Title:
Under arm/breast perspiration shields
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Under arm and under arm/breast perspiration shields to absorb perspiration and protect clothing are disclosed. In general, the perspiration shields are adapted to attach to the side strap, cup, or other portion of a bra and extend into the under arm and, in some embodiments, the breast regions to absorb perspiration. The absorbent portion of the perspiration shields may be made of a number of layers of material, including absorbent layers interspersed with substantially impermeable layers. In some embodiments, the perspiration shields may attach to the bra strap using an attachment portion which folds over the strap. The attachment portion, and other portions, may be provided with fabric adhesive to aid in attachment. In other embodiments, fabric adhesive may be provided directly on an absorbent portion of the perspiration shield to effect attachment.



Inventors:
Reeves, Susan G. (Douglasville, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/716607
Publication Date:
08/02/2007
Filing Date:
03/12/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D27/12; A41D27/13
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
STEPHENS, JACQUELINE F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCGUIREWOODS, LLP (Tysons Corner, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A perspiration shield, comprising: an absorbent portion shaped and adapted to be coupled to one or more of a side strap or a cup of a bra, the absorbent portion having inward and outward faces and including an under arm portion shaped and arranged to extend from the side strap to cover at least a portion of a user's under arm area, and a breast portion contiguous with the under arm portion, the breast portion being shaped and arranged to cover at least a portion of the user's breast area; wherein at least one of the inward and outward faces of the absorbent portion is at least partially comprised of an absorbent material adapted to absorb perspiration from the user's under arm and breast areas.

2. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the perspiration shield is disposable.

3. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the perspiration shield is provided with fabric adhesive positioned on the outward face to attach the perspiration shield to the side strap of the bra.

4. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the perspiration shield is provided with fabric adhesive positioned on the outward face to attach the perspiration shield to the cup of the bra.

5. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the inward face is comprised of the absorbent material.

6. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the inward and outward faces are comprised of the absorbent material.

7. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein at least one layer of the absorbent portion between the inward face and the outward face is comprised of a substantially impermeable material.

8. The perspiration shield of claim 1, further comprising an attachment portion connected to the absorbent portion, the attachment portion being adapted to attach the perspiration shield to the side strap.

9. The perspiration shield of claim 8, wherein the attachment portion comprises a downward extension of one or more layers that comprise the absorbent portion.

10. The perspiration shield of claim 9, wherein the attachment portion comprises the downward extension of a first layer of material.

11. The perspiration shield of claim 8, wherein the attachment portion is constructed and arranged to fold over the side strap one or more times.

12. The perspiration shield of claim 11, wherein one or more surfaces of the attachment portion include fabric adhesive.

13. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the absorbent portion narrows upwardly from the side strap to an upper outwardly curved terminal edge, defining the under arm portion, and broadens forwardly from the side strap toward the front of the bra to a forward outwardly curved terminal edge, defining the breast portion.

14. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the absorbent portion extends upwardly from the side strap to a relatively horizontal terminal edge, defining the under arm portion, and broadens forwardly from the side strap toward the front of the bra to a forward terminal edge, thereby defining the breast portion.

15. The perspiration shield of claim 14, wherein the forward terminal edge is of inward curvature.

16. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein the breast portion is dimensioned to rest at least partially in the cup of the bra.

17. The perspiration shield of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the perspiration shield has a concealing color.

18. The perspiration shield of claim 17, wherein the concealing color is a skin tone.

19. The perspiration shield of claim 1, further comprising a rigidity portion coupled to at least one of the under arm portion and the breast portion.

20. The perspiration shield of claim 19, wherein the rigidity portion comprises a rigid member secured between the inward and outward faces of the absorbent portion.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/470,218, filed on May 14, 2003, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to absorbent shields for use between skin and clothing and, more particularly, to under arm/breast perspiration shields.

2. Description of Related Art

The under arm and chest areas of the body are both provided with ample sweat glands and typically perspire readily, even during periods of normal, non-strenuous activity. Although both genders perspire in the under arm and chest areas, the problem of under arm/breast perspiration may be particularly acute for women, whose bras and other undergarments may increase heat retention and, thus, increase perspiration.

Perspiration may cause a woman embarrassment in social settings, because it soaks into clothing and may be readily apparent, particularly in the case of clothing made with sheer and thin fabrics. While both men and women typically wear under arm deodorant compositions, these compositions can cause fabric damage, staining, and lingering odors, and are not typically used over the entire under arm/breast area.

