Pillow Shams: Everything You Need to Know

Pillow Sham

Contrary to what many “go-getters” try to convince you that sleeping is for “lazy bones” that don’t have “goals in life,” having poor sleeping manners and patterns is just as destructive as playing with your health. The same way you pay attention to your diet and health, you need to do the same to your sleep since all of them are equally important. In fact, good sleeping habits are at the center of a healthy, productive, and balanced life. For instance, research shows us that healthy sleeping practices are at the heart of a long and happy life. For instance, a 2010 research found out that having enough sleep is critical in facilitating long life.

One of the ways of facilitating good sleeping habits is creating the right environment for it to happen naturally. For instance, the way you handle and use your bedding is critical in facilitating that environment. At the center of these bedrooms, accessories lie pillow shams. But if you are asking “What is a pillow sham?” and you want to learn more about this bedroom accessory, then read this post to the end. In our post, we shall define this accessory, types of pillow shams, and their benefits. Remain with us to the end to learn all you ever needed to know about pillow shams

What is a Pillow Sham?

Before proceeding with our comprehensive coverage of this bedroom accessory, we will define it. Pillow shams are decorative pillowcases that transform normal-sized bed pillow into useful bedding accessories. Unlike traditional pillowcases, pillow shams are open in the middle of their backs with fabric that slightly overlaps. But where did the word “sham” come from? These accessories get their name from the word “sham,” which means “false” or “a trick” that can be traced back to the 1700 century when pillowcases were created for decorative pillows with removable covers. The false fronts of these pillows became the pillow shams we have today.

Differences Between a Pillow Sham and a Pillowcase


Since these accessories sound and look alike, it is necessary to differentiate them as we progress. Essentially, pillowcases are used for covering pillows people sleep on while their cousin look-alikes, pillow shams, are used for decorating the pillows. So, we see one accessory being useful for facilitating the actual sleeping process while another one is useful for decorating and creating a conducive environment for that sleep to take place.

Pillowcases are marked by the following features:

  • They are open at one end
  • They contain flanges on openings
  • They are meant to protect pillows
  • They are used for sleeping on

Pillow shams are marked by the following features:

  • They contain tuck flaps on their backs
  • All their four sides often have flanges or cording finishing
  • They are used primarily for decoration
  • Sheeting fabrics on shams used for sleeping on

Apart from getting an answer to the question, “What is a pillow sham?” we have now seen the differences between the sham and the normal pillowcase. Let us now proceed to the next level, and learn more.

Types of Pillow Shams

In this section of our post, we shall look at the various types of pillow shams on the market today. Ideally, shams can be categorized using two criteria namely: design and size.

Category by Size

Under this category, we can categorize shams depending on their sizes to fit bed pillows. Here are the five main sizes of shams you can choose from.

  • The Standard Sham: This type of sham measures 20” x 26” and it is suitable for standard sized pillows. Two of them can fit well side by side on full or double beds.
  • The Queen-size Sham: This type of sham measures 20” x 30” and it is suitable for queen-sized pillows. Two of them are enough to fit side by side on Queen beds.
  • The King-size Sham: These shams come in 20” x 36” size, and are big enough to cover a king-size pillow. Two will fit comfortably side by side on King beds.
  • European Sham: European shams measure 26″ x 26″. They are ideal for use on both King and Queen-size pillows. The difference between them and other types of shams is that they are multipurpose since you can also use them as props while reclining in your living room. The reason is that they sit at the back of your pillow set against the headboard of your bed. For those with beds without headboards, they can create an impression of height to them by making the beds behind them appear less bare.
  • Boudoir Sham: These types of shams measure 12” x 16”. They are ideal for fitting smaller boudoir pillows. Mostly, you need to place them at the front of your pillow sets.

Category by Design

The second way of categorizing shams is by design. Here are some of the major designs of shams.

  • Crocheted Pillow Shams: If you want to spice your bedroom with an aura of class and style, then these shams are a great bet for you. They come in intricately crafted borders and crochets. You can also find them crocheted in white and pastel colors.
  • Painted Pillow Shams: For users who want to embellish their bedrooms with various designs and motifs, these pillow shams come in handy. They give a balance between simplicity and rich colors.
  • Lace Pillow Shams: These shams offer you delicate and petal-soft lace edges that make them an ideal gift for a newlywed couple.
  • Ruffle-Edge Pillow Shams: If you want something to embellish your teenage girls’ bedroom, then this type of shams comes in handy as the best choice for them. They feature ruffles on their edges and their edges share the same material with the sham.
  • Embroidered Pillow Shams:If you are looking for a design and color-rich sham, then this type has everything you need. They come with rich floral motif designs, animal patterns, and geometrical designs. These types of shams also come with delicate embroidery patterns that combine multiple-colored threads that either contrast or match the color of the shams. Additionally, you can easily customize them with your name using their embroidery, thus making them ideal gifts.
  • Quilted Pillow Shams: Lastly, we have the quilted pillow shams. These shams are fabricated using various pieces of printed materials that are interwoven together to form artistic patterns. In addition, they feature a combination of embroidery pieces.

The Benefits of Using Pillow Shams

Since we have answered all the fundamental questions such as, “What is a pillow sham?” it is now important to look at some of the benefits of using these shams.

  • Enhance your bedroom ambiance: We all are environmental creatures, and hence, we need the right atmosphere for every process including sleep. With these accessories in place, you can be sure that your bedroom will be enriched with the ooze of rest, calm, and beauty that will enable you to enjoy your bedroom
  • Protection for your pillows: Shams are a great way of saving you the money you would have spent on costly decorative pillows since you can use them to protect your pillows. The reason is that you can wash them, and hence, preserve the life of your pillows
  • Save money: The second benefit of using a pillow sham is that it saves you money .The reason is that it is cheaper to cover your pillows using shams than to buy new ones
  • A wide variety of colors and designs: The last benefit of using pillow shams is that you can find them in various colors, styles, fabrics, and patterns. This diversity gives you a wide pool of choice to make. Additionally, you can make your own shams if you are good at spinning a sewing machine since you can embellish and enrich them with myriads of colors and fabrics.


Pillow shams are great accessories for embellishing your bedroom. They come in handy as tools for lengthening the life of your pillows by offering them the much-needed protection against wear and tear. The beauty of the whole story is that they also come in many beautiful designs, colors, fabric, and patterns that offer you all that you need for your bedroom beautification. Additionally, some types can also perform some of the functions an ordinary pillowcase.

We believe that the comprehensive coverage we have given on these accessories is enough to furnish you with all you need to know. From offering the answer to the definitive question “What is a pillow sham?” to all the other necessary facts, we believe that you are now enlightened. Armed with this information, you are now better placed to make an informed choice when you walk into a shop to buy a pillow sham.

Leave a Reply