Monday, April 15, 2013

A Peek Inside - Hope Chest List

I mentioned that I have been visiting relatives and that I spoke with my mother-in-law, Ione, about her hope chest. She worked on it for quite some time, beginning when she was about ten years old. Sometimes, nearer the time of her marriage, she felt like she didn't do anything but embroider. Next time I visit, I want to set aside time to talk more and take pictures of things Mom still has saved. She mentioned that after things wore out from use, she ripped off the decorated edge and saved her hard work. Ione recorded a list of items she had completed in her wedding book.

5 quilts, 10 pair of pillow cases, 40 dish towels, 10 hot pads, 6 doilies, 5 dresser scarves, 3 table cloths, and several dish cloths. She also collected a lamp, a chair, a footstool, a sewing machine, china service for 12, silverware for 8, a book about nursing (she attended a Red Cross home nursing course,) and a cook book. She also counted on several gifts received from her aunts and friends to complete her household necessities.


  1. I am glad she kept the list! What wonderful things to know as you work on Abigails hope chest and I work on Amy's ~ although, I don't think there will be 40 dishtowels in Amy's!

  2. Donna, it really is fun to see her list. I'll bet I make it to 40 dishtowels, and we probably already have 10 hotpads, and we might even be able to come up with 10 pair of pillowcases by the time she gets married, but I'm pretty sure Abigail will be short on the quilts...;o) I guess we'll see how close I can come. I have to resist feeling the challenge...Ione actually has made Abigail two quilts for Abigail. I need to take a post pictures.

  3. I also read your last post with the lovely pillowcases! I so loved this post. I had a hope chest where I placed so many dishes and linens into. Some of these things I still have today, including the chest.

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  5. I just discovered your blog this weekend and have happily devoured every post. I just can't tell you how much I love it! I had a hope chest of sorts - when I turned 16 I received the cedar chest that my great-grandfather made for my great-grandmother when they got engaged. I received it in 1990 so the tradition of the hope chest had gone by the wayside long before, but I've always loved old traditions and started collecting things for mine. My grandmother bought me a complete set of silverware; my mom passed along a few embroidered pieces that she wasn't using, things like that. I didn't make anything for it, though - I didn't have the patience for needlework. Now I have a preschool-age daughter of my own, and in reading your blog, I've realized that I've started tucking things away for her future hope chest without even thinking about it. My first set of silverware, a new cookie cutter and ornament every Christmas, things like that. But I am absolutely enthralled with the idea of all the linen sets and hand made dishcloths and hot pads. You're inspiring me to attempt crochet once again. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. How much room does a the items in a hope chest take up? My grandfather is planning on building my a trunk for Christmas to house my sheets and would love even just a drawer to use like a hope chest but I am afraid that it would fill up too fast. Also would be able to fit a tea set in a drawer! Hope chest have fallen long by the wayside in my family I know my great grandmother had one but I am unsure about my grandmother having one (she was born in 1946). How you say a young approach the conversation about starting a hope chest?

    1. Werena, you are right in thinking that a drawer will fill up far too fast, so you are fortunate that your Grandfather is willing to build you a chest or trunk. I would suggest that you decide what really needs to be stored in your trunk and work with your grandfather to get an adequate size, but one that is still fairly portable if you plan on moving it around. There are plans or patterns online for building a typical hope chest. If you have heavy items to store, such as your tea set or books or pots and pans, etc. I would suggest a separate storage box for these items as they take up a lot of room in the chest and make it quite heavy. The hope chest was commonly used to store linens and other items were stored elsewhere. So far, Miss Abigail has a wooden hope chest, a four-drawer clothes-type chest and various Rubbermaid plastic totes and boxes. But, a wooden blanket chest should get you started quite nicely!

      As to your second question about approaching the conversation of starting a hope chest, my own experience has shown that people are either interested in the idea and will respond positively to your questions or they think it is an out-dated idea and will think you are silly. I find that older women are way more approachable about the subject and will happily tell you about the things they planned for before they were married. Follow through with some further questions. Many women didn't have what would have been considered an "official" hope chest and they didn't necessarily have the chest or box, and yet they did collect things or created items that would have been useful for their home after they were married. They might not have considered such a plan as having a hope chest. So start a conversation about preparing for marriage or planning ahead for making a home and you may find more people able and willing to have a conversation with you.

      Thanks for your interest and I hope you'll keep reading the blog!


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