Various types of products for perspiration control have been proposed and used with varying degrees of success. One type of product is a reusable or disposable perspiration pad that is either sewn or pinned underneath the sleeve of outer garments. These pads are somewhat inconvenient and may function better for men than women, because women's fashions often include sleeves that are oversized for comfort; therefore, perspiration stains are more likely at the sides of the sleeve than on the underside. However, these pads typically do not have enough area to cover the sides of the sleeve. Moreover, many women's garments are constructed of sheer or lightweight fabrics that would be damaged by pad attachment, or are insufficient to conceal the pad.

Reusable pads that are positioned beneath the armpit and are fixed to bra or tank top straps by loop fasteners have also been developed. These pads address some of the issues noted above, but the attachment design may be somewhat awkward for the wearer, since the fasteners typically position the pads directly underneath the armpit. Additionally, they too may be difficult to conceal.

A woman seeking to reduce the appearance of perspiration on outergarments could simply wear another undergarment, such as an undershirt or a camisole. However, these undergarments may actually increase perspiration, particularly on warm days. Moreover, because of the variety of patterns in outergarment necklines, the outergarment may not conceal the camisole or undershirt. Additionally, everyday wear of undergarments may be expensive.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the invention relates to a perspiration shield. The perspiration shield comprises an absorbent portion that is shaped and adapted to be coupled to a side strap of a bra. The absorbent portion has inward and outward faces and includes an under arm portion and a breast portion. The under arm portion is shaped and arranged to extend from the side strap to cover at least a portion of a user's under arm area. The breast portion is contiguous with the under arm portion and is shaped and arranged to cover at least a portion of the user's breast area. At least one of the inward and outward faces is at least partially comprised of an absorbent material adapted to absorb perspiration from the user's under arm and breast areas.

Another aspect of the invention relates to a perspiration shield. The perspiration shield comprises an absorbent portion shaped and adapted to absorb perspiration from at least the under arm area of a user. The perspiration shield also comprises an attachment portion contiguous with the absorbent portion, the attachment portion being shaped and adapted to attach the perspiration shield to a side strap of a bra by folding over the side strap.

A further aspect of the invention relates to a perspiration shield. The perspiration shield comprises an absorbent portion shaped and adapted to absorb perspiration from at least the under arm area of a user. An attachment portion is contiguous with the absorbent portion. The attachment portion is dimensioned, shaped, and adapted to removably attach the perspiration shield to a cup of the bra. Fabric adhesive is provided and positioned on the attachment portion so as to adhere to the cup of the bra.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will be described with respect to the following drawing figures, in which like numerals represent like structures throughout the views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an under arm/breast perspiration shield according to an embodiment of the invention, shown as attached to the bra of a user;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of an under arm/breast perspiration shield according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the under arm/breast perspiration shield of FIG. 2 as attached to the bra of a user;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of an under arm/breast perspiration shield without a fold-over securing portion according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is perspective view of the under arm/breast perspiration shield of FIG. 4 as attached to the bra of a user;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of an under arm/breast perspiration shield with rigidity-improving features, according to embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an under arm/breast perspiration shield according to another embodiment of the invention, shown as attached to the bra of a user;

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of the perspiration shield of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an under arm/breast perspiration shield with a sleeve flap according to embodiments of the invention, shown as attached to the bra of a user; and

FIGS. 10A-10D are sectional views of a number of different layer constructions for perspiration shields according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In general, embodiments of the invention provide perspiration shields that attach to the bra of a user and shield at least a portion of the under arm area and, in some embodiments, at least a portion of the breast area. Perspiration shields according to the invention may be lightweight and disposable.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a perspiration shield, generally indicated at 10, according to an embodiment of the invention, as installed on the bra 12 of a user U. The perspiration shield 10 generally comprises an absorbent portion 14, which is sized, shaped, and adapted to cover at least a portion of the under arm area and at least a portion of the breast area, and an attachment portion 16, which is adapted to attach to the side strap 24 of the bra 12 by folding over the side strap 24.

The perspiration shield 10 would generally have a thickness conducive to easy concealment under an outergarment, for example, a thickness of no more than a few millimeters. Typically, the perspiration shield 10 would be constructed of lightweight materials and, particularly, lightweight, low-cost materials that lend themselves to disposability. These features of the invention will be described below in more detail.

The absorbent portion 14 of FIG. 1 is installed on the bra 12 such that the widest portion of the absorbent portion 14 covers a portion of the breast area. As used herein, the term “breast portion” may describe any portion of the absorbent portion 14 or perspiration shield 10 that is constructed and arranged to fit under, around, or to the side of the breast and, more generally, may also describe any portion of the perspiration shield 10 that extends into the cup 20 of the bra 12.

