Title:
BIB
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The disclosure provides a textile composition and bib for use by infants and adults.



Inventors:
Young, Jennifer (Santa Clara, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/172184
Publication Date:
01/22/2009
Filing Date:
07/11/2008
Assignee:
Young, Jennifer (Santa Clara, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B13/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VANATTA, AMY B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Joseph R. Baker, APC (San Diego, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bib comprising: a layer of absorbent material; a laminated composite comprising: a breathable material; and a water resistant or water repellant material laminated to the breathable absorbent material, wherein the water resistant or water repellant material of the laminated composite faces outwardly; wherein the breathable material is located between the water resistant or water repellant material and the layer of absorbent material; a neck encompassing section comprising a substantially circular opening for the neck of a subject, the opening comprising a proximal portion; and a distal portion, the distal portion comprising a coupling, where in the coupling fastens at the distal portion around the subject's neck; and a body section of the bib that is a larger semicircular shape than the neck section.

2. The bib of claim 1, wherein the layer of absorbent material comprises cotton, terri-cloth, rayon, wool, corduroy, nylon, fleece, chenille, denim or a cotton-polyester material.

3. The bib of claim 1, wherein the coupling is selected from the group consisting of a hook-loop system, a snap, and a button.

4. The bib of claim 1, wherein the breathable material comprises an intimate blend fabric.

5. The bib of claim 1, wherein the breathable material comprises a cotton-polyester blend.

6. The bib of claim 1, wherein the water resistant or water repellant material comprises a polymeric material.

7. The bib of claim 6, wherein the polymeric material comprises a polymeric film material.

8. The bib of claim 7, wherein the polymeric film is selected from the group consisting of a urethane polymer, an acrylic latex polymer, a butyl, latex, a silicone, a neoprene rubber, a polyolefin, a polyvinylchloride, and a polysulfone.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 from Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/949,049, filed Jul. 11, 2007 the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a textile composition and bib for use by infants and adults.

BACKGROUND

As is known, infants during teething drool and during eating often drop and drool bits of liquid and food. Most bibs consist of an absorbent material to assist in adsorption of liquid. However, most of these bibs, although absorbent, do not prevent transfer of the absorbed material through to the underside of the bib and onto the infant or adults clothing. As will be appreciated, such regular changing of bibs is necessary in order to keep the underclothes dry. This is particularly important in cold weather locations. There are bibs currently produced that have pouches and an liquid resistant material on the front of the bib. These bibs served to funnel liquid and food to the pouch. Such bibs are often made of materials that are artificial in nature (i.e., various plastic polymers) and are bulky and lack flexibility.

SUMMARY

The invention provides a bib comprising: a layer of absorbent material; a laminated composite comprising: a breathable material; and a water resistant or water repellant material laminated to the breathable absorbent material, wherein the water resistant or water repellant material of the laminated composite faces outwardly; wherein the breathable material is located between the water resistant or water repellant material and the layer of absorbent material; a neck encompassing section comprising a substantially circular opening for the neck of a subject, the opening comprising a proximal portion; and a distal portion, the distal portion or sides comprising a coupling, where in the coupling fastens at the distal portion around the subject's neck; and a body section of the bib that is a larger semicircular shape than the neck section.

In various aspects, the layer of absorbent material can comprise cotton, terri-cloth, rayon, wool, corduroy, nylon, fleece, chenille, denim or a cotton-polyester material. In other aspects, the coupling is selected from the group consisting of a hook-loop system (e.g. velcro), a snap, and a button. In yet a further aspect, the breathable material comprises an intimate blend fabric. The breathable material can comprise a cotton-polyester blend. The water resistant or water repellant material can comprise a polymeric material such as a polymeric film material (e.g., a urethane polymer, an acrylic latex polymer, a butyl, latex, a silicone, a neoprene rubber, a polyolefin, a polyvinylchloride, and a polysulfone.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features of the present invention will be more clearly understood from a consideration of the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 depicts a multilayer fabric used in the invention.

