US20150000165A1 - Versatile footwear covers and methods relating to same - Google Patents

Versatile footwear covers and methods relating to same Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150000165A1
US20150000165A1 US14268853 US201414268853A US2015000165A1 US 20150000165 A1 US20150000165 A1 US 20150000165A1 US 14268853 US14268853 US 14268853 US 201414268853 A US201414268853 A US 201414268853A US 2015000165 A1 US2015000165 A1 US 2015000165A1
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Prior art keywords
cover
footwear
piece
heel
stretchable
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Pending
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US14268853
Inventor
Alexis L. Reiff
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Heel Skin LLC
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Heel Skin, LLC
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B3/00Footwear characterised by the shape or the use
    • A43B3/16Overshoes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/22Soles made slip-preventing or wear-resisting, e.g. by impregnation or spreading a wear-resisting layer
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B21/00Heels; Top-pieces, e.g. high heels, heel distinct from the sole, high heels monolithic with the sole

Abstract

A footwear cover made of an elastic material is provided. The footwear cover defines a first opening and is moveable between a first expanded or stretched position for installing the cover on footwear and a second compressed position to form fit the cover to the footwear the cover is installed on. The cover may include a plurality of biasing mechanisms for form fitting the cover to the footwear disposed within the cover including one or more of the elastic cover material itself, a flat elastic band, elastic thread used to stitch one or more pieces of the cover together and a heel securing mechanism.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/840,439, filed Jun. 27, 2013, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates generally to footwear covers, and more specifically, a flexible, stable and versatile footwear cover and related methods.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Shoes are an important part of the wardrobe, providing both functional and aesthetic benefits. Consumers may be quick to change their tastes, and often wish to have footwear having an assortment of colors and patterns to complement the rest of their attire. Consumers may simply build a large collection of footwear, but this may be very expensive and require considerable storage space. Further, it may be inconvenient if one wishes to change the look or appearance of their shoes throughout the course of a given time period (e.g., day, week, year, season, trip, etc.), for example, as they may be away from their shoe closet. Additionally, over time, the appearance of a shoe may decline or degrade to an unwearable state due to exposure to the elements such as sun, rain or puddles, dirt, and salt.
  • These concerns previously have been addressed by providing removable overshoes such as rubber galoshes to be placed over shoes to protect the shoe from damage caused by the elements (e.g., rain, snow, salt, etc.). Conventional galoshes are made of stretchable rubber materials that are generally less adaptable to a variety of different shoe designs and sizes, non-breathable, and require numerous different shapes and sized to be provided in order to accommodate different styles of footwear. One common trait between the different sizes and styles of galoshes is that they are intended to fit high over a shoe so that the elements they are intended to retard do not come over the edge of the galosh and come into contact with the user's shoe, sock, stockings, pant, leggings or the like. Due to the friction created between the shoe and rubber of the galosh, these types of overshoes are not very easy to put on over a shoe and/or remove from a shoe. To address the latter problem, some overshoes or galoshes include a zipper or other external fastener in order to make the galoshes easier to install over the shoe, however, the fasteners may in turn scratch, mar, or damage a surface of the shoe or the user's other clothing (e.g., sock, stockings, pants, leggings, etc.). For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,102,265 and 2,623,567 as well as U.S. Publication No. 2013/0180127 describe overshoes which protect the footwear from the elements.
  • Some attempts have been made to provide a sleeker form-fitting shoe cover. For example, U.S. Publication No. 2008/0229615 to Yu describes a shoe cover having a stretchable upper member and top and bottom openings. The bottom opening includes a bottom opening elastic hem strip that wraps around an edge of the sole of a shoe to secure the cover thereto. Not only does such a configuration leave a portion of the sole exposed to damage and/or the elements, thus reducing the wearable life of the shoe, the portion of the cover extending onto or under the sole of the footwear may also create discomfort when walking due to the protruding nature of this portion relative to the exposed sole area and exposes the cover to wear and tear due to the positioning of this portion of the cover below the sole.
