07/7/17

Customer Notice

Many of you have had the pleasure of following my handmade business over the past 6 years and I am ever so grateful for your purchases and continued support over the years. As my youngest gets ready to start school this September I am embarking on a new venture at Shaftesbury Fitness Studio alongside my work at Tlw Dance which is forever developing.

Due to these changes shall no longer be taking custom orders for my Monstroubles or my Memory Makes for the foreseeable future, however as and when time allows I do hope to still make ready made monsters for sale now and again.

Odds & Soxlets will not be closing down so my Esty and Ebay shops will remain open with a variety of toy noise inserts on sale and I shall continue to help and support those looking to CE mark their handmade toys within our CE marking support network. Also my Facebook page will remain where I will pop back now again to share any news about ready made toys that I have for sale, so please keep an eye out!

If anyone is local to us here in North Dorset, or you have friends and family that are please feel free to share my new Fitness Studio page above to anyone of whom it may be of interest to.

Thank you again for your support x

08/10/16

Remembering Eibhlín Gráinne Wills

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🌸 Remembering Eibhlín Gráinne Wills 🌸

Earlier this year I had the honour of making these two incredibly precious memory makes for Louise & John in memory of their baby daughter Eibhlín, who sadly picked up a viral infection and passed away suddenly and peacefully as she entered her 12th day.

In Eibhlín’s memory her parents hope to promote awareness and education around the cause of her death and would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to visit their website in the hope to share this with as many people as possible to raise awareness of Neonatal HSV: www.rememberingeibhlin.org

For further information on my Memory Makes please take a look on my website page or visit my ETSY shop.

 

05/1/16

Handmade Toys – CE Marking

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Handmade Toys – CE Marking

Updated Post 1st May 2016

The law regarding children’s toys and CE marking changed back in July 2011 and the new Toy Safety Directive 2011 came into force. This meant that all products (mass produced and handmade) which either looked like a toy or were a toy and for use in play by children under the age of 14 are required by law to have been tested in accordance with the toy safety directive and display a CE logo on their label or packaging.

This was a big change for those making handmade toys as there were previously no laws or guidelines to follow and now small time makers would now have to test their toys to the same spec. as large scale manufactures and mass produced toys. Handmade soft toys in particular would now have to be suitable from birth and although there are some exemptions on the whole if a creation looks like a toy and is considered to have play value by a child then it is considered to be a toy. As this is a legal requirement now for any toy which is manufactured and sold in the UK and EU you can be fined £5000 or even receive a prison sentence if you are making and selling toys without the CE mark.

Below I have put together a variety of information and links together regarding this subject for any fellow artisans who make soft toys such as knitted / crocheted / felt or other fabric style toys (including sock toys) on how to obtain a CE logo for there products.

To start with it is ideal to read up on the BS EN71 toy safety regulations and all the information which your product complies with. You can usually obtain a copy of the directive through your local library services or local trading standards. In regards to soft toys part 1-3 of the the BS EN71 are applicable to you. Another good resource is the gov.uk website for Toy Manufacturers and their Responsibilities this will give you a basic outline of the directive and what is involved. Here is a very good basic guide from Hampshire Trading Standards in relation to Home Toy Producers and their responsibilities.

As I mentioned previously the toy safety directive was updated in June of 2011, to find out how this now effects the manufacturer of toys (including those which are handmade) you can visit the Conformance website HEREConformance are an experienced company dealing with CE marking across a whole range of products. Although you can send your toys away to a testing lab to be tested, the most obtainable way for handmade toys to gain CE marking is to self certify your products. Conformance have developed a variety of  self certification packs for those who make handmade toys.  They do a pack called ‘CE marking for handmade soft toys’ which is specifically designed to help home soft toy-makers to meet the legal requirements of the Toy Safety Directive. This pack has a step by step guide to CE marking for those making handmade toys which includes testing details, what certificates of compliance you will need to collate for your materials and templates for your all your paperwork which is required by law for each type of toy you manufacture. Once you have purchased this pack Conformance are also on hand for advice and guidance via phone or email correspondence.

CE-Marking-For-Handmade-Toys-Odds-and-SoxletsIMAGE ABOVE: Some of my photographic evidence of my new monster collection ‘Monstroubles’ undergoing some of their toy safety testing to self certify for the CE Mark.

 Once you have completed the self certification process you will be able to add the CE logo to your product. Which can either a sewn in label on your handmade product or a tag style label around your product which ever if more suitable. This will cover any products you offer for sale in the UK and Europe ONLY! If you want to sell your products worldwide then you must abide by the laws on toys for those countries too!