FIG. 2 shows a bib of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows an additional embodiment of the bib.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “and,” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to “a film” includes a plurality of such films and reference to “the composite” includes reference to one or more composites known to those skilled in the art, and so forth.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice of the disclosed methods and compositions, the exemplary methods, devices and materials are described herein.

Any publication in the text is provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the inventors are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior disclosure.

A laminate, laminated structure or laminated fabric refers to a structure having multiple, discreet layers arranged in a co-planar, coextensive orientation and interconnected at least periodically if not continuously such that the layers acting in concert through their laminate layer interfaces have a unified functionality, with performance characteristics distinguishable from that of the individual layers acting alone. Interconnections between coextensive layers of a laminated structure, whether periodic or continuous, refers to means by which one layer is adhered to another. This includes the presence within the laminate structure of a discrete layer of adhesive, whether introduced by disposing an adhesive coating on one layer or by disposing a discrete intermediate layer or sheet of adhesive material within the pre-laminated stack of layers. The adhesive layer may be a continuous coating or sheet, or may occur in a periodic pattern having less than the full surface area of the laminate structure.

As depicted in FIG. 1 a trilayer material is used in the manufacture of a bib of the disclosure. In FIG. 1, the bottom laminate film layer 10 comprises a water-repellant, water-resistive material that is worn against the subject's clothing. Intermediate layer 20 of 100% cotton or polyester cotton form the second layer of composite 25. A top layer 30 of absorbent material (e.g., terri-cloth or cotton) is attached to the laminated composite 25. The top layer 30 faces outward, away from the subject's clothing. Although, the invention has been described with reference to the layers in juxtaposition with a subject's clothing, it is intended that the bib be reversible and thus the orientation, relative to the subject, can be reversed from that described above. In one aspect either or both sides are designed to compliment or match the subject's clothing. For example, during feeding, the bottom layer 10 comprising a water-repellant, water-resistant material can be faced outwardly away from the subject's clothing. During feeding, the bottom laminate layer 10 serves to prevent staining of the clothing and provides an easily cleanable surface that can be wiped off as spills or food is dropped.

The top layer 30 comprises an absorbent material. Any moisture that might pass through the top layer 30 is absorbed by the cotton or polyester cotton layer 20. The bottom layer 10 provides a moisture barrier between the absorbent top layer 30, the cotton or polyester layer 20 and the subject's clothing. In yet another aspect a further distinct absorbent material may be present between the top layer and bottom layer. When fabricating the bib a trim can be employed to attach the laminated composite 25 to the absorbent top layer 30, such as a polyester-cotton mix, or just a cotton trim alone, being sewn on the fringes of the combined material.

A fastener 50a and 50b, such as a hook-loop fastening system (e.g., Velcro), snap, button, or the like, is used to hold the bib around a subject's neck. In some aspect, the fastener 50 comprises a first portion 50a and a second portion 50b that are located opposite each other at overlapping opening 70. To avoid irritation the overlapping opening 70 comprises first end 75 and second end 80. First and second ends 75 and 80 comprise an elongated portion 85 and tip 90. The tip points away from the subject's neck on the side.

FIG. 2 illustrates the construction of the invention formed as a bib 100. Reference numeral 110 represents the neck encompassing section of the bib, while reference numeral 120 represents the body section of the bib. Fasteners 50a and 50b joins together the overlapping edge surfaces 70 of the layers when laid atop one another, as by sewing. Typically, the fasteners 50a and 50b of a hook-and-loop Velcro adhesive couple between opposing portions of the neck encompassing section 110 to fit the neck opening to size.

During use, drool would be absorbed by the top absorbent 30. When the subject is fed, the bib 100 is worn with the bottom laminate layer 10 facing outwardly. Because none of the formula that runs down is absorbed.

