Title:
FASTENER FOR BRASSIERES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fastener for a brassiere is disclosed, and comprises a strap having first and second sides. Rungs spaced from one another along the strap are attached to the first side, and a hook is attached to the second side. The hook is engageable with each of the rungs, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by the hook. The two sides of a brassiere strap are coupled by pulling the first and second sides towards each other such that the one hook slides over the upper surface of the rungs, selecting a desired rung for the hook, and engaging the hook with the selected corresponding rung along any region of the length of the selected rung. A method for assembling such a fastener is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Cremer, Eyal (Kiryat Haim, IL)
Ghindes, Riki (Kadma, IL)
Tal, Elisha (Nataf, IL)
Schuller, Igael (Ramat Gan, IL)
Basson, Iris (Hod HaSharon, IL)
Moheban, Raz (Givataim, IL)
Maoz, Esther (Tel Aviv, IL)
Application Number:
11/426059
Publication Date:
12/21/2006
Filing Date:
06/23/2006
Assignee:
DELTA GALIL INDUSTRIES LTD. (TEL AVIV, IL)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41C3/02; A41F1/00; A41H37/00; A44B13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070077860Post-cesarean section scar management undergarmentApril, 2007Brooks
20070212975Hook-and-Loop Type Brassiere FastenerSeptember, 2007Ausman
20040198177Protective elastic support top and breast shieldOctober, 2004Jankowski
20070077859CorsetApril, 2007Walker et al.
20090298386Reuseable adhesive bra cupsDecember, 2009Deal et al.
20080287036Gas permeable athletic breast restraintNovember, 2008Mcguire
20100023123External breast prosthesisJanuary, 2010Laghi
20070270079Two piece brassiereNovember, 2007Redmond
20100075575LIGHTWEIGHT BRASSIEREMarch, 2010Pardo et al.
20070298684Integrated brassiere pouch to be utilized with medication dispenserDecember, 2007Spagna
20080064299Supportive nursing garmentMarch, 2008La Fontaine



Primary Examiner:
HALE, GLORIA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fleit Intellectual Property Law (21355 East Dixie Highway Suite 115, MIAMI, FL, 33180, US)
Claims:
1. Fastener for brassieres, which comprises a) a strap having first and second sides; b) a plurality of rungs spaced from one another along said strap and attached to said first side wherein each of said plurality of rungs is transversely disposed and in an essentially mutually parallel and equally longitudinally spaced relation; and c) at least one hook attached to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least hook, characterized in that each rung is produced from a piece of molded plastic which is injected directly onto the first side, wherein each of said pieces of plastic comprises a transversely disposed rung and two positioning members between which said rung is interposed having a considerably greater width and a considerably shorter transversal dimension than that of the corresponding rung, the bottom of said corresponding rung being spaced from the bottom of said two positioning members by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the at least one hook.

2. Fastener according to claim 1, wherein each positioning member is adhered to the first side.

3. Fastener according to claim 2, wherein the piece of plastic further comprises a post adjoining each positioning member and a rung extending between said two posts, the bottom of the rung being spaced from the bottom edge of said posts by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

4. Fastener according to claim 1, wherein each piece of plastic further comprises a base which is adhered to the first side and is considerably wider than the corresponding rung or positioning members, the positioning members protruding from said base and the bottom of each rung being spaced from said base by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

5. Fastener according to claim 1, wherein each piece of plastic is produced from single-sided molded plastic.

6. Fastener according to claim 1, wherein each piece of plastic is produced from double-sided molded plastic, a plastic portion injected onto the bottom face of the first side being fusible with the corresponding positioning member formed on the upper face thereof.

7. Fastener according to claim 6, wherein the first side is double width fabric, said double width fabric being foldable so as to cover the plastic portions formed on the bottom face of the first side.

8. Fastener according to claim 1, which is a waist fastener for securing the brassiere to the waist of the wearer and wherein the rungs are spaced from one another in the longitudinal direction.

9. Fastener according to claim 1, which is a shoulder fastener for securing the brassiere to a shoulder of the wearer and wherein the rungs are spaced from one another in the vertical direction.

10. Fastener according to claim 1, which comprises a single hook.

11. Fastener according to claim 1, which comprises a plurality of hooks forming one or more rows on the second side of the brassiere strap, in each of which rows the hooks are aligned or substantially aligned along a transverse line.

12. Brassiere, comprising a waist fastener according to claim 8.

13. Brassiere, comprising two shoulder fasteners according to claim 9.

14. Brassiere, comprising a waist fastener according to claim 8 and two shoulder fasteners according to claim 9.

15. Fastener for brassieres, which comprises— a) a strap having first and second sides; b) a plurality of rungs spaced from one another along said strap and attached to said first side wherein each of said plurality of rungs is transversely disposed and in an essentially mutually parallel and equally longitudinally spaced relation; c) at least one hook attached to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least hook; d) a frame connected to said plurality of rungs and attached to said first side, characterized in that said frame comprises— e) at least two rows of support elements, a rung being frictionally engaged to a pair of opposed support elements; and f) two end elements between which each row of support elements is interposed, wherein at least one fabric layer is stitched in such a way so as to apply a tensile force onto the support elements and/or end elements, suitable areas of one of said fabric layers being punched so as to accommodate said plurality of rungs.

16. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein upper and bottom fabric layers apply a tensile force onto the support elements and/or end elements.

17. Fastener according to claim 16, wherein the bottom fabric layer is planar and the upper fabric layer is of a variable shape.

18. Fastener according to claim 17, wherein the upper fabric layer is folded in such a way that each row of support elements is seated within a different folded portion thereof.

19. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein each end element has a cross-section in the shape of a right trapezoid.