Each type of toy you make will require testing to part 1-3 of the BS EN71 Toy Safety Directive, which include part 1 – torque and tension tests, part 2- flammability and part 3- chemical migration. Parts 1 and 2 are easy to complete at home however you will need to acquire further information about the components of your toys regarding part 3 which is the chemical migration for all external components which would be accessible to a child. Internal components such as toy noise inserts (rattles, squeakers, jingle columns and so forth) do not need testing for part 3 of the regs themselves as they should not be accessible to a child and will just need to be tested inside of the whole toy for parts 1 and 2. You can sometimes acquire details about part 3 from your supplier or the manufacturer of your components such as fabrics, thread, stuffing and so forth. However if these details can not be obtained then your components will require 3rd party testing by a testing house. Once your toy/s have been tested you will require to document all of the details about your toys and the tests which have been carried out to form a full Technical File and Declaration of Conformity to show that your toys reaches the appropriate standards within the regulations and is safe for the appropriate age of child required by law. Once you get the hang of it all it isn’t too complicated it does however just take time and needs to be kept up to date and then kept for 10 years of making each toy.

If you would like further information on CE marking then please visit our new facebook page CE Marking Support Network we are a non-profit association for help and guidance to self certify in accordance with the toy safety directive 2011/13. 

For established toy makers who are looking to CE mark their creations we have a soft toy support group which run in conjunction with this page to help spread the cost of sending fabrics to laboratories (notified bodies) to be tested against EN71-3 – Migration of certain chemicals.  These test results are then used as part of our technical files to show due diligence. Please join our facebook page where you can then find out further information about these groups.

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If you are not making handmade toys however your products are aimed at Children then it is best to seek advice regarding this from your local trading standards. They will be able to advise you on whether your product requires CE marking or if needs to comply with other general safety standards specifically to your product.

DISCLAIMER: Please note while I can inform you of my personal experiences with CE marking, it is not, and should NEVER be, taken as a replacement for information from Toy Safety Experts. Please research the EN71 directive yourself and it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to do so.  ‘Odds & Soxlets’ take no legal responsibility for the content of this blog post or further advice given. The information provided is based on my personal experience self certifying my own handmade toys for their CE mark.


06/24/15

Handmade Toy Noise Inserts – How they sound!

Handmade Toy Noise Inserts – How they sound!

Here is a little video to show you how each of the toy noise inserts that I sell sound and the difference between each of them. You will hear 3 different sizes of rattle disc, 4 sets of squeakers, jingle and tweet columns along with crinkle material.

If you would like further details or would like to make a purchase of any of my inserts please visit my ETSY SHOP.

CE Marking for Handmade Toys

All handmade toys made and sold in the EU require CE marking. Internal components to handmade toys do not require EN71 part 3 testing as they should not be accessible to a child. It is recommended that any toy noise insert is placed within a sealed fabric pouch before placing inside a stuffed toy for extra safety and your finished toys should be tested for EN71 parts 1 and 2 and all other external parts will require EN71 part 3 certificates. For further information about CE marking and handmade toys please pop over to my blog HERE.

06/18/15

The Cost of Handmade

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The Cost of Handmade

Many artisans start out making handmade goods usually with their love for their individual craft and completely forget to take their time and expertise into account when pricing their items. I have been guilty of this since I started Odds & Soxlets, mainly in fear of people not buying my items and secondly I completely forgot to factor in the amount of time it actually takes me to make an item and then all the admin that goes on behind the scenes before an item can be sent out to a customer let alone other business related costs.

In the past year my whole business has taken a new direction and the demand for my Monstroubles in particular has been very overwhelming. With my daughter about to start nursery in September I have recently been to see a business mentor to discuss how my business is run and where to make changes so that I can can continue to build a successful business to enable me to work from home around both of my children and help to contribute towards putting food on our table and paying the bills!

As a customer you may wonder why the cost of handmade items are so expensive in comparison to what you may find in the high street. Rather than paying for something which is mass produced, you are paying for something unique which has been made with love, care and attention to detail that is usually bespoke and far exceeds what you will ever find on the high street. When calculating prices for handmade goods I always used to calculate the cost of materials and then completely underestimate the sewing time and admin time that goes alongside making my creations. Let alone taking into consideration other business expenses such electricity to power my machines and workspace, heating my workspace, fee’s from selling sites, online payment charges, advertising, social networking, ordering fabrics, toy safety testing and paperwork, researching and designing new products, no paid time off for holidays or illness and so forth the list is endless. For my Memory Makes and my Monstroubles I have been completely undercharging for the past year for the majority of my makes. For many of my previous customers this means you have been very lucky to get your hands on a bargain!