Generally, the absorbent portion 14 is shaped such that a portion extends upwardly from the side strap 24 and terminates in the under arm region with an outwardly curved edge 25. The absorbent portion 14 widens toward its lower front, near the front of the bra 12, and terminates in an outwardly curved edge 27. The absorbent portion 14 may be constructed of any material of suitable absorbent properties and, in some embodiments, may be constructed of several layers of the same or different materials secured together. Particular examples of materials for the absorbent portion 14 will be given below.

The shape and size of the absorbent portion 14 shown in FIG. 1 may vary from embodiment to embodiment. In some embodiments, a larger absorbent portion 14, such as that shown in FIG. 1, may be designed to be cut or ripped by the user (i.e., by using scissors or taking advantage of perforation lines) to a size suitable for the individual user. In other embodiments, the absorbent portion 14, and perspiration shield 10 as a whole, may be made in different sizes to accommodate the sizing requirements of different users.

The attachment portion 16 is adapted to attach to the side strap 24 of the bra 12. As will be described below in more detail, the attachment portion 16 of FIG. 1 is a portion contiguous with the absorbent portion 14 that folds over itself and attaches to the side strap 24 of the bra 12. In order to facilitate attachment, fabric adhesive 18 may be provided on portions of the attachment portion 16. The attachment portion 16 may be made of the same or a different material than that of the absorbent portion 14 and may be made integrally with the absorbent portion 14 or attached by appropriate means during manufacture or before use. Fold lines (not shown in FIG. 1) may be formed in the attachment portion, if desired, to facilitate the folding-over of the attachment portion 16. The fabric adhesives 18 may be any type known in the art and, particularly, may be any type of adhesive that does not irritate the skin because contact with skin may occur, either directly or by residue that may remain on the side straps 24 of the bra 12.

The side straps 24 of typical bras 12 are reasonably consistent in width, despite differences among particular bras 12 in support cup 20 sizes and strap length. Therefore, an attachment portion of standard length (e.g., approximately 10-20 cm) may be sufficient to attach to most bras 12. However, as with the absorbent portion 14, the attachment portion 16 may be made in a variety of dimensions to accommodate different sizes, and may also be made such that it may be cut down or torn down (e.g., using perforation lines) to an appropriate size by the user.

Most side straps 24 of bras 12 provide a hem at least on the bottom edge of the strap. If the bra 12 includes a hem, it may be most convenient and effective to see that the attachment portion 16 is securely fastened to the hem, because the hem is typically one of the more rigid portions of the side strap 24.

Additionally, although fabric adhesive is described here as one option for fastening the attachment portion to the side strap 24 of the bra 12, conventional fasteners such as pins, safety pins, bobby pins, and buttons or snaps integrated into the attachment portion 16 may also be used. In addition, in some embodiments, the folded over attachment portion 16 itself, without adhesives or additional fasteners, may be sufficient to retain the perspiration shield 10 in place, particularly if the side strap 24 of the bra 12 is elastic and the tension in the strap 24 exerts a retaining force on the attachment portion 16.

In general, as shown in FIG. 1, the perspiration shield 10 is wedged between the bra 12 and the user's torso and is retained there by the bra 12, such that it is (and typically remains) in contact with the user's skin and has less of a tendency to shift or change position. The wedging effect of the bra 12 on the perspiration shield 10 may improve its ability to effectively and consistently absorb perspiration.

Although not required in all embodiments of the invention, the perspiration shield 10 has a portion terminating in curved edge 27 that rests in the bra cup 20 and constitutes a breast portion, as was described above. Thus, the perspiration shield 10 is anchored both by the attachment portion 16 and by the absorbent portion 14 resting in the bra cup 20. The wedging of the absorbent portion 14 in the bra cup 20, in addition to allowing absorption of moisture from the side and breast areas, adds to the wedging effect described above and contributes to the overall stability of the perspiration shield 10 during wear. In practice, the absorbent portion may extend at least several centimeters into the bra cup 20 and, in general, may extend into the bra cup 20 as far as desired, provided that it does not cause the user discomfort.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of a perspiration shield 100 according to another embodiment of the invention. In FIG. 2, and in other views, it should be understood that the two sides are, in general, mirror images of one another, unless otherwise noted. It should also be understood that the two sides or faces of perspiration shield 100, and other perspiration shields according to the invention, may have different absorptive properties in some embodiments.

Perspiration shield 100, like perspiration shield 10 described above, includes an absorbent portion 114 and an attachment portion 116. The absorbent portion 114 is of a substantially different shape than the absorbent portion 14 of the previous embodiment, and includes an inwardly curved edge 120 that serves as a breast portion. The inwardly curved edge 120 is substantially “C” shaped.

