Title:
Clip for Folded Fabrics
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A clip for holding folded articles such as towels, fabrics, textiles, nonwoven fabrics, paper, and other sheets of material, includes a single piece construction having legs or braces separated by an opening. A cross member or hinge member connects the braces at one end. A tongue extends from the cross member and is biased to point into the opening between the braces. The tongue and braces can be opened to form a gap for inserting a folded fabric, such as a towel. The tongue and the cross member define holes or grooves for fitting buttons to hold decorative elements and accessories onto the folded fabric.



Inventors:
Pellei, Robyn (Charlotte, NC, US)
Application Number:
12/550984
Publication Date:
03/04/2010
Filing Date:
08/31/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/481
International Classes:
A44B21/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MERCADO, LOUIS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Additon, Pendleton & Witherspoon, P.A. (Monroe, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A clip for holding textiles in a folded position, the clip being formed of a flexible material that resists deformation, the clip comprising: a pair of braces defining an opening between said braces, said braces having respective first and second ends; a cross member connected to said braces at said first ends; a tongue extending from said cross member toward said respective second ends of said braces; said cross member biasing the position of said tongue such that said tongue rests between said braces; said tongue being movable away from said braces by a force substantially opposite the biasing of said cross member.

2. A clip according to claim 1, wherein said braces are curved legs defining the opening.

3. A clip according to claim 1, wherein said cross member defines a button opening.

4. A clip according to claim 2, further comprising a button for attaching a decorative element to the clip by inserting said button through said decorative element and into the button opening.

5. A clip according to claim 1, wherein said tongue defines a groove for connecting an accessory to said tongue.

6. A clip according to claim 1, further comprising a base member connected said second ends of said braces.

7. A clip according to claim 1, wherein said legs, said cross member, and said tongue are of a single piece construction.

8. A clip according to claim 1, wherein said clip is formed of a resilient polymeric material.

9. A clipping system for holding folded towels in a fixed position, the clipping system comprising a pair of clips defining at least one button hole in each clip for attaching a decorative element by a respective button that fits into each clip.

10. A clipping system according to claim 9, wherein said clips hold respective sides of the folded towel and said clips are aligned across from one another such that said decorative element connects at opposite ends to a respective clip and extends across the folded towel.

11. A clipping system according to claim 9, wherein each clip defines at least one groove and further comprising a respective accessory connected to each clip by fitting into a respective groove.

12. A clipping system according to claim 9, wherein each clip comprises a single piece construction of a pliable material that allows the clip to create an adjustable opening for receiving the folded towel.

13. A clipping system according to claim 9, wherein said pliable material is a molded plastic.

14. A clipping system according to claim 9, wherein each clip comprises: a pair of braces defining an opening between said braces, said braces having respective first and second ends; a cross member connected to said braces at said first ends; a tongue extending from said cross member toward said respective second ends of said braces; said cross member biasing the position of said tongue such that said tongue rests between said braces; said tongue being movable away from said braces by a force substantially opposite the biasing of said cross member.

15. A clipping system for holding folded towels in a fixed position, the clipping system comprising a pair of clips for engaging opposite sides of the folded towel, each clip comprising: a cross member having a first side and a second side; a pair of curved braces extending from said first side of said cross member, said curved braces engaging the surface of the folded towel and extending across a portion of the folded towel; a tongue extending from said second side of said cross member and positioned between said curved braces to form an adjustable gap for inserting a side of the folded towel between said braces and said tongue; wherein at least one of said tongue and said cross member defines a respective opening in either said tongue or said cross member.

16. A clipping system according to claim 15, wherein each respective cross member of each clip defines an opening for engaging a button that holds a decorative element on the folded towel.

17. A clipping system according to claim 15, wherein said decorative element is a ribbon.

18. A clipping system according to claim 15, wherein said decorative element is a band.

19. A clipping system according to claim 15, wherein each respective tongue of each clip defines an opening for holding an accessory on each clip.

