Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Stories of Attempted Poncho Sewing

This week we got some more emails from moms who tried to make their own ponchos.  One Nebraska mom with three kids sent us a picture and told us her story:

It's not near as good as a real Car Seat Poncho since mine doesn't have a hood. I made it w/ a hood and it ate my child's head so it had to come off, lol. Then I had to tighten up the hole for the head so it stayed on, it was quite the comical sewing day! It's just 2 layers of fleece I got sewed together in every which way. It's definitely NOT reversible either. It's a better option than a coat for small babies, but mine isn't so good b/c it has no hat and Olivia will not keep hats on right now!
Another mom sent this:
I made DD a few last year and only one that turned out halfway decent. It was "okay" but it was only one layer and the hat was separate and no zipper (I can't do zippers). She outgrew it and I was going to make another this year, but I'm seriously reconsidering because I still have not perfected it and by the time I buy all the fabric....sheesh... Making just one took about an hour...2 hours counting the hat. It wasn't warm enough. And I don't want to mess with it this year.
Thanks to all the moms who came clean about their home sewing experiences.  If you have one you'd like to share (and get a $10 coupon as consolation), post with a picture to this thread. Thanks!

Monday, October 12, 2009

WARNING: No drawstrings at the neck!!!

I often get emails from customers, telling me about home-sewers who market "car seat safe" ponchos.  I was alarmed, though, by recent posts on popular parenting boards featuring ponchos with drawstrings around the hood and neck.  That is a tremendous, tremendous safety NO-NO.  Drawstrings are extremely dangerous on children's clothing because they can get caught and snag very easily, resulting in strangulation, dragging, and/or serious injury.

In 1996 the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning to all parents to remove drawstrings of all types from children's clothing 2T-12, and prohibited the sale of children's clothing with drawstrings around the head, neck, and waist (just to be extra cautious, I suppose).

I absolutely shudder to think about the child I saw in one thread whose poncho had a drawstring AROUND HIS NECK.  Could you imagine this child being carried to and from the car, in and out of the car seat, walking around, riding in a shopping cart, drawstrings flapping and dangling the whole time...!  How ironic that he's wearing something his mother made to keep him safe, but is now at risk to a whole new set of dangers when he wears it.

I am proud to say that the Car Seat Poncho has been scrutinized up and down and every which way by CPST's and safety professionals all across the country, and given the thumbs up.  When the product was exhibited at LifeSavers in 2008, techs gathered around my booth and exchanged "what-if's" and "what about's" regarding the design, the parts, the materials, etc., over the course of three whole days.  It got a very thorough inspection and, I'm proud to say, emerged with glowing reviews!

If you made your own poncho (with or without a drawstring), and wish you had a Car Seat Poncho, post to this thread.  Tell your story, and receive a $10 coupon for the purchase of a bona fide Car Seat Poncho!

The New Boys Are Here!

Thanks to your fabulous input, I created three new color combinations for boys and THEY ARE HERE, freshly stocked at the Car Seat Poncho store!

The new colors reflect your desire for more classic (collegiate-looking) combinations, a more subdued shade of blue, and a combination that included earth tones like brown, tan and moss.  The sketches don't do them justice, obviously.  As soon as the sun, the temperature and the models can be coordinated, new photos will be on the way.

And for little girls, Light Pink/White SMALL is BACK IN STOCK! To all the patient moms who wanted their little girls in the quintessential, classic girl color, thank you for waiting.
You, my dear blog subscribers and Facebook friends, are getting the news first, before regular searchers and shoppers.  As I've said before, friendship and subscription does have its privileges.  Feel free to forward this post to your friends and birth boards so they can also get advance notice of sales, coupons and new colors.  But for today, you might want to do a little private shopping for your own lil' man -- or one you know.  ;-)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

