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This little bear and what he stands for is VERY important to anyone who values making handmade items, or even giving or selling vintage or resale items to children:

Save Handmade Children's Items

Save Handmade Children's Items

Link to Really Important Information About the Concerns Regarding the New Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

I first heard of this pending legislation today and, let me tell you, I’m very concerned.  Kudos to Kari for finding this button and the site that explains in layman’s terms the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, or HR4040, which is the cause of serious concern. 

This act, which takes effect on February 10, 2009, places tremendously prohibitive and punitive requirements on sellers and resellers of children’s goods, including, but not limited to handmade items.   In addition to toys, clothing, furniture and books may also be effected. 

In the words of the email I received today:

HR4040 is a retroactive rule mandating that all items sold for use by children under 12 must be tested by an independent party for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.
 

All untested items, regardless of lead content, are to be declared “banned hazardous products.” The CPSC has already determined the law applies to every child’s item on shelves, not just to items made beginning Feb. 10.
 

The regulations could force thousands of businesses; especially smaller ones that cannot afford the cost of lead testing; to throw away tons upon tons of children’s clothing, books, toys, furniture and other children’s items and even force them to close their doors. All of these items ending up where; landfills!

The ban of these items appears to extend beyond the retailer and could be construed to include esty.com shops, ebay sales, resale shops, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, pregnancy assistance clinics, hospitals, and gifts. 

This is appalling on its face, of course, but as we consider the dire predictions our president-elect made about our economy today, thift store, resale and garage sale shopping, in addition to making and using or gifting children’s items, could be the only way that many “ordinary” families (like ours) are able to survive this challenging economic season for our country.

More from the same email regarding the penalty phase of this legislation:

However, the HR404 has taken measures to such extremities that its effects may be more horrendous than its “good intentions”.  Estimates testing for each clothing article can run between $300 and $1,500. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it may consider exempting clothing and toys made from natural materials such as wool or wood, but paint and dyes on the products are still required to be tested.  But seriously, what and how many kids’ articles are made of 100% wool or wood?  What kind of kid is going to wear a super-itchy 100% wool sweater?  Due to such costly testing, shops that sell used books may be forced to close their doors.  Second-hand, consignment , and thrift stores may be forced to close their doors.  Folks with home and on-line businesses that make specialty kids products may have to close down.  The act’s broad wording could extend to children’s items sold on eBay, Craig’s List, Amazon and even garage sales; also sources of income for many families.  February 10th, 2009 will be “National Bankruptcy” day.
 
 
 
 

 

This is a very, very serious situation for crafters and families of young children alike.  The folks at this link  give some GREAT action steps that you can take to make a difference.  

In addition to giving resources for contacting your representatives, they also encourage us to “vote for amending the law on Change.org, digg style:If it makes the top ten proposals, it will be presented to President Obama in January!” I urge you to click through and do you 60-second part to help ensure that this abysmal and harmful piece of legislation is NOT signed into law. 

Here is a link to the actual legislation.  It is 62-pages and I must disclose that I did not read every bit of it before passing this information along.  I will be reading it thoroughly and if after doing so, I believe that anything I’ve written here is in error, I will update with a correction immediately. 

But for now, please act quickly.  Time is of the essence if you want to maintain your rights to craft for kids, resell your rocking horse, or even donate that lightly-used coat to a needy child who would otherwise freeze after February 10th.

Note:  The majority of the content of this blog post also can be found at my blog, What Matters Most.  Normally, I do not duplicate posts between blogs, but I considered this topic so vastly important to both the distinct and different readership, that I thought it merited appearing in both places.  Thanks for your understanding.
EDIT:  The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a link on their website that gives some clarification as to the intention and enforcement of the CPSIA.  The key, I think, especially important if you make a living selling crafts or resale items, would be to look to the actual language of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  If there was ever a question of interpretation, the Act would be looked to first.  Be informed of the whole picture–especially if this is part of the way you feed your family.
And Melissa, thanks so much for the update and the link!  🙂
And a link to an LA Times article discussing HR4040  (thanks Ann)–it seems there may be improvements for resellers, but I still can’t see how those who handcraft children’s items are protected with these revisions/clarifications.  I’m could be missing something.  Or it could just be that the resellers are screaming louder about the effects of this than the crafters.  Stay informed! 

