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The oxford pillow case is a style of cloth covering normally used to envelop a bed pillow. It is rectangular in shape and has a border around the periphery. The border can come in various shapes and designs and is decorative in nature. With an oxford pillow case, because of the border, the opening where the pillow is inserted is usually in the back.
It is unclear when the first pillow cases came into vogue, but the history of the pillow itself might date back to ancient Egypt. Standard pillow cases are a basic rectangular shape with the stitching on the inside and an opening for the pillow to go in at one of the short ends of the rectangle. Basically, a standard pillow case is quite plain and looks very much like a sack. While functional, it is not usually very decorative.
In answer to the blasé nature of a standard pillow case, the oxford pillow case was devised. The seams of an oxford pillow case are actually on the outside. While this type of case is necessarily rectangular in shape so as to accommodate the average pillow, it has a border around all four edges.
The border of an oxford pillow case can vary in length but usually extends out from the body approximately 2 to 5 inches (about 5 to 13 cm). Sometimes, the border is straight and flat. Other times, it is scalloped or ruffled. Either way, the border serves no practical function but is there to give the pillow case a decorative flare.
Due to the border, the slot where the pillow is inserted is usually in the back of the pillow case. It is typically a double-flapped aperture either at the center or toward one side. This way, the appearance of the fancy edging remains intact and is not disturbed or interrupted by an opening for the pillow.
Some might assume that this pillow covering is named an oxford pillow case because of where it was first made. This, however, is not necessarily true. The pillow case got its name because of the type of fabric that it was originally made from. Traditionally, these items were made from a thick cotton cloth called oxford cloth. Oxford cloth was typically used to make shirts yet was chosen for the pillow case because of its hardy durability.
Typically, oxford pillow cases are available at most department stores and other stores that sell bedding and linens. Despite tradition, oxford cloth is not generally used any longer to make these types of pillow cases. Rather, oxford pillow cases are made from a variety of materials, including fine cotton, satin, and flannel.