20. Fastener according to claim 19, wherein the upper surface of said support elements and end elements are substantially coplanar, and the bottom surface of said support elements and end elements are substantially coplanar.

21. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein each support element is formed with an aperture, a rung being frictionally engaged to the aperture formed in each of the opposed support elements.

22. Fastener according to claim 21, wherein the rung is tubular and has two flattened end portions.

23. Fastener according to claim 15, which is a waist fastener for securing the brassiere to the waist of the wearer and wherein the rungs are spaced from one another in the longitudinal direction.

24. Fastener according to claim 15, which is a shoulder fastener for securing the brassiere to a shoulder of the wearer and wherein the rungs are spaced from one another in the vertical direction.

25. Fastener according to claim 15, which comprises a plurality of hooks forming one or more rows on the second side of the brassiere strap, in each of which rows the hooks are aligned or substantially aligned along a transverse line.

26. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein the spacing between successive rungs ranges between 0.3 and 1.5 cm.

27. Fastener according to claim 26, wherein the spacing between successive rungs ranges between 0.4 and 0.7 cm.

28. Fastener according to claim 15, comprising at least five rungs.

29. Fastener according to claim 28, comprising from seven to twelve rungs.

30. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein the rungs are made of plastic or metal.

31. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein the frame is attached to the first side by means chosen from the group consisting of insert, over molding, welding, sewing, riveting and adhesive connection.

32. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein the frame is made of flexible material.

33. Fastener according to claim 15, wherein the at least one hook is made of plastic or metal.

34. Brassiere, comprising a waist fastener according to claim 23.

35. Brassiere, comprising two shoulder fasteners according to claim 24.

36. Brassiere, comprising a waist fastener according to claim 23 and two shoulder fasteners according to claim 24.

37. Fastener for brassieres, which comprises— a) a strap having first and second sides; b) a plurality of rungs spaced from one another along said strap and attached to said first side wherein each of said plurality of rungs is transversely disposed and in an essentially mutually parallel and equally longitudinally spaced relation; and c) at least one hook attached to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least hook, characterized in that the rungs are attached to flaps folded along the transverse ends of the first side.

38. Fastener according to claim 37, wherein the rungs are attached to the flaps by means chosen from the group consisting of welding, sewing, stitching and adhesive connection.

39. Fastener according to claim 37, wherein each rung is a metallic pin.

40. Method of assembling a fastener, comprising the steps of: a) providing a strap having first and second sides; b) attaching a plurality of rungs to said first side such that each of said rungs is transversely disposed and in a mutually parallel and equally spaced relation; and c) attaching at least one hook to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs which are spaced from the first side by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of said at least one hook, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least one hook, characterized in that each rung is attached to the first side by forming a plastic piece having a rung and two positioning members between which said rung is interposed by injection molding which is applied directly to the first side, each of said two positioning members having a considerably greater width and a considerably shorter transversal dimension than that of the corresponding rung, the bottom of said corresponding rung being spaced from the bottom of said two positioning members by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the at least one hook.

41. Method according to claim 40, wherein the positioning members adhere to the first side.

42. Method according to claim 41, wherein each piece of plastic is formed with two posts each of which adjoins a corresponding positioning member, a rung extending between said two posts, the bottom of said rung being spaced from the bottom edge of said posts by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

43. Method according to claim 40, wherein each piece of plastic is formed with a base which is adhered to the first side and is considerably wider than the corresponding rung or positioning members, the positioning members protruding from said base and the bottom of each rung being spaced from said base by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

44. Method according to claim 40, wherein each piece of plastic is produced from single-sided molded plastic.

45. Method according to claim 40, wherein each piece of plastic is produced from double-sided molded plastic, whereby a plastic portion is injected onto the bottom face of the first side and fuses with the corresponding positioning member formed on the upper face thereof.

46. Method according to claim 45, wherein the first side is provided with double width fabric, whereby said double width fabric is folded and stitched so as to cover the plastic portions injected onto the bottom face of the first side.

47. Method according to claim 40, wherein the positioning members of each plastic piece are aligned.

48. Method of assembling a fastener, comprising the steps of: a) providing a strap having first and second sides; b) attaching a plurality of rungs to said first side such that each of said rungs is transversely disposed and in a mutually parallel and equally spaced relation; and c) attaching at least one hook to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs which are spaced from the first side by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of said at least one hook, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least one hook, characterized in that the plurality of rungs are attached to a frame and said frame is attached to the first side, said frame being assembled by the following steps— d) punching suitable areas of at least one fabric layer for accommodating a plurality of rungs; e) placing first and second rows of support elements on said at least one fabric layer such that each pair of adjacent support elements from one of said rows is equidistantly spaced; f) wrapping said at least one fabric layer around said first and second rows of support elements; g) inserting each of a plurality of rungs through two corresponding holes punched in said fabric layer; h) connecting each of a plurality of rungs to a support element from said first row and to a corresponding support element from said second row; i) pushing each support element from said first row and the corresponding support element from said second row towards each other until the rung interposed therebetween is frictionally engaged to said pushed support elements; and j) stitching said at least one fabric layer in such a way so as to apply a tensile force onto said first and second rows, a rung being secured by a pair of opposed support elements.

49. Method according to claim 48, further comprising the steps of placing an end element at each end of said first and second rows; and stitching said at least one fabric layer in such a way so as to apply a tensile force additionally onto each of said end elements.

50. Method according to claim 48, wherein a rung is connected to a support element by inserting a flattened end portion of a rung into an aperture formed in the support element.

51. Method according to claim 48, wherein the at least one fabric layer is a one-piece fabric layer.

52. Method according to claim 50, wherein the frame is assembled by means of a planar bottom fabric layer and an upper fabric layer of a variable shape.