Curved edge portion 120 is adapted to fit into and around a part of the circumference of the bra cup 20 to act as a breast portion. In so doing, the curved edge portion 120 of the absorbent portion 114 provides the same general function as the outwardly curved edge 27 of perspiration shield 10. That is, in addition to absorbing moisture, curved edge portion 120 adds to the stability of the perspiration shield 100 by resting in and around the bra cup 20 and wedging the perspiration shield 100 into place against the torso.

Perspiration shield 100 also includes fabric adhesive 18 on the absorbent portion 114 just above the attachment portion 116 and along the curved edge portion 120 (i.e., so that the curved edge portion 120 may adhere to the bra cup 20). Also shown are areas where adhesive cover strips 122, 124 may be placed over the adhesive 18 to protect the adhesive 18 from loss of properties before use. The adhesive cover strips 122, 124 are conventional and may comprise, for example, polyethylene, polypropylene, or another material, such as waxed or silicone coated paper, which will adhere only lightly to the adhesive 18 to protect it without degrading the properties of the adhesive 18 upon removal. Typically, the adhesive cover strips 122, 124 would be removed by the user before use of the perspiration shield 100. Fabric adhesive 18 may be omitted from the opposite side of perspiration shield 100, and other perspiration shields according to the invention, so as to avoid direct adhesion to the user's skin.

Perspiration shield 100 may be constructed in any of the ways that perspiration shield 10 may be constructed and, in particular, need not include fabric adhesive 18 in some embodiments. Alternatively, perspiration shield 100 could include fabric adhesive 18 proximate to the attachment portion 116, but not along the curved edge 120.

Those of skill in the art will note that in some embodiments, the shape of perspiration shield 100 may make it suitable for either the left side of the user's body or the right side of the user's. Therefore, in those embodiments, if perspiration shields 100 are to be sold, they may be packaged so as to have an equal number of perspiration shields 100 of each type (e.g., left-sided perspiration shields 100 and right-sided perspiration shields 100).

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of perspiration shield 100 as attached to the bra 12 of a user U. As shown, the fabric adhesive 18 along the curved edge portion 120 allows the perspiration shield 100 to attach along the cup 20 and a portion of the overarm strap 22. As shown, perspiration shield 100 is also wedged against the user's torso by its fit inside the bra cup 20.

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of a perspiration shield 200 according to a further embodiment of the invention. Perspiration shield 200 includes an absorbent portion 114 essentially identical to the absorbent portion 114 of the perspiration shield 100. The absorbent portion 114 has a curved edge 120, fabric adhesive 18, and adhesive cover strips 122, 124. However, perspiration shield 200 does not include an attachment portion 16, 116. Instead, perspiration shield 200 is held in place by the fabric adhesive 18 and by the retaining forces exerted on it by the side straps 24, overarm straps 22, and cups 20 of the bra 12. FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing perspiration shield 200 attached to the bra 12 of a user U.

In some embodiments of the invention, rigidity-improving features may be added to reduce or prevent folding, crinkling, and/or unwanted movement of the absorbent portion 14, 114. FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of a perspiration shield 300 that includes rigidity-improving features. Perspiration shield 300 is identical in most respects to perspiration shield 200. Although rigidity-improving features are shown with respect to perspiration shield 300, it should be understood that rigidity-improving features may be included in any embodiment of the invention, if desired.

Perspiration shield 300 includes a pocket 302 along the rearward edge of the absorbent portion 114. Inside the pocket 302, an elongate rigidity tab 304 having greater rigidity than the material of the absorbent portion 114 is installed. The elongate rigidity tab 304 may be, for example, a thin plastic (e.g., polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), or polyethyleneterephthalate (PET)) tab, or a cardboard tab, among other potential materials. The elongate rigidity tab 304 provides some of the same functions as a collar stay, and, in general, materials used for conventional collar stays may be used for the elongate rigidity tab 304. The pocket 302 and elongate rigidity tab 304 may be made to any length and may also be contoured to follow the edge of the absorbent portion 114. Rigidity tab 304 lengths in the range of approximately 5-10 cm or less would be typical, depending on the size of the absorbent portion 114. More than one pocket 302 and rigidity tab 304 may be provided.

