Saturday Pattern Sharing 4/28/12

I’ve been seriously slacking with the Saturday Pattern Sharing — my apologies!  Friday DeStash sales have kept me busy towards the end of the week and I keep forgetting to sit down and put a pattern post together.  One of these days I’ll get organized enough to take a couple of hours and hammer out 6-8 of these and schedule them to post.  Maybe.

My dogs desperately need new pet beds!  I bought fleece and some cotton broadcloth over a year ago to make them something and I never got to it.  Perhaps I should leave this pattern up on my computer as I reminder to take an afternoon and whip something up!

Today’s pattern is this super cute fleece dog bed by Erin over at Dog Under My Desk.

Fleece Dog Bed Tutorial

I’m thinking about making an inside liner (following the same pattern) using broadcloth or muslin.  I don’t have a front loader washing machine and with my stinky boys I desperately need the ability to wash the bed.  Having a removable fleece outer shell would allow me to pull it and throw it in the wash periodically.  This needs a little more thought…

Happy sewing!

More than a Nuisance — Clothing Tags

We’ve all had them: tags in the back of a garment that are more of a nuisance than anything else.  Maybe you’ve pulled out your scissors and cut them out; maybe you rolled the dice and tried to rip them out.  I’ll gladly admit that I hate them.  I hate how they scratch against my skin; I hate how they irritate my children’s skin; and I really hate having to put them in the items I sew and sell (because I know your children think they’re a nuisance too).

But thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), I have to pass that nuisance — times two — along to you!  Once again, I’m sure you’re asking, “why?”

These labels allow the buyer to “ascertain” product and source information.  Translation, it’s a way for the buyer and seller to know exactly what materials are used in a specific garment, in case of a future problem/recall.

For a crafter the CPSIA tracking label (required on all items for children under the age of 12) must be permanent and to the “extent practical“.  They must include at minimum the following information:

  • Your company or shop name, or your CPSC’s Small Batch Manufacturers Registration Number.
  • Information on where the item was completed.
  • Contact information, website, or business registered address.
  • The season with year of manufacture (at minimum) or date of completion of the product.
  • A batch number if you make repeats of the designs.

**Small volume manufacturers and crafters may be unlikely to use lot, batch or run
numbers, and, again, the Commission does not interpret Section 103(a) to require them to
create such a system. Nevertheless, reasonable practices should be in place by such
manufacturers to keep records of components used in their products.**

In simple terms, if you already keep records of your materials and sources and you can tell where each material came from, you do not need to use a system of batch numbers.

Along with the CPSIA tags that I’m required to include, manufacturers who create garments, regardless of the age of the intended user, also need to comply with the FTC’s Care Labeling Rule (unless you are lucky enough to fall into the exemption).

An FTC label needs at the very least:

  • Your company’s registered business name, or a brand/label name with Registration Number.
  • Fiber content by percentage.
  • Fiber’s country of origin.
  • Washing and care instructions

If the FTC required information is already found on the CPSIA tracking label, it does not need to be duplicated on the care/content label.

Stitch To Stitch CPSIA & FTC Labels

All this means, is that for every item I sell, I have to permanently affix (i.e. sew) both of these labels into the garment.  It adds a small amount to my production costs and a couple extra minutes to my sewing time.  As much of a nuisance as I think a label might be to the wearer, at the same time I think it makes the finished item look more professional as well.  It also means that I’ve done my part by following the laws to help keep our children safe.

The big question for other small business owners…are you CPSIA and FTC compliant?

Friday De-Stash 4/20/12

In order to make room for new fabric, I need to use up what I have!  So I’m making fun new creations and dropping the price *DRASTICALLY*.  It’s a win-win for both of us!

Today’s de-stash deal is this super cute peasant top, on sale for $15 (shipping included). Click on the photo to go directly to the Etsy listing.  I only have enough fabric to make THREE so if you’re interested get one quickly!

