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Title:
WEARABLE ELASTIC PAIRING DEVICE FOR SOCKS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/210316
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention is in the field of clothing. Embodiments of this invention are directed to a fastener system suitable for coupling pairs of clothing items to one another. A frequent annoyance to many people is the misplacing or loss of one of the members of a pair of clothing items. A common example of this annoyance is the loss of one sock somewhere along the path from the clothes hamper, to the washer and dryer, and back to the owner's sock drawer. Devices for attaching socks in a pair to one another for purposes of storage and laundry are known in the art. Many of these conventional devices attach to each sock or garment at a single point of attachment. But such attachment renders the sock vulnerable to tearing as stress is applied, such as during machine washing and drying.

Inventors:
RAMIREZ, Alex J. (4105 Milestone Court, Fort Worth, TX, 76244, US)
Application Number:
US2016/039340
Publication Date:
December 29, 2016
Filing Date:
June 24, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RAMIREZ, Alex J. (4105 Milestone Court, Fort Worth, TX, 76244, US)
International Classes:
A41B11/00; D06F95/00
Foreign References:
US5740558A1998-04-21
US4165555A1979-08-28
US5321855A1994-06-21
US5970524A1999-10-26
US5918318A1999-07-06
US6038748A2000-03-21
US20150059060A12015-03-05
US20080034478A12008-02-14
US20010018775A12001-09-06
US6032294A2000-03-07
EP1352575B12006-05-24
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANDERSON, Rodney, M. (Anderson & Levine, L.L.P.14785 Preston Road, Suite 65, Dallas TX, 75254, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. Attachable paired socks, comprising:

first and second socks, each having an upper portion that stretches in a primary direction when worn;

a pairing device, comprising:

a first fastener assembly comprising:

a first stretchable band, attached to the upper portion of the first sock at first and second locations oriented relative to one another substantially in the primary direction of stretch; and

a first fastener, attached to the first stretchable band; and

a second fastener assembly comprising:

a second stretchable band, attached to the upper portion of the second sock at first and second locations oriented relative to one another substantially in the primary direction of stretch; and

a second fastener, adapted to mate with the first fastener, and attached to the second stretchable band.

2. The socks of claim 1, wherein the upper portion of each of the first and second socks has a top hem;

wherein, for each of the first and second socks, the primary direction of stretch is substantially parallel to its top hem;

wherein the first and second locations at which of the first stretchable band is attached to the first sock is at the upper portion near its top hem, so that the first stretchable band extends substantially parallel to the top hem of the first sock;

and wherein the first and second locations at which of the second stretchable band is attached to the second sock is at the upper portion near its top hem, so that the second stretchable band extends substantially parallel to the top hem of the second sock.

3. The socks of claim 1, wherein the first fastener is attached to the first stretchable band at one of the first and second locations;

and wherein the second fastener is attached to the second stretchable band at one of the first and second locations.

4. The socks of claim 1, wherein the first fastener is attached to the first stretchable band between the first and second locations;

and wherein the second fastener is attached to the second stretchable band between the first and second locations.

5. The socks of claim 1, wherein the first fastener comprises a first mating buckle part;

and wherein the second fastener comprises a second mating buckle part that mates with the first mating buckle part.

6. The socks of claim 5, wherein the buckle parts of the first and second fasteners are formed of a thermal plastic.

7. The socks of claim 5, wherein a first end of the first stretchable band forms a sewn loop attached at the first location of the first sock

wherein the first mating buckle part has an opening through which the sewn loop of the first stretchable band passes;

wherein a first end of the second stretchable band forms a sewn loop attached at the first location of the second sock;

and wherein the second mating buckle part has an opening through which the sewn loop of the second stretchable band passes.

8. The socks of claim 1, wherein the first and second stretchable bands are each comprised of an elastic fabric material.

