What Is a Bed Sham?

Bed pillows come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But, if you’re bored with your current linen setup, you can kick your bedroom aesthetic up a notch with some decorative pillow shams. You can even make them yourself if you’re feeling crafty, let’s talk about pillow shams and how they can uplift your bedroom.  

A bed sham is slightly different to your standard pillow

What Does a Bed Sham Look Like?  

A bed sham is slightly different from your standard pillow. It adds a certain design flair to your pillowcase, it can resemble an old-fashioned design or be more modern. The additional fabric on the perimeter of the pillow peaks out from behind your regular pillows when your bed is dressed. They can have an embellished panel on the front of the pillow that gives it its unique style.    

How to Use a Bed Sham

Standard shams are widely available, affordable, and easy to use. They can be patchwork style, sequins, button style, lace, or silk. To use a pillow sham you could match some decorative pillows to duvet covers and bedding sets. Your bed runner could match a couple of pillow shams or you can mix and match prints and fabrics, the possibilities are endless. 

What Are the Standard Size Pillow Dimensions?

Sleeping Pillow Sizes 

Decorative Pillow Sizes  

Standard pillow 20 x 26 inches 

Euro pillow 25 x 25 inches 

Queen pillow 20 x 30 inches 

Deco pillow 20 x 20 inches 

King pillow 20 x 36 inches 

Deco pillow 18 x 18 inches 

Deco pillow 16 x 16 inches 

Boudoir pillow 12 x 16 inches 

Neckroll pillow 6.5 x 13 inches 

Types of Bed Shams

Euro Sham

A Euro Sham is 26 x 26 inches. The compact size makes it universally convenient for all bed sizes. Euro Sham pillows also make a beautiful addition to your living room too. It is designed with 2 overlapping pieces of fabric that the pillow can easily be removed from. 

Standard Sham

A standard sham is 20 x 26 inches, the same as regular pillows. You’ll get more use out of standard size pillows because they are much more than decorative. Place a standard sham behind your regular pillow to add back support and extra comfort when sitting up in bed.  

Standard Case

Standard pillow covers are 20 x 26 inches and widely available. They will work perfectly with standard pillow shams and great for all sleep styles

Boudoir Sham

Boudoir shams are 12 x 16 inches and typically come with pillows. 

Neckroll Sham

Neck sham sleeping pillows are 4 x 12 inches and provide great comfort to those who suffer neck ache or strain. They add an elegant touch to your bedroom aesthetic with many designs and colors to choose from.   

Flat Sheet

A flat sheet, such as the Nolah Bamboo Sheet Set, placed on top of your mattress protector is perfect no matter what sizes bed you're dealing with. Match the color of your king shams to your flat or fitted sheet. These typically lay on top of a fitted sheet and can also be used under a duvet or comforter too, so you lay your body over the fitted sheet and under the flat sheet and duvet/comforter. 


A coverlet is another sheet embellishment to accompany your pillow sham. This fitted sheet has additional fabric that dangles just below the mattress. It can be used to conceal any items that are stored under your bed and look good too. Functional and stylish.  

Duvet Cover

A duvet cover protects your duvet from stains and dirt (like a pillowcase cover). These are widely available and come in various sizes. A duvet cover can match your bed runner or size pillow shams for added flair and comfort. 

Fitted Sheet

A fitted sheet has elastic edges that hug the mattress tight. These are better than relying on flat sheets as you can roll around all night and the sheet will not come loose.  The bedding types and materials of these sheet sets should also be considered.  For example, there are many benefits of bamboo sheets such as being breathable, cooling and hypoallergenic.

Bed Skirt 

A bed shirt is like a sheet but is purely decorative. It is placed over a box spring or legs of the bed. The fabric hangs down and creates a cozy and warm feel in the bedroom. 

Your standard pillow sham of 20 x 26 inches

What Pillows Should I Use With My Bed Sham? 

All pillow sizes, even a king size pillow can find a suitable pillow sham. Your standard pillow sham of 20 x 26 inches may be easier to find. Choose a supportive pillow that is breathable and durable.    

DIY: How to Make a Bed Sham


  • Fabric 
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Ruler/measuring tape 

Step 1

  • Cut 2 pieces of fabric for the front and back
  • Allow 1 inch on each side to accommodate the pillow filing
  • Allow more than one inch if you plan to let some additional fabric hang from your pillow sham

Step 2

  • Sew the edges with a sewing machine or hand sew (it’s easier than you think)
  • Leave an opening to put the pillow in and out
  • Turn the pillow sham inside out 

Step 3

  • Insert the filling into your pillow sham and place on your bed
  • Make more to use as a couch throw pillow or matching bed pillow  

Conclusion: Do I Need a Bed Sham? 

Boudoir pillows may sound fancy but the beauty of the bed sham is that it is so adaptable, easy to find, and even easy to make. They add an elegant flair, colorful touch, and vibrant feel to your bedroom. They’re comfortable, easy to clean, and keep your pillow free from dirt and dust. Enjoy your pillow sham with matching sheets, duvet cover, or comforter.