FIG. 3, shows an additional embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the bottom layer 10, further comprises a pocket 40. As will be explained herein, the pocket 40 serves to catch food and liquids when the bottom layer 10 is facing outwardly away from the clothing. The pocket 40 comprises an inner surface 42 and outer surface 44. The inner and outer surfaces 42 and 44 typically comprise the same material as bottom layer 10 and are water repellant or water resistant.

Lamination is accomplished using either solvent, water based, web, powder or other techniques to form. In another aspect, the film is formed of one or more of a plurality of film materials including olefin, polyurethane, rubber based, polyvinyl chloride, polytetrafluoroethylene or other film. If the final garment is intended to breathe, then a breathable film is employed and conversely if the final fabric is not breathable a non-breathable film is employed.

The intermediate layer of the invention can comprise a number of blend fabrics useful for applications involving articles of apparel utilized for outerwear and sporting wear, in which improved resistance to water, thermo-insulation, and/or strength (e.g., cut, tear, rip resistance) is desired over typical articles of apparel for such purposes known in the prior art. An “intimate blend fabric” as used herein refers to a fabric including therein at least two different types of fibers, and in some instances a plurality of different types of fibers, wherein the different types of fibers are each present in a single layer of the fabric.

The term “fiber” as used herein refers to an elongate, individual and essentially monolithic unit of matter, either natural or synthetic, that forms the basic element of a fabric. The term “filament” as used herein refers to a fiber of an indefinite or extreme length. The term “staple fiber” as used herein refers to fibers having a shorter length (less than about 40 inches and typically between about 1 inch and about 4 inches), such fibers either normally having such a length (e.g. many natural fibers) or being cut or stretch broken from filaments. A “fiber bundle” as used herein refers to a plurality of fibers and/or filaments grouped together to form a multi-fiber strand bundle. A “yarn” as used herein refers to any continuous strand of fibers or filaments in a form suitable for knitting, weaving, or otherwise intertwining to form a textile fabric including, but not limited to: a number of fibers twisted together into a single fiber bundle (single ply spun yarn); a number of filaments laid together without twist (a zero-twist yarn); a number of filaments laid together with a degree of twist; a single filament with or without twist (a monofilament yarn); and two or more fiber bundles twisted together (a plied yarn or multi-ply yarn). A “woven fabric” as used herein refers to a fabric characterized by intersecting warp and fill yarns interlaced so that they cross each other at essentially right angles, the term including, but not limited to, well known woven structures such as plain weave (including variations thereof such as basket weaves), twill weaves, and satin weaves.

The multi-layer bib of the invention comprises layers that are stacked and/or bonded into multiple layer structures, and/or can be layered/laminated with other fabric or non-fabric layers, for example a water impermeable, breathable film layer (e.g., permeable to water vapor but substantially impermeable to liquid water).

The term “breathable” as used herein refers to a membrane or other layer that is permeable to gases, such as air and water vapor, but essentially impermeable to aqueous liquids, such as water. Such breathable barrier materials enable the laminate fabric of the invention to be rendered water resistant or essentially “water proof,” while allowing good breathability via the permeation of air through the material and/or the escape of water vapor from a wearer via evaporation from the body and permeation through the layer of barrier material. Monolithic membranes that are formed of polymeric materials that have high rates of diffusion for water vapor but do not require cast-in pores are useful for the film layer. Polymeric materials of urethane, acrylic latexes or other films are suitable for this type of monolithic membrane. These films can be blown, extruded, cast separately and then laminated to one or more layers. These monolithic films may also be coated or cast directly onto the shell layer or foam layer. The thinner and softer films of this type are most desirable as they have the highest rate of vapor transport and are the most comfortable to a wearer.

