What’s The Difference between a Pillow Case and a Sham?

Vera Italian Linens: This has always been a topic of controversy with some believing in the misconception that a pillow case and a sham are one and the same thing. Indeed, both serve a universal purpose in that they are both slip covers for pillows. However, the purposes they serve are different and they have different designs that allow them to compliment your bed linens.

Design purpose

The main difference between a pillow case and a sham is that while a pillow case is more functional, a sham tends to be more decorative than functional. This means that pillow cases are designed with the aim of providing you with an extra layer while you sleep. They also help protect the pillow from external dirt particles that may originate from your hair, skin oil, drool and perspiration. On the hand, pillow shams are strictly designed to provide a decorative touch as embellishments and should thus not be used for sleeping. A sham is what you will go for if you want to add a nice touch to the décor of a room or when you’re looking for the perfect complement of your beddings. They are designed to complement the duvet cover, coverlet, quilt or comforter.

Design elements

Due to the differences between the purposes they serve, pillow cases and shams are also quite different when it comes to their individual design elements. For instance, you will most likely find pillow cases in plain colors and if lucky, you may find some with trimmings. On the other hand, shams generally feature more intricate patterns as compared to pillow cases. Shams are also adorned with embroidery and ornate laces.

While pillow cases are made of light fabrics, shams are usually made of thicker fabrics and more cushioned to lie on top of the comforter or bedspread. While shams can be used as pillows, many people prefer not to as they are made with more expensive fabric meant for decorative purposes.

Pillow cases are usually open at one end and if you purchase the higher quality ones, you will find that they sometimes have decorative finishes on the cuff. Pillow shams, on the other hand, usually have a tuck fluff which is located at the back. In addition, shams are usually finished with a flange on all sides.

Due to their decorative nature, shams are sometimes the perfect solution for adding flair to a boring pillow. If you are however looking for optimal comfort when asleep then a pillow case would be the way to go.