9. A pairing device for attaching paired socks to one another, comprising:

a first fastener assembly comprising:

a first stretchable band having an end at which a sewn loop is formed; and

a first fastener having an opening through which the sewn loop of the first stretchable band passes; and

a second fastener assembly comprising: a second stretchable band having an end at which a sewn loop is formed; and

a second fastener, adapted to mate with the first fastener, and having an opening through which the sewn loop of the second stretchable band passes.

10. The device of claim 9, wherein the sewn loops are respectively formed at a first end of each of the first and second stretchable bands;

and wherein each of the first and second stretchable bands has a second end at which a second sewn loop is formed.

11. The device of claim 9, wherein the first fastener comprises a male buckle part: and wherein the second fastener comprises a female buckle part.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein the buckle parts of the first and second fasteners are formed of a thermoplastic.

Description:
WEARABLE ELASTIC PAIRING DEVICE FOR SOCKS

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention is in the field of clothing. Embodiments of this invention are directed to a fastener system suitable for coupling pairs of clothing items to one another.

[0002] A frequent annoyance to many people is the misplacing or loss of one of the members of a pair of clothing items. A common example of this annoyance is the loss of one sock somewhere along the path from the clothes hamper, to the washer and dryer, and back to the owner's sock drawer.

[0003] Devices for attaching socks in a pair to one another for purposes of storage and laundry are known in the art. Many of these conventional devices attach to each sock or garment at a single point of attachment. But such attachment renders the sock vulnerable to tearing as stress is applied, such as during machine washing and drying.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] Embodiments of the invention provide a pairing device for socks comprised of a pair of fastener assemblies, each comprised of an elastic band and a fastener attached to the band. The fasteners mate with one another, for example as male and female portions of a single center release buckle. Each of the two fastener assemblies is attached to the sock at two points of attachment that extend in a direction in which the sock stretches when worn; typically in a direction parallel to the top hem of the sock.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

[0005] Figure 1 is an elevation view of buckle assemblies according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0006] Figures 2a and 2b are perspective views illustrating the construction and mating of buckle elements according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0007] Figures 3a and 3b are edge views of the buckle assemblies according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating the attachment of the buckle elements to elastic bands.

[0008] Figures 4a and 4b are perspective views illustrating the attachment of buckle assemblies to respective items of clothing according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0009] Figures 5a and 5b are perspective views illustrating the buckle assemblies according to an embodiment of the invention as applied to a pair of socks.

[0010] Figure 6 is an elevation view illustrating the relationship between the direction that the garment stretches when worn and the direction in which the elastic bands of the buckle assemblies of Figure 1 stretch, according to an embodiment.

[0011] Figure 7 is a flow diagram illustrating the cycle of usage for a pair of socks constructed according to these embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0012] The one or more embodiments described in this specification are described in connection with a pair of socks, such as athletic or dress socks, as the invention is believed to be particularly beneficial in such applications. However, it is also contemplated that concepts of this invention may be beneficially applied to other types of paired garments, particularly those that stretch when worn and are snug-fitting, for example pajamas, gloves, swimwear, and the like. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the following description is provided by way of example only, and is not intended to limit the true scope of this invention as claimed. [0013] These embodiments are directed to a pairing device for use with paired garment items, such as socks, that are desired to be kept together during laundry, drying, and storage. As mentioned above, one sock out of a pair is often misplaced or lost somewhere along the route from the clothes hamper, to the washer and dryer, and back to the owner's sock drawer. For the case of athletic socks, one of the socks in a pair can also be lost in a gym bag, or inadvertently not even packed, leaving the athlete in an awkward position on arriving at a competition. Also as mentioned above, one type of conventional pairing device attaches to the sock or garment at a single point of attachment; this type of pairing device renders the sock or garment vulnerable to tearing, particularly during the laundry cycle while the socks are attached to one another. [0014] Another limitation of conventional devices for attaching paired garments to one another is discomfort caused by the device while the socks are being worn. Because socks stretch to closely fit the foot and ankle when worn, conventional pairing devices are generally noticeable and annoying, if not uncomfortable, to the wearer when worn. Because of these limitations, pairing devices for socks and similar stretchable and snug-fitting garments are not commonly used.

