Hand Made Clothes for Children Tags and labels in clothing

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Original Post

How to you tag your items? Do you have custom labels made? Do you tag sizes?

Posted at 2:52pm Jan 20, 2011 EST


I had bought some tags made from someone here on Etsy, and I loved them. But I decided recently to go and purchase the fabric paper to print myself, and I can do the exact same thing she did. I had some jammies that I had made for a family this Christmas, and I was able to even put their names on the jammies that way they knew who's was who's.

So yeah I think tags are important. I think it would be the best to buy the woven ones though.

Posted at 4:41pm Jan 20, 2011 EST

To mytaylormade, or anyone else ...

I have a laser printer, but no ink jet printer.

Does anyone know of fabric paper that works with a laser printer?

I have seen the fabric paper for sale on the internet, but I didn't want to pay a lot of money for it without knowing if it would REALLY work with my printer.


Posted at 7:29pm Jan 20, 2011 EST

DivineDomestication ...

I had 1,000 custom labels printed a while ago, with my business name, address, fabric content and washing instructions on them. I ordered them from Northwest Tag & Label Inc., in Portland, OR. (You can google it.)

I sew that and a size tag into the garment.

I'm starting to run low though, and I believe I need to get something which better fits the requirements of the CPSIA regulations.

Posted at 7:36pm Jan 20, 2011 EST

I'm new here and just started selling baby items. What exactly are the CPSIA regulations?

Posted at 9:16pm Jan 20, 2011 EST


I am not sure if you are asking what the CPSIA is, or what the labeling requirements are for the CPSIA. So I will answer your question as if you are asking what the CPSIA is.

Before I go any further, let me say that I found out about the law on Christmas Day 2008. The news of it spread like wildfire across the internet, especially on eBay and Etsy and other venues where people sell hand-crafted items for children. The fax machines, e-mails and voice mail boxes of congressmen around the country were filled to capacity. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that they received one call every 5 seconds.

Unfortunately the general public was woefully unaware of the new law. And there was very little coverage in the press.

If it weren't for this grass roots movement, this law would have gone into effect without change on Feb. 10, 2009. As it was, public pressure caused many aspects of the law to be altered ... at least temporarily.

So as you read this next part, keep in mind that I studied the law for 2 months, and I felt like my head was stuffed with so much information it would explode. It would be easy for an Etsy seller to feel completely overwhelmed by the information below. Just try to take it in in small teaspoon-sided bits.


Congress passed a law in August 2008 called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and it is know for short as the CPSIA.

The law states that all products sold in the USA, which are designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 and under, must be tested for lead and phthalates.

This law originated as an attempt to protect children age 12 and under from contamination from lead and phthalates such as we have seen in toys and food from China and other third world countries. It is generally the BIG companies have been implicated in the importing of these items. Small companies have not. So who has to pay? The small companies who can't possibly afford the testing (and/or bribes. :-P)

The bill is 365 pages long. And in spite of that, it was passed almost unanimously by republicans and democrats alike, after only a 3 hour reading. It is easy to believe that with the elections coming up in November 2008, many congressmen might have felt it would look good on their voting record. What many congressmen didn't anticipate was the economic melt-down in October 2008.

The law is basically divided into three parts:
1. Description of lead limits
2. Testing requirements
3. Administering and tracking your products (including labels)
4. Penalties

The writers of the bill made a lot of inaccurate assumptions about how the manufacturing industry is organized. Any research into the subject, surely did not include querying the small businesses at the bottom of the "food chain:" crafters, small mom & pop businesses, parents selling second-hand clothes or toys on eBay, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Church thrift stores, people knit or who sew for charity, WAHM (work at home moms.)

The writers of the bill wanted to make sure that large manufacturers did not stockpile goods. For this reason the law does NOT allow products to be grandfathered. This means any retailer, large or small, who had products in stock on their shelves and racks the day the bill went into effect (Feb 2009), could not sell them unless they were first tested for lead. The Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act states that any product which is not tested will be treated as "hazardous goods."

The writers of the bill stated that six months (Aug 2008-Feb 2009) was plenty of time for a company to clear out their old stock.

The second false assumption used by the writers of the bill was ALL manufacturers produce their products in batches of 100,000. They admit that Lead Testing is expensive, but state that having 1 item from each batch of 100,000 should make the costs only pennies per item.

However for those of us who produce One-of-A-Kinds, the testing costs could easily be 10-20 time the value of the item. That is because every separate component that goes into the making of the final product must be tested ... and it can only be tested on the completed item. Oh, and did I mention, that chemical lead testing destroys the item, and takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months for completion.

Let me give you a practical example. Let's say you sew a girls dress. You use 3 different types of fabrics, some lace, 2 types of thread, buttons and 2 tags on the inside. That is NINE (9) substrates. Testing for each substrate costs about $75.00. So it would cost you $675.00 to test the dress. And lets hope you made two ... one to test and one to sell.

Okay and then lets say you decide to use the exact same materials to make a girls top and matching shorts. It is not good enough that those materials were already tested on the dress. Again you would have to make two outfits ... one to be destroyed in testing and one (or more) to sell.