53. Method according to claim 52, wherein the upper fabric layer is folded in such a way that each row of support elements is seated within a different folded portion thereof.

54. Method according to claim 53, wherein the upper fabric layer is made of a polyester mesh which. retains its shape after being folded.

55. Method according to claim 53, wherein each folded portion is folded to form two sides and a base.

56. Method according to claim 55, wherein the frame is assembled by the following additional steps: a) forming substantially identical first and second folded portions; b) punching holes in a second side of said first folded portion and in a first side of said second folded portion; c) placing the first row of support elements on the base of said first folded portion such that each aperture of a support element is adjacent to a corresponding hole punched in the second side of said first folded portion; d) passing an end portion of a rung through a corresponding hole punched in the first side of said second folded portion and through a corresponding hole punched in the second side of said first folded portion; e) frictionally engaging said end portion with the aperture of the corresponding support element; f) placing the second row of support elements on the base of said second folded portion such that each aperture of a support element is adjacent to a corresponding hole punched in the first side of said second folded portion; g) frictionally engaging the other end portion of said rung with the corresponding support element placed on the base of said second folded portion; and h) attaching the bottom fabric layer to the top fabric layer in such a way so as to apply a tensile force onto the support elements and end elements.

57. Method according to claim 56, wherein the bottom fabric layer is attached to the top fabric layer by means chosen from the group consisting of one-sided stitching, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive connection.

58. Method according to claim 48, wherein the frame is attached to the first side by means chosen from the group consisting of insert, over molding, welding, sewing, riveting and adhesive connection.

59. Method of assembling a fastener, comprising the steps of: a) providing a strap having first and second sides; b) attaching a plurality of rungs to said first side such that each of said rungs is transversely disposed and in a mutually parallel and equally spaced relation; and c) attaching at least one hook to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs which are spaced from the first side by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of said at least one hook, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least one hook, characterized in that each rung is a pin, the method further comprising the following steps— d) placing the rungs on a central portion of the first side; e) folding the transverse ends of the first side to form two flaps; and f) attaching said rungs to said flaps.

60. Method according to claim 59, wherein the rungs are attached to the flaps by from the group consisting of welding, sewing, stitching and adhesive connection.

61. Method according to claim 59, wherein each rung is a metallic pin.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of brassieres. More particularly, the present invention relates to an adjustable fastener for brassieres.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A brassiere (sometimes abbreviated hereinafter, as is usual, to “bra”) is usually provided with ‘hook and eye’ type fasteners. The hooks and eyes are attached to a fabric, such that the hooks are on one tape and the eyes on another tape. The two tapes are attached to the garment and together constitute a two-winged strap. Such a fastener is illustrated for example in U.S. Pat. No. 6,520,832 B2, corresponding to WO 02/013639 A3, in which the fastener comprises a transverse row of equidistantly spaced hooks and a plurality, e.g. three, transverse rows of eyes, also equidistantly spaced in each row. The hooks are so placed that they can interface with any one of the rows of eyes. The wearer engages each of the eyes of a row with one of the hooks of a row, said rows being selected according to the extent to which she wishes the bra to be tight. Such an arrangement is shown in Japanese Application No. 2001119623. In U.S. Pat. No. 6,520,832 B2, however, the case is considered in which the bra may still be too tight no matter what row of hooks or eyes is selected, and to overcome this problem the hooks and eyes are attached to a fabric that can elongated elastically in one direction, viz. the direction that is circumferential when the bra is worn.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,557,232 B2 notes that in prior art hook-and-eye fasteners the nature of the hook may cause the hook to press into the back of the wearer, and suggests a fastener which comprises: a) a male half, injection-moldable onto a first tape, formed with a circular body comprising an outer and an inner body portion and a pin projecting from this latter and having a head; and b) a female half, injection-moldable onto a second tape, formed with a circular body comprising an outer and an inner body portion and an eyelet in this latter which is dimensioned to receive and retain said head.

US 2003/0060123 A1 describes a hook and eye fastener, in which the hook fastener fabric or the eye fastener fabric or both is/are made of a stretchable material. Alternatively, the eye fastener fabric is a one piece, open knit construction, which provides a number of eyes for a variety of adjustment possibilities with the corresponding hooks.

All the hook and dye fasteners of the prior art are unsatisfactory in various ways. Not only are the fasteners uncomfortable to the wearer, at least in certain positions, but they are awkward to close in terms of the difficulty to target the hook into the eye blindly behind the back since the wearer of the brassier has to insert each hook into a corresponding eye in the corresponding column of eyes. When multiple eyes are provided in a fabric, as in US 2003/0060123 A1, it is difficult to insert the hooks where they should be inserted. Moreover, the use of multiple columns of eyes allows only for minor circumferential adjustments to fit the wearer's needs. In conclusion, they are not easy to fasten and are not widely adjustable and pleasant to wear, as would be desirable.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a fastener for brassieres that is free from the defects of the prior art fasteners.

It is another object to provide a fastener which allows their wearers to easily and conveniently adjust the girth of the brassiere to the required size.

It is a further object to provide a fastener that is pleasant to wear and in which the hooks will cause no discomfort.

It is a still further object to provide a fastener that has a simple structure and is easy and inexpensive to make.

It is another object to provide a higher degree of adjustability that can also cover in-between bra sizes.

It is another object to allow an easier and more convenient engagement of the hook (with respect to the type of hook and eye where one needs to insert 2-4 small hooks into 2-4 small eyes).

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent as the description proceeds.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a fastener for a brassiere, which allows the wearer of the bra to conveniently and easily adjust the girth of the bra to her size. The general structure of the bra is not affected by the invention and is not dealt with in the following description. It may be conventional or different from the conventional in ways that are not part of the invention. In any case, the bra is provided with a strap comprising two sides that hang on the back of the wearer when the bra is being donned.