[0015] These embodiments provide pairing devices that are less likely to tear the socks to which they are attached, and that are much less noticeable to the wearer.

[0016] Figure 1 illustrates an embodiment of a pairing device including two fastener assemblies, each for securing to one of the socks in a pair. In this embodiment, the two fastener assemblies are constituted by male buckle assembly 10M, having male buckle element 2M, and female buckle assembly 10F, having female buckle element 2F. In buckle assemblies 10M, 10F, buckle elements 2M, 2F are constructed so as to mate with one another by insertion of male buckle element 2M into female buckle element 2F as will be described below. Buckle elements 2M, 2F may be constructed of a durable plastic such as an acetal engineering thermoplastic or another thermoplastic, so as to be heat-resistant and thus dryer- safe. In this embodiment, each of male buckle element 2M and female buckle element 2F is attached to a corresponding stretchable band, which in this embodiment is constituted by elastic band 4.

[0017] Figures 2a and 2b illustrate in more detail the construction of male buckle element 2M and female buckle element 2F. In this embodiment, buckle elements 2M, 2F correspond to a conventional center release plastic buckle, such as the "button and buckle" type available from Best Buy. Male buckle element 2M has bendable tab portion 9 that inserts into a corresponding slot 13 along the edge of female buckle element 2F. Opening 11 through female buckle element 2F is contiguous with slot 13, such that when tab portion 9 is fully inserted into slot 13 (see Figure 2b), it latches against an interior edge of opening 11 so as to retain the buckle closed. Tab portion 9 is visible through opening 11, to allow the user to open the buckle by pressing down on tab portion 9, as known in the art.

[0018] As shown in Figures 2a and 2b, male buckle element 2M has a pair of openings 6M on either side of post 8 on its distal end from tab portion 9, while female buckle element 2F has opening 6M on its distal end from slot 13. Openings 6M and 6F are used to secure male buckle element 2M and female buckle element 2F, respectively, to their respective elastic bands 4, as will now be described relative to Figures 1, 3a, and 3b.

[0019] Elastic bands 4 may be formed of conventional elastic material, for example of a lightweight elastic that narrows when stretched; a typical composition of this elastic is 55% polyester and 45% rubber such as available from Prym Consumer USA. This elastic is machine washable and dryer-safe at temperatures up to 200° F. Elastic bands 4 may be marked with brand logos or decorative elements, as desired.

[0020] Referring first to Figure 3a, male buckle element 2M is secured to elastic band 4 by way of sewn loop 7, to form buckle assembly 10M. Loop 7 is at one end of elastic band 4, and is formed by the end of elastic band 4 passing through openings 6M, around post 8, and forming a doubled-over back portion 5. Stitching 13 secures doubled-over back portion 5 to the back of elastic band 4, and secures male buckle element 2M within loop 7; in this case, stitching 13 passes through the material of elastic band 4 three times, as the end of band 4 is looped back again under the doubled-over portion as shown. Elastic band 4 is doubled over on its distal end from male buckle element 2M, with stitching 13 securing doubled-over back portion 5 at that end also. Figure 3b shows female buckle element 2F as similarly attached to its elastic band 4, to form a buckle assembly, by loop 7 defined by elastic band 4 passing through opening 6F of female buckle element 2F doubling-over to form back portion 5, which is secured in place by stitching 13. Elastic band 4 is also doubled over on its distal end from female buckle element 2F to form back portion 5, which is secured in place by stitching 13. Male buckle element 2M and female buckle element 2F are thus both permanently secured to respective elastic bands 4.