My passion for sewing and making unique creations has always driven me forward however with the ever rising costs of living and trying to run a commercial business I have had to look at all of my makes and make price revisions accordingly. My prices are now a combination of the costs of my materials and hours taken to sew and complete admin in order to send that make to my customer on minimum wage. A few of my monsters have only had a small price increase where as a few others have been increased by up to £10.00. With my memory makes this has meant almost a 50% increase in price as they are extremely time consuming and take a great deal of time and expertise to transform pre-loved clothing into a keepsake that will last forever.

You can find details of my new prices on my MEMORY MAKES and MONSTROBLES pages, these are effective from all new orders taken from now forth to be made from September onwards.

There are many really good articles about how to price handmade items and one in particular is an extract taken from Crafting a Successful Business by Joanne Deberry which you can read here about How to price Handmade Toys.

Thank you so much to each and every person and all of my previous customers for your continued support, it means a great deal to me so that I can continue to do something I love each and every day and to put smiles on little faces.

Best Wishes
Erica x

01/8/15

Handmade Copycats

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Handmade Copycats

The subject of copying appears it’s ugly head yet again at the start of 2015 with a number of handmade artisans finding out that other businesses are designing and making very similar if not identical handmade goods to them. Although this can sometimes be completely unintentional there are cases where blatant copying is occurring and no remorse from these copycats. These people are infringing on other businesses IP (intellectual property), design and copyrights knowingly so. Sometimes this may be down to another businesses success that they wish to try and re-create in their own business, it may be down to a lack of imagination and skills from the copycat person/business, whatever the reason it is against the law.

It is most important as a handmade artisan to find your own unique selling point and create your own brand identity that your following will relate to. There are a vast number of people now making handmade goods and such especially due to economic climate we have been in the past few years. There is a place for us all and it is really important to respect others in the same business.

I have always tried to create unique characters with most of my inspiration coming from being a mummy with two under 5′s and finding unique products to suit each of them. As an illustrator all of my creations are drawn by hand from my crazy imagination and then developed into digital drawings, patterns for my toys. I have myself been accused of copying, however this was not intentional and was by pure chance after my little boy created two monsters for his 4th birthday. You can read more about this story here in one of my previous blog posts.

If you suspect someone of directly copying your design style, first take a deep breath and think look at the evidence and then if you wish to pursue the matter then it is best to make sure you gather all the appropriate information first to back up your claim before jumping in all guns blazing.  If you are unaware of the other person/business then it may be completely unintentional as they may not know of you either. Please bare this in mind when dealing with such a subject. Some people are unaware of IP and copyright laws and will continually breach them whether it being copying large companies popular characters for example or using small businesses products, in all cases these people need to be educated otherwise they could land themselves with their business being closed down by trading standards or even a law suit against them. For further information about IP and Copyright visit the Intellectual Property Office website.

Below are links to other articles which offer some practical advice on the subject of copying…

http://www.creativedreamincubator.com/2013/07/23/on-being-copied/

http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/protect/

http://businessplusbaby.com/2012/05/25/beating-the-copycats-3-things-you-can-do-when-youre-being-copied/

11/11/14

Never Forget

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They shall grow not old

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914

08/21/14

FREE Children’s Pirate Hat Pattern

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FREE Children’s Pirate Hat Pattern

After my little boy attended World Book Day earlier this year dresses up as one of Black Bloomers pirates from the book ‘Pirates Love Underpants’ by Clare Freedman and Ben Cort, I thought I would share the pattern I designed for his new pirate hat. As this pattern is based on the illustrations with in this book, this pattern is for personal use ONLY as must not be re-sold as a pattern or used to make hats for re-sale.

You can download the pattern below by clicking on each image and saving to your pc, tablet or phone, then just print each page out onto an A4 sheets of paper and follow the instructions below. This pattern was made to fit a child aged 4 years with a head circumference of 52cm. This pattern should fit a head of 52-54cm and can be made smaller or enlarged to fit a different sized head.

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YOU WILL NEED

Printer & Plain Paper or Card / Paper Scissors
Coloured sheets of felt – Black / White / Yellow and Red
Sewing Pins / Thread & Needle or Sewing Machine / Sewing Scissors

HOW TO MAKE

  • Once you have download the pattern, print and cut out all of the pattern pieces.
  • Lay each piece onto the coloured felt, pin and cut out. Remember to cut the main hat and bandana cap on the fold and then you should have all the pattern pieces shown in the photo below (2 of the black main hat, 2 yellow trims, 1 skull, 2 eyes, 1 nose, 1 mouth, 1 cross bones and 2 of the red bandana cap)

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  • Lay the black eyes, nose and mouth onto the white skull and pin in place.

