April 02, 2014

New rules for soft infant and toddler carriers

Photo courtesy of Benutzer via Wikimedia

It's been a while since I've written about the Consumer Product and Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). While the goal of the law was worthy, the application continues to be problematic. It's clear that Congress passed a law with little understanding of what it was they were asking to be implemented. The result is that the fallout continues. The regulatory burden continues to increase, the cost of doing business continues to increase, and more businesses continue to leave the market with little to no improvement in overall safety.

Don't assume that I oppose safety rules. Quite the contrary. The child product industry has supported the implementation of safety rules and testing. But they want to do it by incorporating risk analysis, practicality, and good common sense. Instead we are being given regulations drafted by academics from the halls of Ivy League schools with no practical industry experience or understanding. (If you think I'm making this up, believe me I'm not. You can get a degree to learn how to create public policy).

In any event, a new regulation has now been published that establishes rules for soft infant and toddler carriers. Definitions are important in government legalese. This rule does NOT cover slings.

ASTM F2236-14's definition of a “soft infant and toddler carrier” distinguishes soft infant and toddler carriers from other types of infant carriers that are also worn by a caregiver but that are not covered under ASTM F-2236-14, specifically slings (including wraps), and framed backpack carriers. Soft infant and toddler carriers are designed to carry a child in an upright position. Slings are designed to carry a child in a reclined position. However, some slings may also be used to carry a child upright. Thus, the primary distinction between a sling and a soft infant and toddler carrier is that a sling allows for carrying a child in a reclined position. Different hazard patterns arise from carrying a child in a reclined position. Accordingly, slings are not covered by the standard for soft infant and toddler carriers. Like soft infant and toddler carriers, framed backpack carriers are intended to carry a child in an upright position. However, framed backpack carriers are distinguishable from soft infant and toddler carriers because typically, backpack carriers are constructed of sewn fabric over a rigid frame and are intended solely for carrying a child on the caregiver's back.

Just because this regulation does not cover slings, do not assume that regulations for slings are not forthcoming. The statement above, highlighted in yellow, states there are safety hazards and implies that standards will come.

You'll notice that ASTM F2236-14 becomes codified in law, which you must pay to access. Though a recent lawsuit* has changed this, I don't expect this standard to be made available in the public domain unless a similar lawsuit against ASTM forces it.

Some other observations:

1. The style of the this regulation is different from previous regulations that I've read. In other words, the regulatory statement includes context in the form of quotes from regulated parties along with a response from the CPSC.

2. This regulation primarily affects 32 of 39 possible businesses that manufacture this type of product.

3. The regulators apparently spent a lot of time debating the font size for text on warning labels.

4. The regulators referred to the ASTM standard as voluntary. It's really not.

5. Manufacturers of this product support the regulation.

6. This standard overlaps other standards including the third-party testing requirement found in CPSIA.
The take away from this regulation, despite being "new", is that very little changes. Most manufacturers were already complying with the ASTM standard. The difference now is that the standard becomes law with a few minor additions.

*The organization that won this lawsuit has been primarily focused on making building codes available in the public domain. Standards for children's products are not currently on their radar. Maybe someday it will be.

March 27, 2014

A bolero sewing pattern search

A mink bolero

An anonymous commenter left this inquiry:
Do you know of a good pattern for making bolero (sp)? I want to make some pretty but basic ones to go over shirts, etc. I can't seem to find a pattern for a basic one.
I have a personal preference for boleros or shrugs made of knitted fabric or actually crocheted or knitted. I haven't sewn any for myself, so I can't really recommend any patterns. Though after looking at Pinterest, there are several I might actually look at trying. I pinned several possible sewing patterns to a pinterest board titled Boleros, but as I haven't actually sewn them I can't recommend any of them.

The simplest bolero/shrug is merely a rectangle, folded in half with short seams sewn along the long edge to form an underarm or sleeve seam. There are of course many variations that can be created from this by modifying the shape from a rectangle.

Style is always subjective and I'm not sure what would be helpful. Boleros come in all kinds of shapes, from fitted to structured, and many fabrics. There are tailored, modern, and vintage styles. It is difficult to offer a suggestion without knowing more. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.

March 17, 2014

Simplicity 5040

It's rare that I find a vintage pattern in my size, or close to my size, at the thrift store. I can't help looking through them anyway. I have yet to make up any of the styles that I've acquired over the years because I would need to grade them up or down in order for them to fit. I was happy when I found this one, Simplicity 5040, in my size and in a style that I like.