Girls Yellow Green and Gold Peasant Top (sizes 6m to 9/10)

The Basics of CPSIA

I’ve been asked numerous times, how come I don’t list (more) items with cute embellishments, matching hair bows or clothing with zippers and buttons.  I understand the question and take it to heart.  As a Mom of little girls, I love the thought of matching accessories to go with their outfits; as a business owner the thought of adding accessories and expanding my listings is extremely appealing.

The problem is all due to the CPSIA.

The what?

The CPSIA.

The CPSIA stands for the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which is a law that was enacted in August of 2008.  The stated purpose of this bill is to “establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

The CPSIA requires that all products intended for children under 12 are tested and certified as meeting the lead limits as set forth in the law. Phthalate testing is also required for toys intended for children under 12 or “child care articles” for children under three.

The CPSIA came about in response to the high levels of lead/phthlates found in children’s toys and products over the last 5 years.  It was written as consumers demanded regulation over imported products that often have little manufacturing safeguards in place.  What it means is the items our children will wear/play now have safeguards in place. A guarantee they are safe from harmful substances such as lead and phthalates.

What wasn’t anticipated was the impact it would have on small businesses making handcrafted items. It means there is much more involved with making children’s items than going to the store, buying materials and coming home to craft!  It means making sure all of your manufacturing practices and materials are CPSIA compliant.  It means spending unmeasurable amounts of time trying to read through the technical jargon to fully understand the legislation. 

But back to the purpose of this post.  Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the CPSIA and how it affects the items you see for sale at Stitch To Stitch

When the law was originally written and enacted, there were materials exemptions set based upon the manufacturing of said items.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission felt that certain materials would be lead-free if appropriate procedures were followed during production.

The following materials are considered exempt from third party lead testing by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission):

  • Precious metals, including gold, silver, and titanium.
  • Precious and semiprecious gemstones that are not associated with lead in nature, e.g. rubies, emeralds, tourmaline, jade, quartz.
  • Natural and cultured pearls.
  • Wood.
  • Amber.
  • Minerals and fossils, except for those minerals (like galena) that are associated with lead in nature.
  • Plant-based materials such as bark, essential oils, jojoba, and tung oil.
  • Animal-based materials such as horn, coral, seashells, bone, shellac, and animal glue.
  • Food-grade items such as beeswax, mineral oil, food coloring, herbs, milk, and honey.
  • All textiles: dyed and undyed, natural and synthetic.
  • Paper, cardboard, and similar wood-pulp products.
  • CMYK process printing ink.
  • Books, if they are made entirely of exempt materials.  All books printed after 1985 are considered to be made of exempt materials.

Thankfully, for me, this means that my fabric, lace and thread are considered exempt.  The exemption of these three materials covers over 90% of the basic materials used in all of my creations.  For me, these exemptions lend a huge sigh of relief.  When the CPSIA was originally enacted some people chose to simply shut down their businesses if their main materials were not on the exemption list.

Not only where certain materials automatically granted exemption, the CPSC also determined that some materials could be conditionally exempt.  Cases where they believed overall the materials could be a concern, but that in specific situations it became innocuous.

The following materials are exempted from third-party testing if they meet certain conditions:

  • Adhesives, if they cannot be touched by a child.
  • Stainless steel, except for 303Pb stainless steel.
  • Leather, if it does not have a surface pigment (these pigments are considered in the same category as paints)
  • Paper, cardboard, and other paper products, if they do not have a coating on them (such as laminating).
  • Any component that is inaccessible, meaning it cannot be touched by a child’s finger.

The conditional exemption of inaccessibility allows me to not worry about the content of elastics used in waistbands, necklines, armholes, etc.  (Some would argue that elastic is considered a textile; others disagree.  This bypasses the argument totally.)  The casings I sew are fully enclosed so the child can not touch the elastic under normal wear/conditions.  Yet another huge sigh of relief for Stitch To Stitch.

To minimize confusion, some items were clearly listed in the legislation as not being exempt from the testing.  These are items that have previously been culprits of high lead levels in children’s products.