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  • Sew in place either by hand or machine (I used a close zig zag stitch on my sewing machine to applique the skull together)
  • Then add the skull onto one layer of the main black hat along with the yellow trim and cross bones, pin in place and sew. As above by hand or machine.

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  • This is how my hat looked using a close zig zag stitch around all of the applique.
  • Odds&Soxlets-FREE-Pirate-Hat-Pattern-Step-By-Steps-5Now pin together the two red bandana caps and sew either by hand or machine. I have used two lines of straight stitching and one of zig zag.
  • Odds&Soxlets-FREE-Pirate-Hat-Pattern-Step-By-Steps-6Then turn the right way round and tie a knot in the side with the two strips.

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  •  Lay the two black sections of the hat together (ensuring the applique is facing inwards), pin the side together and sew.Odds&Soxlets-FREE-Pirate-Hat-Pattern-Step-By-Steps-7
  •  And then the top, again I have used two lines of straight stitching and one of zig zag.

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  • Turn the hat the right way round and top stitch this same line and a little at the edge of each side two if necessary. to ensure the shape remains.Odds&Soxlets-FREE-Pirate-Hat-Pattern-Step-By-Steps-9
  • Place the black hat over the top of the red bandana at a slight angle and pin in place.Odds&Soxlets-FREE-Pirate-Hat-Pattern-Step-By-Steps-10
  • Then sew all the way around the base to keep in place. I used two lines of straight stitch.

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  • You should then have a finished pirate hat! Here is my son modelling this one with a little extra one I had to make his cat doll so he could join in the fun too!Odds&Soxlets-FREE-Pirate-Hat-Pattern-Step-By-Steps-Finished-Hat
    This pirate hat pattern can be made more simple if you wish by just either making the black outside section or even the bandana alone. You can change the colours too and if you wanted to you could make of different fabric. Just remember that you would need to add additional seam allowances and sew a few more area’s than mentioned above as this pattern has been drafted to be made out of felt which doesn’t fray!I shall add photo’s to my blog later in the week of my son in his full outfit and if you fancy showing me your pirate hat made with this pattern then please either email me or pop over to my Facebook page to share.
07/28/14

Moo.com Discount Code

OODLES-2014-Mini-Business-Card---Artwork---PREVIEWI’ve been using Moo.com every since the start of Odds & Soxlets as I just love their mini moo cards! I use them across my business for my business cards and also my CE tags for my toys. If you fancy getting your hands on something from moo then click on the image above to grab yourself a 10% discount off your first order!

07/10/14

Are you breaching Copyright?

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Are you breaching Copyright?

Many of you know that I love to create my own character’s from my own imagination and make them into toys which I then sell along with co-ordinating products. I hold the copyright, design rights and all of my creations are my IP which stands for intellectual property for Odds & Soxlets and this little guy above is now my trademark character for my business.

Although their are many creative designers like myself who do create their own characters many business use the success of large corporations characters which feature in movies, tv programmes and so forth within their business perhaps without realising that they are in fact in breach of these companies copyright and trademarked characters. They are popular and the general public will most likely ask you to reproduce something without even thinking it would cause such a problem!

These large corporations are clamping down on small businesses and trading standards are closing businesses down who are breaching copyright of these companies. To use such images you need a license from the original copyright holder for the reproduction of well known companies and character based products. Without a license you are breaking the law if you make items using any of their images without consent, even reproducing similar characters and even inspired by creations you are infringing their intellectual property and would be liable if trading standards or the company that holds the copyright ever challenge you.

In the card making world their is such a thing as an angel policy which allows the general public to use craft products for paper crafting to make a small number of handmade cards using licensed images however this does not apply to other crafts, so if you are making hair accessories using character ribbon, or a phone case using character charms, you make a sock monkey using character socks, make a birthday cake with said characters or you make a doll to look like one of these well known characters and sell these items you would be in breach of their copyright and would be liable. This could mean a hefty court case and fine if it was taken to court and your business would be closed down and even your business assets removed.

Many character based products such as fabric, ribbon, cake toppers etc can be used for personal projects but must not be used for commercial gain, which basically means if you are a business then you should not be making such items and selling them. Most small businesses can not afford for their business to be closed down and their assets removed so it is always best no matter what your business is to never reproduce any well known characters in any form.The best course of action is to create your own characters and hold the copyright yourself then you can do as you please with them.

If you do not know much about copyright, intellectual property or what a trade mark means then a good reference source is this website: http://www.ipo.gov.uk

If you make cakes here is a good blog post about Cakes and Copyrighted Characters.