Title:
HOLDER FOR GARMENT STRAPS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A strap holder adapted to be connected to first and second garment straps, the strap holder comprising a central portion defining a first surface and a second surface, a first end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a first retainer gap, and a second end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap. The first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion. The second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion. The inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion, and the inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion. The first strap is arranged within the first retainer gap such that the first garment strap engages the first engaging portion. The second strap is arranged within the second retainer gap such that the second garment strap engages the second engaging portion.



Inventors:
Merriam-smith, Lara D. (Ferndale, WA, US)
Application Number:
12/611637
Publication Date:
03/11/2010
Filing Date:
11/03/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41F19/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20020108162Learning bibAugust, 2002Bolds-leftridge
20030182705Reflective halloween costumeOctober, 2003Spongberg
20150351475Hand Restraint GlovesDecember, 2015Reed
20100132090Korean-Style Woman Jacket Design MethodJune, 2010Park
20120096622ADJUSTABLE FIT JACKETApril, 2012Johnson
20160375970Inflatable Safety GarmentDecember, 2016Johnston
20120174285EASY ON, EASY OFF, HIGHLY ACCESSIBLE INFANT, TODDLER AND CHILDREN GARMENTSJuly, 2012Williams et al.
20130036530HIP PAD FOR DECREASING A WAIST-TO-HIP RATIOFebruary, 2013Bartlett
20070033699Strapless belt loop suspenders - and method of suspension of lower garment and improving the appearance of the upper garmentFebruary, 2007Mars
20060150298Golf jacket with grip pocketJuly, 2006Jones
20140101819MAGNETICALLY-INTERCOUPLED NECK STRAP AND TIE ASSEMBLYApril, 2014Ike



Primary Examiner:
KINSAUL, ANNA KATHRYN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Schacht Law Office, Inc. (BELLINGHAM, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A strap holder adapted to be connected to first and second garment straps, the strap holder comprising: a central portion defining a first surface and a second surface; a first end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a first retainer gap; and a second end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap; wherein the first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion; the second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion; the inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion; the inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion; the first strap is arranged within the first retainer gap such that the first garment strap engages the first engaging portion; and the second strap is arranged within the second retainer gap such that the second garment strap engages the second engaging portion.

2. A strap holder as recited in claim 1, in which the first and second retainer gaps are substantially helical in shape.

3. A strap holder as recited in claim 1, in which: the first and second retainer gaps each define an initial portion, an intermediate portion, and a terminal portion; and the first and second engaging portions of the first and second inner surfaces are located within the intermediate portions of the first and second retainer gaps, respectfully.

4. A strap holder as recited in claim 1, further comprising a decorative device supported by the central portion.

5. A strap holder as recited in claim 4, further comprising a chain for connecting the decorative device to the central portion.

6. A method of connecting together first and second garment straps comprising the steps of: providing a strap holder comprising a central portion defining a first surface and a second surface, a first end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a first retainer gap, and a second end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap, where the first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion, the second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion, the inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion, and the inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion; arranging the first garment strap within the first retainer gap such that the first strap engages the first engaging portion; and arranging the second strap within the second retainer gap such that the second strap engages the second engaging portion.

7. A method as recited in claim 6, in which the step of providing the strap holder comprises the step of configuring the strap holder such that the first and second retainer gaps are substantially helical in shape.

8. A method as recited in claim 6, in which the step of providing the strap holder further comprises the steps of: configuring the first and second retainer gaps to define an initial portion, an intermediate portion, and a terminal portion; and locating the first and second engaging portions of the first and second inner surfaces within the intermediate portions of the first and second retainer gaps, respectfully.

9. A method as recited in claim 6, further comprising the step of supporting a decorative device on the central portion.

10. A method as recited in claim 9, further comprising the step of arranging a chain to connect the decorative device to the central portion.

11. A strap holder adapted to be connected to first and second garment straps, the strap holder comprising: a central portion defining a first surface, a second surface, an exposed surface, and a rear surface; a first end portion comprising an inner surface, an outer surface, an exposed surface, and a rear surface, where the inner and outer surfaces define a first retainer gap; and a second end portion comprising an inner surface, an outer surface, an exposed surface, and a rear surface, where the inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap; wherein the first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion; the second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion; the inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion; the inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion; the first strap is arranged within the first retainer gap such that the first garment strap engages the first engaging portion; and the second strap is arranged within the second retainer gap such that the second garment strap engages the second engaging portion.