In some embodiments, the rigidity tab 304 may be removable from the pocket 302 so as to be reusable. In other embodiments, the rigidity tab 304 may not be removable from the pocket 302. Additionally, as will be described below in more detail, some embodiments of perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300 according to the invention may be made, at least in part, of plastic materials, or of other relatively rigid materials or composites of materials. If a portion of the perspiration shield 10, 100, 200, 300 is made of a plastic material or another material capable of being selectively thickened, a certain portion of that material may simply be thickened so as to constitute a rigidity-improving portion. Additionally, a rigidity tab 304 may be embedded, laminated, or otherwise made a part of a perspiration shield 10, 100, 200, 300 without the inclusion of a specific pocket 302 for it.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a perspiration shield 400 according to another embodiment of the invention, shown as installed in the bra 12 of a user U. In the view of FIG. 7, two perspiration shields 400 are shown, one on each side of the bra 12 of the user U. Perspiration shield 400 is absorbent and/or capable of wicking moisture away. Perspiration shield 400 does not include an attachment portion or fold-over flap; instead, perspiration shield 400 attaches to the bra 12 by fabric adhesives and by the wedging effect between the bra cup 20, the breast portion 402 of the perspiration shield 400, and the side strap 24 of the bra 12. As shown, some of the breast portion 402 is arranged to rest in the bra cup 20. Additionally, as in other embodiments, perspiration shield 400 extends upward from the side strap 24 and bra cup 20 to cover a portion of the under arm area. Although both perspiration shields 400 are not fully visible in the view of FIG. 7, the arrangement of the other perspiration shield 400 is identical to that of the perspiration shield 400 that is visible in FIG. 7.

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of one side of perspiration shield 400. As shown, perspiration shield 400 is generally rectangular in shape with rounded corners. The dimensions of perspiration shield 400 would generally be similar to those of other perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300 according to the invention. Additionally, although shown as being of unitary construction, perspiration shield 400 may be comprised of several different layers of material, as will be described below in more detail.

As in perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300 according to other embodiments of the invention, perspiration shield 400 includes fabric adhesive 18 on its lower edge. The fabric adhesive 18 is generally provided in an “L” shape, so that it extends along the lower edge 404 of the perspiration shield 400 as well as a portion of the forwardly-extending edge 406 of the breast portion 402. Also shown is the area where an adhesive cover strip 422 would be attached to protect the fabric adhesive 18 before use. With the arrangement of the fabric adhesive 18 shown in FIG. 8, the perspiration shield 400 attaches to the side strap 24 and rests in and attaches to the bra cup 20. As was described above, the fabric adhesive 18 contributes to the attachment and stability of the perspiration shield 400, but the perspiration shield 400 is also held in place by the wedging effect of the side strap 24 and bra cup 20.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of another perspiration shield 500, shown as attached to the bra 12 of a user U. Perspiration shield 500 is similar to perspiration shield 400 in many respects and attaches to the bra 12 in the same way as perspiration shield 400. As in perspiration shield 400 and other perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300 according to embodiments of the invention, perspiration shield 500 is absorbent and is capable of absorbing or wicking moisture away.

One difference between perspiration shield 500 and perspiration shield 400 is that perspiration shield 500 includes an additional sleeve flap 510 that extends upward and along the underside of the arm. Sleeve flap 510 provides additional protection for the user's sleeves, and may be positioned so as to hang in the sleeve. Typically, sleeve flap 510 would be comprised of an open-weave or lightweight material, and would be absorbent and/or capable of wicking perspiration away. However, sleeve flap 510 may be comprised of the same materials of which the main portion of the perspiration shield 500 is comprised. In some embodiments, the sleeve flap 510 may be slightly wider than other portions of the perspiration shield 500, and may widen as it extends upward or along the underside of the arm. Although shown in the context of perspiration shield 500, a sleeve flap 510 may be included in a perspiration shield 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to any embodiment of the invention.

Perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to embodiments of the invention may be made of a variety of materials, depending on the degree of absorbance desired, the desired cost of the final product, and the designed wear duration. A number of absorbent and superabsorbent materials are known in related arts and are used, for example, in disposable towels and napkins, sanitary napkins, and hospital bed shields. Those of skill in the art will readily be able to select appropriate materials, and certain non-limiting examples of specific appropriate materials will be given below.

As was described briefly above, perspiration shields according to the invention may be constructed of several layers of the same or different materials and may be sewn, laminated, fused, fixed with adhesives; or otherwise joined together to make the final product. FIGS. 10A-10D are sectional views illustrating the various layers of material that may comprise perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to embodiments of the invention. The sections shown and described with respect to FIGS. 10A-10D may be used with any of the perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 described above.

