Hickory Stripe and Denim: From Workwear to Fashion

Hickory Stripe and Denim: From Workwear to Fashion

You may have noticed that our denim fabric collection has expanded recently to include not only some new denims in traditional colours such as blue and black, but also some fabulous Hickory Stripes in fun bright colours. So, we thought we should explain what Hickory Stripe means and how hickory stripe denim evolved from workwear to high fashion.


Origins of Denim


Fabrics Galore Denim Fabric

Denim was originally known as Serge De Nimes and was first made in France. It was originally created in the 1850s for military uniforms at Nimes (which is where the name comes from). Far from being made from cotton as we now know it to be, denim was first made from a blend of silk and wool; then when production moved to Britain and later America it became the 100% cotton we are used to today.

What defines a denim fabric?


The fabric is made by the weft threads passing under two or more vertical warp threads, which makes the diagonal ribbing that makes the denim twill so distinctive.

Fun Fact for you all, the first known blue jean was created on 20th May 1873 when Levi Strauss and Co with Jacob Davis were given a patent for placing rivets on men’s denim work pants to add strength to the garments. Jacob was a tailor from Nevada and Levi Strauss owned a wholesale fabric house in San Francisco. 

“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans,” Yves Saint Laurent told New York Magazine in November 1983.

Not Just a Jeans Fabric


Denim is obviously always associated with jeans, having started with the Davis and Strauss collaboration in 1873 spanning all the way until now. With designers such as Calvin Klein, OshKosh B’Gosh and Fiorucci being just a few companies who made their names with different jeans at different times.


Although we naturally think of jeans as soon as denim is mentioned, we are currently thinking that a little denim skirt would be a really helpful addition to our Autumn/Winter Wardrobes. And this Crestwood Skirt from Fig and Needle (available on the Foldline) is next on our make list.

The Foldline denim skirt pattern

Crestwood Skirt Pattern from Fig and Needle

Now it might be just us, but Lockdown snacks have meant we are in need of some stretch in our jeans and skirts. So, our latest collection of coloured stretch denims is perfect. 


Coloured Stretch Denim Fabric



Origins of Hickory Stripe


Also known as hickory cloth, hickory stripe is a robust twill fabric, used originally in the manufacture of work clothes. Now while many may know about the history of denim, Hickory stripe is somewhat lesser known. A Hickory Stripe was the name given to fabric used to make overalls, work jackets and hats worn by train and railroad workers in the Wild West of the America. It was typically made in indigo blue or navy, and the stripe meant that oil stains didn’t show up as easily. The stripe is slightly smaller than a pinstripe and more closely woven than a ticking stripe. Like denim hickory stripe was designed to be used for hard work, so is equally as tough and hard wearing. 

The Hickory Stripe is closely associated with either overalls or hats. The hats were apparently crafted by the wives of the railroad workers who would make them to protect their husbands whilst working and already used the hickory stripe fabric for mattress ticking. Over time it became part of every railway worker’s uniform as it was discernible from a distance and kept the ash away from the workers’ heads. 

How Hickory Became High Fashion


Hickory stripes are closely linked to the company OshKosh B’Gosh, which was formed in 1895 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to manufacture protective clothing for Mid-Western Farm and Railroad workers, mostly from the distinctive Hickory Stripe fabric. Later, Osh Kosh B’Gosh started making dungarees for children, and the rest is history. 


Fancy recreating the look with a little cap in one of our Hickory Stripes. Well, we have found a Free Pattern from Craft Buds for a chic little Cadet Hat which would look great in the Charcoal Hickory Stripe. 


Craft Buds Cadet Cap Pattern    Hickory Stripe Grey

 Craft Buds Cadet Cap Pattern and Denim Hickory Stripe in Grey & White


Now, this may be selfish, but this has given us an idea; how great would the Tilly and the Buttons Pinafore Dress look in our of these Hickory Stripes?  Especially the multicoloured stripes and the Cleo seem to be a match made in heaven. 


Tilly Pinafore Dress Pattern    Hickory Stripe pink multicolour fabric

 Tilly & The Buttons Cleo Pinafore Dress and Hickory Stripe Pink Multicolour 

And if the thought of working with denim and hickory stripe fabric makes you hot and bothered, don’t worry as we have our handy guide to sewing with denim to put you at ease.


Shop for Hickory Stripe Fabric Online


Discover our gorgeous Hickory Stripe Fabrics in our updated denim collection at Fabrics Galore online. And if you’re not sure what you need, don’t hesitate to call the friendly team on 02077389589.
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Welcome to the Fabrics Galore London online store, packed full of beautiful fabrics to inspire your next dressmaking, patchwork quilting, craft or home furnishing sewing project. We stock a huge range of different materials alongside designer fabrics from Liberty, Cath Kidston, Orla Kiely, Laura Ashley, William Morris and Alexander Henry. We source the highest quality fabrics, so whether it be a cotton, linen, viscose, chambray, jersey or wool, we have you covered.Check out our dressmaking fabric for something with drape, fabulous Liberty cotton lawn prints, quilting fabrics for patchwork inspiration or the home furnishing section to pimp your pad. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get sewing!

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