The wearer must reach for them and connect them by means of a fastener to make the bra fast to her body. The bra is also provided with shoulder straps that may optionally be adjusted, if desired, in the same way (hereinafter described) in which the fastener may be adjusted, and this feature is comprised in the invention.

The fastener according to this invention comprises a strap having first and second sides; a plurality of retaining elements spaced from one another along said strap and attached to said first side; and at least one hook attached to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said retaining elements, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected retaining element to be engaged by said at least hook.

For the purposes of this invention, a single hook is sufficient; however a plurality of hooks may be provided on the second side of the strap, forming one or more rows in each of which the hooks are aligned or substantially aligned along a transverse line. A plurality of hooks and two parallel rows of retaining elements may be used in large size bras.

Preferably, each of the plurality of retaining elements is transversely disposed and in a mutually parallel and equally longitudinally spaced relation.

By “longitudinal direction” is meant the direction of the bra strap, which is circumferential with respect to the wearer's chest when the bra is worn. The “transverse” direction is the direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction, viz. the direction of the width of the strap. When the fastener of the invention is used as a shoulder strap, the rungs are spaced in a vertical (instead of longitudinal) direction.

The retaining elements are elongated, longitudinally spaced from one another on said first side of the strap, and each is placed transversely of said first side of the strap, viz. with its length parallel to a cross-section of the strap, said length being preferably equal to least 7.5 tenths of the width of the strap. Since the plurality of the transverse, retaining elements together with the frame generate a structure that is similar to a ladder, said elements will be called hereinafter “rungs”. As said before, two rows of retaining elements, or, as may be said, two parallel ladders, may be provided, in which case the width of each ladder will be less than 7.5 and preferably about 3 tenths of the width of the strap.

In one embodiment of the invention, the plurality of rungs are attached to the first side by means of a frame, the bottom of each of the rungs being spaced from the first side by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook. The frame is preferably attachable to the first side.

As set forth hereinafter the term “frame”, as used herein, includes any structure or combination of structures that can hold transversal elements or rungs in stable position on a fabric layer.

When the strap is assembled, viz. when a hook is engaged with a rung, the assembled strap has an overall length that is determined by the rung with which the hook has been engaged, which length is important to the comfort of the bra. Said length can be changed by changing the rung with which the hook is engaged, and the spacing between two successive rungs influences the difference that the wearer can cause in the length of the bra strap and therefore the extent to which the wearer can control the comfort of the bra. The length of the strap extending between two successive rungs may be called the “sensitiveness” of the fastener and is preferably comprised between 0.3 and 1.5 cm, and more preferably between 0.4 and 0.7 cm. The sensitiveness of the fastener may be additionally adjusted by displacing an engaged hook along the rung with which it is engaged.

The rungs are preferably in the number of at least five and more preferably of from seven to twelve. The rungs may be made of plastic or metal. They may be connected to the frame in any convenient way: thus, frame and rungs may constitute a single body, e.g. a single plastic molded body; or the rungs may be attached to the frame by welding or sewing or by means of rivets or by any other suitable means. Also, the rungs may form a rope ladder configuration.

The frame and the rungs, together, may be called the female half of the fastener, the hook or hooks being the male half.

Any structure or combination of structures that can hold transversal elements or rungs in stable position on a fabric layer, particularly on a tape or a side of strap, or hold them in stable position in the absence of a fabric layer, constitutes a “frame” as this term is to be understood in describing this invention, and more precisely a flexible frame. The flexible frame may be made of plastic or other flexible material. Its shape is not critical. It can be quadrilateral or sub-quadrilateral, viz. having one or more curved sides, preferably a transverse or both transverse sides. It may also be polygonal with three sides, two longitudinal ones and a transverse one. It may consist only of two longitudinal sides. In an embodiment, the frame consists of two longitudinal sides made of strong filaments or yarns, particularly synthetic yarns. In another embodiment of the invention, the frame consists of two longitudinal rows of rivets that connect both ends of each rung to the first side of the bra strap. Additionally, the frame may consist of two or more parts. In other words, any structure or combination of structures that can hold transversal elements or rungs in stable position on a fabric, particularly on a tape or a side of strap, constitutes a “frame” as this term is to be understood in describing this invention.

In one embodiment of the invention, the frame comprises at least two rows of support elements, a rung being secured by a pair of opposed support elements. Each row of support elements is interposed between two end elements, e.g. having a cross-section in the shape of a right trapezoid. The upper surface, i.e. the surface more spaced from the wearer, of said support elements and end elements are substantially coplanar, and the bottom surface, i.e. the surface closer to the wearer, of said support elements and end elements are substantially coplanar.

Each support element is preferably formed with an aperture, a rung being secured to the aperture formed in each of the opposed support elements by means of frictional engagement. To facilitate securement with a support element, the rung is tubular and has two flattened end portions.

The frame further comprises fabric stitched in such a way so as to apply a tensile force onto the support elements and/or end elements. The fabric may be a single-piece outer fabric layer or may comprise upper and bottom fabric layers. When the stitched fabric is of two pieces, the bottom fabric layer is planar and the upper fabric layer is of a variable shape, e.g. the upper fabric layer is folded in such a way that each row of support elements is seated within a different folded portion thereof.

In one aspect, the frame and rungs constitute a single body, such as one produced from molded plastic.

