Sew…the Low Down on Drawstrings and a Solution to My Clothing Design Dilemma

Missed me?  I’m back from my trip to Los Angeles….what a great time I had!  Days were filled with fabric sourcing for my upcoming Spring / Summer 2009 Downtown Joey boys’ clothing line.

Lady M™ (aka Myrinda of Fabric Hound) and I had a blast!  We had lunch with more than a dozen friends from Fashion Incubator and dinner at The Palm Restaurant with Kim Owen of Moonfly Kids!

I found great yarn-dyes, twills and knits (unfortunately NO BOY PRINTS…ugh).  Most importantly, I did find a solution to a design problem–making my dangling key chains safe for children.

But first you need to know a little about the CPSC Guidelines when it comes to drawstrings on children’s clothing.  Note, I manufacture in New York and it’s the law here:  Informal Comparison Between Various U.S. Drawstring Standards


The CPSC urges that parents and caregivers immediately:

  • Remove hood and neck drawstrings from children’s jackets, sweatshirt and similar types of clothing; or
  • Sew a seam through the drawstring at the middle of the hood and neck so neither end can pull out and catch onto an object.
  • Cut all string ends as short as needed to close the garment.


The CPSC has 23 reports of deaths and 48 non-fatal injuries from drawstrings on children’s clothing from 1985 to 1997.

    The list of offenders:


Girls’ Hooded Sweat Jackets by Rebelette


Karl Kani Sweat Jackets


Bonafide Jackets


GAP Boys’ Jacket


SCOPE Hooded Sweatshirts


Old Navy Boys’ Jacket Recall has instructions for consumers


Bon Ton Zippered Hoodies

More children’s clothing manufacturers who didn’t get the memo on drawstring safety…


Black Rabbit Clothing


Diesel Clothing


Gold Rush Skateboard Jersey Pants


Ed Hardy



O’Neill Clothing


Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts by Urgent Gear

Even after Urgent Gear’s recalled sweatshirt (above), they are still at it:


Urgent Gear’s Micro Pants


Deux Par Deux Park Ranger Bermuda Shorts

I noticed lots of boys’ swim shorts with drawstrings that are longer than the suggested maximum of 3 inches.  I wonder if they are not subject to the same guidelines:




Childish Tire Treads Swim Trunks


Small Paul


Charlie Rocket



Here’s two great swim shorts which solved the drawstring problem through good design:


City Threads


Diesel Boys

Okay…so back to my dilemma.  I always use key chains in my boys’ clothing designs.  Key chains either hang from the pants or shirts with metal or plastic key rings.



I needed to find a solution to ensure a child would not get the key chain caught on something (similar to the drawstring problem).




At first. I considered using something like a Breakaway Key Chain used for Pepper Spray.  But you’d have to press the key chain to get it to release (separate):


So then I thought perhaps Safety Breakaway Lanyards might work.  But it was too small as I usually attach my key chains with 3/4″ – 1 inch twill tape or webbing.


When searching the Internet in hopes of finding a solution, I came across Tomy’s Pokeman Plush Key Chains which were recalled, because they may contain the tips of sewing needles broken during manufacturing.  WTH?!!!


I also found a Recall of H & M’s Compass Jacket, because the attached compass on these jackets can break, posing a choking hazard for young children. Additionally, the liquid mineral oil, inside the compass can be harmful if swallowed.  Guess I won’t be using compasses…LOL!

Just a side note:  Airport security deemed a handcuff key chain dangerous.  Guess my handcuff set would really cause a stir:


Funny thing…the above “Downtown Detention” set was the only set “lost” in the mail by the USPS en route to the customer.  Perhaps the USPS thought it was dangerous, too.

So anyway, I came across these little break-away clam shells that come in two sizes:


What’s great about them is there are three different types of clips I can use to attach my key chains.  Best of all, the price was right and the minimums were easy enough.  SCORE!

One attachment is a clip which really isn’t the best as it can pinch little fingers (unless of course, you don’t like your children…LOL):


However, the other two attachments would work great:


Swivel Hook



So, I’d say my trip to the LA International Textile Show was a success!

Right before I left for my trip, I hired a great pattern maker.  Now to find the right sewing production here in NYC…stay tuned!




  1. Great information. Thanks so much. And glad you had a good trip.

  2. Heya Lisa, good entry. Consider following up with Esther. She’s trying to organize support to get ASTM to come up with drawcord guidelines (see news from you 4/18 or the forum). Esther is collecting product photos like this, does she know to come over to your site?

  3. thanks Jenny–glad to see you’re blogging again! I’ve missed your posts!

    Kathleen…yes, Esther is a regular visitor of my blog and we have a discussion going on under Niche Products on the fashion-incubator forum.

    with friendship,

  4. HEy Lisa ,

    THanks for that ! NEVER thought of the drawstrings ? Why …its obvious !

    OFF TO CUT !


  5. Well I’m happy to report that my girl’s AA hoodies have no offending drawstrings, but of course I had to check…

    Maybe I should add this info to FH…I wonder how many of my customers are selling to others and could use this info?

    Thanks Lisa!!!

  6. Great info, Lisa! And of course I’m thrilled to see you back. 🙂

  7. You are a wealth of information. I wish I had your drive and ambition. This post got me thinking about waist sashes on little girl’s dresses. I love to finish a dress off with a big beautiful sash, are there any regulations for that?

    Best of luck to you on your new venture!

  8. YAY your back! Glad you had a great time! Sounds like it was very productive!

  9. Dear Domestic Diva,
    Interesting info! I have another problem I was hoping you could shed some light on! When the shoe string goes into the drawstring waist or hood how can one get it back out? I just laundered some new shorts of my husband and three now have one long string on one end only! Yipes! Do I have to get rid of the shorts? I sappose we should have tied knots in the ends before laundering!
    Thanks for any help you can give me here!
    Saskia Bartlett

  10. Waving to my Sue Monster!

    Lady M…great idea…post the info on Fabric Hound. So many designers are using long drawstrings on their girls’ sets, too. It’s a recipe for disaster…KWIM?

    Carole…there aren’t any regulations on sashes…although there should be. But it might have to do with the fact that they are special occassion dresses most of the time…not clothing that would be worn to school or on a playground.

    Hey Tiff!!!

    Saskia..use a big safety pin and rethread the strings back through the shorts. Then sew a stitch to secure the stitch at the center back waistband to prevent it from happening again…HTH

    With friendship,

  11. Hi Lisa!

    I happened across your website while doing some insomnia-induced surfing. LOVE IT! You’ve kept me occupied for hours! 🙂

    Anyway, just a thought…we have 2 cats and their collars have a break-away mechanism so they don’t get strangled if their collars get caught on something. If you are still looking for a device for your keychains, maybe you can check out some cat collars!

    OK, now I’m hooked on your website!

    THANKS!!! 🙂


  12. Thanks for this information! It will come in very handy!


  1. […] last week when I was talking about dangerous drawstrings in children’s clothing?  Well, it seems the CPSC finally took some […]

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