12. A strap holder as recited in claim 11, in which the first and second retainer gaps are substantially helical in shape.

13. A strap holder as recited in claim 11, in which: the first and second retainer gaps each define an initial portion, an intermediate portion, and a terminal portion; and the first and second engaging portions of the first and second inner surfaces are located within the intermediate portions of the first and second retainer gaps, respectfully.

14. A strap holder as recited in claim 11, further comprising a decorative device supported by the central portion.

15. A strap holder as recited in claim 14, further comprising a chain for connecting the decorative device to the central portion.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application (Attorney's Docket No. P216070) is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Design patent application Ser. No. 29/308,811, filed Jul. 8, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. Des. 603,293, issued Nov. 3, 2009.

U.S. Design patent application Ser. No. 29/308,811, filed Jul. 8, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. Des. 603,293, issued Nov. 3, 2009, is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Design patent application Ser. No. 29/291,912, filed Sep. 19, 2007, now U.S. Pat. No. Des. 572,626, issued Jul. 8, 2008.

The contents of all related applications listed above are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to accessories for clothing and, in particular, to such accessories that hold back straps of clothing in place.

BACKGROUND

Numerous items of female garments employ a pair of straps that extend over the wearer's shoulders between a front portion of the garment to a rear portion of the garment. Examples of garments that employ such straps include bras, swimsuits, dresses, and tops. Depending on such factors as the style of the garment, the materials from which the garment is made, the fit of the garment, and the wearer's activity, it is possible that these straps can shift from a desired position.

A number of devices have been developed to hold garment straps in place over a wearer's shoulder. Such strap holding devices typically include a main portion that extends between the two straps and first and second engaging portions, where each of the engaging portions engages one of the straps. Strap holding devices substantially prevent movement of the straps away from each other such that the straps are held in a desired orientation with respect to the wearer's shoulder. Many of the known strap holding devices are intended to be to worn under an outer garment.

The need exists for improved strap holding devices that are easy to put on and remove, that are resistant to inadvertent removal, and which provide improved opportunities for aesthetic customization.

SUMMARY

The present invention may be embodied as a strap holder adapted to be connected to first and second garment straps, the strap holder comprising a central portion defining a first surface and a second surface, a first end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a first retainer gap, and a second end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap. The first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion. The second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion. The inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion, and the inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion. The first strap is arranged within the first retainer gap such that the first garment strap engages the first engaging portion. The second strap is arranged within the second retainer gap such that the second garment strap engages the second engaging portion.

The present invention may also be embodied as a method of connecting together first and second garment straps comprising the following steps. Initially, a strap holder is provided. The strap holder comprises a central portion defining a first surface and a second surface, a first end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a first retainer gap, and a second end portion comprising inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap. The first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion. The second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion. The inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion. The inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion. The first garment strap is arranged within the first retainer gap is such that the first strap engages the first engaging portion. The second strap is arranged within the second retainer gap such that the second strap engages the second engaging portion.

The present invention may also be embodied as a strap holder adapted to be connected to first and second garment straps comprising a central portion, a first end portion, and a second end portion. The central portion defines a first surface, a second surface, an exposed surface, and a rear surface. The first end portion comprises an inner surface, an outer surface, an exposed surface, and a rear surface, where the inner and outer surfaces define a first retainer gap. The second end portion comprises an inner surface, an outer surface, an exposed surface, and a rear surface, where the inner and outer surfaces defining a second retainer gap. The first surface of the central portion meets the outer surface of the first end portion and the inner surface of the second end portion. The second surface of the central portion meets the inner surface of the first end portion and the outer surface of the second end portion. The inner surface of the first end portion defines a first engaging portion. The inner surface of the second end portion defines a second engaging portion. The first strap is arranged within the first retainer gap such that the first garment strap engages the first engaging portion. The second strap is arranged within the second retainer gap such that the second garment strap engages the second engaging portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a rear elevation view of a first embodiment of a strap holder of the present invention also showing in broken lines, straps of an article of women's clothing and a decorative accessory;

