Memories of a denim bedspread

Many years ago, when my sons were small, I stacked them, much to their delight, in one room — in bunk beds.

But it quickly became very clear that changing the bedding on bunk beds was a chore. The bottom bunk was so low that it put a crimp in my back to reach it, and if I wasn’t careful, I whacked my head on the rail of the top bunk. In order to grapple with bedding on the top bunk, I had to stand on the rail of the lower one, only to discover that my arms weren’t quite long enough to smooth the covers into place.

I also discovered that finding bedspreads to fit bunk beds, in appealing colors and fabrics, was something of a challenge. I wanted bedcovers that were durable enough to stand up to the roughhousing of small boys. I wanted it to be all right for them to jump on their beds with muddy shoes. I wanted bedspreads that would accommodate the shedding of cat and dog hair.

So, I got it into my head to make bedspreads for the bunk beds out of my family’s old jeans. Friends contributed theirs too, and the next thing I knew, I was crawling around on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor figuring out how to sew the pieces I had cut out onto a sheet I used as base fabric. I used all parts of the jeans — pockets, zippers, rivets — not just the leg parts which were easy to cut into desired shapes, though I didn’t desire any particular shapes. I just wanted a collage-like hodge-podge of denim pieces stitched by machine to the base fabric.

That’s when the fun really began. I pinned on a piece, stitched it, overlapped it with another piece, leaving the edges raw and stitched that one down until I had covered the base fabric. I considered adding batting and backing as in a traditional quilt, but the weight of the denim made the additional layers unnecessary. I bound off the four edges with pieces of print fabric and called it good.

My sons were delighted with the bed covers. They especially liked the pockets in which they parked Matchbox cars, stashed a box of crayons or hid away some treasure — a bird’s feather, a pretty rock — that they had found.

Eventually, as with all things, the boys grew — out of wanting handmade bedspreads where they parked toy trucks, out of bunk beds and into young men with rooms of their own. Thus, the denim bedspreads saw new uses, primarily as beach blankets at Maine lakes, ponds and seasides.

Somehow in the slipstream and backwash of growth and change, one of the denim bedspreads disappeared. But I have the other one, and it still serves as a beach blanket. The indigo tones of the denim have faded over the years, but memories of my sons asleep under the bedspreads or belly down as they dried off in the sun after a swim have not.

The remaining bedspread links me to the carefree spirit of those days.


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Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email Don’t forget to visit her blog at