FIG. 10A illustrates a perspiration shield construction, generally indicated at 30, that includes three layers of material. A first layer of material 32 is an open-weave or otherwise light fabric or material that is used as a backing material. Attached to the first layer 32 is a thin, impermeable plastic layer 34, on top of which is provided a thicker layer of absorbent material 36. Typically, the absorbent material layer 36 would comprise the top surface of the absorbent portion 14, 114. The three layers 32, 34, 36 may be attached together or grouped together in any fashion, as was described above.

The section shown in FIG. 10A has certain advantages. The presence of a thicker layer of absorbent material 36 backed by a substantially impermeable layer 34 prevents fluid from seeping through the protective shield 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500. However, the first layer 32 of material may have some absorbent properties and may prevent the user from having direct skin contact with plastic or other evaporation-retarding impermeable materials, which would prevent perspiration from building up against a plastic layer. First layer 32 may also assist in wicking and evaporation of accumulated perspiration. In some embodiments of the invention, absorbent portion 14, 114 may comprise the full construction 30 shown in FIG. 10A, while attachment portion 16, 116 may comprise only the first layer 32 of open-weave fabric material. With respect to perspiration shield 500, sleeve flap 510 may also comprise only the first layer 32 of open-weave material.

FIG. 10B illustrates another perspiration shield construction, generally indicated at 40. Construction 40 includes a first layer 32 of open-weave fabric material. Attached to the first layer 32 is a thin, impermeable plastic layer 34, on top of which a thicker layer of absorbent material 36 is provided. These layers 32, 34, 36 are illustrated as being the same or substantially the same as those of construction 30 of FIG. 10A, although they may be different. Construction 40 includes an additional layer of open-weave or thin fabric material 32 on top of the thicker layer of absorbent material 36. The additional layer of open-weave or thin fabric material would typically be the same material as that of first layer 32, although it may be different in some embodiments.

In general, the dual layers 32 of open-weave or light fabric material may provide additional benefits in the wicking and evaporation of perspiration. Using construction 40, the absorbent portion 14, 114 of the perspiration shield 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 may comprise the full construction 40, while the attachment portion 16, 116, if provided, may comprise one or both layers of open-weave fabric material 32. If both layers of open-weave fabric material 32 are used as the attachment portion 16, 116, they may be sewn, adhered, fused, or otherwise attached together.

FIG. 10C illustrates another perspiration shield construction, generally indicated at 50. Construction 50 includes a layer of open-weave or thin fabric material 32 with thicker layers of absorbent material 36 attached on each side. Construction 50 thus provides absorbance on both sides of the perspiration shield 10, 100, 200, 300. Because of the relatively soft absorbent material 36 on both sides of the shield 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 construction 50 may be particularly comfortable to wear. Additionally, because there is no impervious layer 34, construction 50 may be cooler for a user to wear. As with the other constructions, the layer of open-weave or thin material 32 alone may comprise the attachment portion 16, 116, or the sleeve flap 510, if those features are provided.

FIG. 10D illustrates another perspiration shield construction, generally indicated at 60. Construction 60 includes a thin, substantially impermeable layer 34, on both sides of which are attached thicker absorbent layers 36. The substantially impermeable layer 34 in the center may prevent perspiration from migrating from one absorbent layer 36 to the absorbent layer 36 on the reverse side. Using construction 60, the impermeable layer 34 may comprise the attachment portion 16, 116.

In addition to the constructions 30, 40, 50, 60 illustrated in FIGS. 10A-10D, perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to the invention may include other layers as necessary or desired to increase absorbance, to prevent migration of perspiration from one layer to another, or to provide an absorbent or otherwise appropriate skin-perspiration shield interface on both sides of the perspiration shield 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500. In most embodiments, regardless of the number of layers included, the overall thickness will not exceed a few millimeters, or another thickness that can be conveniently worn and readily concealed beneath outerwear.

As an aid to concealment, perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to the invention may be tinted or given concealing colors, such as various skin tones. Additionally, in some embodiments, perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 may other concealing colors, such as standard clothing colors (e.g., white, black, pink, and red). Tinting may be accomplished by adding the appropriate portion of colored dyes to at least some of the various layers 32, 34, 36 that comprise the perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500. Additionally, a separate layer or layers may be included solely for tinting purposes.

EXAMPLES

Certain specific examples of perspiration shield construction may be helpful in understanding the kinds of materials that may be used in perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to the invention. However, as was noted above, the examples presented here are not intended to be limiting; those of skill in the art may implement embodiments of the invention using different materials.

