CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
- TECHNICAL FIELD
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/848,893, filed Oct. 3, 2006.
- BACKGROUND ART
The present invention relates to protective seat covers and, more particularly, to such protective covers as are useful for child car seats. More specifically, the present invention relates to protective covers for use with infant and child car seats of a variety of different sizes and shapes.
The use of infant and child car seats is now required by law in most states. The majority of such seats consist of a molded, hard plastic frame shaped to resemble a chair, having a seat and a seat back. This seat frame is then attached to a base frame that is designed to be placed in the seat of a vehicle (car, airplane, bus, etc.), and make use of the existing seat and shoulder restraints, as well as additional LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) devices, to securely anchor the base frame to the vehicle seat.
The infant and child seats also include separate seat belt configurations to restrain and protect the infant or child placed within the seat. Typically, the seat belt system includes a pair of shoulder straps over the back portion of the seat and a central seat strap that is located between the legs of the seat occupant. The infant or child is strapped into the seat using a shoulder strap over each shoulder, with both shoulder straps fastening to the central seat strap. A pair of lap belts also attach to the central attachment mechanism, as does the strap that extends between the legs. This configuration is termed a five point safety restraint system.
Cushioning is provided over the seat and seat back for user comfort, with most cushioning also including a decorative fabric exterior. The cushioning is provided with slots, slits or other openings to accommodate the restraining strap system, and even when it is designed to be removable for cleaning, the process of removal and installation is physically difficult.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Infant car seats are subject to spills of food and beverages, as well as other soiling agents. The difficulty in removing the decorative fabric cushions results in a tendency for users to leave them in place and rely upon surface cleaning efforts to address soiling problems. The slots, slits, and crevices make such cleaning particularly difficult, resulting ultimately in the disposal of the entire car seat—and expensive cleaning solution. Efforts at utilizing replaceable or disposable protective liners have enjoyed limited success. The variations in child and infant seat configuration have required custom sizing of the liners, limiting availability and resulting in higher consumer prices. A need exists for a washable child and infant seat cover that is easily installed and removed, and provides a universal fit for all sizes and brands of infant and child safety seats.
A cover for a child seat in the form of full coverage slip cover whereas flaps extend from a central portion of material. The cover consists of several materials, including a waterproof inner lining, cushioning material, decorative fabric and elastic. Elastic is used for easily maintaining the cloth material about the periphery of the vehicle safety seat as well as providing for the simple removal and placement of cover when used with a child car seat. The parting of fabric at several locations beginning near the central body of cover form openings and extend to peripheral of cover. The openings between flaps accommodate use of any five point seat safety harness and various positioning of shoulder and lap straps. The crotch slot opening in seat portion at center of cover allow for accessibility of the harness front locking and release mechanism. The end points of flaps are held closed by fastening components to close gap of openings. The fastened flaps form a cover that extends over the peripheral of the entire car seat. The peripheral of cover is gathered in such a way by the use of elastic components incased in peripherals as to secure positioning. The cover flaps as described gives this cover universal application ability. This cover can be machine or hand washed.
A seat cover receivable upon a vehicle safety seat having at least one belt restraint attached thereto, said seat cover protecting an outer covering of said vehicle safety seat, the child seat cover comprising: a cover material of substantially sheetform configuration having an upper periphery and a lower periphery, said cover material having a pair of dorsal slits formed therein and extending inward from said upper periphery in a substantially parallel manner and spaced equidistant from a central vertical axis of said cover material, and said cover material having a pair of ventral slits formed therein and extending inward from said lower periphery in a substantially converging manner, each of said ventral slits extending inward on a bias relative to said lower periphery of said cover material, said pair of dorsal slits and said pair of ventral slits together defining a pair of outer lateral wing panels, an inner back panel extending toward said upper periphery, and an inner seat panel extending toward said lower periphery; and a plurality of fastener pairs attached to said cover material, each of said fastener pairs comprising two complementary fastening members with a first one of said complementary fastening members attached to one of said lateral wing panels and a second one of said complementary fastening members attached to said back panel or said seat panel at a location adjacent to and opposite said first one of the complementary fastening members, whereby each of said lateral wing panels may be selectively attached to an adjacent portion of said seat panel and an adjacent portion of said back panel to cooperatively retain said at least one belt restraint when the latter is received between the adjacent panels, and when so configured, said lateral wing panels, said back panel, and said seat panel extend as a substantially continuous covering over said outer covering of said vehicle safety seat.
