What is Gingham Check Fabric?

7th January 2022

Gingham check is one of the most iconic check fabrics of all time. This classic design has been featured throughout homes and on garments since the mid 17th century. It is continually pushed in colour and scale, and its popularity is back on the rise! Explore the article below to discover more about gingham check and why it is a timeless fabric for use on curtains, blinds, upholstery and soft furnishings in any interior setting.

red gingham check sofa

A little background on this classic check 

Everyone knows gingham check. It’s been around for years and is arguably one of the most recognised checks everywhere. It is thought to have originated from Dutch colonised Malaysia, stemming from Gingang, a Malay word meaning “striped”. Gingham fabric was then imported throughout Europe. With Manchester mills starting to produce the material in the mid-eighteenth century.

Essential features that distinguish a gingham check from any other check are that gingham checks are always made from 100% cotton. The design repeat consists of an equal number of dyed and undyed threads in the warp and weft to create an iconic blend of colour. Gingham check combines a pure white square, bold colour square, and a delicate combination of the two in between to add soft depth to the design. Gingham fabrics are woven in a plain weave, with a balanced colour check, making them a fully reversible design. They are regularly favoured for table cloths with their lightweight and durable nature. They are one of the most affordable fabrics around, which has helped in their popularity as they are accessible for most people to use.

A closer look at Ian Mankin gingham checks

At Ian Mankin, we have kept with the traditional white base but explored different sizes and colours of ginghams. Consider our Avon Check Peony fabric featuring a large 2-inch square gingham pattern for a bold statement or our 1-inch Suffolk Check Large Indigo and 1/2-inch Suffolk Check Small Black fabrics for a more subtle finish and everything in between.

Gingham check fabric has continually featured in our collections since the brand started in 1983. With some beautiful designs imported from India like the classic gingham in ¼” and ⅛” designs, the brand introduced the Wessex Check as shown below in the sage colourway. The weave was redesigned and woven at our mill here in Burnley between  2000-2005. From 2005 the Wessex Check was discontinued and our Suffolk Checks were introduced and are still weaving today.

green check fabrics
From left to right – Wessex Check Sage, New Wessex Check Sage, Suffolk Check Large Sage

The brand’s founder Ian Mankin always considered gingham checks perfect for the home, dedicated to creating timeless styles and fabrics to last. Gingham checks are one of those classic designs that are truly timeless. These two children’s bedrooms have been designed with similar gingham fabric with 25 years between them. Looking as timeless then as it does now. In a more subtle effect of rosy and white hues, @alexanderinteriorsnashville has used our Suffolk Check Large Pink as the highlighting feature in this Children’s bedroom design.

pale blue gingham check bedroom
From left to right – Ian Mankin Children’s bedroom in 1997, @alexanderinteriorsnashville

Gingham check in pop culture

Gingham fabric is one of the most iconic motifs that continually returns to the spotlight and sometimes leaves just as fast. Famously in 1959French actress Brigitte Bardot wore a pink gingham dress at her wedding. Her dress caused such a commotion and led to a gingham shortage in France! Of course, everyone remembers Dorothy’s classic blue and white gingham dress when she went to meet the Wizard of Oz. Paired with those ruby red shoes and yellow brick road, it was in a bright splash of primary colour and the first-ever to hit the television screen, firmly placing the gingham check as a classic design. 

Bridgitte Bardot and Dorothy from the wizard of Oz.
From left to right – Bridgitte Bardot, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz

Using ginghams in the home

Interior designers continually push the limits, exploring colour and scale, paring gingham with bold colours and clashing patterns. As it’s a lightweight fabric, it is not generally thought of as interior fabric; however, it features in many homes with its playful pattern. Interior designers have pushed the possibilities of using gingham perfectly showcased throughout the Living ETC blog, exploring contemporary ways of using this check in soft furnishings, wallpapers and upholstery.

pale blue check bedroom
From left to right @a_Country_Farmhouse, Avon Check Bluebell

Here @a_Country_Farmhouse has beautifully layered our Avon Check Bluebell in a classic ivory setting, creating a timeless look with a fresh finish. Pairing a pastel gingham with plain white fabrics brings brightness to a room, our Linen 25 Ivory would also sit nicely next to all of our gingham fabrics. Perhaps add one of our iconic Ticking Fabrics to blend colours and create depth through the layering of different patterns. 

Relaxed rustic schemes look fantastic with a splash of gingham, helping you to create that light and airy lived-in vibe. Check out this great blog from Homes and Gardens for tips on layering up natural fabrics and simple patterns for an authentic look. It is definitely worth a peek at even if you’re not thinking of decorating anytime soon. 

Why not order some fabric samples online today and play with colour and scale to find the gingham for you!

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