  • Attempts have also been made to provide a cover having a decorative appearance. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,373,510 to Memole describes a decorative shoe cover constructed of natural materials having inherently flexible properties. While these materials are stretchable, the covers described in the '510 patent have limits to their elasticity. Further, the components of the cover in the '510 patent are stitched together using standard thread, which further limits the elasticity of the cover. Additionally, the '510 describes an intricate heel configuration that is custom fit to a particular heel sizing and therefore, each cover requires specific dimensioning to accommodate different heel shapes. Further still, the '510 patent uses a rope elastic band near the shoe opening, which can damage the shoe due to the strength of rope elastic and/or make the shoe uncomfortable to wear. Such a cover may need to be removed from the shoe for extended periods of time due to the risk of damage. Thus, the features of the '510 patent combine to make a complicated cover that may be difficult to apply and is not usable for a variety of different shoes having specific sizes and shapes.
  • Further attempts have been made to provide a decorative cover in U.S. Pat. No. 8,316,563 to Wegner. In the '563 patent, a specialized shoe is required that has a slot located on the sole portion of the shoe to engage with a frame of the shoe cover, thus securing the cover to the shoe. This frame only surrounds the outer periphery of the sole, thus, as with the '127 publication, a substantially large area of the sole may be left exposed to the elements. The cover's frame may also create discomfort when walking due to the protruding nature of the frame relative to the exposed sole area.
  • Further still, to form-fit the cover of Wegner to the shoe, the cover is placed over the shoe, which covers the shoe opening, then the wearer inserts their foot into the covered opening to create a sock-type structure that tightens the cover about the shoe. With this configuration, a barrier is created between the user's foot and the inner surface of the shoe which can cause the user's foot to move or slide within the shoe in an uncomfortable manner due to the lack of direct contact between the user's foot (e.g., skin, stocking/hosiery, etc.) and the inner surface of the shoe. In addition, the creation of an additional sock type construction reduces the amount of circulation provided to the user's foot prohibiting the foot to breathe as intended in the shoe and thereby may cause the user's foot to sweat or make the shoe uncomfortable to wear for longer periods of time. Further, by constantly being in contact with the user's foot during use, the elasticity of the cover may reduce over time which may result in a non-uniform cover appearance. Additionally, the cover may rip or tear when the user inserts their foot into the shoe's opening due to regular wear and tear from repetitively inserting of the user's foot into the sock-type structure of the cover.
  • Existing covers also may create stability and alignment issues when the shoe cover is attached to the footwear. For example, existing shoe covers may slip or slide relative to the footwear during wear and/or walking, and thus may provide an uncomfortable and potentially hazardous experience.
  • Additionally, while rubber galoshes or overshoes may be placed over a shoe, these products are oftentimes not visually appealing and serve a utilitarian purpose of protecting the footwear from external conditions such as inclement weather or mud or dirt and the like.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Generally speaking, pursuant to these various embodiments, a footwear or shoe cover made of a stretchable and shape-conformable material is herein presented. The cover may be made in a wide variety of colors and patterns. In some examples, when the shoe cover is placed over a portion of the exterior of the shoe, the appearance of the shoe is altered. For example, a shoe upper that is normally black in color may be quickly made to appear to be a pink plaid by placing a pink plaid elastic shoe cover according to the present invention over the shoe upper. Alternatively, the texture or properties of the shoe covering may be different than the shoe such as, for example, making the shoe covering of a water-proof material.
  • In one form, the footwear cover comprises a stretchable or elastic fabric material that allows the cover to form fit to the shape of the footwear it is covering and for the cover to be used to cover a variety of different sized and shaped footwear. Thus, rather than requiring numerous different covers for every iteration of footwear, a few general covers may be provided that may be used to cover an entire category of footwear, such as one cover for use with high heels, another cover for use with kitten heels, another cover for pumps, another cover for wedges, another cover for flats, another cover for espadrilles, another cover for sandals, another cover for ankle boots, another cover for tall boots, another cover for sneakers, and the like.
  • In a preferred form, a “one size fits most” cover is provided that covers each general style or category of shoe disclosed herein due to the design and/or configuration of the cover and the resulting elasticity of the same. For example, some of the embodiments disclosed herein include a flexible cover that may be used for all heeled footwear such as stilettos, kitten heels, pumps, or thick heeled footwear, a single flexible cover for flats, low rise pumps, and wedges, and a single cover may be used for all boots. More particularly, in some forms, the cover is not only designed with stretchable fabric, but also stretchable thread for stitching the cover together in order to provide a cover that is more elastic and capable of covering a larger range of footwear types and sizes. Such stretchable threads may even be used to make covers out of materials (e.g., leathers, etc.) that have not previously been used due to the general inelasticity of the material.