A cover for a child seat having a five-point harness and seat accommodations that include a backrest, seat and left and right side contouring, said cover comprising: a multi-ply sheetform construction that includes an outer shell fabric and a plurality of inner layers consisting of water-proof and cushioning materials and at least one length of an elastic cord, wherein a plurality of slits extend inward from an outer periphery of said sheetform construction forming a seat portion, a back portion and a pair of fully extended lateral flaps; and a plurality of hook and loop fastening pairs attached to the sheetform construction at locations adjacent each of said plurality of slips, said fastening pairs cooperate with said seat and back portions and said pair of fully extended lateral flaps to form a removable cover over an entire seating surface of said child seat.
A cover for a child seat in the form of full coverage slipcover comprising: a multi-ply, substantially rectangular cover material configured to provide a plurality of material panels extending from a central portion of said cover material, and wherein the multi-ply construction includes a waterproof inner lining, a cushioning material, and a decorative, outer fabric; an elastic strap or cord received within said cover material at a location substantially adjacent an outer periphery thereof, said elastic strap or cord resulting in a selective gathering of said cover material adjacent the outer periphery upon receipt of said slipcover upon said child seat to assist in the retention thereof; and a plurality of hook and loop fastening pairs attached to adjacent ones of said plurality of extending material panels, the plurality of hook and loop fastening pairs and said adjacent ones of said plurality of extending material panels cooperatively receiving and selectively retaining respective belts of a five-point safety harness, including a pair of shoulder straps and a pair of lap straps, and wherein a buckle notch is formed in one of said plurality of extending material panels at a location therein to selectively receive a common buckle and a crotch strap of said five-point safety harness.
This invention provides universal covering for child car seats of various makes and models having adaptable, waterproof and elastic components to allow for full coverage of front of child car seat and includes seat, backrest and sides of front seating portion of child car seat. This child car seat cover is useful in that it can slip on and off from car seat easily with no removal of or forcing open or closed any area of the actual car seat in whole or in part. This invention solves the following technical problems: 1) It provides for rapid installment, 2) provides a sanitary environment by limiting bacteria and mold formation in car seat, 3) provides a waterproof barrier to protect preinstalled car seat fabric, 4) greater usability by its reversible design.
One advantage of the invention is the slip cover does not interfere with existing fabric installation of child car seats, their harness structures or tethering devices. The car seat cover is water proof and can be placed on any child car seat device by protecting the integrity of the car seat materials, structure and installation to vehicle positioning.
Of current covers available the consumer must first pry any removable fabric from plastic fastening parts that may break if too much pressure is applied to remove it. With some car seat fabrics installed by child car seat manufacturer, the car seat must first be removed from the car then disassembled with tools.
With either removal, the integrity of the car seat—in terms of both its positioning apparatus and the internal parts and mechanisms can easily be compromised. Plastic parts can break off or the car seat can be refastened to the car in an unsafe manner. Although some child car seat manufacturers claim their seat covers are removable and washable, it is only in fine print that the consumer learns that removability of the factory installed cover requires removal of the car seat from the vehicle and/or disassembly of the child car seat itself or only the seat portion can be removed.
Another advantage of the invention is that this invention is waterproof, reversible and allows for few application instructions (instruction through illustration only in most cases or written).
A third advantage of the invention includes a unique method of application for maintaining the integrity and safety features of all child car seats. Child car seats need to be installed so as to prevent injury to the passenger. Nevertheless, one should expect to be able to keep the car seat tidy to lessen bacteria causing odor in the provided manufacturer's fabric of the car seat.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
It is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components described hereinafter and illustrated in the drawing figures. Those skilled in the art will recognize that various modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.
FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a cover for a child car seat in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a generic child car seat.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view, similar to FIG. 2, of a generic child car seat after the cover of FIG. 1 is received and secured thereto.
FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of the child seat cover with the cover of FIG. 1 partially secured to the generic child car seat.
FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along line segment 5-5 of FIG. 3 of an elastic edge of the cover as secured to the generic child car seat.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view and the first of a sequential series showing securement of the cover to the generic child seat, with portions shown in phantom, the cover placed over the child seat and a central buckle pulled through an opening in the cover.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view and the second in the sequential series showing securement of the cover to a generic child seat, with portions shown in phantom, the cover placed over the child seat and a first wing extending under a first shoulder strap.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view and the third in the sequential series showing securement of the cover to a generic child seat, with portions shown in phantom, the cover placed over the child seat and a second wing extending under a second shoulder strap.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 9 is a perspective view and the fourth in the sequential series showing securement of the cover to a generic child seat, with portions shown in phantom, the cover secured to the child seat.
Reference is now made to the drawings wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout. In FIG. 1, a child seat cover 10 is preferably fabricated using a one or multi-layer protective cover material 14 of substantially rectangular sheetform configuration. Although depicted in FIG. 1 as of woven construction, the present invention is not so limited, and the use of non-woven materials is also contemplated in fabricating the child seat cover 10.
A pair of dorsal slits 18 extend inwardly in a substantially vertical manner from an upper periphery 22 of the cover material 14, forming a back panel 26 of generally rectangular configuration. In a similar manner a pair of ventral slits 32 extend inwardly from a lower periphery 36 of the cover material 14, forming a seat panel 42. The ventral slits 32 are preferably formed on a bias, and in a particularly preferred embodiment, on a substantially 45-degree bias relative to the lower periphery 36.
While the pair of ventral slits 32 extend inward without intersecting the pair of dorsal slits 18, the combination of both cooperate to form a first lateral wing panel 46 and a second lateral wing panel 48 within the cover material 14. In combination, the back panel 26, the pair of lateral wing panels 46, 48, and the seat panel 42 appear to form an angel outline in the cover material 14, inspiring the trademark for the commercial product: SEAT ANGEL™.
A plurality of fastening pairs are provided adjacent each of the slits, in FIG. 1 a plurality of pairs of hook and loop fasteners 52A, 52B are attached adjacent one-another on opposite sides of both the dorsal slits 18 and the ventral slits 32. It is to be understood and appreciated that the present invention is not to be interpreted as limited to this one type of paired fasteners.
The present child seat cover 10 is intended primarily for use in motor vehicle child seats, and the majority of those offer a 5-point restraint system. In FIG. 1 a buckle notch 56 is formed at a central location in the seat panel 42, substantially corresponding to the location of a seatbelt buckle extending through the seat area of child seats utilizing the 5-point system. The buckle notch 56 permits this centrally-located seatbelt buckle to extend through the cover material 14.
FIG. 2 illustrates a vehicle safety seat 62 that utilizes such a 5-point harness system. In such systems a common buckle 64, normally attached to a crotch strap 66, is used to attach together at a central location a first shoulder strap 68, a second shoulder strap 72, a first side strap 74 and a second side strap 76, which together securely hold the child in proper position within the vehicle safety seat 62.
There are several different manufacturers of vehicle safety seats, some of the more well known might include Graco Children's Products, Inc., of Exton, Pa., Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc., of Columbus, Ind., Peg-Perego, of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Evenflo Company, Inc., of Piqua, Ohio. Additionally, most manufacturers have several different models, for example Britax Child Safety, Inc., of Charlotte, N.C., presently offers eleven different seat models, ranging from the COMPANION® to the VERVET™. The present invention is designed to provide a “universal fit” regardless of style and structural peculiarities of these various models. In addition, the present inventive seat cover can be used for three-point harness seats, safety seats anchored to grocery shopping carts, and specialized safety seats for the physically challenged.
Although the seat structures may vary from model to model and between manufacturers, the vehicle safety seat 62 is believed to be illustrative of the majority of such structures. This “generic” seat will be utilized hereinafter to generally illustrate the manner by which child seat cover is securely received by and covers such safety seats. A seat area 82 and a back support surface 84 are located between side wings 86, forming a protective, padded area for the child. An outer perimeter 88 extends about the vehicle safety seat 62, separating the seat front from the seat back.
In FIG. 3 the child seat cover 10 is shown secured upon the vehicle safety seat 62 (shown in phantom); with the cover material 14 extending beyond the outer perimeter 88 thereof (also see FIG. 4 in this regard). The first and second lateral wing panels 46, 48 each extend from a back panel seam of attachment 92A, 92B to a seat panel seam of attachment 94A, 94B. This manner of attachment permits the various harness belts to extend from the vehicle safety seat 62 yet have the cover material 14 extend over and protect the entire front surface thereof.