[0021] Alternatively, buckle elements 2M and 2F may be attached to their respective elastic bands 4 between the loops 7. For example, the middle portion elastic band 4, between loops 5, may pass through one or both of the openings 6M of male buckle element 2M. Male buckle element 2M may thus slide or be slid along the length of elastic band 4. Similarly, elastic band 4 may pass through opening 6F of female buckle element 2F; on this case, female buckle element 2F may easily slide along the length of elastic band 4 between its loops 5.

[0022] However, it is contemplated that, for most applications, it will typically be preferred to attach buckle elements 2M and 2F at a loop 7 of their respective elastic bands 4 as described above, rather than between loops 7, as such attachment will prevent buckle elements 2M, 2F from moving or swinging during wear. In addition, attachment at loops 7 maximizes the distance between the points at which buckle assemblies 10M, 10F are attached to socks SCK, allowing elastic bands 4 to freely stretch and thus remain comfortable to the wearer. If a logo is imprinted on elastic bands 4, as is contemplated, placement of buckle elements 2M, 2F at ends of elastic bands 4 will also fully expose that logo.

[0023] According to these embodiments, the pairing device formed of the buckle assemblies including buckle elements 2M, 2F are secured to clothing items by way of their respective elastic bands 4. Figure 4a illustrates the example of the buckle assembly with female buckle element 2F being secured to sock SCK; Figure 4b is a similar view for the buckle assembly with male buckle element 2M. In this embodiment, the sewing of stitching 13 to attach buckle elements 2M, 2F within loops 7 of their respective elastic bands 4 is performed in advance of attaching buckle assemblies 10M, 10F to socks SCK, and elastic bands 4 are attached to sock SCK at the location of doubled-over back portion 5. Separate stitching (not shown in Figures 4a and 4b) will be sewn at a point along and through each of the two doubled-over back portions 5 of each band 4, for example at a point within region 20 shown in Figures 4a and 4b. This sewing of both doubled-over portions 5 of elastic band 4 to sock SCK provides two points of attachment for each buckle assembly 10M, 10F, reducing the likelihood of tearing during the laundry cycle. Alternatively, the same stitching 13 that secures back portions 5 to elastic band 4, and thus buckle element 2M, 2F within its sewn loop 7, may also its attach buckle assembly 10M, 10F to the clothing item. In this case, stitching 13 would be simultaneously sewn through doubled-over band 4 and sock SCK in a single sewing operation, both securing buckle elements 2M, 2F within loops 7 and, at the same time, also attaching elastic bands 4 to the clothing item (e.g., sock SCK) at two points of attachment.

[0024] One application of these embodiments of the invention is to maintain socks as pairs. Figures 5a and 5b illustrate this application, with male buckle assembly 10M and female buckle assembly 10F attached to the upper portion of respective socks SCK in the manner described above. While Figures 5a and 5b illustrate application of this embodiment to crew length socks, it is contemplated that these embodiments may alternatively be applied to a wide range of sock types that also includes dress socks, ankle socks, and "no-show" socks, to name a few. In Figure 5a, buckle elements 2M, 2F are separated from and not mated with one another, such as while socks SCK are being worn, while in Figure 5b, buckle elements 2M, 2F are mated to one another, such as while socks SCK are awaiting laundering, are in the laundry cycle, or are in storage. For this application, it is contemplated that the width of elastic bands 4 will be on the order of 1 cm, and the length of buckle assemblies 10M, 10F will be on the order of 3 to 5 cm. Of course, the sizes of these items may vary widely, depending on the particular application.

