The topic of pillow shams has always been a cause of confusion in the world of beddings. They are often interchanged with pillowcases because they often look alike, with subtle differences, which beg the question: what really is a pillow sham?
What Really Is a Pillow Sham?
If you look up the term ‘sham’ in the dictionary, you will see that it means “bogus; false; fake.” In the case of pillow shams, it’s basically as the name implies. The term “pillow sham” means a pillow with a “false front.”
In the 1700s, specially-made pillowcases were made to create decorative pillows with removable covers. These pillows with false fronts came to be known as pillow shams.
A sham is a decorative pillow case that transforms normal-sized pillows into something decorative. They add a touch of playfulness and elegance to any normal pillows. They are different from typical pillowcases in that they are often open in the middle of the back, with slightly overlapped fabric. They are sometimes closed with a hidden zipper.
Pillow shams are usually made to go with other bedding elements such as matching duvet covers or comforters.
If Pillow Shams are Mainly Decorative, Can They be Slept On?
Technically, a pillow covered with a sham is still a pillow. So technically, it can still be used for sleep. However, most pillow shams are made from textured decorative fabrics or with flanges that are bulky that may bunch up as you sleep.
Pillows with shams are mainly used as decorative pieces and as support when placed behind normal pillows. Unlike throw pillows, cotton shams can be easily removed from their fills to be washed or replaced.