What Is Gingham?


Gingham fabric is synonymous with many looks –  perhaps you picture Dorothy’s famous blue & white gingham check dress in the Wizard of Oz or farmhouse-style table linen or maybe a classic, fine gingham weave on a men’s button down shirt. However you imagine a gingham look, one thing is for sure – gingham cotton fabric has long been a favourite choice for fashion & home decor. In the 1930s, style icon Coco Chanel was pictured wearing a gingham blouse – a sure way to make any look truly desirable. Later, mod-style men’s gingham shirts & women's gingham capri pants were the items to wear in the 1960s. Today gingham fabric remains on trend – not only in our wardrobes & on designer catwalks but also as a fashionable style for home decor. Its enduring popularity makes gingham an ideal choice for projects requiring a little longevity – gingham perfectly captures classic style with modern appeal. Let’s explore a little more of this iconic check fabric!

1/8" gingham fabric

What Is Gingham?

Gingham is the name given to a light or medium-weight cotton or cotton-blended fabric using two colours of dyed yarn woven to produce a gingham check pattern. Gingham check is usually composed of a colour yarn woven together with white to produce this iconic check pattern. Original gingham fabrics combined blue & white yarns and red & white yarns, and whilst bright, bold colours remain very common for gingham fabrics, there are also more pastel & tonal colour combinations available. Browse our gingham fabrics for our full range of colour ways – from classic blue & white to pretty pastels. Interestingly, traditional gingham cotton fabrics don't have a front or back as the yarns are dyed before being woven together. Gingham check comes in a variety of sizes from big, bold squares, ideal for table and bed linens to fine gingham check that is perfect for a men’s gingham shirt. Our range includes polycotton gingham fabric in 1/8" and 1/4" size check, as well as cotton poplin gingham fabric in 1/4" check. Looking for a gingham trim to finish your project? We also have some lovely gingham bias binding supplies.

Gingham cotton fabric pyjamas

Where Does The Word ‘Gingham’ Come from?

There are a few theories about how ‘gingham’ check gained its name and the origins of the pattern are attributed to a number of worldwide sources. Some believe that ‘gingham’ check originates from the Malaysian word ‘genggang’, meaning ‘striped’ which transferred to the Dutch language as ‘gingang’ and then passed onto the English language as ‘gingham’. Other theories attribute the source of gingham to the French town of Guingamp, which gave ‘gingham’ fabric its name. However the French refer to gingham check as ‘Vichy’, believing that the material was created in the town of the same name.

In England, gingham cotton fabric began being produced in Manchester in the 18th century featuring blue and white check. The economic hardship of the 1940s and the war years ‘make do & mend’ mentality, saw the popularity of gingham soar due to its affordable price point, easy availability and durable nature. Since the 1950s, gingham fabric has entered pop culture – being worn by style icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot. 

Gingham cotton fabric has long been integral to cultures worldwide – such as Indonesia, Japan and Cambodia. In Cambodia, a gingham cloth called a krama is an essential piece of clothing for decorative and practical uses. In the UK and Australia, it is commonly used for school uniform dresses.

Gingham cotton fabric

What Is The Difference Between Gingham And Tartan?

The difference between gingham and tartan is distinguished by the pattern and the colours. Gingham fabric uses two colours across equal sized checks, whereas tartan can use multiple colours across checks and stripes of various sizes.

What Is Gingham Used For?

Gingham cotton fabric is a great material to work with – it is durable, easy to sew and the properties of cotton make it breathable & comfortable to wear. As a light-weight cotton fabric, gingham is a popular choice for summer fashion, but there’s no reason not to wear the pattern all year round! Gingham has long been a fashion favourite – it became a strong trend in the 1960s with mod-styled gingham shirts, gingham capri pants and blouses – and its popularity still endures today!

