Title:
Child's unitary garment with changeable front panel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A garment is provided with a removable panel on the front which can be replaced with a another panel. The removable front panel is attached releasably to the body portion so as to form a complete garment. When the front panel is removed, the body portion remains wearable. The garment allows for removal of a soiled front panel and replacement thereof with a clean, fresh, and/or coordinating panel without undergoing a complete change of the garment.



Inventors:
Pew, Aisha Habiba (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/107180
Publication Date:
10/27/2005
Filing Date:
04/15/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B9/00; A41B13/08; A41B13/10; A41D10/00; (IPC1-7): A41B9/00; A41B13/08; A41D10/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MORRISON & FOERSTER LLP (SAN DIEGO, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A unitary garment, comprising: a) a body portion, and b) a removable chest panel attached releasably to the body portion, the body portion having an opposing pair of complete arm receiving openings, the chest panel constructed to complete the unitary garment when attached to the body portion and to be completely separable from the body portion when detached, the chest panel releasably attached to the body portion through a multiplicity of fastening means on the overlapping edges of the chest panel and the body portion.

2. The garment of claim 1, wherein the fastening means are of a single type.

3. The garment of claim 1, wherein the fastening means are selected from the group consisting of snaps, hook and loop fasteners, and buttons.

4. The garment of claim 1, wherein the chest panel is fluid resistant.

5. The garment of claim 1, wherein the chest panel has a laminate structure including a fabric layer and a fluid resistant layer fixed to the fabric layer.

6. The garment of claim 5, wherein the fabric layer is liquid absorbent and faces outward when the chest panel is in place on the garment.

7. The garment of claim 1, wherein the outer face of the chest panel and the body portion are of different material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims benefit of U.S. provisional application 60/563,055 filed Apr. 15, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates generally to garments and particularly those of a type commonly worn by infants and children of unitary construction wherein the pants and top are integrated, such as a one-piece body suit.

BACKGROUND ART

Challenges exist in dressing and undressing infants and children as well as in keeping infants and children in clothing that is clean and dry. Children can be challenging to dress and undress because some clothing is difficult to put in place on the child, for example, shirts with neck holes too small to comfortably accommodate a child's large head, and/or because the child simply does not like the dressing or undressing. Infants and children also have a tendency to drool and spill food on clothing to such an extent that a change of clothing is required.

Various articles, such as bibs, are known in the art for the protection garments from soiling, for example, when food is being eaten or when dental procedures are being performed. Bibs are particularly useful in protecting clothing from spit and/or saliva that frequently dribbles from an infant's mouth, in shielding clothing from food spilled and/or spit during feeding an infant or small child, and in shielding clothing from vomit. Generally, bibs are separate napkin-like accessories which are provided with fastening means for releasably attaching the bibs around an the wears' necks. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,427,240, 5,911,311, 5,802,610, 5,490,289, 5,432,952, and 2,643,384. In addition, garments are known in which a bib is attached to the main body of the garment. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,216,269, 6,032,287, 5,153, 940, 4,754,500, 4,639,946, and 1,095,476. Although extensively used, bibs can be moved and twisted around by the wearer becoming an irritant both to the wearer and to a wearer's companion or guardian, responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the wearer and the wearer's clothing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the invention is to provide a garment with a removable panel on the front which can be replaced with a another panel. The invention allows for removal of a soiled front panel and replacement thereof with a clean, fresh, and/or coordinating panel without undergoing a complete change of the garment.

Accordingly, in one embodiment, the invention comprises a unitary garment including a body portion and a removable chest panel attached releasably to the body portion. The body portion of the garment includes an opposing pair of complete arm receiving openings. The chest panel is releasably attached to the body portion through a multiplicity of fastening means on the overlapping edges of the chest panel and the body portion. Releasing at least some of the fastening means on the chest panel and body portion generally allows for access to the wearer's body beneath the garment and/or for ease of positioning of the garment over the wearer's head.

The unitary garment of the invention is incomplete when the chest panel is completely detached from the body portion, that is an open space in the garment is present where the chest panel would be attached. The removable chest panel is constructed to complete the unitary garment when attached to the body portion of the garment. However, to facilitate changing of the chest panel, the body portion of the garment alone is wearable when the chest panel is completely detached from the body portion. By “wearable” is meant that the body portion of the garment, without the chest panel being attached thereto, is capable of being worn, for example, with the wearer's arms through the arm receiving openings and so as the back of the wearer remains continuously covered by the worn body portion even with the chest panel detached.

The replaceability of the front panel is advantageous in that it facilitates changing of the portion of the garment most often soiled by a small child without requiring the change of the entire outfit. It is beneficial, for example, when clothing a small child who is cutting teeth and is prone to getting the front of his or her clothing soiled from drool or in other situations when the child is engaging in activities, such as eating and/or spitting, where the front of the garment is likely to become dirty. According to the invention, the soiled front panel may be detached and replaced with a new clean front panel.