The following materials are specifically mentioned in the document as not exempted from third-party lead testing:

  • Composite wood products, like particle board
  • Paints, varnishes, and lacquers
  • Ceramic glazes and clay
  • Glass, crystals, and rhinestones
  • Art supplies
  • Inks that do not become part of the paper
  • Lamination
  • Screen printing inks
  • Metal and plastic components, such as nails, screws, zippers, buttons, snaps, hair bands, barrettes, and doll accessories
  • Metal or plastic bindings used to hold books together, including staples.

This is where the CPSIA gets really difficult for me.  Zippers, buttons, snaps and barrettes are the 4 main items that I’d be interested in using.  What does this mean?

It means that either I completely ignore the regulations and risk being fined, or I ensure these items are certifiably lead-free.  The biggest problem of this regulation, is the cost incurred at the small business level.  From what I’ve read lead testing through a certified lab can easily run in the THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS for a single item. This might not mean much to a huge manufacturer with revenues in the millions of dollars but for a small business owner this cost is debilitating.  Without a doubt it quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Right now they are allowing for “upstream certification”, meaning a crafter is allowed to use the test results of a supplier to certify that a product is lead-free or phthalate-free.  So you’re in luck if you can find a supplier that has their items tested.  One of the common problems is that they will tell customers their items are not “designated for children under 13”.  A technical loophole which allows them to not complete the testing, saving thousands of dollars for those who could afford to do the testing.

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My biggest concern as a shop owner is what lies ahead for the handmade/handcrafted industry.  Are they going to tighten down legislation even further?  Will they mandate everything be third-party tested at some point?

It’s hard too, because it’s apparent that many people are either completely unaware of the legislation or are blatantly ignoring it. I know that I’ve lost sales to shops that are non-compliant. It saddens me to know that I’m losing revenue by following the law.  At what point will Etsy, Artfire and other marketplaces require that all shops affected by these standards prove they are following the legislation?   

To put it mildly, although great in theory, the CPSIA is a major hindrance for the small artisan community.

If you’re interested in reading more about the CPSIA, you can find easy to understand information at this link:  http://www.whatisthecpsia.com/

Friday De-Stash 4/13/12

In order to make room for new fabric, I need to use up what I have!  So I’m making fun new creations and dropping the price *DRASTICALLY*.  It’s a win-win for both of us!

Today’s de-stash deal is this super cute skirt, on sale for $16 (shipping included). Click on the photo to go directly to the Etsy listing.  I only have enough fabric to make THREE so if you’re interested get one quickly!

Girls Blue White and Brown Spring Skirt (sizes 6m to 9/10)

New Shop Items

There are some super cute new rompers listed for sale over at Stitch To Stitch! When you look on Etsy you can see pages, upon pages, upon pages of the ruffled petti rompers.  But there isn’t much (if anything!) available that takes a similar design and uses fabulous printed fabrics to create the ruffles.  So I figured I needed to step in and try to fill that void.

These are the two that I have finished and are ready for sale.

Girls Brown Pink & Grey Floral Ruffle Romper -- available in newborn to size 6

The more delicate nature of this romper combines super cute fabrics from the Daisy Cottage fabric line by Riley Blake.  It’s alternated with lace in pink, white and grey for a soft look.  All sewn onto a super soft tee-shirt knit base for all day comfort.

Girls Pink Blue Yellow and White Floral Ruffle Romper -- available in newborn to size 6

The bright, bold colors of this romper is vastly different in taste from the more muted tones of the first.  Fabric from the Kumari Garden line is used for the print, alternating with rows of power mesh (a product similar to tulle, but much, much softer and stretchier).  This gorgeous pairing of colors creates a one of a kind look.

In the next couple of weeks I’d like to add on with other fabrics and styles — right now something vintage-ish has my brain spinning.  Maybe rows of ruffled dupioni silk and delicate lace in a creamy ivory?  Maybe another set of fun colors for the upcoming 4th of July holiday?

A huge thank you to Kamieo Photography for the amazing products shots.