Testing is for a BATCH of an IDENTICAL ITEM ... i.e. ALREADY MADE ... in the SAME SIZE. You couldn't get one outfit tested and then make more later as custom orders in various sizes.

As of Jan 1, 2009 there were only 20 testing labs in the country, and not all labs tested all substrates.
At that time it appeared that many new labs were jumping on the bandwagon and starting websites designed to spread fear, about what would happen to you if you ignore the law.

The consumer Product Safety Commission is charged by Congress with the responsibility of interpreting and enforcing consumer safety laws. The CPSIA was just another in a long list of laws for an agency which was already overworked and understaffed. The CPSC was overwhelmed not only with the number of people calling them for information, but also in interpreting and implementing the law in SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME.

As a result, beginning in January, 2009 the CPSC, issued a series of exemptions from the law. One main exemption was natural products: such as wood, bone, stone, gems, and products made from organic fibers.

The only other one I will mention now is CLOTH AND THREAD. Based on testimony presented by WalMart and several other large textile organizations and associations, ALL thread, yarn and cloth whether natural or man-made was exempted.

It was made clear that although the CPCS felt that these exemptions would be permanent, they could be changed at a future time, should conflicting research be presented.

Notably NOT exempted were fasteners (i.e. buttons, snaps, zippers) and decorative crystals. However the CPSC stated that they will allow manufactures to use their best attempt to prove that these items do not contain lead. Manufacturers are allowed to get certificates from the manufacturers of composite parts (i.e. buttons, snaps, etc.) and forego chemical lead testing.

The allowance for testing of composite parts like these will expire on Feb 10, 2011.

There were already laws in place for various industries, specifying what information must be put on a product label for the consumer.

For clothing, the label must include the manufacturer's location and contact information, and fabric content, and garment care information.

With the new CPSIA law, children's items must also now have the date and place of manufacture, AND the batch (cohort) number.

It is up to each manufacturer, whether a huge chinese company or a work-at-home-mom, to determine how best to keep their records and label their products, so that if one of their products (or batch of products) is found to contain lead, a recall can be issued.

The penalties for breaking this law are very severe: $100,000 for the first offense.

Also included in the law are rewards for whistle-blowers, and conditions for allowing the Attorneys General of all 50 states to pursue lawbreakers.

This is why small manufacturers, crafters, eBay- and Etsy-sellers, etc. were panicking in January 2008.

The CPSC has since made it clear that they are not going to shut down crafters, or mom and pop businesses for accidently not following a rule to the letter.

And I have since read that the only 1/5 or less of the goods which pass through our nation's ports from overseas is ever inspected.

The bill was co-sponsered by 10 congressmen (lots of people wanted to get their names associated with this one) and submitted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Henry A Waxman (CA). He has ruled this committee with an iron fist for years, and refused to allow any hearings for discussing or amending the law, even though there has been public outcry from all areas of the country, from senior citizens to the Wall Street Journal. And even though many congressmen realized that they made a mistake in voting for the bill, all attempted to set things to right have been blocked.

Several large consumer groups and lobbyists were behind the ramming through of this bill ... consumer groups who stood to take in large amounts of donations with the passing of the bill.

The ironic thing was, that even after the law went into effect, one consumer group was offering a FREE Onsie with their logo printed on it, with every new membership. They had not read not understood the WHOLE law and did not realize it was illegal for them to distribute this Onsie, without lead testing (because it was altered from the original manufacturer by printing on it, and because the snaps had not been tested.)

So Congress has spent the past two years in bickering and partisan politics, while this law slowly fades from the minds of the general population, and big business celebrates the demise of competition from small businesses.

Meanwhile I have continued to include one "Amend the CPSIA" artwork in each of my listings, so that I can educate my buyers about the law, if they ask.

To download this artwork or see political cartoons about the CPSIA, click on this link:

Or write me and I will send it to you.

======== TO LEARN MORE ==========

Hopefully my summation of the topic is enough to get you started. To learn more ...

Etsy held a webinar on this topic in March 2010. Here is the link: www.etsy.com/storque/events/cpsia-join-cpsc-officials-for-a-chat-wi...

And here is the Power Point Presentation: www.slideshare.net/daniellexo/cpsc-etsy-march-2010

To learn more about what other people are saying on this subject ... other than the CPSC ... google the word CPSIA

Posted at 8:53pm Jan 21, 2011 EST

Wow. I had no idea. Thanks for all the information Pen. You are a GREAT asset to the team!

Posted at 11:58pm Jan 21, 2011 EST


Posted at 2:12am Jan 22, 2011 EST

PENultimateLeotards - I just checked my labels, and they said for only inkjet printers. So I don't know what you would use. So sorry!

Posted at 10:00pm Jan 22, 2011 EST

And the CPSIA law says you can only use CMYK ink to make your labels. CMYK ink is exempt from testing. Ink Jet printers use CMYK ink, laser printers do not.

Posted at 3:49pm Feb 6, 2011 EST

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