Gingham fabric is a plain weave cotton or cotton-blend distinguished by a checked pattern which is woven into the fabric – not printed on top. The fabric is completely reversible. The checks can range from 1/8th of an inch wide to a full inch.
You’re going to run into this one a lot if you want to make children’s clothes, or dabble in the 19th century, as it was a popular pattern. It’s lightweight enough for summer wear but durable and cheap enough to put the kids into it. I remember in my school growing up, the summer uniform for the girls was a gingham check dress.
If you want to be Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, you’re going to be wearing a gingham check.
You can find gingham checks in almost any color combination imaginable. Traditionally, it’s a single color and white but these days… ask me about the black and neon chartreuse gingham I used to cover a bustle.
Many seamsters find it useful when making test garments, as the grid helps you eyeball potential fit issues, and whether the fabric grain is going off in unwanted directions. Be sure to use a woven gingham for that sort of thing, not a printed one.
You can find cotton-poly gingham for as little as $4/yard, and pure cotton seems to start around $7/yd.
It’s cotton, so you’re going to want to be really sure you’ve gotten all the shrink out of it before you cut it, but don’t throw it into anything more aggressive than a warm wash, lest the dye suffer. You can sew it with a regular needle, and universal thread.