The Ultimate Guide To Pillow Shams

The Ultimate Guide To Pillow Shams

If you are browsing for high quality, natural bedding you might have come across the many variations of pillow shams, including the rather confusingly named “euro sham”. Before you add to cart, read on to find out what pillow shams are for, what dimensions they come in, as well as tips on fabric choices and styling. 

First thing’s first: what is a pillow sham?

Unlike a pillowcase, a pillow sham is more decorative in nature, tends to be made of thicker fabric and often features detailed embellishments such as decorative stitching or embroidery. While a pillowcase is generally made from the same material as your sheets or duvet cover, a pillow sham might match a quilt, bed cover or stand out on its own for an added pop of colour.  

Piglet in Bed's linen pillow sham in Raspberry (left) and linen pillow shams in Blueberry (right).

What is a Euro sham?

You might have often seen the term “euro sham”. Put simply, this is a sham designed to cover a square pillow, as opposed to a regular pillow. 

Piglet in Bed's linen euro shams in Sage Green, Blueberry and cotton euro sham in Warm Blue

What sizes do shams come in?

Most regular pillow shams are designed to fit snugly around the two main sizes of pillow: standard and super king. Standard size shams measure 75 x 50cm and super king size shams measure 90 x 50 cm. 

A Euro sham is square in shape and measures 65 x 65cm. It's squareness lends it more the air of a cushion.

Can you sleep on a pillow sham? 

You can, of course, sleep on a pillow sham (we’re not stopping you!), however that is not generally its intended use. You might not choose to sleep on a pillow sham, firstly because they are often embellished in such a way as not to be comfortable for your face and secondly because they are made from thicker material that you might not want to wash as regularly as a normal pillowcase.  

Why might I want pillow shams on my bed?

Pillow shams complete the final look of your bed. If you like to spend time in your sanctuary of a bedroom, a fully dressed bed will lend the whole room a more considered, styled feeling. Pillow shams are great for adding colour as well as adding depth and texture to your bed. Tuck them behind your regular “sleeping pillows” for some extra comfort when sitting up in bed reading and take them off the bed at night when not in use. 

What fabric should my pillow sham be made of?

At Piglet in Bed, we believe that all your bedding should be made of 100% natural fibres. Not only are they more breathable, better for temperature regulation and super soft against your skin but they are also better for the planet. Linen pillow shams, in particular, consume less water to produce and are hard-wearing and long-lasting. Read our article All About Linen, to find out more about the wonders of linen 

Both linen and cotton pillow shams are great options, both soft and breathable. Your final decision will really come down to personal preference. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of both these fabrics, read our Battle of the Naturals post, which might help you decide! 

How should I style my pillow shams?

Match your shams to your quilt for a sleek, hotel-inspired look or opt for contrasting colours and textures for your own unique style. We love bringing out the tones in our sheets and pillowcases with some thoughtfully contrasting shams, tucked either behind the pillows for a little peek of differing texture or placed in front of them to take centre stage. 

Linen pillow shams in Sage Green (left) and cotton pillow shams in Honeysuckle (right)

However you style your pillow shams, they will be sure to add another dimension to your bed-scape and make your bed even more inviting than it already is. We wish you luck in trying to get out of it in the mornings! 

Hero image: Piglet in Bed's Warm Blue cotton quilt and euro sham, with Cove Blue cotton pillowcases and duvet cover and Oatmeal linen pillowcases 


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