The invention is also useful where it is desirable to change the look of the garment being worn without having to change the entire outfit or garment. This provides stylistic and/or seasonal variety with the purchase of fewer clothes.

The removable front panel may be any shape as long as the front panel effectively covers the opening in the body portion. In some instances, the removable front panel is generally the same shape as the opening in the body portion to which the front panel attaches, but the front panel is slightly larger than the corresponding body portion opening and has marginal edges which overlap the lapel edges of the body portion. The larger dimension allows the front panel to lay over or under the lapel edge of the body portion (i.e., panel edges to remain on the outside of the garment or panel edges placed on the inside of the garment, respectively) so that it may be fastened thereto. Alternatively, the removable front panel may be a shape different than that of the opening in the body portion. A front panel of a shape other than the opening in the body portion, for example, star-shaped, geometric-shaped, animal-shaped, provides the garment with fun and attractive appearance alternatives. In any case, when the front panel is properly in place, the garment effectively shields the wearer's body from food, saliva, and other soiling material that contacts the front panel.

The removable front panel is attached to the body portion of the garment at edges of each intended to be overlapping and detachably secured to each other. Fastening means may be of any suitable type, including, but not limited thereto, a pair of cooperating male and female snap fasteners, a pair of cooperating hook and loop fasteners, for example VELCRO, a cooperating button and button hole, or a cooperating pair of ties. Each fastening means, regardless of type, has a member on the lapel edge of the body portion on the side which contacts or faces the removable front panel, and a member on the marginal edge of the front panel which contacts or faces the body portion. In instances when a single body portion is accompanied by more than one removable front panel, the fasteners are all located in corresponding places on each panel, so that any number of panels are interchangeable on the garment.

A multiplicity of fasteners are used to effectively attach the front panel to the body portion. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the garment includes more than 4, more than 5, more than 6, more than 7, more than 8, more than 9, more than 10, more than 11, more than 12, more than 15, more than 20, or more than 25 cooperating pairs of fasteners to attach the front panel to the body portion. In some embodiments, the garment includes fewer than 30, fewer than 25, fewer than 20, fewer than 15, fewer than 12, fewer than 11, fewer than 10, fewer than 9, less than 8, fewer than 7, fewer than 6, or fewer than 5 cooperating pairs of fasteners to attach the front panel to the body portion. In some embodiments, all of the fastening means for attaching a front panel to a body portion are all of the same type, for example, all snap fasteners. In some embodiments, the fastening means for attaching a front panel to a body portion are of more than one type, for example, cooperating pairs of snap fasteners and cooperating pairs of hook and loop fasteners.

Generally, the removable front panel has a neck contour for accommodatingly conforming to the shape of the neck of the wearer. The garment may include sleeves or may be constructed without sleeves. The garment may include leg coverings or may be constructed without leg coverings. Leg coverings may have an integral soft shoe or sock portions. Thus, the form of the unitary garment of the invention includes, but is not limited to, a romper and a sleeper. In some instances, the body portion of the garment includes an opening in the crotch area with the opposing sides of the opening attached releasably to each other with fastening means such as cooperating pairs of snap and other fasteners described herein. Having portions of the crotch area attached releasably provides access to a diaper or undergarments without removal of the entire garment and facilitates dressing and undressing the wearer in the garment.

In some embodiments, the removable front panel includes a fabric layer and a fluid resistant layer. Fabric of the front panel includes, but is not limited to, highly absorbent fabric and washable fabric. Fluid resistance can be provided to the front panel by a variety of means including treatment of at least one face of the panel with a fluid resistance material as by coating, by laminating or otherwise attaching a plastic material or sheeting. For example, a plastic layer may be heat bonded to a fabric layer in conventional manner or simply sewn together. In some instances, the front panel may have a laminate structure where the two or more layers are everywhere mutually interconnected. In some instances, the panel may have a laminate structure comprising an outer inner and an inner layer of fabric with a middle layer of fluid resistance material therebetween. Fabric of the front panel may be treated to be stain resistant.

The front panel may be formed with a layer of a fluid resistant material being sufficiently gas-permeable or “breathable” to be comfortable for the wearer. For example, the material may be SUPPLEX™ brand nylon of the Dupont Corporation, provided with a highly water-resistant coating, such as Dupont's TEFLON™ brand microporous coating, combined with a DUREPEL™ anti-stain finish treatment of Burlington Industries. Such material retains a soft hand, but provides a high degree of water repellency and stain resistance. Such a nylon layer of the panel may be backed by a contiguous layer of a soft and absorbent material, such as a polyester/cotton broadcloth, which adds body to the construction and eliminates the tendency of TEFLON™-treated materials to lift away from the underlying surface.

