So I started off by finding out my local trading standards. I found the address online (love google!), but unfortunately there was no email address and the only phone number available was for the citizens advice consumer helpline. I gave them a call but the guy I spoke to was as much use as a chocolate fireguard! He didn't know anything about it and didn't know who to ask. After 20 minutes and being put on hold several times he finally took my details and told me that he would pass my number on to Trading Standards who would call me wihin 5 days. I found the whole experience incredibly frustrating.
There is a CE self certification support page on Facebook which was quite helpful. I found out on here that you can download a Self-Certification Pack for Handmade Soft Toys and all the testing can actually be done yourself at home.
The pack can be found at Conformance.co.uk and costs £30 including VAT. I went to the website, downloaded the pack and printed off everything I needed to enable me to do the product testing.
My Dad told me he had some G clamps that I could borrow (which are needed in the testing process) and put them in the post for me, and while I waited for them to arrive, I set about emailing companies to request test certificates for their fabrics and materials that I use to make my dolls.
Over the next week I built up my stash of 'safe' fabrics to conform with part 3 of the conformity. The following weekend I bought the other things required to carry out the testing... some S hooks, a million bags (well almost!) of sugar to use as weights, some wooden spoons and some spring scales, since I only have digital ones in our kitchen. These do not have to be expensive. The ones I picked up in our local Asda were only £3.95.
Lots of scrummy fabrics
Even more bags of sugar!
I also bought new stuffing, thread and fabrics which carried the EN71 mark in order to make my first test dolly and a new sewing basket to keep it all seperate from my other sewing supplies..
And here she is... Tess the Test Dolly!
She's so pretty, it seems such a shame to hang 7.2kg of weights from her little arms and legs and burn her little body!
I went through the check list which is part of the pack I downloaded from Conformance.
Section 1 is about material clenliness. The fabrics and materials I use for my dolls are all new, so my dolly passed that part of the test.
Section 2 is about toys intended for chidren under 36 months. My dolls are suitable from birth and are machine washable at 30 °, however sponge cleaning is preferred to maintain their pretty features. I use a mineral based blush on my dollies cheeks which can easily be reapplied at home should they get washed off.
Section 3 is about warnings, markings and instructions. My dolls come with their own unique batch number and will hold the CE mark on a label (I have ordered these) attached to the body/skirt and further information displayed on their pacaging which should be retained for future information.
Section 4 is the test methods!!
The first part of the physical test was to twist the dolly 180 degrees and hold for 10 seconds. Then inspect her to ensure no visible signs of damage had become apparent, and that no stuffing had come loose. My Little Sugar Plum passed the test!
Then I had to attach a G clamp to her seams and hang a bag containing 7.2kg of weights for 10 seconds. I used bags of sugar and tins of soup as the weights. I repeated the test on all limbs. She passed the test again with no signs of wear at all.
The next test was the Test Rod. For this part I had to dig a 12mm hemispherical rod (the rounded end of a wooden spoon) into the dolly's seam whilst on a set of spring scales and push down until it reached 1kg, which is the equivalent to 10N. Again, she passed with flying colours!
Next was the small components test. Since I have no small components on my dolly, this part was really for the stuffing. I had to determine whether I could insert an articulated probe through the seams, again using a force of 10N without feeling any stuffing through the seams. She passed again!
And lastly was the flammability test.
I had to hold a 20mm flame 5mm away from the bottom of my dolly so that the flame moved up her body. The flame was to be held there for 3 seconds. However when I held the lighter to her, hardly anything happened! I was expecting her to catch on fire a little bit as I had seen photos of other CE tested dollies with big burn marks on their tummies, but Tess was indestructable! She was left with a very feint brown mark. I wasn't utterly convinced and carried out the test again to make sure, a bit higher up this time, but still nothing happened and the flame self-extinguished which meant Tess had passed the test!
I then washed my dolly and repeated the tests. Again, she passed!
As with all CE dolls, each of my dolls will have a declaration of conformity written up and their own unique batch number which forms part of the CE mark.
Now that I am CE tested I can continue with my custom made dolly orders and make lots more dollies for the Delapre Abbey craft fair and my market night. I have so many things to make! I better stop blogging and start sewing!