To assist in this regard, an elastic cord 98 is utilized along the outer seam of the cover material 14, as is best shown in FIG. 5. The cover material 14 is also shown as consisting of a three-ply construction, a top layer 104 that may consist of a twill or decorative fabric, a middle layer 106 of Armofleece, which adds body and structure without making it stiff, and an inner layer 108 of a polyester material. As mentioned previously, the cover material 14 can consist of multiple layers, including a material providing flame retardant properties, or a single layer without departing from the scope of the present invention.
The cover material 14 can also consist of a disposable construction, permitting a user to discard instead of washing when the child seat cover 10 becomes soiled. Additionally, although the elastic cord 98 is utilized in a presently preferred embodiment, a drawstring or similar structure can also be used, permitting the periphery of the cover material 14 to be drawn around the outer perimeter 88 helping to secure the child seat cover 10 to the vehicle safety seat 62.
The manner of installing the child seat cover 10 after securely anchoring the vehicle safety seat 62 is depicted in sequential FIGS. 6-9. In FIG. 6 the child seat cover 10 is placed over/on top of the vehicle safety seat 62 with the back panel placed over the headrest part of the vehicle safety seat 62. The common buckle 64 and attached crotch strap 66 are pulled up and through the buckle notch 56.
Turning now to FIG. 7, the first lateral wing panel 46 is next placed under and through the first shoulder strap 68. The first lateral wing panel 46 is then stretched in the direction of arrow A to overlap and engage with the back panel 26, utilizing the hook and loop fasteners 52A, 52B, forming the back panel seam of attachment 92A (see FIGS. 8 and 9). In a similar manner, the first lateral wing panel 46 is stretched in the direction of arrow B to overlap and engage with the seat panel 42, forming the seat panel seam of attachment 94A (FIGS. 8 and 9).
In FIG. 8 the second lateral wing panel 48 is being drawn under and through the second shoulder strap 72, with a portion drawn up in the direction of arrow C to overlap and engage with the back panel 26, forming the second back panel seam of attachment 92B. Another portion of the second lateral wing panel 48 is drawn in the direction of arrow D, to a location of overlap and engagement with the seat panel 42, forming the second seat panel seam of attachment 94B. The seat panel 42 is then smoothed to complete its positioning within the seat area 82. The elastic periphery of the cover material 14 is drawn around the outer perimeter 88 of the vehicle safety seat 62, completing the installation of the child seat cover 10. Removal of the child seat cover 10 is substantially the reverse of the preceding steps.
The child seat cover 10 of the present invention is preferably fabricated out of the three separate materials: the top layer 104 consisting of a twill or decorative fabric; the middle layer 106 of Armofleece; and the inner layer 108, a polyester. Each of the above materials is cut from a respective supply roll of fabric to measure 1½ yards (56 inches) by 1¼ yards (45 inches). The plies of fabric are placed in the following order as the cover is sewn “inside out”: Armofleece; inner layer; and top layer. The left, top, and right sides are sewn together at 1 inch and 2 inches from the edge of the plies, creating a chamber within the layers to receive the elastic cord or drawstring. The fabric is then repositioned, inside in, with fabric now in the appropriate order.
The dorsal and ventral slits are now cut into the 3 plies, with a hem sewn 1½ inches from the edge of the slits. The hook and loop fasteners are now attached, preferably the loop pieces to the top, cotton layer and the hook pieces to the inner, polyester layer, adjacent to the slits to form the fastening pairs.
An imaginary crease of the seat is approximately located 22 inches from the bottom edge of the fabric plies, and a 3¼ inch long buckle notch is cut through all layers approximately 14½ inches from the bottom edge of the fabric. A reinforcing seam is stitched around the buckle notch. The elastic cords or drawstrings are then placed within each chamber and sewn in, after first ensuring that the fabric is sufficiently “bunched” to secure the cover when received by the vehicle safety seat.
My invention has been disclosed in terms of a preferred embodiment thereof, which provides a child seat cover that is of great novelty and utility. Various changes, modifications, and alterations in the teachings of the present invention may be contemplated by those skilled in the art without departing from the intended spirit and scope thereof. It is intended that the present invention encompass such changes and modifications.