In some embodiments, breathable film layer comprises a porous membrane, such as a microporous or monolithic membrane. The term “microporous membrane” or “microporous layer membrane” as used herein refers to a specific layer of a multi-layer fabric of the invention, which includes a plurality of pores having a size sufficient to prevent the passage of liquid water there through, while, at the same time, permitting diffusion and/or convection of water vapor, at substantially ambient temperatures and pressures. The particular pore size necessary for the microporous membrane to function as a water vapor-permeable, liquid water-resistant layer will, as understood by those skilled in the art, depend on the material characteristics and surface properties of the material comprising the microporous membrane. Typically, the microporous membrane is formed from a hydrophobic polymeric material. In some illustrative embodiments, pores of the microporous membrane can fall within a size range of from about 0.1 micron to about 100 microns.

In some embodiments, a microporous or monolithic membrane layer comprises a coating adhered to at least a portion of a surface of the intermediate layer shell layer or foam layer. The area of interlayer adhesion may be restricted in a periodic manner or pattern of discontinuous attachment that assures a significant number and uniform distribution of the micropores of a microporous layer remain open and unaffected by the attachment adhesive in the areas of attachment. In one embodiment, the microporous or monolithic membrane layer comprises an adhesive, it is typical that the adhesive comprises a polymeric material having a modulus of elasticity of about 5,000 to 100,000 psi. A partial list of suitable polymeric film materials for forming microporous membranes includes, but is not limited to, urethane polymers, acrylic latex polymers, butyl, latex, silicone, and neoprene rubbers, polyolefins, polyvinylchloride, polysulfone, and the like. For embodiments involving a microporous film layer comprising an adhesive material, the film is formed on surface of the intermediate layer by depositing a solution containing dissolved polymeric material for forming the microporous film onto the surface of the shell or foam layer, followed by allowing the solution to harden to form microporous film laminate layer by solvent evaporation. In such embodiments, the rate of solvent evaporation can be controlled so as to form the above-mentioned plurality of micropores in the film in order to render the film substantially impermeable to liquid water but readily permeable to water vapor. Methods for forming microporous polymeric film layers via controlled solvent evaporation of a cast polymeric solution are known in the art and described in a variety of standard references related to the subject. The particular parameters for use in forming a microporous film layer having desired properties for a given polymeric material are readily determinable in light of this disclosure using no more than routine experimentation and optimization and a variety of routine and straight forwarding screening tests involving the casting of films of polymer solutions of varying thicknesses in a variety of solvents for the polymer followed by solvent evaporation at various controlled rates with subsequent testing of the resultant porous film layers for liquid water resistance and water vapor permeability. The polymer solution for forming a microporous film layer is disposed on a surface of the intermediate layer at a thickness corresponding to a specific weight of the microporous film layer of no greater than about 0.25 to 1 ounce per square yard.

For embodiments wherein the microporous or monolithic film layer is attached to intermediate layer, the film layer can be attached to surface of the intermediate layer by a variety of means, as would be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, including, but not limited to, thermal bonding or attachment via a continuous or discontinuous layer of an adhesive. For embodiments where microporous or monolithic film layer is attached to the intermediate layer via an adhesive material and the adhesive is not permeable to water vapor and atmospheric gases, the adhesive will typically be applied in a discontinuous fashion, such as would form a periodic or repeating pattern of attachment, allowing sufficient surface area of contact between the film layer and the intermediate layer to be essentially free of adhesive so as to permit permeation of water vapor and other gases. Alternatively, the adhesive material may be formed of a polymeric material or materials, which are permeable to water vapor. In some embodiments, the adhesive can comprise a material including, but not limited to, polyurethanes, acrylic polymers, and poly(vinyl chloride). For embodiments where a microporous film layer comprises a separable layer (i.e. not a coating) overlaid with or attached and laminated to a intermediate layer, it is typical that microporous film layer comprise a hydrophobic membrane. In some embodiments, such hydrophobic membrane can be comprised of materials including, but not limited to, poly(tetrafluoroethylene) (PTFE—e.g., TEFLONT™ or expanded PTFE, e.g., GORETEX™), polyolefins, polyurethanes, foamed neoprene rubber, etc. Films and adhesives comprising the above-mentioned materials having properties and pore sizes rendering them permeable to water vapor but substantially impermeable to liquid water are well-known in the art, and are readily commercially available.

