Title:
METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR PROTECTING FABRIC ARTICLES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods and systems for a protective system are provided. The system includes a frame configured to match the contour of a side edge of a separate fabric panel, a sheet of material surrounding at least a portion of the frame, and an attachment member coupled to the frame wherein the attachment member is configured to attach the frame to the side edge such that the sheet of material covers at least a portion of the side edge.



Inventors:
Ganey, Thomas J. (Belleville, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/190694
Publication Date:
02/19/2009
Filing Date:
08/13/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
160/349.2
International Classes:
B65D65/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PUROL, DAVID M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patent Docket Department (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective system comprising: a frame configured to match the contour of a side edge of a separate fabric panel; a sheet of material surrounding at least a portion of said frame; and an attachment member coupled to said frame, said attachment member configured to attach said frame to said side edge such that said sheet of material covers at least a portion of the side edge.

2. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said attachment member comprises at least one of a hook and loop device, a bias member, an adhesive, and a magnet.

3. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said fabric panel comprises a pleated portion adjacent said side edge and wherein said frame is formed to match the contour of the pleated portion.

4. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said attachment member comprises a biased clip configured to clamp said frame to said side edge.

5. A system in accordance with claim 4 wherein said biased clip comprises a clamp member rotatably coupled to said frame, said clamp member comprising a grip portion configured to bear against an object positioned between said frame and said grip portion at the urging of a bias member.

6. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said attachment member comprises at least one of a hook portion and a loop portion coupled to a substantially concave side of said protective system.

7. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said at least one of a hook portion and a loop portion is configured to couple to an other one of the at least one of a hook portion and a loop portion that is coupled to the side edge.

8. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein the fabric panel includes a front side and an opposing back side and wherein said other one of the at least one of a hook portion and a loop portion is coupled to the back side of the fabric panel such that the protective system extends along the front side of the fabric panel.

9. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said attachment member comprises a first magnet configured to magnetically couple to at least one of a ferromagnetic portion of said frame and a magnet coupled to said frame.

10. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said frame and said sheet of material are unitarily formed.

11. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said frame comprises at least one of a metal wire, a plastic material, fiber glass, wood, cardboard, and a fibrous material.

12. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said sheet of material is configured to at least one of complement the fabric panel, accent the fabric panel, and match the fabric panel in at least one of color, pattern, and texture.

13. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said sheet of material is configured to be removable from said frame and separately launderable.

14. A system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said sheet of material comprises at least one of a non-permeable and a semi-permeable material that is configured to be cleaned by wiping.

15. A method of protecting a free-hanging fabric article from soiling, said method comprising: removably attaching a protective cover to the fabric article in an area of the fabric article in a position to receive soiling; and removing the protective cover when a more aesthetic appearance of the fabric article is desired.

16. A method in accordance with claim 15 wherein the fabric article comprises a bottom edge toward which the fabric article is configured to hang, a top connection from which the article is configured to hang and at least one side edge extending between the bottom edge and the top connection and wherein removably attaching a protective cover to the fabric article comprises removably attaching the protective cover to the at least one side edge.

17. A method in accordance with claim 15 further comprising laundering the protective cover while it is removed from the fabric article.

18. A method in accordance with claim 15 wherein the protective cover comprises a fabric sheath at least partially surrounding a frame, said method further comprising removing the sheath from the frame for laundering.

19. A protective device comprising: a substantially planar sheet comprising a tractable material configured to be manipulable into a desired shape such that the sheet retains the shape after manipulation; and an attachment member coupled to said sheet, said attachment member configured to attach said sheet to a side edge of a free-hanging fabric wherein said sheet of material covers at least a portion of the side edge.

20. A device in accordance with claim 19 wherein said attachment member comprises at least one of a hook and loop device, a bias member, an adhesive, and a magnet.

21. A device in accordance with claim 19 wherein said sheet comprises a frame and a sheath covering at least a portion of the frame.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/955,726 filed on Aug. 14, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Embodiments of the disclosure relate generally to fabric protective systems and more particularly, to methods and systems for facilitating reducing soiling of fabrics.

At least some known window coverings such as drapery or curtains are designed to block a view through the window that the drapery is covering. When a view through the window is desired, a human may operate a mechanical device to cause the drapery to relocate to a position that no longer blocks the view through the window. However, a pet, such as a dog that desires to look out the window, often uses its snout to push the drapery by a side edge out of the way and uses its body to maintain the drapery pushed to the side such that the dog may have an unobstructed view out of the window. Generally, residual dirt and grime is loosely affixed to the dog's snout such that when the dog contacts the drapery side edge to push the drapery out of the way, at least some of the residual dirt and grime is imparted to the side edge of the drapery.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, a protective system includes a frame configured to match the contour of a side edge of a separate fabric panel, a sheet of material surrounding at least a portion of the frame, and an attachment member coupled to the frame wherein the attachment member is configured to attach the frame to the side edge such that the sheet of material covers at least a portion of the side edge.

In another embodiment, a method of protecting a free-hanging fabric article from soiling includes removably attaching a protective cover to the fabric article in an area of the fabric article in a position to receive soiling, and removing said protective cover when a more aesthetic appearance of the fabric article is desired.

In yet another embodiment, a protective device includes a substantially planar sheet comprising a tractable material configured to be manipulable into a desired shape such that the sheet retains the shape after manipulation, and an attachment member coupled to the sheet wherein the attachment member is configured to attach the sheet to a side edge of a free-hanging fabric and wherein the sheet of material covers at least a portion of the side edge.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B are perspective views of an exemplary protector in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B are side views of protector shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a fabric article and exemplary protectors in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 4A, 4B, and 4C are side views of protector installed on an exemplary fabric article, such as a free-standing drape.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description illustrates the disclosure by way of example and not by way of limitation. The description clearly enables one skilled in the art to make and use the disclosure, describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives, and uses of the disclosure, including what is presently believed to be the best mode of carrying out the disclosure. The disclosure is described as applied to a preferred embodiment, namely, a system and process of protecting fabric articles from soiling. However, it is contemplated that this disclosure has general application to protecting materials other than fabrics that are subject to soiling by repeated contact with objects that may carry soiling particles, oils, and fluids from remote locations to the protected article.

