Pillowcases vs. Pillow Shams

Pillowcases vs. Pillow Shams

Posted by Vero Luxury Linens on Aug 02, 2019

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear is “please explain the difference between a Pillowcase and a Pillow sham.”

Actually, there isn’t a lot a difference between these popular bedding products.

Although many people think of a pillow sham as just a decorative accent, most pillow shams are perfectly fine to sleep on, assuming they are made of a sheet-type fabric.

Pillow Shams can be more decorative – the non-sleep on type of sham is often made of fabric that is textured, beaded or corded so they would not be suitable to sleep on.

Decorative pillow shams

Shams that are made of a sheet-weight fabric are typically finished with a decorative flange found on all 4 sides of the cover. This flange serves no other purpose than decoration. A bed made with shams simply looks a little more finished than a pillowcase.

KIng size Diamante Pillow Shams

Shams typically open on the backside. Better-constructed pillow shams have additional fabric providing a tuck that hides the edge of the pillow insert.

Pillow shams come in a variety of sizes, the most common are:

  • Boudoir - (12” x 16”)
  • Standard - (20” x 26”)
  • Queen – but rarely found, sold or used (20” x 30”)
  • King – (20” x 36”)
  • Euro – (26” x 26”)

Pillowcases on the other hand, are:

Always intended to sleep on, are open at one end and have a flange or cuff at the opening end.

Luxury Italian 100% Cotton Pillowcases

Their primary purpose is to protect the sleeping pillow from becoming soiled and provide a better/softer fabric than found on pillow ticking or shells.



Pillowcase sizes are as follows:

  • Standard - (20” x 26”)
  • Queen – Again, rarely found, sold or used (20” x 30”)

Many assume that if they have a queen-size bed, their sleeping pillows are queen size. This is not the case; many linen manufacturers do not make queen size pillowcases. At Vero – our standard pillowcases are long enough to accommodate either a standard or queen sleeping pillow.

  • King – (20” x 36”)

King pillowcases are popular, but we have found over the years that many prefer not to sleep with a king-size pillow as people find them too long and difficult to maneuver while tossing and turning.

If you are considering using standard size sleeping pillows on a king bed, 3 fit across the bed perfectly.

Decorative pillows come in a variety of different sizes, textures and shapes.

Decorative pillow shams come in an endless array of sizes, shapes and textures.

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