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The Hope Chest

9/2/2014 11:16:00 AM

Tags: Hope Chest, Throw Pillow, Embroidering, Crocheted Doily, Antique China Cabinet, Mary Conley

Mary ConleyDear friends,

Since my back surgery, I've had a lot of time to read, and in a recent book, there was mention of a hope chest. That quickly got my attention, because I actually had one. It started when my grandmother came from California to visit us when I was quite young, and gave me an item she had been working on. It was a covering for a throw pillow made out of scraps with intricate embroidered stitching around each piece. Mom suggested I put it in the trunk and start a hope chest.


I took this photo at my friend Roxy Lang’s house. My trunk wasn’t quite this fancy.

The dictionary describes a hope chest as a chest containing household linen and clothing stored by a woman in preparation for her marriage. It evidently was an-old fashioned custom even when I was a teenager, as I needed to explain it to my friends whenever one visited and saw the trunk in my room.

front of chicken house

The front of the throw pillow cover.

Back of pillow

The back was made from neckties. Everything was hand stitched by my elderly grandmother.

In all 54 years of marriage, I've never used that pillow covering. It is displayed in my antique china cabinet, and on occasion, usually when cleaning the inside of the cabinet, I take it out and sit for a while admiring the different stitching. I doubt that is what Grandma had in mind when she made it.

Back to the hope chest. It filled up over the years as I added something now and then. One item that I was really proud of was my first crocheted doily. I made it while recovering from an illness. Mom had me downstairs in their bed and would come in and check after I finished each row, and then show me the pattern for the next row. The lesson I soon learned from her, besides crocheting, is that if you made a mistake, you ripped it out and did it again! 


My first attempt crocheting a doily.

I guess you could say that the hope chest worked, as I have a wonderful husband. One far better than I could have ever hoped for!

It would be fun to hear from any of you who also had a hope chest. Leave a note telling us about it, as I'm sure other readers would love to hear your story, as well.

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12/21/2014 5:59:31 PM
Thanks for sharing with us, Pat. A neat story! Looks like you have longevity in your family!

12/21/2014 5:23:16 PM
Both my sister and I had hope chests. Although mine started being called the hopeless chest, since I didn't get married until I was 30. My brother actually carved a design on the top of a purchased cedar chest for me. We collected linens, quilts, candlesticks, and other items for our future households. My 95 year old mother still has hers. It is fun to look though it at old pictures and baby stuff from the past. I did one for my niece when she was a senior in high school. Now I use mine to store quilts during the summer. Pat, Georgia

9/4/2014 9:35:02 AM
Mary, I can't say that I ever had a hope chest. Would a tool chest count for a manly hope chest. Over the years tools acquired for the different jobs have amounted to quite a considerable collection. Unlike your hope chest mine is used almost daily. My first tools were given to me from my parents and fit in a small tool box the size of a fishing tackle box. It has grown considerably since then. ***** I do have quite a collection of quits made by the grandmas in my family. I'm not sure which grandmas made which quilts. One I do know is made by my late wife. It was her first and only quilt. It's a keepsake for sure. ***** Have a great hope chest day.

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