For efficiency in manufacture the multi-layered fabric laminate material is fabricated using adhesive material applied over the surface of adjoining layers of fabric in a manner to cause adhesion of the adjoining layers over only those selected portions of the surface areas thereof that are in communication with one another and to which adhesive material has been applied, and further so as to cause adjoining layers of fabric in other than these selected portions to remain non-adhered, but integrally a part of the laminate. The adhesive material used may be applied continuously or discontinuously to a surface to be bonded.

The adhesive material is preferably a thermoplastic adhesive material that is heat actuated and is adapted to be applied in a number of ways, including, but not limited to, as a film, as a powder, as a print, as a web, and as an aerosol spray deposition.

As is used herein, the term facing surface refers generally to either side of a piece of fabric. As is well known to those of ordinary skill in the art, a piece of fabric has what is known as a front and a back. The front and the back of any piece of fabric may have the same or different finishes, which may, for example, be smooth or textured. The terms front and back refer to the front and back of a sheet of fabric as it is made on the knitting machine, and do not necessarily correspond to a front and back, respectively, of the fabric as it is incorporated in a fabric laminate according to the invention. Where only one side of the piece of fabric is smooth, and the other is textured, the smooth side is generally referred to as the front (which may or may not be the same as the front of the fabric as it is made on the knitting machine) and the textured side is generally referred to as the back (which may or may not be the same as the back of the fabric as it is made on the knitting machine). In a fabric with a smooth face, the fabric may have a gloss or sheen on that side. In a fabric with a relatively rough or textured back, the fabric may have a dull or “porous” appearance on that side. Where one side of the piece of fabric has a design or pattern therein, or has a bright or colored surface, while the other side is matte, plain, monotone, or uncolored, the former side is generally referred to as the front and the latter as the back.

In a fabric laminate according to the invention, the laminate may be formed such that either the front or the back of one layer of the fabric is adhered to either the front or the back of the other layer of fabric, depending on a number of considerations, including utilitarian considerations regarding which two sides of the fabric layers are most compatible from the perspective of being glued together, as well as from comfort and aesthetic considerations.

It is also to be understood that in the construction of a fabric laminate according to the invention, there are certain facing surfaces of the individual fabric layers that make up the fabric laminate that will be internal or interior to the fabric laminate and certain facing surfaces of the individual fabric layers that make up the fabric laminate that will be external or exterior to the final fabric laminate. Internal or interior facing surfaces face inwardly into the interior of the fabric laminate and external or exterior facing surfaces face outwardly away from the interior of and to the exterior of the fabric laminate. All fabric laminates have at least three external or exterior facing surfaces and at least three internal or interior facing surfaces. Thus, for example, a three layer fabric laminate has three external or exterior facing surfaces and three internal or interior facing surfaces (one facing surface of each fabric layer faces outward and one faces inward).

Also as used herein the terms single-piece and single main piece, referring to garments fabricated according to the invention, means garments wherein the body or main portion of the garment is made from what is substantially one piece of fabric laminate, wherein the fabric laminate is itself, however, made from multiple layers of fabrics that may be the same or different, and/or wherein even individual fabric layers may be made from composites of different fabrics that are abuttingly adhered to one another to form a single contiguous piece of laminate fabric.

The thermoplastic adhesive is applied between the two layers of fabric before they are placed together. The dry thermoplastic adhesive may be applied to what will become an inner surface of one of the fabric layers as a dry powder, as a spray, or as a web. The second piece of fabric, typically of about the same dimensions as the first piece, is then placed on top of the first piece of fabric and the adhesive. Prior to placement of the second fabric layer of fabric and/or prior to application of the adhesive, any other inserts, such as a gore or other reinforcing and stabilizing side panels, and/or a channel and reinforcing/shaping wire, are also inserted. After the multi-layer “sandwich” of two fabric layers, together with any inserts and the adhesive, has been formed, it is ready for heat treatment to actuate the adhesive and seal the layers and inserted materials together over at least those portions that have been exposed to adhesive, to form the fabric laminate.