  • In another embodiment, a flexible footwear cover is provided that includes a flat elastic band that allows the cover to form fit to the footwear it is covering more easily, in a manner that is less noticeable and in a way that reduces the risk of the cover damaging the footwear (while either worn or not worn) or hurting the user while the footwear is worn. In a preferred form, the flat elastic band is hemmed into the opening of the footwear covering in a free floating manner so as to make the cover less noticeable when installed over or on footwear and to allow movement of the flat elastic band with respect to the cover to accommodate a user's heel or tendon in a more comfortable manner. In other forms, the flat elastic band may be stitched into a desired position or orientation with respect to the cover, such as by using the stretchable thread discussed above.
  • In other forms, a flexible footwear cover is provided herein that includes a unique heel securing mechanism or member for maintaining the position of the cover with respect to the heel while the cover is worn over footwear so that the cover does not move or slide while the footwear is worn. In some forms, the heel securing mechanism allows for intentional movement of the cover with respect to the footwear or heel of the footwear, but prevents unintentional movement of the same. For example, in some embodiments the heel securing mechanism is specifically designed so that the flexible cover can be used with a greater range of footwear and, in particular, footwear with heels of varying sizes. In this regard, the heel securing mechanism allows the user to intentionally move the cover and specifically the heel securing portion with respect to the heel of the footwear while the cover is being installed on or over the footwear, but then prevents unintentional movement of the cover once the cover has been finally fitted on the footwear and the footwear is worn by the user. In yet other forms, the heel securing mechanism includes a grip structure or wear pad and maintains the positioning of the grip structure or wear pad and prevents the heel of the footwear from moving with respect to the grip structure or wear pad while the footwear is worn by the user.
  • Each of the above-mentioned features may be used independently with a flexible footwear cover in accordance with the invention or in any combination with one another (including all combined with one another) in further accordance with the invention. Thus, in some forms, the invention includes a versatile footwear cover that includes a plurality of biasing mechanisms for form fitting the footwear cover to the specific footwear being covered. The plurality of biasing mechanisms comprising one or more of the above-mentioned elastic or stretchable fabric, elastic or stretchable thread, flat elastic member or band, and the heel securing mechanism. For example, in one embodiment a flexible footwear cover is provided having a first biasing mechanism for form fitting the cover to the footwear being covered in the form of elastic fabric material, a second biasing mechanism for form fitting the cover to the footwear being covered in the form of elastic threading used to form the material into the cover, a third biasing mechanism for form fitting the cover to the footwear being covered in the form of a flat elastic band connected to the cover and helping to define the opening of the cover into which the user's footwear is inserted in order to install the cover on the footwear, and a fourth biasing mechanism for form fitting the cover to the footwear being covered in the form of a heel securing mechanism for maintaining the position of the cover with respect to the heel of the footwear being worn.
  • In addition to the above embodiments, a plurality of related methods are also disclosed herein. For example, in one form a method of manufacturing a flexible footwear cover is disclosed. In another form a method of assembling a flexible footwear cover is described herein. In yet other forms, methods of covering footwear and form-fitting covers to footwear are disclosed.
