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All about gingham

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Gingham cloth with green and white checks

Gingham is a medium-weight balanced plain-woven fabric made from dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarn. It is made of carded, medium or fine yarns, where the colouring is on the warp yarns and always along the grain (weft). Gingham has no right or wrong side with respect to colour.


The name originates from the Malay adjective, genggang, meaning striped. Some sources say that the name came into English via Dutch. When originally imported into Europe in the 17th century it was a striped fabric, though now it is distinguished by its chequered pattern. From the mid 18th century, when it was being produced in the mills of Manchester, England, it started to be woven into checked or plaid patterns (often blue and white). Checked gingham became more common over time, though striped gingham was still available in the late Victorian period.


Along with muslin, gingham is often used as a test fabric while designing fashion or used for making an inexpensive fitting shell prior to making the clothing in fashion fabric.

Gingham shirts have been worn by mods since the 1960s and continue to be identified with fans of indie and mod music with brands like Ben Sherman, Fred Perry, Penguin and Merc producing gingham shirts.


Brigitte Bardot famously wore a pink gingham dress when she got married. This started a trend which caused a shortage of this fabric in France. Manchester United F.C. wore a gingham-pattern shirt during the 2012–13 season. Japanese girl group AKB48 use gingham as a general theme for their 2012 single "Gingham Check". Dorothy Gale wore a blue gingham dress in the Wizard of Oz book and film. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan's Island would often wear a gingham dress. Bill Hicks made reference to gingham in his famous stand-up comedy routine in regard to Jack Palance from the 1953 movie Shane. Angle and Miriam from the book Redeeming love often wore dresses made out of gingham. Also of interest, Lucille Ball wore a gingham design house coat in her TV series. It was designed and created by Ruth (and Jess) Levin of Gingham Girl fabrics, in New York City.

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