Title:
Intergrated, coordinated protective article and garment for continuous use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An integrated, coordinated protective article and garment for continuous use is provided, which comprises: a garment having a shirt or suit portion; a protective shield for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the shirt or suit portion, respectively; and an array of detachable snap fasteners distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield. The garment also has fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted. In addition, the shield is provided in colors, designs or the like for ready aesthetic coordination with the garment when the shield is attached thereto.



Inventors:
Chen, Molly Frances (Leonardtown, MD, US)
Application Number:
12/082926
Publication Date:
10/16/2008
Filing Date:
04/14/2008
Assignee:
Bibs and Match LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B13/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VANATTA, AMY B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLLACK, P.C. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An integrated protective article and garment for continuous use, which comprises: a garment having a shirt portion; a protective shield for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the shirt portion; and an array of detachable snap fasteners distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield, the garment having fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted.

2. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the shield extends from one shoulder of the user to the other.

3. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the shield extends from at least one side of the wearer's head and over the adjacent sleeve thereof;

4. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the shield extends to the waistline of the wearer.

5. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the shield extends below the waistline of the wearer.

6. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the shield extends across the rib cage of the wearer.

7. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the snap fasteners are constructed of a metallic material, polymeric material, resinous material or a combination thereof.

8. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 1, wherein the shield is constructed of a selected, relatively flexible absorbent material, semi-absorbent material, impermeable material, semi-impermeable material, or any combination thereof.

9. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 8, wherein the shield is constructed of a material having a first color and the garment is constructed of a material having either the same color as that of the shield material or a second color that coordinates with the first color.

10. An integrated protective article and garment for continuous use, which comprises: a garment having a one piece suit portion; a protective shield for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the suit portion; and an array of detachable snap fasteners distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield, the garment having fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted.

11. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the shield extends from one shoulder of the user to the other.

12. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the shield extends from at least one side of the wearer's head and over the adjacent sleeve thereof;

13. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the shield extends to the waistline of the wearer.

14. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the shield extends below the waistline of the wearer.

15. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the shield extends across the rib cage of the wearer.

16. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the snap fasteners are constructed of a metallic material, polymeric material, resinous material or a combination thereof.

17. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 10, wherein the shield is constructed of a selected, relatively flexible absorbent material, semi-absorbent material, impermeable material, semi-impermeable material, or any combination thereof.

18. The integrated article and garment set forth in claim 16, wherein the shield is constructed of a material having a first color and the garment is constructed of a material having either the same color as that of the shield material or a second color that coordinates with the first color.

19. A method of integrating and coordinating a continuous use protective article with a selected garment, the method comprising the steps of: selecting a garment having a suit portion for the wearer, the garment having a first color and/or design; selecting a protective shield having the same color and/or design as the garment or having a second color and/or design that coordinates with that of the first, the shield being suitably configured for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the suit portion, an array of detachable snap fasteners being distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield, the garment having fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield; and securing the shield to the garment using the snap fasteners so as to coordinate the shield aesthetically with the garment while rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment is restricted.

Description:

This application is based on U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/911,538, filed Apr. 13, 2007, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to safety and fashion and, more particularly, to fashionable articles for protecting clothing of young children and the disabled during feeding, teething or the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional articles for protecting the clothing of young children, particularly infants, during feeding take the form of relatively small bibs which are intended to catch food and drink spillage, drool and dribble. The articles need not be small, having also been enlarged and adapted for use by the disabled including mentally retarded adults. Whether for children or adults, these bibs typically comprise a section of cloth or flexible plastic material formed in a circular or oval shape with one or more extensions that are wrapped around the wearer's neck and secured, either by mating snap fasteners, VELCRO or ties that require a knot.

While somewhat useful in protecting clothing immediately below the wearer's mouth, by encircling the neck of a wearer who often has limited cognitive capacity, these bibs frequently pose a strangulation hazard, especially when the wearer is mobile. More specifically, in the case of an infant, while crawling around, walking and squeezing through relatively tight quarters, the bib, it has been found, often catches readily on nearby objects such as armrests of chairs, table edges and other portions of furniture, thereby snaring and choking the infant. In addition, these bibs are otherwise unrestrained, being attached to the child's neck in a manner that allows them to rotate freely. Once they have rotated to the side or rear of the infant's head, they not only become a hazard but are also rendered inoperative for their intended purpose, namely, for catching spillage, drool and dribble.

