What Is a Sham in Bedding?

understanding sham in bedding

A sham is a decorative pillow cover that differs from a regular pillowcase by having a flanged edge for a more decorative appearance. It is not designed for sleeping but for enhancing the bed's look.

Shams come in various sizes and styles to match different bedding sets. They add detail to a room's decoration and often match the overall design theme of the bedroom.

Shams can have patterns or be made of high-quality fabrics to create a layered and appealing bed setup.

Understanding Bed Shams

Bed shams are decorative pillow covers that add style to a bed and can also serve as a backrest. They are distinct from regular pillowcases due to their more complex design, which often includes a flanged or bordered edge, and they are typically made from the same fabric as the bedding set for uniformity.

Shams are available in several sizes, including Euro Shams (26 x 26 inches), Standard Shams (26 x 20 inches), and King Shams (36 x 20 inches), to accommodate different bed sizes and preferences for layering. The back of a sham may have an overlapping fabric opening or a hidden zipper closure.

While primarily for decoration and coordinating with the bedding set, shams can also provide support for activities like reading in bed. To maintain a full and attractive look, they are usually filled with inserts that are slightly larger than the sham.

In essence, shams contribute both aesthetically and functionally to a bed's presentation.

Types of Bed Shams

There are five main types of bed shams.

Standard shams are rectangular, fit standard pillows (20' x 26'), and are often used in pairs.

King shams are for king pillows (20' x 36') and add elegance to larger beds.

Euro shams are square (26' x 26') and form the back layer of pillow arrangements.

Boudoir shams are small (12' x 16') and add color or texture in front of larger pillows.

Queen shams are for queen pillows (20' x 30') and provide a size option between standard and king shams.

Sham Versus Pillowcase

A pillow sham is a decorative cover for pillows, often with detailed designs and edges, used to enhance the bed's appearance. It is not intended for regular sleep use and may match the duvet cover or bedding set. Shams usually come in pairs and have a hidden zipper or overlap for inserting the pillow.

A standard pillowcase is designed for sleeping, providing a protective and comfortable cover for a pillow. They are generally sold individually and are made to encase the pillow completely.

Shams serve as decorative elements and are placed in front of sleeping pillows. They can be filled with sham inserts that are fuller to keep their shape. In contrast, regular pillowcases are for the pillows you sleep on.

Understanding these differences helps in selecting the right item for the bed's function and style.

Creating Your Bed Sham

To make a bed sham, choose fabric that complements your bedding and room decor. The material should be both visually appealing and durable. Pillow shams are primarily decorative, so select a fabric that is eye-catching and can withstand use. The front should be the highlight, featuring either solid colors or complex patterns to enhance the bedroom's look.

The sham should fit the pillow insert properly. Standard, king, and Euro sizes are common, and shams are typically made a bit larger than the pillows they cover for a full appearance. Pillows in shams should appear full and inviting.

Shams are constructed with a back slit for inserting the pillow, creating a neat front without visible closures. The back may include an overlapping fabric or a hidden zipper to keep the sham and pillow in place.

Shams are often sold in pairs and may match the duvet cover or comforter, but mixing different fabrics and patterns can personalize the bedroom's style.

Styling With Shams

Shams are decorative pillow covers used to enhance the appearance of bedding. They are not designed for sleeping but for display and are usually placed in front of regular pillows. To style with shams, layer different sizes such as standard, king, and Euro pillows for visual depth.

For a unified bedroom look, select shams that match your bedding in color or pattern. Arrange Euro pillows against the headboard for support, followed by king shams, standard shams, and a decorative boudoir sham at the front.

Choose sham fabrics like silk, velvet, or linen for texture and luxury. The closure of the sham, which may be a hidden zipper, envelope flap, or buttons, should be both elegant and functional.

Shams can add sophistication to the bedroom and provide practical support for activities like reading. The right shams will enhance the look of your bedding and offer comfort.

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