FIGS. 1A and 1B are perspective views of an exemplary protector 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the exemplary embodiment, protector 100 includes a wire frame 102 comprising a first substantially straight leg 104, a second substantially straight leg 106, and two arcuately-shaped legs 108, 110 extending between respective ends of legs 104 and 106. In various other embodiment, frame 102 comprises a planar material shaped to fit the contours of a protected fabric article 111 as described in detail below. A cover 112 or sheath surrounds at least a portion of frame 102 such that an opening 114 formed between legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 is substantially covered by cover 112. In the exemplary embodiment, frame 102 is formed in a shape that is complementary to a shape of article 111 for example, a side edge 116 and a portion of a first pleat 118 of article 111. In an alternative embodiment, frame 102 does not extend around first pleat 118, but rather only extends to approximately line 120.

Cover 112 is includes a back side 122 and a front side 124. Generally, back side 122 is substantially concave to match the contour of pleat 118 except when frame 102 only extends to line 120. Back side 122 is adjacent article 111 when installed. Front side 124 is generally complimentarily convex to back side 122. Front side 124 is exposed when protector 100 is installed. Being exposed, front side 124 is configured to be aesthetic with respect to article 111 and/or other furnishings in a room. For example, front side 124 may comprise the same fabric as article 111, a fabric with a similar pattern, texture, design, and/or color, or may comprise an accenting pattern, texture, design, and/or color with respect to article 111.

An attachment device 126 may include a strip of hook and loop material coupled along an edge of protector 100. The complementary portion of the hook and loop material is attached to a side edge 128 of article 111. Attachment device 126 may further include a magnetic device. For example, a strip of ferro-magnetic material may be affixed to article 111 such that when protector is positioned proximate the ferro-magnetic material is it attracted to it and held in position to protect article 111. Attachment device 126 may be configured with a ferro-magnetic material affixed to article 111 or a ferro-magnetic material may be positioned on an opposite side of article 111 from protector 100 such that the clamping force generated by the magnetic attraction between the magnet and ferro-magnetic material holds protector 100 in position. Frame 102 may include ferromagnetic material or may include a ferromagnetic material coupled to frame 102.

As used herein, ferromagnetic materials have a large and positive susceptibility to an external magnetic field. They exhibit a strong attraction to magnetic fields and are able to retain their magnetic properties after the external field has been removed.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are side views of protector 100 (shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B). FIG. 2A illustrates a bias clamping member 200 that includes a pivot 202 about which a grip portion 204 is configured to rotate. A bias member 206 such as a coil spring or a leaf spring. Bias member 206 is configured to apply a force that causes grip portion 204 to bear against article 111 to maintain protector 100 in position attached to article 111. FIG. 2B illustrates protector 100 having an attachment flap 208 that is configured to surround side edge 128. In the exemplary embodiment, attachment device 126 is positioned on an inside surface of protector 100.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a fabric article 111 and exemplary protectors 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In one embodiment, protector 100 includes a portion that extends around pleat 118. In another embodiment, protector 100 extends only as far as line 120 and does not reach to an outer extent of pleat 118. When installed on article 111, a pet attempting to move fabric article 111, for example, but not limited to a drapery panel with its snout will place its muzzle against protector 100 and not against article 111. In the exemplary embodiment, article 111 is a free-hanging curtain or drape that is supported in front of a window (not shown). Protector 100 may be positioned at a height that is best suited for the size and behavior of the pet. Additionally, protector 100 may extend along side edge 128 from a hem 300 to a connection point or pleat pinch point 302. In some instances, two or more articles 111 may be positioned adjacent one another such that complementary side edges 128 adjoin, a protector 100 may be positioned along each side edge 128. In addition, multiple protectors may be positioned along side edge 128 to accommodate different behaviors of the same pet or to accommodate plural pets of various sizes or behaviors.

FIGS. 4A, 4B, and 4C are side views of protector 100 installed on an exemplary fabric article, such as a free-standing drape. In one embodiment, protector 100 includes a portion that extends to and around a front side of pleat 118. Protector 100 is positioned vertically along side edge 128 at a height 400 that is most probable for a pet to contact article 111 when the pet wants to view out the window. Protector 100 may be relocated to any desired height 400. In an alternative embodiment, protector 100 extends along side edge 128 toward pleat 118 but does not extend around a front side of pleat 118. Protector 100 is positioned vertically along side edge 128 at a height 400 that is most probable for a pet to contact article 111 when the pet wants to view out the window. Protector 100 may be relocated to any desired height 400. In another embodiment, protector 100 extends along side edge 128 for a substantial portion of side edge 128. In such an embodiment, protector 100 may further serve as an accent to article 111 while protecting article 111 from various size pets. In any configuration, protector 100 may be easily removed for aesthetic purposes or for laundering or may be wiped clean if configured using a plastic, vinyl, or other impermeable or semi-permeable material.

The above-described methods of protecting a fabric article are cost-effective and highly reliable. The methods and systems include using a matching or accenting protector to intercept pet-borne dirt before it can be applied to the fabric article. Accordingly, the methods and systems facilitate maintaining cleanliness of the fabric article while preserving the aesthetic qualities of the article in a cost-effective and reliable manner.

While embodiments of the disclosure have been described in terms of various specific embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that the embodiments of the disclosure can be practiced with modification within the spirit and scope of the claims.