In another embodiment of the invention, each rung is produced from a piece of molded plastic which is injected directly onto the first side. Each piece of plastic comprises two positioning members which adhere to the first side and a rung interposed between said two positioning members.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic comprises two posts protruding from the first side, a rung extending between said two posts, and a positioning member adjoining each of said posts, the bottom of said rung being spaced from the bottom edge of said posts by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook. In one aspect, each piece of plastic comprises a base which is considerably wider than the corresponding rung or positioning members, the bottom of each rung being spaced from said base by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic is produced from single-sided molded plastic.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic is produced from double-sided molded plastic, a plastic portion injected onto the bottom face of the first side being fusible with the corresponding positioning member formed on the upper face thereof. The first side of the strap may be of double width fabric, said double width fabric being foldable so as to cover the plastic portions formed on the bottom face of the first side.

In another aspect, the rungs are attached to flaps folded along the transverse ends of the first side. The rungs may be attached to the flaps by means chosen from the group consisting of welding, sewing, stitching and adhesive connection.

The hooks are made of plastic or metal. Such materials are inherently rigid, but the hooks may be thin enough to have some flexibility. They are attached to the second side of the bra strap by any convenient means, substantially along a transverse line, as has been said, if there are more than one. Preferably, their transverse dimension or width is smaller than, but close to, the transverse dimension of length of the rungs, permitting a hook to engage a rung and insert its terminal portion between the rung and the first side of the strap, while maintaining a stable engagement with the said rung.

The first and second sides of the strap can be made of an elastic material to provide a better fitting of the bra, but this is optional and is not required by the present invention. In any case, if an elastic material is used, it should be such that it stretches only in the longitudinal direction so as to maintain dimensional stability in the transverse direction.

The present invention is also provides a method for coupling two sides of a brassiere, comprising:

  • a) Providing a strap having first and second sides; a plurality of elongated rungs spaced from one another along said strap and attached to said first side; and at least one hook attached to said second side;
  • b) Pulling said first and second sides towards each other such that said at least one hook slides over the upper surface of said rungs;
  • c) Selecting a desired rung for each of said at least one hook; and
  • d) Engaging said at least one hook with said selected corresponding rung along any region of the length of said selected corresponding rung, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least one hook.

The at least one hook is engaged with said selected rung by ceasing to pull said first and second sides together when the wearer feels that the brassiere is tighter than a desirable fit; and allowing said at least one hook to engage a selected rung by a backward motion.

The bottom of the rungs is preferably separated from the fabric of the first side, the spacing between the bottom of the rungs and the fabric of the first side accommodating the curvature, or the inclination, of the at least one hook, after engagement with the selected corresponding rung.

The sensitiveness of the faster is adjusted by disengaging a hook from a rung and engaging said hook with an adjacent rung, or by displacing an engaged hook along the rung with which it is engaged.

The present invention is also directed to a method of assembling a fastener, comprising providing a strap having first and second sides; attaching a plurality of rungs to said first side such that each of said rungs is spaced from one another; and attaching at least one hook to said second side, said at least one hook being engageable with each of said rungs, the sensitiveness of the fastener being determined by the selected rung to be engaged by said at least one hook.

Preferably, the plurality of rungs are attached to the first side such that each of the plurality of rungs is transversely disposed and in a mutually parallel and equally spaced relation.

Preferably, the plurality of rungs are attached to the first side such that the bottom of each of the rungs is spaced from the first side by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the at least one hook.

In one embodiment of the invention, the plurality of rungs are attached to a frame and said frame is attached to the first side.

In one embodiment of the invention, the frame is assembled by—

  • a) Punching suitable areas of a fabric layer for accommodating a plurality of rungs;
  • b) Placing first and second rows of support elements on said fabric layer such that each pair of adjacent support elements from one of said rows is equidistantly spaced;
  • c) Wrapping said fabric layer around said first and second rows of support elements;
  • d) Inserting each of a plurality of rungs through two corresponding holes punched in said fabric layer;
  • e) Connecting each of a plurality of rungs to a support element from said first row and to a corresponding support element from said second row;
  • f) Pushing each support element from said first row and the corresponding support element from said second row towards each other until the rung interposed therebetween is frictionally engaged to said pushed support elements; and
  • g) Stitching said fabric layer in such a way so as to apply a tensile force onto said first and second rows, a rung being secured by a pair of opposed support elements.

Preferably, the method further comprises the steps of placing an end element at each end of said first and second rows; and stitching said fabric layer in such a way so as to apply a tensile force additionally onto each of said end elements.

Preferably, a rung is connected to a support element by inserting a flattened end portion of a rung into an aperture formed in the support element.

In one aspect, the fabric layer is a one-piece fabric layer.

In another aspect, the frame comprises a planar bottom fabric layer and an upper fabric layer of a variable shape. The upper fabric layer is folded in such a way that each row of support elements is seated within a different folded portion thereof.

In one embodiment of the invention, each rung is attached to the first side by forming a single plastic piece having a rung and two positioning members by injection molding which is applied directly to the first side.

The positioning members preferably adhere to the first side and the rung is interposed between said two positioning members.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic is formed with two posts protruding from the first side, a rung extending between said two posts, and a positioning member adjoining each of said posts, the bottom of said rung being spaced from the bottom edge of said posts by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic is formed with a base which is considerably wider than the corresponding rung or positioning members, the bottom of each rung being spaced from said base by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic is produced from single-sided molded plastic.

In one aspect, each piece of plastic is produced from double-sided molded plastic, whereby a plastic portion is injected onto the bottom face of the first side and fuses with the corresponding positioning member formed on the upper face thereof. The first side may be provided with double width fabric, whereby said double width fabric is folded and stitched so as to cover the plastic portions injected onto the bottom face of the first side.