Moreover, given that the bib is attached to the wearer in such a manner that it moves about freely in multiple degrees of freedom, the bib structure itself is loose and can readily flop over the wearer's face, particularly his/her nose and mouth. While of relatively less concern when the infant or disabled user is awake, the bib may easily flap over the wearer's face while he/she is sleeping, or in the case of infants who spend many hours of the day in a horizontal position, the bib can flop easily over the wearer's face posing a suffocation hazard. Similarly, while the wearer is awake, he/she may readily place the bottom part of the bib in their mouth and cause them to choke.

A further disadvantage of conventional bibs is difficulty and inconvenience in removing them from the wearer, who is typically an infant or a person who is large physically but may be mentally incapacitated. Often times, this leads to the mother or medical attendant leaving the bib on the wearer for extended periods of time such as during exercise or sleep. This increases the probability of choking and/or suffocation.

Another approach to protection of garments has been to provide a bib that uses cooperating hook and pile strips, i.e., VELCRO, fasteners to secure the bib to the wearer's garment. Although bibs of this sort are relatively easy to use and, thus, in rather widespread use, hook and pile fasteners, especially the hook portions of the strip, have been found very difficult to clean thoroughly and are often a source of disease causing bacteria and viruses. Such unsanitary conditions, particularly near the head of the wearer, are of particular concern when these bibs are used by infants whose immunity systems are not yet fully developed.

Moreover, in being prone to unsanitary conditions, the hook portions of the strip must be washed frequently and thoroughly by the wearer's mother or other attendant. If the hook portions are left exposed during washing, i.e., are not secured to the pile strip, however, as is necessary to maximize exposure of the hook surfaces to kill bacteria and viruses, the hook portions snare and often damage other clothing in the load of wash being run. Hence, each time the bib becomes soiled, to even attempt to clean the hook portions, the mother or attendant must wash the bib separately from other items in the wash but yet with no assurance that the hook and pile fasteners near the head of the wearer will be free from disease causing bacteria and viruses.

Other arrangements for protecting clothing during feeding include a bib that attaches to the garment by straps that feed through cooperating holes or slots in the bib to secure the bib to the front of the garment. Although these bibs are restricted from rotation about the wearer's head, there is considerable risk of choking from the wearer placing bottom portions of the bib in their mouth, or suffocation since the bib flap is free to flop over the wearer's mouth during sleep.

Still another drawback of conventional bibs has been their relative size and shape, given their intended audience. More specifically, the wearer, whether an infant or a disabled person, are often prone to involuntary and/or illogical movements. For example, sudden movements of the head to one side or the other, or up and down, during feeding causes food and drink spillage, dribble and drool to flow down the wearer's shoulder or side, or well below the length of the bib and, in any event, not according to the shape of traditional bibs.

Furthermore, traditional bibs are typically constructed according to function and cost savings rather than fashion and safety. More specifically, these bibs minimize coverage of the wearer's garment and, in turn, the amount of material that must be used in their construction. While garments worn by infants and the disabled span a vast variety of styles, colors and patterns, bibs are typically provided in a single color and/or in a pattern with single or multiple colors. While somewhat functional, they have been found considerably unfashionable.

While the aforementioned approaches are considered relatively effective in protecting those portions of the wearer's garment that are immediately below the user's mouth while the wearer is stationary or in other positions that are not realistic in practice, they are considered not only hazardous, inconvenient and unfashionable, but also ineffective for their intended use, namely, insuring protection of the wearer's garment, in its entirety, from becoming soiled and stained. Hence, conventional bibs are also considered unacceptable for continuous, prolonged use.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a combination bib and garment assembly that is adapted for continuous, prolonged use without hazard to the wearer.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a bib that may be readily secured to a coordinating garment such that the bib does not rotate to either side or to the back of the wearer.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a bib that readily attaches to and detaches from a coordinating garment, rather than wrapping around a wearer's neck, and thereby avoids the risk of strangulation.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a bib that is secured uniformly and completely to the garment so as to eliminate choking and suffocation hazards to the wearer.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a bib that not only covers substantially the wearer's chest and abdomen, but is also secured both to the top and bottom of the wearer's garment and, thereby, prevents him/her from stuffing the bib in their mouth during use.

