Sunday, January 18, 2009

Handcrafted Heartbreak: Our Favorite Swaddling Blanket Will Soon Be Off the Market

One sleepy afternoon this summer, I started snuggling a new naptime lovey: Simply Baby Blankets' seersucker swaddling blanket.

The blanket sat near my favorite napping spot after being used as a dancing cape in the previous evening's family dance party (Ranger is a dance maniac). The seersucker seemed so light and airy that I couldn't resist pulling it over me for a few minutes of shut-eye. The fabric was cool and soothing. It became a napping staple well into the chill of late Fall.

It's rare to find a baby blanket big enough for an adult to nap under. The size of Simply Baby Blankets' swaddlers hooked me. With long, tall Ranger, we quickly ran out of blankets large enough to wrap him. Fortunately, one of Jim's coworkers made Ranger a few oversized flannel blankets to fill the gap left by store-bought blankets.

The mom and pop team of Rachel and John Greene experienced the same problem in 2007 and have answered it with their large, well-made swaddling blankets. John's mom suggested a seersucker blanket for the summer months which (I speak from experience here) is the perfect weight for summer napping. Comforting and cool.

They're also HUGE at 42 by 50 inches (as are their flannel counterparts)- much larger than our mass market baby blankets. In the photo, the white flannel blanket is a standard Carter's receiving blanket, the rectangular blue one under it is a cotton Carter's baby blanket, and the square blue blanket is a Gerber cotton thermal blanket. Ranger couldn't resist their allure when I spread them out on the floor. The blankets are the perfect size for toddler beds and crib blankets (for toddlers, not babies).

Simply Baby Blankets are well-made and should last through numerous children.

Sadly, the Greenes are one of many family handcrafting entrepreneurs troubled by the soon-to-be implemented Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Their beautiful blankets may be off the market as of February 10th, 2009. They've reduced their entire blanket stock to 50% off ($6 for flannel, $8 for seersucker, and $10 for luxury flannel) as they will no longer be able to sell them after February 10th.

Please do yourself a favor and pick up some of their seersucker and flannel lovelies. If you're swaddling, your baby will love them; they're fabulous baby gifts, exquisite summer napping covers, and exceptional dancing capes.

Please call or write your representatives so families like the Greenes can continue to produce and sell quality goods in the United States.

Are you stocking up on handcrafted favorites?
Have you heard anything interesting from your representatives?


rob said...

It was my understanding that the CPSC already agreed to an exemption for "Clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as cotton"

Christy said...

We have been getting our "swaddle blankets" from Swaddle Designs.

They are 42"x42" square...we love to use them on airplanes for kids and adults.

adrienne said...

Hi Rob-

The problem with the cobbled together CPSIA is that it is terribly written and leaves ample ambiguity which opens up EVERYONE selling kids' goods to criminal and civil prosecution should they sell a good with lead, other heavy metals, or phthalates.

While the CPSC FAQ for the CPSIA says that fabric materials are not "commonly understood" to be a durable product- that's a layer of interpretation on top of the law rather than a legal exemption. I wouldn't venture my family's fiscal future on a FAQ. Also, durable goods seem only to be a subset of the law. From what I can tell, a children's product CAN fall under the law even if it is NOT durable.

For instance, a stuffed animal IS subject to the law even if it is whole cloth.

It's not that the law INTENDS to complicate the lives of homecrafters and small business, but every law must be seen in its literal entirety as citizens are subject to letter as well as the spirit of the law.

The letters in this case (in my layman's opinion) are too ambiguous and open EVERYONE SELLING children's goods to liability and prosecution even if they don't require item testing.

John Greene said...

Adrienne, thanks for the kind words. We are disappointed because we were really beginning to grow the business when this law came up.

Just to answer some of the questions, while the exemptions for "natural materials" are a good start, there is still a wide level of interpretation as to just what does and doesn't count as "natural." Yeah, raw cotton is natural, but what about prints and inks? Dyed yarns? What about thread? Most thread in use today in sewn items is polyester because it's stronger and doesn't shrink like cotton. Does a printed cotton blanket finished with polyester thread still count as being made from a "natural material"? And if you say, "yes," are you willing to risk a $100,000 fine from the Federal Government on your answer?

It's already very unlikely that sewn items contain either lead or phthalates - lead causes textiles to fray and wear prematurely and phthalates are used to make plastic items more flexible, which really isn't a problem for fabric. Either way, it's probably a good idea to test, but if scores of manufacturers are using the same material from the same supplier, I personally think it would be more efficient and less costly to test the individual components at the factory (ie the fabric and thread manufacturers) and to allow the small manufacturers of the finished goods rely on that instead.

In all, we really do think that there will be some common sense adjustments made sooner or later, but for now we have to be as cautious as possible and that means we have to shut down until we have a better idea of how it's all going to end up.

sara said...

you caused me to order blankets & my baby's 18months old! :)
hopefully, we can use them for the next child someday or we willgive them as gifts. they look so comfy!

hope all is well!

Kristine said...

Thanks for the heads up about the great blankets! I just stocked up for a "baby boom" among my friends. I've never been one to give blankets, as I got too many with both my kids, but with such a resounding positive review - and such a big blanket and great price - these are sure to be a good gift!