In one aspect, the rungs are placed on a central portion of the first side; the transverse ends of the first side are folded to forms two flaps; and the rungs are attached to said flaps. The rungs may be attached to the flaps by from the group consisting of welding, sewing, stitching and adhesive connection.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A to 1E schematically illustrates in top perspective view different female fastener parts, viz. frames and rungs of fasteners according to embodiments of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B schematically illustrate a preferred embodiment of fastener according to the invention, in open and closed condition respectively;

FIG. 3 shows in top plane both a male fastener part and a female fastener part according to embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates in schematic cross-section the fastener parts of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 schematically illustrates yet another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an assembled frame attached to the first side of a fastener, according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the frame of FIG. 6 with the outer fabric being removed, showing a plurality of support elements and end elements;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a rung which is attachable to the frame of FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of a frame covered by one piece of fabric, cut about plane A-A of FIG. 6;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a frame covered by two pieces of fabric;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the interior of the frame of FIG. 10, showing support elements being seated in folded portions of the upper fabric layer;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the invention wherein a plastic piece is attached to the first side of the fastener;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the invention wherein a plastic piece is provided with a base which is considerably wider than the corresponding rung or positioning members thereof;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of another embodiment, showing plastic pieces attached to a first side which is folded;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the bottom face of the first side of FIG. 14 provided with a plurality of punched holes, to which plastic portions are positioned; and

FIGS. 16A to 16C illustrate three steps, respectively, by which rungs are secured to flaps of the first side of a fastener, wherein FIGS. 16A and 16C are perspective views and FIG. 16B is a side view.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is a novel fastener, particular for brassieres, comprising a strap having first and second separate sections (hereinafter “sides”), wherein a plurality of transverse rungs are stably attached to the first side and a hook is attached to the second side. While prior art bra fasteners are inconvenient to manipulate in terms of the difficulty in targeting the hook into the eye blindly behind the back since each hook needs to be inserted into a corresponding eye of a corresponding column of eyes, the fastener of the present invention is advantageously configured without hooks and eyes. The fastener of the present invention is provided with a plurality of elongated transverse rungs in a spaced relation with an adjacent rung and with the underlying fabric of the first side. The hook attached to the second side is easily engageable behind the back of the wearer with a selected rung attached to the first side since there is no need to pinpoint the hook to a corresponding eye, but rather the hook may be engaged along the entire transverse length of the selected rung. By being able to engage one of the plurality of transversely disposed rungs anywhere on the length thereof, the first and second sides are coupled together with a desired longitudinal and transverse sensitiveness.

FIGS. 1A to 1D show different embodiments of frames and rungs according to the invention. In all of said figures, numeral 10 indicates the first side of the brassiere strap, of which only the distal portion is shown and which is made of cloth, plastic or any other convenient material.

In FIG. 1A, frame 11 is attached to said first side of the strap, in any convenient way, e.g. by sewing, by means of over molding, insert molding, adhesive, welding or by riveting. In this embodiment, the frame has the approximate form of a rectangle, the forward or distal side 12 of which is wider and curved. By “distal” is meant herein “close to the end of the first or second side of the strap”. Rungs 13 are attached to the frame. Rungs and frame may be of plastic and be molded together; over molded or insert molded. Over mold is a process where two molds are used. One part is injected into a mold, is then transferred into another mold, and a different plastic is injected over the first part. In insert mold a metal or plastic part is inserted into the mold and plastic is injected over it. All the rungs may be connected to the frame in any convenient way, e.g. by welding or by being inserted in seats of the frame and being connected therein to the frame by means of adhesive or by welding due to heat. Rungs and frame, or only the frame, may be of plastic, injected or cast in a mold in which the terminal or distal portion of the second side of the strap is an insert, so that there may be no need of additional attaching means. The frame may also be made of two equal layers that are connected to one another in any convenient way and may enclose between them the strap 10. The frame is desirably made of a flexible material, particularly of soft plastic, so that it may bend in contact to the wearer's body and cause no discomfort to her.

The embodiment of FIG. 1B is similar to that of FIG. 1A, but the frame 15 is connected by stitching 17 to the strap 16 and has the same cross-section at all points.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1C, the frame is constituted by two longitudinal lines of stitching 20, by which the rungs 21 are connected to the strap 10.

In FIG. 1D the frame is constituted by two longitudinal rows of rivets 25, two of which connect each rung 26 to the strap 10. Said rivets may be metal rivets, inserted separately or concurrently in any convenient way, or may be created by the injection of plastic matter.

FIG. 1E shows a rope ladder embodiment of the frame 22. Two flexible longitudinal elements 24 are made of any convenient material. Rungs 27 are supported on longitudinal elements 24 through eyes 28. While the frame is shown as supported by a fabric 29, this latter is not necessary, as the frame 22, while flexible, is self-supporting.

FIG. 2A shows an embodiment of the invention in which a frame 30 is provided with two longitudinal sides 31 supporting transverse rungs 35 and two curved transverse sides 32 and 33. The frame is connected in any suitable way to the strap 34. Numeral 36 illustrates a hook, which is mounted on the first side 37 of the strap and on the bottom thereof, viz. on the side thereof that will be closer to the body of the wearer, said first side of the strap extending beyond the hook, to permit the wearer to grasp it and pull it, e.g. by a length of strap twice the distance between two adjacent rungs or more. The hook is desirably of a width, viz. a transverse dimension, not very different from length or transverse dimension of the rungs, and is placed transversely on said first side of the strap.

It will be understood that when the wearer is donning the bra and pulls the two sides of the strap towards each other, the hook 36 will slide over the top of the rungs 35. The wearer will pull the two sides of the strap towards one another, allowing the hook 36 to slide over the rungs 35, until she feels that the bra is slightly tighter than would be desirable. At that time, she will cease to pull the two sides of the strap and leave them free to slide slightly back, while pressing slightly on the hook 36; and said hook 36 will engage the first rung 35 that it reaches in the said backward motion and be guided by said rung to slide into the space between said rung and the preceding one and engage said first rung 35, thereby closing the fastener. The spacing between the plurality of rungs and the fabric of the first side accommodates the curvature, or the inclination, of the hook, depending on the configuration thereof, after the latter is engaged with a selected rung. In FIG. 2B the fastener is seen as closed and only six rungs are uncovered, showing that the hook (not visible in this figure) has engaged an intermediate rung—the fourth rung—the remaining rungs being free.