The removable front panel includes an outer face of a selected design and material matched with a selected design and material of the outer face of the body portion. Matched designs and materials for the outer face of the panel and body portion include those that are the same and those that are different, but complementary, for the panel and body portions. In some instances, material used for the outer face, outer layer, inner face and/or inner layer of the removable front panel is selected to provide the wearer with additional warmth.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of a complete child's garment with an attached front panel in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of a body portion of a child's garment in accordance with the present invention. The cross-hatched marking indicates the opening in the body portion in the absence of the front panel.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a body portion of a child's garment in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a front view of a removable front panel of a garment in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of a sleeveless body portion of a child's garment in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of an exemplary front panel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION THE INVENTION

Referring more particularly to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary complete garment of the present invention, generally designated 10, which includes a body portion 12 and a removable, replaceable front panel 14 having 19 pairs of cooperating snap fasteners 16 spaced and provided around the marginal edge 18 of the front panel 14 which overlaps the lapel edge 20 of the body portion 12 of the garment. The front panel 14 extends across the chest area of the garment.

The marginal edge 18 of the front panel 14 are provided with complimentary fasteners 16a which engage with the fasteners 16b of the lapel edge 20 of the body portion 12 to secure the front panel in place. Fasteners are generally positioned at the shoulders and where the front panel aligns with the body portion. Accordingly, no fasteners are provided at the neck contour 22. The front panel is readily replaced once the panel becomes soiled or if a change in the appearance of the garment is desired. The fasteners could be other than snaps as previously described herein.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary body portion, generally designated 12, of the complete garment 10, FIG. 1. The body portion 12 is includes sleeves 24 but is without the front panel 14, FIG. 1, as indicated by the cross-hatched marking. In this example, the body portion of the garment without the front panel is wearable since the sleeves hold the body portion on the wearer's body.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary body portion 12 with 20 snap fasteners 16b spaced and provided around the lapel edge 20 of the body portion. The snap fasteners on the body portion are each one of a pair snap fasteners that cooperatively and releasably connect to attach the front panel 14 to the body portion 12 of the garment 10, FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary front panel 14 with a neck contour 22 and 20 snap fasteners 16b spaced and provided around the marginal edge 18 of the panel. The snap fasteners on the front panel are each one of a pair of snap fasteners that cooperatively and releasably connect to attach the front panel 14 to the body portion 12 of the garment 10, FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary body portion 12 without sleeves and without the front panel 14, FIG. 1, and with 20 snap fasteners 16b spaced and provided around the lapel edge 20 of the body portion. In this example, the body portion of the garment without the front panel is wearable since the fabric of the body portion at the shoulders 26 holds the body portion on the wearer's body when the wearer's arms are in the arm receiving openings 28.

FIG. 6 illustrates an example of a laminate construction of the removable front panel which may be used in conjunction with any of the described embodiments. The panel 30 has a laminate construction wherein a fluid resistant plastic sheet or backing layer 32 is applied to one side of an adjacent fabric layer 34. In such an embodiment, the outer layer 34 may be structured of a towel-like cloth material, while the inner layer 32 may be structured of a plastic sheet material that is bonded to the cloth material, or structured of a plastic coating that is applied to the outer layer. In some instances, the removable front panel 30 is configured so that the inner layer 32 faces toward the body of the wearer. In this laminate structure, the inner layer 32 serves to prevent liquids from penetrating through the front panel 30, while the outer layer 34 slows and eventually absorbs spills as they run down the outside of the front panel 30. In this configuration, the outward facing layer provides a decorative garment while the inward facing layer shields the wearer from becoming wet or soiled.

In another embodiment, the front panel has a laminate structure composed of a liquid impermeable outer layer and a fabric inner layer. For example, the inner layer may be structured of a towel-like cloth material, while the outer layer may be structured of a plastic sheet material that is bonded to the cloth material, or structured of a plastic coating that is applied to the inner layer. In this configuration, the outer layer serves to prevent liquids from penetrating through the front panel, while the inner layer provides a comfortable layer for the wearer. In instances where the fluid resistant layer is facing outward, that layer may be made of a transparent material such that the underlying decorative fabric layer is visible through the fluid resistant layer, retaining the attractive appearance of the garment.

In some embodiments, the garment can be configured such that each side of the front panel can alternatively face toward the body of the wearer. In such instances, the fastening means on the front panel must permit each side of the panel to be attached releasably to the body portion of the garment.

Although the invention has been described in terms of particular embodiments and applications, one of ordinary skill in the art, in light of this teaching, can generate additional embodiments and modifications without departing from the spirit of or exceeding the scope of the claimed invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the drawings and descriptions herein are preferred by way of example to facilitate comprehension of the invention and should not be construed to limit the scope thereof.