FIG. 2 is a top elevation view of the first embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a bottom elevation view of the first embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a front elevation plan view of the first embodiment;

FIG. 5 is an elevation view of a first end of the first embodiment; and

FIG. 6 is an elevation view of a second end of the first embodiment;

FIG. 7 is a rear elevation view of a second embodiment of a strap holder of the present invention also showing in broken lines, straps of an article of women's clothing and a decorative accessory;

FIG. 8 is a top elevation view of the second embodiment;

FIG. 9 is a bottom elevation view of the second embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a front elevation view of the second embodiment;

FIG. 11 is an elevation view of a first end of the second embodiment; and

FIG. 12 is an elevation view of a second end of the second embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring initially to FIG. 1 of the drawing, depicted therein is a first example strap holder 20 constructed in accordance with, and embodying, the principles of the present invention. The example strap holder 20 is illustrated in FIG. 1 connected between first and second straps 22 and 24. Additionally, FIG. 1 illustrates an optional decorative member 26 that may be supported by the example strap holder 20. The example decorative member 26 is supported by a short chain 28.

The first example strap holder 20 is a unitary member 30 comprising a central portion 32, a first end portion 34, and a second end portion 36. The central portion 32 extends between the first and second end portions 34 and 36. The example unitary member forming the strap holder 20 is rigid. However, a strap holder of the present invention may be made from an assembly of parts, and one or more of these parts may be made of flexible, resilient, or deformable material so long as the material or materials selected allows the strap holder to function as generally described below.

FIGS. 1-6 illustrate that the central portion 32 of the first example strap holder 20 defines a first surface 40, a second surface 42, an exposed surface 44, and a rear surface 46. The first and second surfaces 40 and 42 are rounded, but extend along substantially straight lines that are substantially parallel. As perhaps best shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6, the example exposed surface 44 and example rear surface 46 are substantially flat.

FIG. 1 further illustrates that the first end portion 34 of the example strap holder 20 defines an inner surface 50, an outer surface 52, an exposed surface 54, and a rear surface 56. The inner surface 50 and outer surface 52 are rounded and come together at a tip 58 of the first end portion 34. And, as shown by dashed lines in FIG. 1, the example inner surface 50 extends along a first path 50a generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral; the example outer surface portion 52 extends along a second path 52b in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. In the example strap holder 20, the first and second paths 50a and 52a are similar in shape, but the first path 50a has a slightly tighter spiral configuration than the second path 52b. As perhaps best shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6, the example exposed surface 54 and example rear surface 56 are substantially flat.

A first retainer gap 60 is formed between the inner and outer surfaces 50 and 52. Like the surfaces 50 and 52 that define this gap 60, the example first retainer gap 60 is generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. The first retainer gap 60 defines an initial portion 62, an intermediate portion 64, and a terminal portion 66.

Like the first end portions 34, the second end portion 36 of the example strap holder 20 defines an inner surface 70, an outer surface 72, an exposed surface 74, and a rear surface 76. The inner surface 70 and outer surface 72 come together at a tip 78.

As shown by dashed lines in FIG. 1, the example inner surface 70 extends along a first path 70a generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral; the example outer surface portion 72 extends along a second path 72a in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. In the example strap holder 20, the first and second paths 70a and 72a are similar in shape, but the first path 70a has a slightly tighter spiral configuration than the second path 72b. FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6 illustrate that the example exposed surface 74 and example rear surface 76 are substantially flat. A second retainer gap 80 is formed between the inner and outer surfaces 70 and 72. Like the first gap 60, the example second retainer gap 80 is generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. The second retainer gap 80 defines an initial portion 82, an intermediate portion 84, and a terminal portion 86.

In the example strap holder 20, the example first and second end portions 34 and 36 are flipped about a horizontal axis with respect to each other. As shown in FIG. 1, when the strap holder 20 is worn, the central portion 32 is angled with respect to a lateral axis “a”. The central portion 32 thus spaces the first and second end portions 34 and 36 from each other a distance “d”. The central portion 32 further spaces the first and second end portions 34 and 36 from each other such that the first surface 40 of the central portion 32 meets the outer surface 52 of the first end portion 34 and the inner surface 70 of the second end portion 36 and the second surface 42 of the central portion 32 meets the inner surface 50 of the first end portion 34 and the outer surface 72 of the second end portion 36.

