When I first started out on my Another World journey, my biggest learning curve was understanding children’s costume safety and CE marking.
UKCA marking will replace CE marking by the end of this year for products on the UK market. The CE mark will remain for products sold in the EU.
What did CE mean and what did I need to do to meet the requirements and safety standards for my costumes?
I knew that the inititals CE stood for Conformité Européene/European Conformity. What I didn’t know was why some products carried the CE mark and other didn’t.
My laptop and hairdryer carried the CE mark, for example, whereas my children’s clothing didn’t.
I looked up the categories of products on the government’s website which required CE marking.
These included items such as electronic equipment, fridges, freezers and toys.
I then discovered that children’s costumes come under ‘toys’ rather than ‘clothing’ since they ‘have play value’.
Children’s Costume Safety
The Toy Safety Directorate sets out the essential safety requirements with which toys need to comply.
For costumes, there are three relevant parts.
Part 1: Mechanical and Physical Properties
The first part of testing assessed the costume’s mechanical and physical properties.
In short, this means checking the features (costume design) wouldn’t injure a child whilst they were wearing or playing with them.
Loose cords: The testing checked for any loose cords around the neck, chest and waist area which could be considered a strangulation hazard.
For my costumes, this included checking the polka dot bow on the gingerbread man tabard and neck tie on the bottle green and purple tabard were stitched down securely.
It also checked that the decorative bullion fringing which I use on a number of the costumes, including the goat tabard, horse hood and cow tail, was less than 7.5cm in length. The fringing on my costumes is 5cm.
Around the tail area, any tails which were considered to be ‘a cord’ had to be detachable.
This applied to the tails of the horse, cow, pig, cat and dog. These tails attach to the tabards with Velcro.
Small parts: The testing also looks at any small parts which could be considered a choking hazard, for example, buttons or toggles. My costumes don’t have any so do not need any age restriction labelling.
Labels: Product labels must clearly show any necessary warnings and age restrictions.
Part 2: Flammability
The testing includes, amongst other things, measuring the rate at which the costumes burnt.
In short, fabrics which burn too quickly, for example, those with a high cotton content, wouldn’t pass.
I initially used a polycotton fabric to line my sample costumes but it didn’t pass for this reason. I sourced different fabrics instead which passed the tests.
Part 3: Migration of Toxic Elements
This testing looks at any harmful chemicals in a toy and the levels at which they are present and could pass into the human body if the toy were licked, sucked or swallowed.
Needless to say, this is because so many toys come into contact with children’s mouths!
In the case of my costumes, this meant checking the chemical levels found in the dyes of the fabrics, trimmings and threads.
The list of chemicals (metals) includes arsenic, aluminium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, tin and zinc.
For instance, green dyes in some fabrics can have a high copper content.
However, the bottle green suedette I use for the troll hood and tabard passed and was safe for me to use!
With all the testing successfully behind me, it enabled me to continue on my Another World Journey and put my costumes on the market.