This process can be automated to a continuous or semi-continuous basis wherein a plurality of laminate fabric sheets can be made sequentially from a roll of fabric laminate, and even wherein the roll of fabric laminate is itself made on a continuous basis from a plurality of rolls of material, with there being a individual roll for each layer of the fabric laminate, and even for the adhesive material where it is in the form of a web of the adhesive material.

The hot-melt process involves the formation of both chemical and physical bonds between the adhesive material and the layers of fabric, due to a combination of temperature and pressure effects, but does not so restrict or bind up the fabric and interstitial spacing or “pores” in the fabrics to significantly impair air permeability or stretch characteristics.

The hot-melt process is typically carried out in several stages, including a “heating” stage and a “cooling” stage. The temperature at which the heating stage is conducted must be at least at or slightly above the melt temperature of the adhesive material being used. For most adhesive materials, the melt-temperature and temperature of the heating stage is in the range of from about 100° C. to about 200° C. This is well below temperatures, which would damage or otherwise affect the physical characteristics of the fabric used in the multi-layer laminate. The second, or cooling stage of the hot-melt process is conducted at a lower temperature to cause the adhesive material, which is still in a molten or semi-molten state exiting from the heating stage, to be rapidly cooled so that it sets and forms chemical bonds and physical bonds with the fabric layers and other inserted reinforcing and/or channel materials, thereby causing all layers and pieces of the laminate to adhere to one another.

The heating stage of the hot-melt process is conducted at pressures that are sufficient to cause the molten adhesive to spread and bond with the fabric layers with which it is in contact, without penetrating or bleeding through the fabric, while chemically bonding with the fabric layers. The cooling stage of the hot-melt process is conducted at a pressure sufficient to keep the elements of the laminate tightly bound together until the adhesive cures and seals all of the layers and pieces together.

In the high temperature step, the assembled laminate fabric sheet is exposed to heat that raises the temperature of the laminate fabric sheet to at or just above the melting point temperature of the adhesive in the adhesive web, causing the web to melt and the adhesive to flow into the pores or interstices of the fabric layers and/or over those portions of the fabric itself, which have been exposed to and are in contact with the adhesive. By controlling the nature and flow properties of the adhesive used, as well as the temperature of the heat treatment process steps themselves, the adhesive can be controlled so that only those portions of the fabric laminate and any inserted pieces in the laminate fabric sheet that are desired to be glued together are in fact glued together, and those portions that are not to be glued, if any, in a laminate fabric sheet for a given garment wherein it is desired that not all portions of the laminate fabric sheet are to be glued together are left glue-free during and after heat treatment.

The hot stage of the hot-melt process is immediately followed by a cold stage of the hot melt process, wherein the temperature of the fabric laminate is rapidly lowered so as to cause the molten adhesive to re-solidify and bond the various layers and pieces of the fabric laminate together. As the molten adhesive cools and solidifies, it forms both chemical and physical bonds with the fabric material and with the material of the other inserted pieces in the laminate. Typically, the temperature of the cold stage of the hot-melt process is in the range of from about 50° C. to about 150° C. The cold stage is also performed under pressure to maintain good contact between all of the glued layers and inserted pieces of the laminate as the adhesive sets in order to form a strongly bonded laminate with no gaps or entrapped air bubbles between any of the layers that would destroy the integrity and aesthetic appearance of the fabric laminate. The residence or dwell time of the fabric laminate in the cold stage of the hot-melt process is typically of the same order of magnitude as in the hot stage, with a minimum of about 10 seconds and a maximum of about 90 seconds.

Generally, the dwell time for each of the heating and cooling stages should be on the order of from about at least about 10 seconds, up to a maximum time of about 90 seconds. Typically, the dwell time in each stage is about equal. Determination of the individual stage and total dwell times is a matter of optimization that depends on the natures of the fabric layers and other materials and the nature of the adhesive material. Such determinations can readily be made by persons of ordinary skill in the art.