Still a further object of the present invention is to provide a bib that suitably protects the user's garment from becoming soiled and/or stained, while being secured both to the top and bottom of the wearer's garment such that upon flopping of the bib over the wearer's face, e.g., when he/she is sleeping or is otherwise in a horizontal position, the risk of suffocation is prevented.

Yet a further object of the present invention is to provide a bib that is sanitary for reuse by infants and small children.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a bib with receptacle type fasteners that insure cleanliness and ease in washing the bib with garments and other fabrics.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an integrated bib and garment assembly that may be washed effectively, either together as an integrated unit or the bib separately from the garment.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide bibs having colors, designs or the like for ready aesthetic coordination with a garment when the bib is attached over the garment, such that the garment and/or its colors and designs are still visible and coordinate attractively and cohesively with the color and/or design of the bibs.

Still another object of the present invention is to prevent staining of a wearer's garment and, thereby, prolong the useful life of the user's clothing.

According to one aspect of the present invention, an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment for continuous use is provided, which comprises: a garment having a shirt portion; a protective shield for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the shirt portion; and an array of detachable snap fasteners distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield. The garment has fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding over, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided an integrated protective article and garment for continuous use, comprising: a garment having a one piece suit portion; a protective shield for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the suit portion; and an array of detachable snap fasteners distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield. The garment including fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding over, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted.

According to a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of integrating and coordinating a protective article with a selected garment. Initially, a garment is selected having a suit portion for the wearer, the garment having a first color and/or design. Next, a protective shield is selected, the shield having the same color and/or design as the garment or having a second color and/or design that coordinates with that of the first. The shield is suitably configured for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the suit portion. In addition, an array of detachable snap fasteners is distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield. The garment also has fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield. Finally, the shield is secured to the garment using the snap fasteners so as to coordinate the shield aesthetically with the garment while rotational and lateral movements, and folding over, of the shield relative to the garment is restricted.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment assembly, according to one aspect of the present invention, having receptacle type fasteners along the neckline and bottom sides of the article and wearer's torso;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the garment portion of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 1 showing the array of receptacle type fasteners along the neckline and bottom sides of the wearer's torso;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment assembly, in accordance with another aspect of the present invention, with additional receptacle type fasteners along the neckline of the article;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the garment portion of the assembly shown in FIG. 3 showing the array of receptacle type fasteners along the neckline and bottom sides of the article and wearer's torso, with the additional receptacle type fasteners along the neckline;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of a garment portion of an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment assembly, according to a further aspect of the present invention, having receptacle type fasteners along the neckline and on the sides of the article and wearer's torso;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the garment illustrated in FIG. 5 with the protective article at half length attached to the garment at each of the corresponding mating receptacle type fasteners;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of an integrated, coordinated protective full length garment, according to still another aspect of the present invention, having receptacle type fasteners along the neckline and on the sides of the article and wearer's torso for engagement with corresponding mating fasteners on a protective article;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the garment illustrated in FIG. 7 showing the protective article attached to the garment at each of the corresponding mating receptacle type fasteners.

FIG. 9 is a plan view of an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment assembly, in accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, with receptacle type fasteners along the neckline, bottom sides, and bottom of the article;

FIG. 10 is a plan view of the garment portion shown in FIG. 9 with the corresponding mating fasteners along the neckline, bottom side, and bottom of the article;

FIG. 11 is a plan view of an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment assembly, according to another aspect of the present invention, with receptacle type fasteners along the neckline, bottom sides, and bottom of the article; and

FIG. 12 is a plan view of the garment portion shown in FIG. 11 with the corresponding mating fasteners along the neckline, bottom side, and bottom of the article.