The distance “d” between the first and second end portions 34 and 36 is determined by a desired relationship between the straps 22 and 24 and/or a desired orientation of either of the straps 22 and 24 with the wearer's shoulder. In the example strap holder 20, the length and angle of the central portion 32 determines this distance “d”. If the central portion 32 is made of deformable or resilient materials, the distance “d” will be determined by the length and angle of the central portion 32 when the straps 22 and 24 place loads on the end portions 34 and 36.

To use the strap holder 20, the strap holder 20 is manipulated such that a first desired portion 90 of one of the straps 22 and 24 is inserted into the initial portion 62 of the first retainer gap 60. The strap holder 20 is then further manipulated such that the first desired portion 90 engages a first engaging portion 92 of the inner surface 50 of the first end portion 34. The strap holder 20 is then further manipulated such that a second desired portion 94 of another of the straps 22 and 24 is inserted into the initial portion 82 of the second retainer gap 80. The strap holder 20 is then further manipulated such that the second desired portion 92 engages a second engaging portion 96 of the inner surface 70 of the second end portion 36.

With the desired portions 90 and 94 in contact with the engaging portions 92 and 96 of the inner surfaces 50 and 70, respectively, the straps 22 and 24 are held in a desired orientation with respect to each other and/or with respect to a location of the straps 22 and 24 on the wearer's shoulder.

The unitary member 30 forming the first example strap holder 20 may be arranged as shown in FIG. 1 or may be inverted such that relative locations of the first and second surfaces the central portion 32 are switched. In this case, the wearer may select which of the end portions 34 and 36 engage which of the straps 22 and 24.

Optionally, as shown in FIG. 1, a decorative member 26 may be supported by the central portion 32 of the strap holder 20. The example decorative member 26 is supported by a chain 28 extending between and operatively connected to the central portion 32 and the decorative member 26. The chain 28 allows the decorative member 26 to hang at location substantially centered between the first and second end portion 34 and 36 and at least partly below these end portions 34 and 36. Depending upon how the chain 28 is attached to the central portion 32, the use of the decorative member 26 may establish a preferred vertical orientation of the strap holder 20.

Referring now to FIG. 7 of the drawing, depicted therein is a second example strap holder 120 constructed in accordance with, and embodying, the principles of the present invention. The example strap holder 120 is illustrated in FIG. 1 connected between first and second straps 122 and 124. Additionally, FIG. 1 illustrates an optional decorative member 126 that may be supported by the example strap holder 120. The example decorative member 126 is supported by a short chain 128.

The second example strap holder 120 is a unitary member 130 comprising a central portion 132, a first end portion 134, and a second end portion 136. The central portion 132 extends between the first and second end portions 134 and 136. The example unitary member forming the strap holder 120 is rigid. However, a strap holder of the present invention may be made from an assembly of parts, and one or more of these parts may be made of flexible, resilient, or deformable material so long as the material or materials selected allows the strap holder to function as generally described below.

FIGS. 7-12 illustrate that the central portion 132 of the second example strap holder 120 defines a first surface 140, a second surface 142, an exposed surface 144, and a rear surface 146. The first and second surfaces 140 and 142 are rounded, but extend along substantially straight lines that are substantially parallel. As perhaps best shown in FIGS. 8, 9, 11, and 12, the example exposed surface 144 and example rear surface 146 are substantially flat.

FIG. 7 further illustrates that the first end portion 134 of the example strap holder 120 defines an inner surface 150, an outer surface 152, an exposed surface 154, and a rear surface 156. The inner surface 150 and outer surface 152 are rounded and come together at a tip 158 of the first end portion 134. And, as shown by dashed lines in FIG. 7, the example inner surface 150 extends along a first path 150a generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral; the example outer surface portion 152 extends along a second path 152b in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. In the example strap holder 120, the first and second paths 150a and 152a are similar in shape, but the first path 150a has a slightly tighter spiral configuration than the second path 152b. As perhaps best shown in FIGS. 8, 9, 11, and 12, the example exposed surface 154 and example rear surface 156 are substantially flat.