After the fabric laminate has been formed from the individual layers of fabric material(s), any intermediate stabilizing, reinforcing, and/or channel materials, and the adhesive material, in the hot-melt process, the fabric laminate is allowed to cool and is then ready for the production of laminate fabric sheets therefrom, from which individual garments are made. The laminate fabric sheets are then cut out using die cutting or other suitable means.

The several sections of the fabric laminates are then laid out such that the different sections of the final garment are adjacent to one another. The garment is then assembled by first applying an adhesive material along juxtaposed sections and activating the adhesive to cause the several layers to adhere to one another. At the juncture of the first and second sections, as well as any other sections of the garment, the joining lines can further be glued or spot-welded on the exterior surfaces of the garment to produce a more complete and more aesthetic joint between adjacent sections of the garment.

Assembly of the layers and pieces of the laminate fabric sheet can also be done as a manual operation, or assembly on a batch basis can be automated, with machines laying the layers down in sequence and placing the inserted pieces in position as required. Where such a batch laminate fabric sheet assembly procedure is automated, a computer control is typically used and a line-up and tracking procedure for the laminate fabric sheets to ensure that the layers and pieces are assembled within a predetermined tolerance. For example, an optical scanning system can be incorporated to help in doing this. In such a system, each layer or piece of the laminate fabric sheet to be assembled has some indicia present thereon to enable an optical scanning device to determine that the layers and pieces have been positioned properly With respect to one another. Such indicia may be permanent or may be temporary. Typically any such indicia printed on any of the layers or parts be placed where they will not be visible in a finished garment. Where it may be unavoidable that such indicia can be seen, they can be printed with temporary inks that will evaporate from the surface before the final garment is finished from the laminate fabric sheet.

When the laminate fabric sheet is fully assembled, with all of the layers and pieces in position, it is ready for heat treatment, using a hot-melt process. The assembled laminate fabric sheets are sent to a heat treatment step wherein the thermoplastic adhesive (e.g., adhesive web) is thermally actuated in a hot-melt process to cause all layers and parts of the assembled laminate fabric sheet that are in contact with the adhesive material of the web to become glued together when the adhesive web melts and the adhesive is actuated or made tacky.

The technique of “bridging” abutting different fabrics of an individual layer and adjacent different fabrics of different layers is, however, relatively easy and utilizes an adaptation of the technique of inserting various stability, control, and shape providing materials in the fabric laminates of the invention as previously described. The “bridging” technique involves the insertion of bridging pieces of material between layers of the composite fabric laminate at all coinciding “seam” lines of abutting different fabrics wherever adjacent layers of the composite fabric laminate are themselves made from different fabrics and at least one of the adjacent layers is not itself made from one continuous piece of a single fabric. Notwithstanding that the adhesive used to adhere the abutting different fabrics and adjacent different fabric layers of a composite fabric laminate according to the invention may be in the form of a pre-cut laminate fabric sheet of a thermoplastic adhesive resin web material, which spans all of the abutting different fabrics and adjacent different fabric layers when the composite fabric laminate sheet is assembled for heat treatment to adhere the various fabrics and layers, the adhesive web laminate fabric sheet and the adhesive material contained therein, even after the web melts to supply the molten adhesive, which in turns cools and sets to glue the various fabrics and layers together, generally does not itself provide sufficient lateral backing or support for the composite fabric laminate in any of its web, molten, or set states, thereby necessitating the insertion of the “bridging” material pieces.

The material used for the bridging pieces generally should not itself have a high elasticity, and, in any case, should have a lower modulus of elasticity than the fabrics that are being bridged. Typical materials used for the bridging pieces include cotton, nylon and polyester. The bridging material insert pieces can alternatively be partial or continuous over the entire length of a joint or “seam” line between different abutting fabrics. Where they are not continuous, generally a plurality of pieces are used at predetermined intervals over the length of a joint line.

A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.