20. A clipping system according to claim 19, wherein said accessory comprises a colored design.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO PRIOR APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and incorporates by reference herein U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/190,587 filed on Aug. 29, 2008 and entitled “Towel Clip for Holding Towels in Place”

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of clips for holding articles made of fabric or textiles in a fixed position.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Articles made of fabric, whether high end fabrics such as silks or more routinely used terry cloth or jersey cotton, are often used or stored in a folded position. In particular, towels are often used and maintained by folding. Whether folded over a towel rack or gathered within a decorative ring, towels can be most useful when they are maintained in a place and manner that make them convenient to access. Such access often requires textile articles, towels in particular, to be stored or displayed in a public way so that individuals know exactly where they are. Such public display of textile articles has led to individuals using textiles not only for their function but also as decoration. More and more individuals take time to ensure that their textile articles are stored, displayed, or used in the way they are intended but also in a way that looks nice and enhances the decor of the area. A textile article, such as a towel, therefore, requires a certain amount of maintenance to keep the look that the owner would like for the area. For example, towels must be refolded after use or re-hung when accidentally allowed to slip from their holder. The goal of any owner, therefore, is to minimize the maintenance required in keeping textile articles in a desired position. This goal has led to two needs—(i) a device that holds a folded textile article in a desirable position and (ii) a way to decorate the device so that it improves the overall decor of the area in the same way as the textile article.

The prior art sets forth numerous devices for holding folded textile articles. The predominant group of such devices are basic jaw clips. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,022,126 (Davis, 1991), shows a one piece molded plastic clamp in a clam shell orientation. The sides of the clam shell have locking members that hold lower legs in a fixed position. Teeth on the lower legs engage the towel to hold it within the clam shell. The Davis '126 device, requires intricate manufacturing of the various regions of the device, particularly the locking members, and the device has a definite industrial look that would not accomplish any aesthetic goal for the device.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,536,924 (Willoughby, 1985) shows another one piece device with a flexible hinge portion connecting flat surface grips. The respective flat surfaces have interlocking male and female members at one end to maintain a grip on a folded article within the flat surfaces. The interlocking members connect in only one position, and the clip of the Willoughby '924 fits only those textile articles of a single width therein.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,023,721 (Erthein, 1977) discloses a clamping hanger having an arm and at least one pair of hinged clamping members integral with the arm. The user squeezes the arm and a lower member provides a bracing surface, allowing the arm to open one side of the hinged clamping members. Again, the clip disclosed in this patent fits only certain articles of a given width. The arm is also a highly stressed component that absorbs all of the force used to open the clip. The arm, therefore, is likely to break after repeated use.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,514,885 (Delahousse 1985) illustrates yet another clip of a clothespin design. Two articulated arms are connected by a spring member such that the arms open and close about a textile article.

Similar to the Delahousse patent, U.S. Pat. No. 4,839,947 (Cohen 1989) shows a clamp formed of a unitary piece of resilient material and has a pair of opposed arms pivoted about an integral hinge member located between jaw and finger grip portions of the arms. The arms define a male and female locking member to hold the clip in place. As in certain other clips discussed above, the Delahousse clip requires precision molding to achieve properly sized and functional male and female locking members. The clip is normally disposed in an open position, which means that in the event of failure of the locking members, the clip is completely nonfunctional.

Other clipping arrangements used in the textile sector include hangers that have parallel clothespin type clips for hanging textile products. While these kinds of hangers are useful in a retail environment, the clips do little to enhance any aesthetic quality of their surroundings. See U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,350,092 (Hollis 1994) and 6,964,342 (Wenzier 2005).

Towels and clips for arranging them have been the subject of numerous patenting efforts over the years. For example, certain towel holders include weighted extensions that hang over a towel rack to hold the towels in place. See U.S. Pat. No. 5,465,458 (Schlager 1995) and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 20080277359 (St. Martin 2008). U.S. Pat. No. 6,257,422 (Rios 2001) shows a v-shaped holder that can be mounted flush against a flat surface, such as a wall or a cabinet. The v-shaped member is biased to close onto itself, and an interior, upwardly extending leg, jutting outwardly from one leg of the “v,” presses into the back section of the v-shaped member from the inside. The v-shaped member can be forced to open, a textile or other article pushed into the open v-shaped member, and the clip will hold the textile article therein.