A first retainer gap 160 is formed between the inner and outer surfaces 150 and 152. Like the surfaces 150 and 152 that define this gap 160, the example first retainer gap 160 is generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. The first retainer gap 160 defines an initial portion 162, an intermediate portion 164, a terminal portion 166, and a restriction portion 168. The tip 158 touches the inner surface 150 within the restriction portion 168.

Like the first end portions 134, the second end portion 136 of the example strap holder 120 defines an inner surface 170, an outer surface 172, an exposed surface 174, and a rear surface 176. The inner surface 170 and outer surface 172 come together at a tip 178.

As shown by dashed lines in FIG. 7, the example inner surface 170 extends along a first path 170a generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral; the example outer surface portion 172 extends along a second path 172a in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. In the example strap holder 120, the first and second paths 170a and 172a are similar in shape, but the first path 170a has a slightly tighter spiral configuration than the second path 172a. FIGS. 8, 9, 11, and 12 illustrate that the example exposed surface 174 and example rear surface 176 are substantially flat.

A second retainer gap 180 is formed between the inner and outer surfaces 170 and 172. Like the first gap 160, the example second retainer gap 180 is generally in the shape of a two-dimensional spiral. The second retainer gap 180 defines an initial portion 182, an intermediate portion 184, a terminal portion 186, and a restriction portion 188. The tip 178 touches the inner surface 170 within the restriction portion 188.

In the example strap holder 120, the example first and second end portions 134 and 136 are flipped about a horizontal axis with respect to each other. As shown in FIG. 7, the central portion 132 is thus angled as necessary to space the first and second end portions 134 and 136 from each other a distance “d” and such that the first surface 140 of the central portion 132 meets the outer surface 152 of the first end portion 134 and the inner surface 170 of the second end portion 136 and the second surface 142 of the central portion 132 meets the inner surface 150 of the first end portion 134 and the outer surface 172 of the second end portion 136.

The distance “d” between the first and second end portions 134 and 136 is determined by a desired relationship between the straps 122 and 124 and/or a desired orientation of either of the straps 122 and 124 with the wearer's shoulder. In the example strap holder 120, the length and angle of the central portion 132 determines this distance “d”. If the central portion 132 is made of deformable or resilient materials, the distance “d” will be determined by the length and angle of the central portion 132 when the straps 122 and 124 place loads on the end portions 134 and 136.

To use the strap holder 120, the strap holder 120 is manipulated such that a first desired portion 190 of one of the straps 122 and 124 is inserted into the initial portion 162 of the first retainer gap 160. The strap holder 120 is then further manipulated such that the first desired portion 190 engages a first engaging portion 192 of the inner surface 150 of the first end portion 134. The is strap holder 120 is then further manipulated such that a second desired portion 194 of another of the straps 122 and 124 is inserted into the initial portion 182 of the second retainer gap 180. The strap holder 120 is then further manipulated such that the second desired portion 192 engages a second engaging portion 196 of the inner surface 170 of the second end portion 136. The restriction portions 168 and 188 form restrictions that prevent the desired portions 190 and 194 of the straps 22 and 24 from inadvertently entering the terminal portions 166 and 186.

With the desired portions 190 and 194 in contact with the engaging portions 192 and 196 of the inner surfaces 150 and 170, respectively, the straps 122 and 124 are held in a desired orientation with respect to each other and/or with respect to a location of the straps 122 and 124 on the wearer's shoulder.

The unitary member 130 forming the second example strap holder 120 may be arranged as shown in FIG. 7 or may be inverted such that relative locations of the first and second surfaces the central portion 132 are switched. In this case, the wearer may select which of the end portions 134 and 136 engage which of the straps 122 and 124.

Optionally, as shown in FIG. 7, a decorative member 126 may be supported by the central portion 132 of the strap holder 120. The example decorative member 126 is supported by a chain 128 extending between and operatively connected to the central portion 132 and the decorative member 126. The chain 128 allows the decorative member 126 to hang at location substantially centered between the first and second end portion 134 and 136 and at least partly below these end portions 134 and 136. Depending upon how the chain 128 is attached to the central portion 132, the use of the decorative member 126 may establish a preferred vertical orientation of the strap holder 120.