I initially assumed this style would have a side zipper and that the skirt was gathered. How else would one get it on? There is no back zipper and only the button front closure that ends at the waist. I was a little surprised to find that the skirt has a placket hidden under a pleat below the front button closure. A pleated skirt is, in many ways, more flattering than a gathered skirt - at least on me..

The suggested fabrics run quite a range: cottons, synthetics, blends, silk, linen, chiffon, brocade, lightweight wools, wool-crepe, wool jersey, and corduroy. While I'm sure any of those fabrics might work, they would all give an entirely different look and require different handling. I don't have a fabric picked out for this yet, but I'm leaning toward cotton. I'll have to look at my stash and see what might work. I'll also need to make a petticoat slip.

Even though the pattern has all the appearances of being my size, the measurements on the back envelope indicate I will have to make adjustments. This is looking more and more like a lot of work. Hmm... I do plan to make this up, just not sure when.

February 25, 2014

Applying Elastics in A Swimsuit or Leotard

I was asked a while back to write a post on elastic application for a swimsuit. So the following is a pictorial demonstration on how I do it. I hope it will be helpful to someone.

I don't overlap the elastics instead a have the ends touch each other. This means I cut the elastic the exact length I need nothing extra.The reason I don't overlap the elastics is to eliminate bulk and since it is stitched through I am not worried about it coming undone or shifting. I do overlap elastic ends for elastics placed in casings. Most patterns will give you an amount to cut for each area and they usually include an overlap amount (I subtract that out). But, you may find you need to adjust the length depending on the stretch and memory or return of your elastic. If I'm working with a questionable elastic I will sew up a sample and make incremental adjustments. I have learned a more calculated method of finding percentages/ratios and such but I can't be bothered by this and it gives me a headache.

The elastic is sewn together using a wide zigzag with a tight stitch length (close to buttonhole stitch length).

Next, I marked the leg in four equal sections. I learned from patternschool.com that elastics placed in modern stretch fabrics should be sewn in by stretching the elastic over 4 equal sections. this differs from information found in basic pattern-making books which have you leave the front elastic un-stretched in 1:1 ratio and the back stretched with remainder of elastic in a sense creating what I feel a bubble butt. This un-stretched and then stretched method was developed when fabrics for swimsuits were not as stretchy as today.

Elastics were also marked in four equal sections.  I used the seam as one mark, hence only 3 pins.

Here elastics are pinned into both legs and ready to sew.

 I start my sewing in the crotch area so the outside leg area will look nice and even with no back stitching or overlapped stitching. This is also where a placed the elastic seam (or butt up elastic ends). I sew using a medium width zigzag 3.5-4 and about 3 in length.

Initial application of elastic is done.

Next, I folded the elastic over to the inside and sewed with the same zigzag stitch while stretching the elastic evenly.

 I like to steam the elastic back into shape. You can also wash and dry (in the dryer) if it is suitable for the fabric. This leotard is made from nylon lycra and I am choosing to line dry it.

All done. One more note, when sewing through elastic use knit elastic not braided. Knit elastic can be sewn through without stretching out of shape. 1/4" wide is appropriate for children's swimsuits and 3/8" is better for women's.

Spinning Earthen Hues pt. 3

I don't know about you, but I've been busy the last few weeks. I restarted work on my book about grading, another long term project of epic proportions. So between work and two big projects, I've been fairly busy. I've begun the layout on the grading book which is a huge giant step forward. At the same time I am reviewing my writing and making sure it is all well documented. I've found a few areas where I need to do a bit more research and I've sent off for copies from research journals. Measurement studies and readings on grading and anthropometric studies are all pretty dry stuff, but essential for the book.

I've also been reworking the icons for SodaCAD. Apparently there is no easy way to manage icons in most graphic libraries. The folks at Inkscape have worked out something but it's over my head. So, that means going in and manually replacing or reworking each icon individually. In some cases, the icons are hardcoded and that requires hunting through code to find them. It's another tedious job, but I believe well worth it in the long run.

All this means that more fun projects are progressing much more slowly. Pictured above is a spinning project that I finished up back in November. The goal was to ply the yarn so that the colors mostly stayed together. I was mostly successful but there are large sections in which the colors barber pole. I'm pleased with the yarn. I'm going to let it rest until I find just the right project for it.

Project stats:
50% merino, 25% bamboo, 25% silk
from Greenwood Fiber Works
2 ply, 648 yards
14 WPI
Fingering weight