The same numerals are used throughout the drawing figures to designate similar elements. Still other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings and, more particularly, to FIGS. 1-12, there is shown generally an integrated, coordinated protective article and garment assembly for continuous, prolonged use, according to various aspects of the present invention. In one embodiment, illustrated generally in FIG. 1, an article and garment assembly 10 is provided, which comprises a garment 20 having a shirt portion 22; a protective shield 30 for covering substantially a chest section 23 and an abdomen section 24 of the shirt portion; and an array of detachable snap fasteners 31 distributed about selected peripheral portions 32 of the shield. The garment also includes fasteners 21 about peripheral portions 25 thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners 31 on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted.

Preferably, shield 30 takes the form of a bib 33 which forms a protective layer 34 over a selected portion of the garment, and desirably the front and side portions thereof, in order to prevent soiling and staining of the garment due to food and drink spillage, dribble and drool from an infant, small child, disabled or mentally retarded person, or other in need of assistance during feeding. Concurrently, the present invention is suitable for continuous, prolonged use by the wearer, such as infants who drool continuously as during teething or others who have limited or no anti-drooling reflex or cannot otherwise control their drool.

Simultaneously, in providing an array of securement points about the surface of the garment, looseness of the article about the user's head eliminates hazards such as bib strangulation, suffocation, and choking while, in being prevented from rotating to the side or back of the wearer's neck, also enhances protection of the garment from spillage, dribble and drool. Alternatively or concurrently, as illustrated in FIGS. 9-12, the bib has one or more side members such as shoulder flaps that are also attached to the garment, and preferably by snap fastener to a top shoulder portion thereof, for catching food and drink spillage, dribble and drool upon voluntary or involuntary head movements of the wearer.

Suitable fasteners 21, 31, 41, 51, desirably those of a mating receptacle type, e.g., snaps or the like, are utilized according to the various embodiments set forth in this disclosure. While snap fasteners are preferred, those skilled in the art will appreciate that other suitable fasteners may be employed, within the spirit and scope of the present invention. More specifically, however, hook and loop fasteners and other fasteners that are difficult to clean and/or maintain in a sanitary condition are considered generally undesirable for purposes of the present invention.

It is preferred that the fasteners be positioned in an array about the periphery of the article such that movement of the article laterally, axially and rotationally about the cooperating surface of the garment is minimized or substantially eliminated. According to one embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-8, the article or bib is attached to the garment using mating fasteners arranged along the neckline of the garment and corresponding portions of the article. Concurrently, mating fasteners 21, 31, 41, 51 are provided on the torso (middle section) of the garment to attach the bib to the mating fasteners of the garment. Alternatively or concurrently, as set forth in FIGS. 9-12, receptacle type snap fasteners 21 are located toward or at the bottom of the bib for attaching the bib to the corresponding and cooperating mating fasteners on the garment. In this manner, more complete securement of the bib to the garment is provided for temporary or prolonged use.

Further in the alternative or concurrently therewith, the integrated protective article and garment assembly serves as a fashionable coordinating system for the wearer, readily accommodating a variety of clothing colors, sizes and styles. A system of this general description is shown, for example, in FIGS. 7-8. In addition to improving safety, the array of fasteners address the hazards of bib strangulation, bib suffocation, bib rotating to the side or back of the neck as well as the problem of covering a motif or design on the garment or otherwise failing to coordinate with the garment aesthetically. In this manner, the present invention provides a mix and match design that coordinates the bib design with the garment design so that the printed or other design created on the garment coordinates fashionably with the bib.

Preferably, the bib is constructed, in whole or in part, by any suitable conventional or non-conventional fluid permeable material, fluid impermeable material, or any combination thereof, given consideration to the purpose for which the present invention is intended. Additionally, it is preferred that a plurality of receptacle type fasteners be located along and/or otherwise follow the neck line of the wearer that corresponds to the garment, in general, for effective use of the invention.

The receptacle type or other sanitary fasteners may be of a conventional structure and constructed of any material including, but not limited to, a metallic material, resinous material, polymeric material, or combination thereof, within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Concurrently, one or a plurality of receptacle type or other sanitary fasteners are used on the sides of the bib, preferably toward the bottom thereof that correspond to mating snaps on the garment. As those skilled in the art will appreciate, the receptacle type fasteners on the bib can be male or female for cooperating with corresponding female or male receptacle type fasteners on the garment.

