Gingham fabric is a type of fabric that is typically made from cotton, and is often characterized by bold checkered patterns comprising of white and another eye-popping color. Gingham originated in the mid seventeenth century where it was made popular by the Dutch traders. The trading economy at that time eventually carried the fabric to Europe where it became a primary source of earning for Manchester, UK and the subsequent British colonies in what is now the Southeastern United States.
The gingham fabric had a rich and colorful history as it was predominantly known as the cloth of choice for pilgrims when they made their first trip to America. This is because the fabric is both cheap but also eye-catching owing to its striking patterns and bold colors. Gingham in the initial years was only known to have a stripped pattern and was made using two different cloths.
As the technology of weaving evolved, gingham eventually adopted a checked pattern which remains to this day. Moreover, the diversification of the color combinations for gingham was not always the trend prior to the 18th century. Before then, most gingham fabrics featured a blue and white pattern that became iconic when it was used to cloth Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz book as well as in the movie version.
Today, gingham fabric is made with a simple crisscross weave pattern using medium-weight cotton. Its primary use nowadays is as a test pattern in fashion creations, most notably to check the form and visual appeal of a design prior to creating with more expensive cloths. Gingham is also finding use as a cheap household utility cloth, often in rags, draperies over cupboards, as an inexpensive table napkin, or even as a tablecloth. This gives the interior design a fresh, summer appeal that is often not replicated by more expensive cloth with restrictive color patterns.
Gingham fabric nowadays has also come to symbolize a portion of the idyllic country lifestyle. You will easily find gingham fabric advertisements showcasing picnic baskets adorned with gingham, or in a quaint summer house in the province with a gingham used in various utilitarian ways. This perfectly ties into the gingham impression as a cheap cloth, typically costing no more than $3 per yard. The patterns are also varied, and even the stripes and checkered profiles can be diversified by varying the size of the colored stripes.
The gingham fabric is the ultimate example of the idea that things do not need to be expensive to be iconic. Since it was first released in the 17th century, gingham fabric has touched the lives of many and has accompanied them in daily chores that have defined the lifestyle suitable to the time period. Whether used as an apron, a curtain, a drapery, or a kitchen accessory, gingham fabric has witnessed countless years of history in its meek and simple form. And because it continues to be cheap and accessible to the many, there is little doubt that the gingham will continue to feature in the lives of many years into the future simply because in its current form, it will always find a purpose to satisfy a specific need.