Example 1

A perspiration shield having the general appearance and configuration of perspiration shield 10 of FIG. 1 was constructed using layer construction 30 of FIG. 10A. (Certain dimensions will be given with respect to FIG. 2 because that figure better lends itself to dimension lines and because the particular dimensions are not critical.) The perspiration shield 10 has a length (e.g., dimension line L of FIG. 2) of approximately 25 cm, an absorbent portion 114 height (e.g., dimension line H of FIG. 2) of approximately 13 cm, an attachment portion 16 length (e.g., dimension line AL of FIG. 2) of approximately 10 cm at the shortest point, and an attachment portion 16 height (e.g., dimension line AH of FIG. 2) of 13 cm. The attachment portion 16 of this example was right trapezoidal in overall shape, with the attachment portion 16 having a length of 17 cm immediately adjacent to the absorbent portion and decreasing therefrom along one edge to the 10 cm length at the parallel edge farthest from the absorbent portion 14. The absorbent portion 14 had the overall D-shape shown in FIG. 1; dimensions given here refer to the broadest or widest point in the shape.

The first layer 32 of this example was constructed from a readily available open-weave disposable dry baby washcloth (Item #470; distributed by Toys“R”Us, Paramus, N.J., United States). In order to form the absorbent portion, a number of pantyliners were sewn to the first layer 32/disposable washcloth using a zigzag stitch.

The pantyliners are generally rectangular in overall shape, individually approximately 5 cm in width and 15 cm in length with curved ends on the thinner sides. Each pantyliner includes an absorbent layer and an integral plastic substantially impermeable layer; in essence, the pantyliner contains both layers 34 and 36 of construction 30, and may also contain other layers as well. Because of the limited width of the individual pantyliners, four of them were sewn side-by-side to form the absorbent portion 114. Zigzag stitching was provided along each outer edge of the absorbent portion 14. Fabric adhesive was not provided in this particular example. Although several pantyliners were sewn side-by-side to form the absorbent portion 14, in other embodiments, the layers that comprise the absorbent portion 14 may be unitary.

In testing, the relative rigidity of the pantyliners was found to substantially prevent unwanted crinkling and folding of the perspiration shield 10. Additionally, the pantyliners carried a light fragrance. Fragrance may optionally be included in some embodiments of the invention.

Example 2

A perspiration shield having the general appearance and configuration of perspiration shield 10 of FIG. 1 was constructed using layer construction 40 of FIG. 10B. The perspiration shield 10 of this example had the same general size and dimensions as that of Example 1, and was comprised of the same materials.

On top of the layer of four pantyliners sewn side-by-side, an additional layer of open-weave disposable washcloth 32 was sewn using zigzag stitching, forming layer construction 40 of FIG. 10B. The two layers of disposable washcloth 32 were sewn together in the areas not covered by the pantyliners to form the attachment portion 16, as was described above.

Example 3

A perspiration shield having the general appearance and configuration of perspiration shield 100 of FIG. 2 was constructed using layer construction 30 of FIG. 10A. The layers, materials, and overall dimensions were approximately the same as those for Example 1. A single pantyliner was cut to an appropriate curved shape and was sewn horizontally (i.e., with respect to the orientation of the other pantyliners) to form the lower, breast portion of the curved edge 120. All edges of the cut pantyliner were hemmed with zigzag stitches, which also served to attach the pantyliner to the disposable washcloth first layer 32.

Example 4

A perspiration shield having the general appearance and configuration of perspiration shield 100 of FIG. 2 was constructed generally in accordance with layer construction 60 of FIG. 10D. The overall dimensions were approximately the same as those of Example 1. However, the perspiration shield of this example included a pocket 302 and rigidity tab 304, as will be described below.

A floor protection pad for adult dogs was used as the substantially impermeable layer 34. The protection pad is similar to hospital bed protection pads and comprises a thin outer (i.e., floor-facing) layer of impermeable plastic attached to a very slightly thicker inner layer of absorbent material. The floor protection pad was cut to the general shape shown in FIG. 2, and a portion of the floor protection pad was shaped to form the attachment portion 116. (Thus, the attachment portion 116 included the thin absorbent layer of the floor protection pad as well as the floor protection pad's impermeable layer.)

On each side of the floor protection pad, a cut-to-shape portion of a smooth, soft, single-ply paper napkin approximately 1 mm thick was sewn with zigzag stitching to the floor protection pad to serve as an absorbent layer 36, resulting in overall layer construction 60. Because of the thin absorbent layer provided by the floor protection pad, the absorbent layer on one side of the perspiration shield of this example was slightly thicker than the absorbent layer 36 of the other side.