Generally speaking, the bib may be worn with or without the coordinating garment. The garment, like the bib, can be made of any permeable or impermeable material, or in any combination thereof, according to the present invention. The garment may also be sized to any user, in proportion to the directives set forth herein, and may shaped and configured suitably for any purpose of use including, but not limited to, a long sleeve, short sleeve, romper style, footed style, shirt style, onesie style, sleeveless, sleeper style, dress style, or overall style, according to user preference and the fashionable effect desired.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, as best seen in FIGS. 7-8, there is provided an integrated protective article and garment assembly 10, comprising: a garment 40 having a one piece suit portion 42; a protective shield 50 for covering substantially a chest section 43 and an abdomen section 44 of the suit portion; and an array of detachable snap fasteners 51 distributed about selected peripheral portions 52 of the shield. The garment has fasteners 41 about peripheral portions 45 thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners 51 on the shield, such that rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment are restricted.

Turning now to a further aspect of the present invention, a method is provided for integrating and coordinating a protective article with a selected garment. Initially, a garment is selected having a suit portion for the wearer, the garment having a first color and/or design. Next, a protective shield is selected, the shield having the same color and/or design as the garment or having a second color and/or design that coordinates with that of the first. The shield is suitably configured for covering substantially the chest and abdomen of the suit portion.

In addition, an array of detachable snap fasteners is distributed about selected peripheral portions of the shield, the garment also having fasteners about peripheral portions thereof arranged for mating engagement with cooperating fasteners on the shield. Finally, the shield is secured to the garment using the snap fasteners so as to coordinate the shield aesthetically with the garment while rotational and lateral movements, and folding, of the shield relative to the garment is restricted. Desirably, the bib carries and extends the same color and/or design as that on the garment so even when the bib is on the wear, the design element on the garment can show through in an exact color and/or design or in one or more coordinating/matching colors and/or designs.

Although the present invention has been shown and described with a bib having a generally rectangle-like shape, those skilled in the art will appreciate that it may be formed in other shapes and configurations, giving consideration to the purpose for which the present invention is intended.

In addition, while the present invention has been illustrated for use or integration with conventional garments for infants, it shall be understood that the garment may be of any conventional or non-conventional style, size, and material, provided that receptacle type fasteners can be used suitably for attachment to and coordination with the protective shield, e.g., bib.

Overall, the present invention provides an integrated protective shield or bib and garment assembly wherein the bib concurrently is matched to the garment for creative design coordination while being attached directly to the garment to provide functional benefits as well. By attaching the bib both along the frontal neckline of the garment as well as around the torso or middle section of the garment using receptacle type fasteners (such as metal and/or resin snaps), the present invention provides absorption and protection from spillage, dribble and drool, while preventing the bib from rotating to the side or back of the garment as well as strangulation hazards. Using attachments located the torso or middle/bottom section of the bib to the garment prevents the bib flap from flopping over the wearer's face and, in turn, eliminates the risk of suffocation. A further benefit of the present invention is that the bib may be easily removed, and a new, clean one matched to the wearer's garment, or alternatively, the bib may be left on the wearer throughout the day for continuous, prolonged use without risk of strangulation, choking or suffocation.

Advantageously, the bib and garment coordinating system attaches a bib directly to the garment, with sanitary fasteners, for ready cleaning and reuse. Positioning of the receptacle type fasteners in an array, both along the neckline and lower sides and/or bottom secure the bib to provide an added layer of protection while affixing the bib to the front of the garment so that rotation of the bib to the side or back of the wearer's neck is prevented. By securing the bib in this fashion, i.e., in an array about peripheral portions thereof and directly on to the garment surface, prevents the risk of strangulation that exist with conventional bibs that wrap around the wearer's neck. Similarly, locating fasteners on the bottom and/or lower sides of the bib eliminate the risk of suffocation or choking when the wearer is sleeping or otherwise in a horizontal position.

Various modifications and alterations may be appreciated based on a review of this disclosure. These changes and additions are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the present invention, as defined by in the following claims.





 
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