All it took is One Day of my Sewing Greatness, and N drug out her little old fashioned chain-stitch kids’ Singer machine.  The excitement was palpable:

“Will you teach me now, Mom?  Will you teach me now, Mom?  Will you teach me now, Mom?  How about now, Mom?” 

“N, honey, it’s bedtime.”  “It’s too early.  I haven’t even brushed my teeth.”   “I’m making dinner.”  “We’re getting ready to walk out the door.”

Undaunted and (amazingly, still) smiling, she approached The Meanest Mom in the World again today, machine in hand.  Finally, the result she was waiting for, “Sure.”

She got to know her machine by sewing stitches into rags.

N's First Sewing Lesson

N's First Sewing Lesson

And sewing, and sewing, and sewing:

A Proverbs 31 Woman in Training!

A Proverbs 31 Woman in Training

Then I cut her loose and she was on her own.  Left unchecked by my creatively-challenged self, she knew no bounds.  She made herself an emboidered vest. 

N's Vest

N's Vest

Of course she’s at her first day on the job, but really, how many of us grown-ups would have tried free-hand embroidery on our first day with a sewing machine?  You go, girl!
The B

The B

Ok, yes, this started out as a T-Shirt rag and first was envisioned as a vest for our dog, Belle.  (Which explains the bold letter “B” on the back.)  Belle was none-too-pleased with her new wardrobe, so N decided to keep her first creation for herself.  I told her the B should stand for Bold and Brave (thinking to myself that I never would have dared to create something with just a rag, some thread, a machine, and an idea). 

Her new career as a designer in full swing, N kept creating…

Behold, our cat, Cuddles, modeling her new vest (note the “C” emblazoned on the back):

Cuddles in her new vest

Cuddles in her new vest

 

Today at our house, we discovered that kids are amazingly creative and bold when adults can keep their instruction-reading, pattern-addicted, perfectionist-laden hands and minds at a safe distance. 

We also discovered that cats have more patience than dogs.

Good Kitty.

Good Kitty.

It’s definitely love.

Must Be Love

Must Be Love

 

Well, maybe not all cats. 

Pearl struggles to escape N's grip and her new outfit.

Pearl struggles to escape N's grip and her new outfit.

On that note: I hear the sewing machine running at the other end of the house.  Shhh….designer at work.  🙂

Another confession.  Up until very recently, I had a secret fear.  A fear of…

my sewing machine.

Years ago, I purchased it with the great intentions of learning to sew along with my older daughter N.  We were excited and delighted until taking it out of the box.  The thing looked like a mechanical monster.  Oh heck no.  Back into the box it went.  Tucked deep into a little-used closet.  No sewing for me.  Nope.  No way.

Over the years I met many great gals who loved to sew.  No fear with these ladies.  I occasionally would suggest that I take a lesson or two from them, but heaved a secret sigh of relief when we became too busy to get it done.

Fast forward.  Labor Day 2008.  My friend Kari, bless her widdle heart, tells me to stop being a wimp, grab the machine and get to her house.  (She was a bit nicer than that, but you get the picture.)  Faced with no other options or distractions, off we went.  Machine and Me.

After figuring out the bobbin winding business and the threading thingy (Did you know all kinds of crazy things happen when you miss just one of those pesky threading steps?  Of course you did.), I finally started sewing.  Here’s the proof:

WOO HOO!!!

After discovering that I indeed could sew something that looked like a seam without driving the needle through my fingers or somehow breaking the machine, I felt SO ACCOMPLISHED!

But Kari wasn’t done yet.   She had some extra material and helped me make this bag:

Could it be any cuter? I think not.

It’s even reversible!  I’ll post a picture of it inside-outsy after I teach N to sew the big pink buttons on it.  I’ll betcha Kari would even share her pattern with us if you want it!

Who knew I had it in me?  🙂

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