In addition to those features, a pocket 302 with a length of approximately 7 cm and a width of approximately 2 cm was formed in the absorbent portion 114 approximately 2 cm from the right edge of the absorbent portion 114 (with respect to the coordinate system of FIG. 6) by single lines of stitching through the perspiration shield, defining a partial pocket with two long sides and a short closed end. In order to open one end of the pocket for use, a slit parallel to the line of stitching defining the short closed end was cut in the appropriate place in the napkin serving as an absorbent layer 36, thereby defining the pocket 302 between the napkin serving as the absorbent layer 36 and the floor protection pad serving as the substantially impregnable layer 34 of the absorbent portion 114.

A conventional collar stay approximately 8 cm long and 1 cm wide was inserted into the pocket 302 to serve as a rigidity tab 304. In this example, the collar stay serving as the rigidity tab 304 was slightly longer than the pocket 302 in order to facilitate removal. However, as was described above, the rigidity tab 304 may be shorter than the pocket 302 and may be completely sewn into it.

Testing demonstrated that although the perspiration shield 100 of this example did not include fabric adhesives, fabric adhesives may be useful to secure the perspiration shield 100 of this example. The rigidity tab 304 was used because this perspiration shield 100 was thinner and, thus, more prone to folding and crinkling than those of Examples 1-3.

Example 5

A perspiration shield having the general appearance and configuration of perspiration shield 100 of FIG. 2. The overall dimensions were approximately the same as those of Example 1. The layer construction of the perspiration shield 100 according to this example differed somewhat from the general cases presented in FIGS. 10A-10D, as will be explained below in more detail.

The base or first layer of the perspiration shield 100 according to this example comprised a cut-to-shape portion of a smooth, soft, single-ply paper napkin approximately 1 mm thick, rather than the disposable washcloth of Example 1. The single-ply paper napkin serving as the first layer had a closed weave as compared with the disposable washcloth, but its absorbance and wicking capabilities were found to be similar or equivalent in the context of the invention to those of the open-weave disposable washcloth. The attachment portion 116 was comprised entirely of the paper napkin.

Attached to the first layer of paper napkin side-by-side by means of their existing adhesive were one and one half thin feminine napkins. At the curved edge 120, the paper napkin first layer was cut so as to extend approximately 1 cm beyond the corresponding cut and shaped curved edge of the feminine napkins. The additional 1 cm fringe of paper napkin without the additional padding of the feminine napkins was found to insert well under the bra, so as to provide more stability.

The feminine napkins used in this example are generally comprised of an enveloping plastic layer, inside of which is a thickness of more absorbent material. On one side, the enveloping plastic layer is continuous and coated with fabric adhesive; on the other, perforations allow moisture to penetrate and be absorbed. In this example, the feminine napkins were not secured to the first or base layer with anything other than their existing adhesive. However, in some embodiments, the existing adhesive may be reinforced by additional adhesive, stitching, fusion, or other methods of attachment.

After testing, it appeared that the long-term tensile strength and wet tensile strength of the paper napkin were less than those of the disposable washcloth used in the other examples. Despite the apparent difference in strength between the disposable washcloth and the paper napkin of this example, the paper napkin may be less expensive than the disposable washcloth and, thus, may be desirable in some embodiments.

Example 6

A perspiration shield having the general appearance and configuration of perspiration shield 100 of FIG. 2 was constructed generally in accordance with layer construction 50 of FIG. 10C. The overall dimensions were approximately the same as those of Example 1.

The first or base layer of material 32 in this example was the same disposable washcloth as used in Example 1. On each side of the first or base layer, double-thickness cut sections (i.e., two plies per side) of thick, smooth paper napkins were sewn with straight stitches in order to act as absorbent layers 36 of the absorbent portion 114, forming layer construction 50. Additionally, in order to promote adhesion between the first layer 32 and the napkins acting as absorbent layers 36, rows of straight stitches extending parallel to dimension line H of FIG. 2 were sewn through the absorbent portion 114 at approximately 1.5 cm intervals. Approximately 10 lines of straight stitches were used in total. As in previous examples, the first layer 32 alone comprised the attachment portion 116. Unlike in Example 4, the first layer 32 and the absorbent layers 36 terminated at the same point along the curved edge 120. Although the perspiration shield 100 of this example was fabricated without rigidity-improving features such as pocket 302 and rigidity tab 304, such features could be included.

As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, Examples 1-6 were constructed of readily available materials and consumer products having general properties that make them suitable for inclusion in perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to embodiments of the invention. However, perspiration shields 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 according to embodiments of the invention may be constructed from other suitable materials, and raw materials, as well.

While the invention has been described with respect to certain embodiments and particular examples, the embodiments and examples described are intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting. Modifications and variations may be made within the scope of the appended claims.