Although not focused on any aesthetic quality, other patents show towel clips for attaching to the person of an individual carrying a towel. U.S. Pat. No. 4,403,366 (Lucke 1983) shows a clip that slides onto a belt, pants, or any personal item capable of receiving one end of the clip. U.S. Pat. No. 4,901,406 (Shelby 1990) shows a standard clasp for attaching to a belt loop at one end and attaching a jaw clip mechanism to the other end. The jaw clip holds a personal towel for working out in a gym, playing golf, or engaging in any activity in which a towel is useful on one's person.

Towel holders of single piece construction have proven useful in certain rounded designs. The round design has an interesting and appealing shape but is apparently predominantly useful in wrapping a towel about a beach chair. See U.S. Pat. No. 5,611,123 (Prizzi 1997)(showing a towel holder consisting of a plastic tube split lengthwise into two halves that fit about a back bar of a beach chair); see also, United States Design Patent No. D363,016 (Sipprelle III).

Overall, the prior art shows a need for a new kind of clip that allows for variously sized textile articles, particularly towels, to be maintained in a defined folded position. The clip should also allow for creativity in enhancing the aesthetics of the area in which the towel is stored and used.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention is a clip for holding textiles in a folded position. The clip is made of a flexible and resilient polymeric material, such as a plastic that has memory to retain its original shape. The clip is characterized in part by a pair of braces having first and second ends. The braces define an opening between the braces. The braces are connected by a cross member attached to the braces at a first end. A flattened member, referred to herein as a tongue also extends from the cross member between the braces and toward the end of the braces opposite the cross member. The cross member biases the position of the tongue between the braces such that the space between the tongue and the braces is in a “normally closed” position (i.e., either the braces or the tongue must move away from the other to fit an article between the braces and the tongue).

In another embodiment, the invention is a clipping system that further includes a decorative component. The cross member and the tongue of each clip define holes in either or both of the tongue and cross member. A decorative accessory can be attached to the clip via the holes, or two clips can be used in conjunction across a single piece of fabric to attach a ribbon, a string of beads, or another laterally disposed decorative element across the fabric. A button or pin can be used to penetrate through the decorative element and engage an appropriately defined hole in each clip.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a decorative element connected to a pair of clips for holding textiles according to this invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of one clip according to this invention, the clip being in its normally closed position.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the clip according to FIG. 2, the clip being opened to form a space between a tongue and a pair of braces.

FIG. 4 is a front view of a folded fabric, such as a towel, having clips in place on each side and decorative element extending across the fabric.

FIG. 5 is a back view of the folded fabric of FIG. 4, showing the braces extending along a portion of the folded fabric, the braces connected by a base member on each clip.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The clip (10) according to this invention addresses an issue not seen before in clips of the prior art—making textiles and other folded fabrics (30) maintain a folded position, look nice, and not show too much hardware associated with the clip (10). The clip (10) is adapted to hold the sides of a folded fabric (30) together. For purposes herein, a folded fabric is a generic term that encompasses any material that can be folded, such as textile fabrics, non-woven fabrics, papers, towels dish cloths, and the like. The term “folded fabric,” therefore, is not limiting of the invention. Similarly, the term “textiles” may be used in this document in its broadest sense and does not limit the kinds of folded articles or fabrics that may benefit from the clip of this invention.