[0025] Figure 6 illustrates the operation of buckle assembly 10M on sock SCK when worn; buckle assembly 10F will operate similarly. When worn, sock SCK of course stretches primarily circumferentially around the wearer's ankle, as compared with the extent to which it stretches vertically (i.e., in the direction from the wearer's ankle to his knee). As such, in the view of Figure 6, the primary direction SCK STRCH DIR in which sock SCK is stretched is horizontal, parallel with its top hem 22. According to this embodiment, the two points of attachment PA1, PA2 of buckle assembly 10M to sock SCK are oriented substantially horizontally with one another so that elastic band 4 stretches along its length, in direction BND STRCH DIR, as sock SCK stretches in the primary direction S CK S TRCH DIR when worn. This direction BND STRCH DIR is the direction in which elastic band 4 stretches longer and more easily; elastic band 4 may also stretch perpendicular to direction BND STRCH DIR, but will stretch in that perpendicular direction to a much lesser extent than in direction BND STRCH DIR. Stated another way, the two points of attachment PA1, PA2 at which elastic band 4 is attached to sock SCK extend along a line that is substantially in the primary direction of stretch SCK STRCH DIR, such that elastic band 4 stretches in its longitudinal direction BND STRCH DIRthat is substantially parallel with the primary stretch direction SCK STRCH DIR of sock SCK.

[0026] This orientation of buckle assemblies 10M, 10F so as to stretch in direction BND STRCH DIR along with the stretching of socks SCK in direction SCK STRCH DIR minimizes the deformation of socks SCK caused by the pairing devices, when socks SCK are worn. More specifically, as socks SCK are stretched around the lower leg of the wearer, elastic bands 4 also stretch and do not constrain the tops of those socks SCK, and thus reduces the sensation of tugging or stiffness that the wearer experiences. This cooperative stretching of elastic bands 4 with socks SCK also allows buckle assemblies 10M, 10F to essentially lie flat along socks SCK, further reducing the extent to which the wearer notices their presence. The attachment of buckle elements 2M, 2F by looping elastic bands 4 through the buckle openings and then stitching them at their ends, as described above relative to Figures 3a and 3b, also helps to keep buckle elements 2M, 2F flat, and thus unnoticeable, when socks SCK are worn. Accordingly, this pairing device is a comfortable, if not unnoticed, approach to maintaining paired items to one another during laundry and storage, without annoying the wearer. In addition, the indirect attachment of buckle elements 2M, 2F to socks SCK via elastic bands 4, at two points of attachment, allows the paired socks SCK to be latched together during machine washing and drying, without the risk of tearing as would occur if buckle elements 2M, 2F were attached directly to the items and mated to one another during these operations.

[0027] Figure 7 illustrates a typical cycle of usage for a pair of socks SCK on which buckle assemblies 10M, 10F are attached according to these embodiments. For the sake of this description, the cycle begins with process 30, in which newly purchased socks SCK are connected to one another as a pair by inserting buckle element 2M of one sock SCK into buckle element 2F of its partner in the pair; the paired socks SCK can then be stored in this paired arrangement in process 32, awaiting wear. When the user wishes to wear socks SCK, buckle assemblies 2M, 2F are disconnected from one another in process 34, and unpaired socks SCK are then worn by the user in process 36. After wear is completed, socks SCK are re-connected to one another as a pair in process 38, and are then stored in their paired state prior to laundry, for example in a hamper, in process 40. Laundering (i.e., washing and drying) of socks SCK as paired is then performed in process 42, following which paired socks SCK can then be stored again in process 32 to await the next time to be worn. According to this cycle of usage, socks SCK are only unpaired during wear; during all other times, in storage prior to wear, in storage prior to laundry, and during laundering, socks SCK may be connected by buckle assemblies 10M, 10F and thus maintained as paired. It is therefore contemplated that the likelihood of losing one sock in a pair of socks during the storage and laundry cycle will greatly decrease, without subjecting the wearer to discomfort or annoyance during wear.

[0028] While one or more embodiments have been described in this specification, it is of course contemplated that modifications of, and alternatives to, these embodiments, such modifications and alternatives capable of obtaining one or more the advantages and benefits of this invention, will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art having reference to this specification and its drawings. It is contemplated that such modifications and alternatives are within the scope of this invention.




 
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