For all those who are not aware already updated Toy Regulations came into force in July 2011 which means all of us that make and sell sock animals designed to be toys must comply with these regulations and CE mark our creatures.
Some may feel that this is a hurdle that cannot be overcome but that is where you would be wrong. I along with over a hundred other sock creature makers on Facebook have formed a support group to help each other self test our creatures. I have already completed testing on 3 of my designs that I may now sell with a CE mark. It is manageable and having the support of so many others has made it achievable.
We have a number of hurdles:
All materials used must be compliant to EN71 Regulations. As a group we have created a list suppliers of compliant materials including stuffing, thread, felt and wool. Those items we can not find we are grouping together to get tested and these include ribbon, lace and fleece.
Strength tests: We need to ensure our designs and most notably the seams can withstand the weight of 7kg attached by clamps. As our creatures are well made this is no problem and our creatures have passed this torture with flying colours and with the help of a self test pack provided by a Toy testing company called Conformance.
Flammability tests: We have tested that our creatures are well within acceptable burn rate limits. It does involve using a blow torch on our brave test creatures. Again all socks tested have passed with flying colours.
Chemical Migration: The hardest hurdle for all those using socks is that socks were made for the clothing industry and not to be made into toys. To get the cE mark we need to ensure that they do not contain harmful chemicals that may leach out into the mouths of children. This test we cannot do ourselves and so as a group we have sent off a sock from all main high street stores and some wholesale on line sellers to be tested in Testing houses. At a cost of £60 per socks this is manageable as there are so many of us. We now have a large selection of socks that we can use.
Trading Standards have been very helpful for some and not to for others and advice has been conflicting but together we are making this goal possible. There is a great FB support page for all those self testing any toy and this page can connect you with the private sock support group.
Great article Dawn and congratulations on acheiving you CE label from a member of the group
Thanks Jill and thank you for all your support. I thought it would be a good idea to share this here to reassure others that it is possible.
Well said Dawn, you are a well respected maker and people are likely to listen to you, it's lovely to give people hope!
Thanks for this article, Dawn!! Really useful to know! Thank goodness I'm not advertising my animals as toys or anything. (They're not really designed to be, either!)
If you are making sock creatures as collectable items or for adult collectors be sure to label them as such so people don't buy them mistakenly thinking they are for children. I sell a range of sock creatures designed and intended for adult collectors too.
Hmm...good point. I suppose I haven't really advertised them as any of those so far, just as gifts for friends and family. Thanks for the advise, though!