What Is A Sham Bedding? 


If you want to make your bedroom look chic and inviting, pillow shams may be your next best friend. Swapping your old pillowcases for pillow shams can be a simple way of updating your bedroom decor.

If you’re wondering what a pillow sham is, you’re in the right place. We’ve covered all you need to know about these gorgeous pieces below. Keep reading to find out what sham bedding is, what pillows to choose, and how to care for your pillow shams properly.

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Bedding Decor History

Before we get into what pillow shams are, we need to understand their history. Shams were made in the 1700s, designed to be an attractive cover for traditional pillows. Unlike normal pillows, shams will either have a buttoned or zippered back, or an open one with flaps that cross over each other. They are normally sold as a pair and sometimes with a duvet cover that has the same color or pattern as the sham.

Shams have an advantage, as it’s easy to take a sham off of a pillow and clean it in the washing machine. You can sleep on sham pillows, but these are normally swapped and placed behind traditional pillows at bedtime. Shams are normally used for decoration in the daytime when no one is sleeping on the bed. They are a simple yet effective way of changing the way your bedroom looks.

Why Are They Called Pillow Shams?

The term ‘sham’ can mean a false imitation or something that’s pretending to be something else. Sham bedding does something similar, as they hide standard pillows to emulate ornamental throw pillows. Shams were made to envelop traditional sleeping pillows. They can easily be removed or applied whenever the need arises. Shams can upgrade how surrounding pillows and bedding looks within a room.

The Difference Between A Sham And A Pillowcase

When people refer to pillows, they either mean the ones that are used for sleeping on or ones that are placed on a couch or chair. Some pillows have different designs. For example, longer pillows are made for front sleepers, while others can be placed under the hips or legs to improve blood flow.

Shams are not pillows, but they are ornamental covers made to hide plain pillows. They can also come with a duvet cover with the same design.

How To Use A Sham

Shams are simple to use. You can easily slip a pillow inside the sham, then place it on your bed. They are normally put in front of traditional pillows at the top of the bed, then placed behind at night when the user needs to sleep. Shams can help maintain a pillow’s lifespan, as it keeps it away from dust and dirt. A matching set of shams along with the same duvet can elevate the way a bedroom looks.

When shams need to be cleaned, they can be removed from the pillow, then placed into the washing machine. Shams can be used on any bed size, but they look the best on larger beds, particularly queen or king-sized ones. This helps to make the room look more regal and luxurious.

What Are Sham Blankets?

Shams come with a matching blanket referred to as a duvet. Comforters are warm blankets that are also used for decoration, but these duvets are thinner than comforters. Duvets are like flat bags that contain synthetic materials or feathers. These are soft and help to keep heat inside so that the user remains warm. In most cases, you won’t need more sheets or another blanket along with a duvet, as it should be enough to sleep with.

There are instances when a sham blanket isn’t a duvet, but a duvet cover designed to slip over a comforter. These are like pillow shams but used for blankets instead. Sham blankets like these have a visually appealing design that adds to the bed’s appearance. These covers have enough room for a blanket inside and can be taken off and cleaned as necessary.

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What Are Euro Shams?

Euro shams are a different form of pillow shams. They are still used for decorative purposes, but the dimensions are different, as they are made for square-shaped pillows. The standard measurements for Euro shams are 26 x 26 inches, though some are also available in 32 x 32 inches.

These pillows are normally seen on a bed in front of standard pillows or placed right behind them. Euro shams are made to make a bed look more attractive. They can be used as an alternative to other decorative means, like throw pillows. Pillows that are covered by Euro shams can also be used as additional support when the user is sitting up in bed.

How To Choose A Sham Pillow

Standard shams are made for standard-sized pillows. These pillows can be used on twin, queen, and king-sized beds. Euro shams are made for square-shaped cushions that measure 26 x 26 inches.

Ideally, the pillows you use for your shams should have been filled with down feathers or should be filled with a decent amount of synthetic material. This helps to keep the pillows plump and supportive. Cushions for Euro shams should be filled with similar materials, as plump cushions look more regal in appearance. Make sure that your pillows are filled with enough supportive material and that they fill out the sham well enough for visual impact.

Can You Sleep On A Sham?

While normal pillowcases are made for both sleeping and protective purposes, shams are only made for decorative means. Of course, you can physically sleep on one, but the fabric weighs a lot more than standard pillowcases, so doing so may not be as comfortable.

If you do sleep on your pillow shams, you will need to clean them more regularly. Shams are easy to remove and can be put in the washing machine for cleaning.

The Difference Between Pillow Shams And Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are used for decorative purposes like sham pillows, but the cover isn’t as easy to remove, making these difficult to clean. Throw pillows are normally small or odd in shape, adding to the decor of a room.

These normally don’t come in sets but can be purchased individually. They look great on couches, chairs, and beds. Pillow shams come in a set along with a duvet with the same theme, design, or color, but they are only used for beds.

Caring For Pillow Shams

It’s easy to remove your pillow sham and toss it into the washing machine, but hand washing can increase its lifespan. This is particularly important if your sham has texture or other decorative embroideries that need to be treated carefully.

Tumble drying isn’t recommended, so after you hand wash your pillow sham, hang it up and leave it to dry.

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