A woven or printed design made up of squares of alternating colours. Checked fabrics can appear modern, yet are as old as the hills, or at least as old as the weaving of wool from sheep grazing there. Home weavers are endlessly inventive, looking for new ideas; once they created stripes from two colours, it was a matter of time before checks.
Shepherds check from the north of England is one of the earliest known, the subtle colouring of the checks would have been from two natural wool colourings long before coloured dyes were known about.
Block checks are made by weaving with alternating horizontal and vertical stripes using one solid colour with a white or off-white. Where the two colours cross a half tone is created that softens the solid colour so the finished fabric is never strident. Cotton gingham , is one of our best-known textiles, as is Vichy from France. 18thC Swedish style depended on checks, as did European interiors to counterbalance the florals and chintzes.
Printed block checks are less convincing than woven checks and, as there is nor price differential, are usually only done so that the checks can be altered and manipulated in some way.