In FIG. 3 both sides of a fastener, the first side 41 and the second side 40, are seen in plan view. The frame, having rungs 44, is shown at 42, and its connection to the strap may be according to any embodiment of the invention, though it is shown, by way of example only, as stitching 43. A hook 45 is attached, in any suitable way, e.g. by stitching, to the second side 40 of the strap,

FIG. 4 illustrates in schematic cross-section the engagement of the fastener of FIG. 3. The hook 45 has engaged one of the rungs 44. The closure of this fastener is not different from that of the fastener of FIGS. 2A and 2B, except that the hook must be guided somewhat to become inserted in a space 46 between two adjacent rungs and be able to engage the more distal one of said two rungs.

FIG. 5 illustrates another preferred embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the frame is formed by two segments of filament or yarn 50-51, which are sewn to the first side 10 of the strap. An eye 54 is bored at each end of rungs 53 (see Detail). After inserting each filament or yarn 50-51 into an eye 54, rungs 53 are slid to a desired position. Only one end of a rung 53, one eye 54 and only filament or yarn 50 are shown in the Detail. Thereafter, the rung, once in place, is connected to the filaments or yarns by pouring an adhesive or a molten plastic into its eyes 54. Finally, the resulting assembly of filaments or yarns 50-51 and rungs 53, viz. the female part of the fastener, is connected to the strap 10 by any convenient means, e.g., by sewing it at the appropriate places as shown at 55 or by plastic injection. To improve the connection of the ladder constituted by the said filaments or yarns and the said rungs, along the length of said ladder, to the strap 10, said ladder is preferably further secured to said strap 10 at other points intermediate between the rungs, as indicated at 56, by any suitable means, e.g. by stitching or injection of plastic.

FIGS. 6-10 illustrate another preferred embodiment of the invention wherein each rung is attached to the frame by means of a pair of support elements.

An assembled distal portion of the first side is illustrated in FIG. 6. The distal portion comprises first side 10 of the strap, a plurality of mutually parallel transverse rungs 62, e.g. metallic pins, and a frame designated as numeral 60 for securing each adjacent rung 62 in an equally spaced relation. As shown, frame 60 has a rectilinear configuration, with its two opposed longitudinal walls 64 being slightly raised above the fabric of first side 10. It will be appreciated that any other desired configuration of the frame is suitable, insofar that rungs 62 are secured thereto in a parallel and equally spaced relation.

FIG. 7 illustrates frame 60 as the outer fabric layer is removed. Each longitudinal wall comprises a plurality of support elements 68, each of which secures a corresponding end of a rung 62, and two end elements 69 having a cross-section in the shape of a right trapezoid, i.e. provided with two right angles, and being contiguous or integral with the corresponding rectangular element 66. The upper surface, viz. on the side thereof that will be more distant from the body of the wearer, of support elements 68 and end elements 69 are substantially coplanar, and likewise the bottom surface of support elements 68 and end elements 69 are substantially coplanar. Support elements 68 and end elements 69 are preferably made from molded plastic, although other materials may also be suitable.

As shown in FIG. 8, rungs 62 are tubular and have flattened end portions 71, which are frictionally engageable with corresponding support elements. A rung 62 is shown to be engaged with two support elements 68 in FIG. 9. Each support element 68 is formed with an aperture 77, which is suitably sized so as to receive a flattened end portion 71 of a corresponding rung 62 by frictional engagement. The support elements 68 may be of any suitable shape, such as having an arcuate periphery, as shown. Suitable areas of one-piece fabric layer 74 are then punched, so as to accommodate the plurality of rungs 62. After support elements 68 and end elements 69 are arranged in two rows as shown in FIG. 7, corresponding to the two longitudinal walls of frame 60, fabric layer 74 is then wrapped around all of the rectangular elements, support elements, and end elements. Each flattened end portion 71 of a rung 62 is then inserted through a punched hole of fabric layer 74 and is received within the corresponding support element 68, such that a rung 62 is connected to two support elements 68. Thereinafter, the two support elements 68 connected to the same rung 62 are pushed transversely towards each other until the rung is frictionally engaged to the two support elements. Fabric layer 74 is stitched in such a way as known to those skilled in the art that frame 60A produced from these elements is rigid and stable, due to tensile force applied by the fabric layer 74 onto the support elements and end elements. The produced frame is then stitched to the first side of the strap.

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 10, the frame generally designated as 60B may be produced from two fabric layers 75 and 78. Bottom fabric layer 75 is planar, while upper fabric layer 78 is of a variable shape. Upper fabric layer 78 is made of a polyester mesh which retains its shape after being folded.

As shown in FIG. 11, upper fabric layer 78 is folded in such a way that a plurality of support elements 68 corresponding to a longitudinal wall of the frame are seated within the same folded portion of upper fabric layer 78. A folded portion is defined by sides 82 and 84 and by base 83. The distance between sides 82 and 84 is substantially equal to the width of the upper concave abutting portion 73 (FIG. 10) of support element 68, which abuts base 83 of the folded portion, so that the plurality of support elements 68 are firmly retained by the folded portion.