Gingham looks great as a casual look styled with denim but can be dressed up in a smart mens gingham shirt or dramatic, bold gingham dress – after all, Brigitte Bardot even wore a pink gingham dress to her wedding! You can wear gingham fabric to the office as a gingham shirt, gingham pencil skirt or blouse – it works beautifully against a solid, dark colour . Gingham has also been widely used across beach clothes and swimwear over the years, so how about a gingham kaftan dress or cover-up? The light-weight, versatile nature of gingham cotton fabric will make it perfect for packing and wearing on your holiday.

Gingham is also a great fabric choice for accessories, such as ties, scarves, headbands & bags. It is also a lovely accent print for bag & purse linings and even a jacket or coat lining. Gingham checks work really well alongside other prints as well as plains – so let your creative juices flow and mix and match your favourite patterns with a gingham!

Thinking of introducing some gingham fabric into your home decor? The versatility & affordability of gingham cotton fabric makes it a great choice for all kinds of home accessories and bedding. Gingham fabric has long been a popular choice for table linens and tea towels, however with ever greater colours to choose from, gingham can make a striking look for bed linens, curtains, cushions and much more! Gingham check also works nicely as a neutral print, complementing polka dot prints and florals – so why not play with a variety of gingham checks and colours, along with some other prints and let your imagination run wild!

pink gingham fabric

How To Wear & Use Gingham?

Bright, bold ginghams look really striking against dark denim and solid colours. However, gingham can also make a great complementary fabric for prints and patterns too, such as polka dots, florals and leopard prints, for a more eclectic fashion look. As a classic look, gingham can work beautifully on vintage style dresses and looks. Here’s just a few more project ideas for gingham cotton fabrics: 

  • Clothing: Gingham check is an enduring fabric choice for all kinds of clothing, from mens gingham shirts, to gingham dresses, gingham skirts and shorts. Take a browse through our Tilly & the Buttons sewing patterns and pair with your favourite gingham check. How about the Rosa shirt in a blue gingham ¼” check? or the Lyra shirt dress in red ⅛” check? The Jaimie pyjama bottoms would look fab in our yellow ⅛” cotton gingham check.
  • Accessories: Gingham fabric is a great choice for bags and accessories, such mens pocket squares, scarves, tote bags and much more! Gingham check is also a great choice as a lining fabric for bags, jackets, purses and much more! Take a look at our lovely 1/4" gingham check for some perfect lining fabrics.
  • Bedlinen: Gingham check makes a beautiful statement look for quilting & bed linens. You can mix & match colours across a quilt, choose different size gingham checks for alternate sides of a duvet or pillow. Check out our beautiful cotton 1/8" gingham check for your bed linen projects.
  • Curtains and soft furnishings: Gingham fabric is a great print to use for curtains and cushions. It can complement other patterns and as a perennial favourite it will stand the test of time too! Our 1/4" gingham check would be ideal for home decor.
  • Creative craft projects: How about a beautiful spring fabric wreath made with strips of gingham fabric? You can mix & match different ginghams to make a truly colourful wreath with maximum impact. Follow our step-by-step fabric wreath instructions to make yours!
red gingham fabric

How Do I Wash My Gingham Fabric?

As a cotton or cotton-blend fabric, it will be fairly easy to care for your gingham fabric. We always share our manufacturer’s care recommendations on our product listings so be sure to read our guidance before washing your gingham fabric.

Gingham fabric is a perfect choice for all kinds of projects and as a classic style it will endure the test of time. We always love to see our customers’ projects so do share your gingham pieces with us on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.


  • Maz

    What a fascinating read. Thanks so much. My school summer uniform was green gingham 1/4", so gingham brings back some great memories for me.

  • Emma at HPH

    Hi Carol – Elaine, Thank you so much for the lovely feedback! We really appreciate your comments and great to hear you love the new site!

  • Carol - Elaine Sweeney

    Loving the new look site and found the blog really interesting- great way to engage with customers and encourage individual creativity!

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