HJ- First Sunday Gingham Fabric

During a presentation by Teresa Minard, right, at the First Sunday program Aug. 4 at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum in Clarinda, Mikaela Fine, far left, and Anna Hull, center, modeled and displayed items made with gingham fabric. (photo by Dan Eshelman)

Teresa Minard of Clarinda has had a long-term fascination with gingham, a fabric easily recognizable by its distinctive checkered pattern.

“There’s just something about gingham that has always intrigued me,” she said during a presentation for the First Sunday program Aug. 4 at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum in Clarinda.

Her interest in gingham has resulted in the accumulation of a large number of items made with the fabric, examples of which she showed during the program. She was assisted by Anna Hull and Mikaela Fine who modeled and displayed featured selections.

Gingham is a medium-weight balanced, plain-woven fabric made from dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarn where the coloring is along the grain.

Minard said that as a young girl she had a gingham pillow in her bedroom, then in high school and college she did embroidery work with the fabric.

“Then for the first turkey dinner I made when I got married, I wore a gingham apron,” she said.

Over the years she has received gingham items provided by family members, friends and acquaintances, as well as buying the items at flea markets and antique stores.

Included in her inventory are aprons, tablecloths, napkins, table runners, pioneer bonnets, long and short skirts, pot holders, place mats, pillowcases, throw pillow covers, curtains, towels, bedspreads, dresser scarves and children’s clothing.

Minard also has feed sacks with the gingham pattern printed on them.

To purchase the originals, she said, “you had to have a store that sold Purina feed.”

Along with a familiar red checkered design, other colors that have been utilized with the fabric for specific creations are orange, yellow, green, indigo, violet, black and brown.

For the different items with which the fabric was used, there were a variety of designs that could be chosen. The style depended on the preference, or the skill, of the person creating the item.

Minard said certain basic materials are needed for a particular project -- the fabric itself, plus embroidery thread, a hoop, tapestry or embroidery needles, scissors and patterns.

Projects with large fabric components require the use of “three-ply thread,” she said, adding that “for medium-sized pieces, two strands are used, and for a small check, usually one strand, or one ply.”

During her presentation, Minard also referred to what is called “chicken scratch” embroidery.

When done on gingham, it produces the appearance of appliqued lace. Three styles of this embroidery are double cross-stitch. running stitch and woven circle stitch.The pattern was often seen on aprons made in the 1940s and 1950s.

For this type of embroidery, Minard said, the stitching has to be done “in a certain order” on the fabric in order to achieve the correct design appearance.

Minard said she has background information about some of the items she has obtained, allowing her to know who created them, and possibly for what purpose.

But the origins of many of the items remain unclear.

“All this work that these ladies did, and we don’t know who the artists are,” she said, noting that every item could have a unique story.

She made a request of any program attendees who might consider creating a gingham product: “I hope that if you make something, you will tag it, and tell a little bit of the history about it, because it is a lost art.”

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