This is an idea straight from Victorian times when girls used to sit around all day and wonder who their suitors would be. Charm strings (or Memory Strings) are long laces with collections of buttons strung on them for safe-keeping and display.
The tradition says that a girl and her friends would collect buttons and string them on a piece of rope or twine (never anything as fancy as ribbon) and the goal was to collect 999 buttons before your friends did. But not 1000 because collecting 1000 buttons was to be cursed with spinsterhood. Instead, the legend said that when you collected 999 buttons it would be your turn to get married and your Prince Charming would present you with the last button for your collection. Quaint, no?
It seems like a fun tradition, regardless of it's political incorrectness, and I can see little girls (or even boys) enjoying collecting buttons for their own strings. Here are a few of the "rules":
1. Buttons should be one of a kind. Each of the 999 should be unique if possible.
2. The more beautiful, sparkling and brilliant the better.
3. Buttons should not be bought. Instead they should be presents from family and suitors or traded with another collector. That's why they're often called Memory Strings, because back when buttons weren't as common each piece of the collection represented a memory. "This one is from the dress I wore to Julia's cotillion, this one from Grandfather's uniform" etc.
4. Buttons with shanks are preferred as they nest together and form colorful necklaces that and be worn or displayed.
So look through your boxes and see what buttons you have. For small children stringing buttons promotes good small motor skills and sorting buttons into piles is good for analytic thinking.
Any ideas of your own that are good for whiling away the hours?
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