TRUE-LIFE TALE: Turning A Bad Poncho Into A Good Poncho

Angela posted to one of our threads on Car-Seat.Org, about trying to make a Car Seat Poncho for her son:
I attempted to make my own car seat poncho and it was a huge disaster. I bought a bunch of fleece fabric and went to town. I thought I could make a lined poncho but there was so much fabric that my sewing machine needle wouldn't even go through it all. It took me hours to complete and it looked a mess. I didn't even attempt a zipper! I wasn't sure how to finish the neckline so it looks pretty bad..and the hood is falling off. Then when I put it on my son, it just hung really weird. I'd like to get a REAL Car Seat Poncho because I know it will be made much better!
We sent Angela a $10 coupon to make up for the cost of the wasted fabric (although we couldn't compensate her for the wasted time!).  This way she can purchase the Car Seat Poncho for her son and put the whole home-sewing experience behind her.

Believe me, I've been in Angela's shoes!  It's easy enough to make a basic poncho: cut a hole in a blanket or piece of fleece.  I tried that, but when it came time to fasten the harness, I had to move the front of the poncho out of the way -- up to his neck, across his shoulder, or over his head.  Around that age, he wasn't crazy about being strapped in anyway, so that annoyed him even more.  A basic poncho was still not solving the problem of warmth, safety AND convenience for both mommy and baby.

I hacked and stitched my way through half a dozen prototypes before I hit upon the patent-pending design that's easy for moms to use without hassling the baby.  And the Car Seat Poncho is made by professional seamstresses, whose work is supervised and inspected by the same people who make clothes for Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity.  Moms send emails all the time raving about the beautiful workmanship, saying, "It is worth every penny and so much nicer than anything I could have made myself!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Sample Sale (Finally!)

The samples are finally out in the Car Seat Poncho store!  Blog subscribers and Face Book friends will be the only ones getting this notice.  ("Regular" shoppers, I love you, but subscription and Face Book friendship have to have their privileges!)

The samples available are Royal Blue/White and Navy/Yellow (both SMALL), and Lavender/Pink  (MED/LARGE).  The blue styles were made when I was picking colors for the final collection (I love using Project Runway lingo).  The lavender style was one of the most popular color combinations from 2007, but has since been retired.  Let me know if you think these combos might deserve their own place in future collections, and feel free to suggest more.

(By the way, I decided not to do the auction because I have no idea how to set up an EBay auction!)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Car Seat Poncho vs "The Coat Trick"

Next on my to-do list: a demonstration video.  I want people to see how fast they can get their children into the car seat, buckled and be on their way with the Car Seat Poncho. 

There is an excellent, and popular video by Madeline410 demonstrating what's known in some CPS circles as "the coat trick". 

Basically, the trick is to:
  1. Before you go out, slip one of your child's arms through one sleeve
  2. Slip the child's other arm through the other sleeve
  3. Zip up the coat
  4. Go out to the car and put your child in the seat
  5. Put his or her arms through the straps
  6. The bottom of the coat out from under the straps on one side
  7. Pull the bottom out on the other side
  8. The collar and top of the coat out from the straps on one side
  9. Pull the collar and top of the coat out from the straps on the other side
  10. Buckle the crotch and chest clips
  11. Tighten the harness
  12. Zip the coat
... and then you can be on your way (unless you have more children to coat-trick).

Now, I think the coat trick is a great trick, and a great way to keep kids safe and warm in the winter.  But the Car Seat Poncho is much easier. 

Here's what you do with the poncho:
  1. Before you go out, slip the poncho over your child's head
  2. Go out to the car and put your child in the seat
  3. Spread the poncho around the top and sides of the car seat
  4. Open the zipper from the bottom
  5. Buckle the crotch and chest clips
  6. Tighten the harness
  7. Pull down the zipper to close
Much easier, much quicker, right?  The video is about one minute long, and I'm pretty sure the poncho takes less than half that.  And if you have more than one child, that's a lot of time saved and a lot of hassle avoided.  Maybe I can get two moms and two kids, and do a split-screen comparison...

When I get it done, I'll debut it here first.  Blog readers deserve some perks and exclusives, right?