Gingham vs Plaid: What’s the Difference and Which is Right for You?

It is forgivable to mistake Gingham fabric for Plaid fabric without close inspection. After all, they both have the same checkered look and often come from the same materials of cotton or linen.

Gingham and Plaid fabrics may look the same, but they couldn’t be more different. For one thing, people do not use them the same way, and they don’t always feel the same. If you have difficulties distinguishing between gingham and Plaid, this article will help you identify them and learn how best to use each of these fabrics.

What is Gingham?

Gingham fabric
Gingham fabric

Gingham‘ comes from the Malay word ‘Genggang,’ meaning ‘Striped.’ That’s because gingham is a plain woven fabric with a check or stripe pattern. Designers often use dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarns to create the checks.


The most common patterns involve white yarn that crisscrosses with yarn of another bright color like red, blue, or green. But the most popular color mixture is red and white, which is famous for picnic table cloths.

What is Plaid?

Plaid fabric
Plaid fabric

Plaid is a checked fabric made from wool, cotton, or a blend of both. The word ‘plaid’ originated from the Scottish word for blanket-‘plaide.’ Like the Gingham fabric, Plaid is also a woven fabric.


The significant difference in the appearance of gingham and Plaid is in their checked patterns. Gingham patterns are more straightforward than plaids, and many people sometimes mistake plaids for Scottish tartans.

Gingham vs. Plaid Appearance

Gingham vs Plaid

Gingham is a checkered fabric that usually comes with a predominant two-color pattern. The most popular color combinations are red and white gingham, black and white, and blue and white gingham. Each color square is always equal and vivid.

The check patterns of gingham fabric come in a variety of sizes. The ⅛”, 1/16″, ¼,” and 1″ sizes are the most common. The patterns are also reversible, meaning they appear on both sides of the fabric. Gingham’s lustrous, vibrant look makes the color contrast between its colors more apparent.

The plaid check is a bit more complicated. Some plaids come with two color combinations like their gingham counterparts, while others can have more than two colors. However, the checks are not clean-cut like the gingham.

Usually, the colors intersect with one another to form a peculiar shape. The colors of the horizontal stripes do not always match the samples of the vertical stripes. In some cases, the color at the intersection differs from the colors of the horizontal and vertical stripes.

Also, the patterns do not have to be even, and the square sizes are not always equal. These plaids are asymmetrical and deviate from the regular plaids resembling their tartan ancestors.

Some plaids also come with a napped and fuzzy appearance on both sides. The napped finish comes from regular brushing or the way the designers weaved the fabric during production.

How Gingham and Plaid Fabrics are Produced

Gingham and Plaid fabrics share some production similarities, and it is possible to weave them from cotton fabric. Textile manufacturers also use pre-dyed yarn when weaving the fabrics, meaning they dye the yarns before weaving.

When producing gingham fabric, weavers carefully intersect an equal number of dyed yarn with undyed yarn to give a regular check pattern. The warp and weft (or filling) may be the same, even-sided, or balanced.

The significant difference in their production is that you can produce Plaid from various fabrics such as cotton, wool, or flannel. Another difference is that designers can choose between weaving the Plaid directly or designing it on an illustrator and then printing it directly on any fabric they choose.

The texture of Gingham vs. Plaid Fabric

Gingham is reputed to have a light to medium texture; this may be because it is 100% cotton, and cotton is soft and hypoallergenic. Many designers have described the fabric’s feel as youthful and relaxed.

The soft and cozy nature of gingham makes them ideal for the summer. In fact, for many years, it has been regularly linked to summer in popular culture. Like most cotton fabrics, it is highly breathable and goes well as attire for the summer.

On the other hand, Plaid’s texture depends on the fabric used in making it and its use. Some plaid fabric has a soft, cozy feel and is used to make warm clothing and sheets. They are a medium-weight fabric with loose weaving but reduced breathability. 

Unlike the Gingham fabric, Plaid is not always ideal for summer as they tend to get very hot. However, they make for very comfortable clothing during the winter months.

Uses of Gingham and Plaid Fabric

Both Gingham and Plaid Fabric are trendy fabrics and have many uses. However, due to the nature of both fabrics, they tend to be used differently.

Uses of Gingham Fabric

Gingham fabric is most often associated with the picnic table. And that is because it makes an excellent tablecloth and table napkin. Gingham is notorious for its use in picnics.

In addition, wearing gingham is considered great fashion chic, and many celebrities and people of all classes have worn gingham to stunning effect. Popular Gingham fashion is wearing blue and white gingham or the pink and white variation.

Home decorators also use gingham in making curtains, cushions, and other home decor pieces. They also use gingham to make aprons, quilts, tote bags, and basket liners.

Uses of Plaid Fabric

The plaid fabric is used to make cozy bed sheets and other forms of bed linen for use during the cold months.

It helps produce winter clothes like jackets, thick scarves, and skirts for wearing during winter. Like gingham, it is also a powerful fashion statement. Many have used gingham fabric on different clothing to add sophistication to their looks.

Like the gingham, you can use them to add color and flair to the home. The creative use of plaid versatile and asymmetrical patterns can add depth and dimension to any room.


The unique gingham and plaid fabric check patterns distinguish them from most fabrics. Yet despite sharing some similarities, they tend to differ from each other.

Their differences affect their texture, appearance, and even the way they are used. Fortunately, whether we admire the gingham or plaid fabric, we will find them extremely useful in many ways.

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