Two folded portions 81A and 81B are shown, although it will be appreciated that two pairs of folded portions may likewise be formed, to accommodate two frames and to provide the wearer with a greater degree of sensitiveness. With respect to a frame with two folded portions as shown, holes are punched in upper fabric layer 78 along two regions that will be defined as side 84 of folded portion 81A and side 82 of folded portion 81B, respectively, following formation of the folded portions. After folding upper fabric layer 78 to form side 84 of folded portion 81A and side 82 of folded portion 81B, support elements 68 are placed on terminal portion 87A of the upper fabric layer adjacent to side 84 of folded portion 81A. Rungs 62 are then inserted into corresponding support elements 62, whereupon the exposed flattened end portion 71 (FIG. 8) of each rung is passed through the corresponding aperture punched in side 82 of folded portion 81B and then through the corresponding aperture 77 (FIG. 9) punched in side 84 of folded portion 81A, so that it may be received in the previously positioned support element. The two complementary support elements 68 of a pair are then pushed transversely towards each other until the rung 62 interposed therebetween is frictionally engaged to the two support elements. Following the formation of the two rows 89A and 89B, respectively, of support elements, the terminal portions 87A and 87B are folded to form side 82 of folded portion 81A and side 84 of folded portion 81B, such that each support element is retained by two walls of a folded portion. Planar bottom fabric layer 75 having a length substantially equal to the distance between terminal portions 87A and 87B, as shown in FIG. 10, is placed on the underside of upper fabric layer 78, covering rows 89A and 89B of support elements. Bottom fabric layer 75 is attached to upper fabric layer 78 by one-sided stitching, ultrasonic welding or bonding, as known to those skilled in the art, whereby the assembled frame 60B is rigid and stable, due to tensile force applied by the fabric layers 75 and 78 onto the rectangular elements, support elements, and end elements. Frame 60B is then stitched to the first side of the strap.

FIG. 12 illustrates another embodiment of the invention wherein the rungs are produced from single-sided molded plastic, which is applied by injection molding directly onto first side 10. Each piece of molded plastic generally designated by numeral 90 is formed with two posts 94 protruding from first side 10, rung 92 extending between the two posts 94, and a circular positioning member 96 which adheres to first side 10 and adjoins a corresponding post 94. Rung 92 is considerably thinner than the two corresponding posts 94, so that the bottom edge of the rung is separated from the adjacent surface of the first side 10 of the strap or from the bottom of the positioning members 96 by a sufficient distance which facilitates the engagement of the hook, as well as to fasten the hook to the rung while engaged. Fastening capability may be provided, for example, by forming suitable geometric contours in the hook and/or in the rung. The positioning members 96 are adapted to properly align each plastic piece 90 such that the plurality of rungs 92 are transversely disposed and in an essentially mutually parallel and equally spaced relation. The two positioning members 96 between which a corresponding rung 92 is interposed have a considerably greater width and a considerably shorter transversal dimension than that of the corresponding rung 92. The structural strength of a fastener employing such positioning members is therefore increased due to the wide-area adhesion, thereby preventing detachment of the plastic piece from first side 10 during repeated engagement and disengagement operations of the hook with respect to a selected rung. As positioning elements 96 are attached directly to the first side of the strap without use of support elements or mating elements, a frame is therefore unnecessary.

It will be appreciated that a single-sided molded plastic piece may be configured in any desired shape or form. Plastic piece 105 shown in FIG. 13 may be provided with a base 107 which is considerably wider than rung 103 or positioning members 109, so as to improve the adhesion of the plastic piece to first piece 10. The bottom of each rung 103 is spaced from base 107 by a sufficient distance for facilitating the engagement of the hook. During engagement of the hook, the hook slides over the selected rung 103 towards the corresponding base 107 and is then released, whereby to engage the selected rung by a backward motion.

Each plastic piece 115 shown in FIG. 14 is produced from single or double-sided molded plastic wherein plastic is injected on the bottom face of fabric in order to fuse with the rung injected on the opposite side thereof. Since plastic piece 115 is provided with increased structural integrity after being produced from double-sided molded plastic, its rung 112 may be longer and its covering members 116 (used for aesthetic and/or improved adhesion purposes) may be thinner than those of plastic piece 90 shown in FIG. 12, which are produced from single-sided plastic. In order to cover the portion of plastic piece 115 which is positioned on the bottom face of the fabric, the first side of the strap may have a double width. After the plastic pieces 115 are attached to the first side, the first side may be folded as shown, producing upper and lower pieces of fabric 118A and 118B, respectively, which are subsequently stitched together, as well known to those skilled in the art. If so desired, the first side may be punched with a plurality of holes 101, as shown in FIG. 15, to increase the fusibility of a plastic portion 101 positioned on the bottom face of first side 10 and the corresponding positioning member 116 positioned on the opposite thereof.

In another embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 16A-C, a plurality of mutually parallel and equally spaced metallic pins 131, e.g. of rectangular cross section as shown or of circular cross section, are placed on central portion 138 of the first side, to serve as rungs. The two transverse ends of the first side are folded as shown in FIG. 16A to form flaps 135. Flaps 135 are folded until they contact pin 131 as shown in FIG. 16B, whereupon pins 131 are secured to flaps 135 at corresponding attachment areas 139 by ultrasonic welding when the fabric of the first side is synthetic, by stitching or by bonding.

In the embodiments illustrated, the fastener serves to secure the bra about the waist of the wearer, and therefore may be called the circumferential or waist fastener, but, as has been said, the structure of the invention may equally apply to shoulder straps, which serve to secure the bra to the shoulders of the wearer, and therefore may be called vertical or shoulder fasteners. Bras, in which the waist fastener or the shoulder fasteners or both the waist fastener and the shoulder fasteners are structured as described herein, are comprised in the invention.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been described by way of illustration, it will be understood that the invention may be implemented with many variations, modifications and adaptations, such as being suitable for a fastener for different types of apparel or implements, without departing from its spirit or exceeding the scope of the claims.