing, linen, bedding, upholstery and many commercial applications.
Items made from vintage cotton gingham are popular with collectors who prefer the fabric’s homespun look. Checkered gingham is popular though striped gingham dates back much farther. The openness of the check pattern can vary from small and petite to wider weaves and different patterns are often combined to create a pattern resembling that of plaid for a truly distinctive and unique look.