The clip (10) according to this invention can be used as a single piece of equipment for holding a single accessory via a tongue (13) on the clip (10). Alternatively, the clip (10) can be part of a clipping system using two clips (10A, 10B) on either side of a folded article. With two clips attached to the article, a longer, transverse decorative element (20) can be held in place at each of its ends. In this case, the decorative element can be a ribbon, a string of beads, a line of connected jewels, or any decoration that extends across a folded fabric (30). The clip (10) and the associated clipping system (10A, 10B) allow for a folded fabric such as a towel to be secured to maintain its placement and its folded position. The decorative element, of course, adds an opportunity for aesthetic enhancement of the surrounding area. See FIG. 1.

FIG. 1 shows certain components of the clip (10) that make it very useful. The clip (10) includes a pair of braces (15A, 15B) defining a space there between. The braces (15A, 15B) have first and second ends. A cross member (17) connects the first ends of each brace (15). A tongue, or substantially flat portion, extends from the cross member toward second ends of the braces (15A, 15B). FIG. 2 shows the clip (10) from a side view. The braces (15A, 15B) may be rounded or contoured for more diversity in the size of the gap formed upon opening the clip (10).

The overall clip (10) is made of a resilient and deformation resistance material, such as a soft plastic or other polymer. The material allows the clip to be opened and closed, but the material of the clip (10) is flexible enough to maintain a “normally closed” position absent a force separating the tongue (13) and the braces (15A, 15B). In this regard, the cross member (17) biases the tongue (13) such that the tongue (13) rests between the braces. The tongue, therefore, is a flap of sorts that points into the opening formed by the braces (15A, 15B) unless pulled away from the braces by an outside and opposite force. The resilience of the material making up the clip (10) allows for many different sizes of gaps formed between the tongue (13) and the braces (15A, 15B). In other words, the tongue (13) and the braces (15A, 15B) will move themselves directly adjacent a folded fabric (30) moved into the gap (40) of the clips (10A, 10B). In this regard, the clip (10) of this invention does not require locking members or springs or other elements to fit many different thicknesses of the folded fabric (30).

FIG. 3 shows a clip (10), according to this invention, that has been subject to an opening force (42) to form the gap (40) between the tongue (13) and the braces (15A, 15B). The arrown of FIG. 3 shows that a side of the folded fabric (30) slides into the gap (30). The tongue (13) and the braces (15A, 15B) will squeeze against opposite portions of the folded fabric. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, certain areas of the clip can include reinforcement members (23A) along regions of the clip (10) that face the most stress in light of opening force (42). The clip (10) optionally includes a base member (28) that connects ends of the braces opposite the cross member (17). As shown in FIG. 5, cross member (17) adds a smooth surface for engaging the folded fabric (30) to prevent any unnecessary indentations or damage to the fabric. The braces may optionally include a rounded region (26) for additional decoration and for a tighter fit against thinner fabrics.

Each clip (10) is adapted for holding a decoration thereon by holes defined within the body of the clips (10). In one embodiment, the cross member (17) defines a button hole (33) for receiving an associated button (34) or post. The button (34) slides through a slit in the decorative element (20) and engages the button hole (33) in the cross member (17) of the clip (10). By having clips (10A, 10B) at both sides of the folded fabric, the an elongated decorative element (20) stretches across the folded fabric. The decorative element (20) can be of any type—beads, jewels, metal strips, fabrics, ribbons, and the like.

The clip (10) also allows for attaching single accessories (buttons, snaps, individual items) to the tongue (13) via a groove (36) in the tongue (13). The holes and grooves in each clip (10) allow for more individual accessories that do not stretch across from one end to another. Instead, individual accessories are mounted independently on either side of the folded fabric. The clip (10) further allows for attaching a strap (not shown) to the clip by either of the openings. This strap can be used by retailers for displaying folded articles hanging by the strap.

The clip (10) is resilient due to the material from which it is made and by the fact that the clip is of a single piece construction with fewer seams or connectors to fail during use.

In the specification and drawings, typical embodiments of the invention have been disclosed and, although specific terms have been employed, they have been used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation. Different kinds of materials and decorative elements may be substituted for the parts disclosed herein and still fall within the ambit of the invention. The invention is further set forth in the claims below.