  • The foregoing Summary is merely exemplary. Consequently, the present invention is not intended to be limited by this Summary, but should be interpreted in the broader context of the Description and in view of the Claims set forth below.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1A comprises a material pattern layout for a three piece footwear cover construction for a stiletto in accordance with our invention showing an open heel tip end for the user's shoe heel tip to protrude through so material does not cause slippage or interference with the user's ability to walk;
  • FIG. 1B comprises a perspective view of the footwear cover of FIG. 1A assembled and in its native or relaxed state resembling a compressed structure;
  • FIG. 1C comprises a perspective view of a shoe being inserted into the assembled footwear cover of FIG. 1B;
  • FIGS. 1D-H are perspective, top plan, bottom, front, and rear elevation views, respectively, of the assembled footwear cover of FIG. 1B stretched over or covering the shoe of FIG. 1C;
  • FIGS. 2A-B are perspective and bottom views, respectively, of an alternate two-piece footwear cover construction embodiment for a flat, with broken lines at the toe portion indicating the cover could be made for an open-toe flat, and broken lines at the heel portion indicating the cover could include a third piece connected thereto, such as a wear pad, if desired;
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternate three piece construction for a platform heel shoe, with broken lines at the toe portion indicating the cover could be made for an open-toe or closed-toe shoe and indeterminate length break lines indicating the cover could be used with a platform shoe and/or heel of any height;
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate two-piece footwear cover construction for a wedge shoe, with broken lines at the toe portion indicating the cover could be made for an open-toe or closed-toe shoe and indeterminate length break lines indicating the cover could be used with a wedge shoe of any height;
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an alternate three-piece construction for a heeled sandal including fabric extending around the rear edge of the sole to attach to the shoe, with broken lines at the toe portion indicating the cover could be made for an open-toe or closed-toe sandal;
  • FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternate two-piece construction for a flat boot, with broken lines on the side and rear indicating potential locations where the upper portion of the cover may be stitched together and/or illustrating how multiple materials could be used to provide a two-toned or multi-design element boot cover;
  • FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternate three-piece construction for a heeled boot, with broken lines at the toe portion indicating the cover could be made for an open-toe or closed-toe boot;
  • FIGS. 8A-B are enlarged partial perspective views of a heel securing mechanism in accordance with the invention taken from below and above the heel tip opening, respectively, for the embodiment of FIGS. 1A-H;
  • FIGS. 9A-B are enlarged partial perspective views of an alternate heel securing mechanism in accordance with the invention taken from below and above the heel tip opening, respectively, and illustrating an alternate embodiment with a heel tip non-slip wear pad;
  • FIGS. 10A-B are enlarged partial perspective views of an alternate heel securing mechanism in accordance with the invention taken from below and above the heel tip opening, respectively, and illustrating an alternate embodiment with a heel tip receptacle type non-slip wear pad;
  • FIG. 10C is an enlarged partial perspective view of the heel securing mechanism of FIGS. 10A-B taken from below the heel tip opening and illustrating an alternate manner in which the heel tip receptacle could be connected to the heel cover portion of the footwear cover;
  • FIG. 11A is a material pattern layout for an alternate a one piece footwear cover construction in accordance with an embodiment of the invention disclosed herein;
  • FIGS. 11B-C are perspective and bottom views, respectively, of the one piece footwear cover of FIG. 12A illustrating the footwear cover after assembly in installed on a shoe;
  • FIG. 12A is a material pattern layout for an alternate two piece footwear cover construction in accordance with an embodiment of the invention disclosed herein, and illustrating an optional friction or wear pad attached thereto;
  • FIGS. 12B-C are perspective and bottom views, respectively, of the two piece footwear cover of FIG. 12A illustrating the footwear cover after assembly and installed on a shoe;
  • FIG. 13A is a material pattern layout for an alternate four piece footwear cover construction in accordance with an embodiment of the invention disclosed herein, and illustrating an optional friction or wear pad attached thereto;
  • FIGS. 13B-C are perspective and bottom views, respectively, of the four piece footwear cover of FIG. 13A illustrating the footwear cover after assembly and installed on a shoe;
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a footwear cover in accordance with the invention disclosed herein and illustrating an additional ornamental design, such as a zipper, that can be affixed to a portion of the footwear cover for decorative purposes.
  • Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding components throughout the several views of the drawings. Skilled artisans will appreciate that the elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions and/or relative positioning of some of the elements in the figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help to improve understanding of various embodiments of the present invention. As a specific example, the pattern shapes and layouts shown in FIGS. 1A, 11A, 12A and 13A are not drawn to scale in order to allow the pattern pieces to more easily be understood and shown on a single drawing sheet. Additionally, common but well-understood elements that are useful or necessary in a commercially feasible embodiment are often not depicted in order to facilitate a less obstructed view of these various embodiments. It will further be appreciated that certain actions and/or steps may be described or depicted in a particular order of occurrence while those skilled in the art will understand that such specificity with respect to sequence is not actually required. It will also be understood that the terms and expressions used herein have the ordinary technical meaning as is accorded to such terms and expressions by persons skilled in the technical field as set forth above except where different specific meanings have otherwise been set forth herein.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Referring now to the drawing figures in general, there are shown numerous embodiments in accordance with the invention disclosed herein. In some forms or examples, a footwear cover in accordance with the invention is illustrated includes an elastic fabric material that defines a first opening into which footwear may be disposed to cover the footwear with the cover. In a preferred form, the footwear cover is movable between a first position in which the material and/or the first opening are stretched to receive a shoe and a second position in which the material and/or the first opening compress to form fit to the shoe being covered. The footwear cover may also include a flat elastic band or member connected to the cover at the first opening to further define the opening with the material. Like the fabric material, the flat elastic band is movable between a first position in which the flat elastic band is stretched to receive a shoe and a second position in which the flat elastic band is compressed to form fit to a portion of the shoe being covered. The band preferably has opposing broad or flat surfaces separated by opposing narrow edges. When the shoe is inserted into the cover, one of the broad surfaces of the flat elastic band lies generally flat against an outer surface of the shoe to help disguise or hide the cover or make the cover less noticeable once installed on the shoe. In a preferred form, the elastic band is free floating in a hem of the cover so that the elastic band may move as needed to accommodate either the shape of the shoe or a user's foot or leg (e.g., such as the user's Achilles tendon) or clothing located near this region (e.g., stockings, such as nylons or socks, etc.) so that the broad side of the flat elastic band rests against the user's shoe or against the user's foot, leg or clothing at the rear of the shoe in order to provide a more comfortable fit.
  • As will be discussed further below, in a preferred form, at least some embodiments of the footwear cover disclosed herein will further include elastic or stretchable thread that assists in making the cover easier to move between the first stretched position and the second compressed position and further that help allow the footwear cover to be stretched beyond what would otherwise be possible to accommodate a broader range of footwear shapes and sizes. For example, by utilizing stretchable thread, the footwear cover can be stretched beyond the limit of travel of the elastic fabric material itself. How far beyond this limit of travel depends on several controllable factors such as the stretchable thread used, the diameter of the thread used, the type of stitch or stitch pattern used with the thread and how tightly stitched the elastic fabric pieces are to one another.
  • In some forms, the footwear cover may include a grip member or wear pad, such as a friction pad or friction-increasing material. This friction pad may be connected generally under a toe portion of the cover and/or under a heel portion of the cover (or both). The grip or wear pad may be connected to the footwear cover by a fastener, such as an adhesive, stitch, staple or the like. In alternate forms, however, the grip or wear pad itself may make up the lower portion of the footwear cover rather than being connected to a piece of fabric or material positioned in this portion of the footwear cover.
  • In another preferred form, the footwear cover will include a heel securing member. For example, in one embodiment, the heel securing member may be connected around a periphery of the heel of the footwear to prevent unintentional movement of the footwear cover yet still allow for intentional movement of the cover, thus allowing the footwear cover to be used to accommodate different footwear shapes and sizes. For example, in footwear having a heel with a longitudinal axis generally transverse to the surface the footwear is resting on (e.g., ground, floor, etc.), the heel securing member of the footwear cover may be moved along the longitudinal axis or length of the heel to allow the same cover to be used with footwear of different shapes and sizes and/or heels of different shapes and sizes. Thus, if the cover is used with a smaller heeled shoe, the heel securing member may be positioned lower down on the heel toward the bottom thereof; whereas if the cover is used with a larger heeled shoe, the heel securing member may be moved and positioned higher up on the heel or further spaced apart from the bottom of the heel if needed in order to allow the cover to be used with such a larger heeled shoe. In other instances, having a heel securing member allows the user to position the heel cover portion of the footwear cover exactly where the user would like. For example, in some instances such a heel securing member would allow the user to push or stretch the heel cover portion of the footwear cover down toward the bottom of the heel of the shoe being covered in such a way that the heel cover portion would be retained in that position via the heel securing member which may not otherwise be possible if, for example, the heel cover portion were resilient enough to pull the cover back up from the bottom of the heel. The heel securing member is generic to multiple shoe types, and thus, like the rest of the shoe cover, may be used with many different types of shoes. Additionally, the heel securing member may be formed integral to the remainder of the cover such that it is attached to the remainder of the cover so that both the heel securing member and the cover may be installed at one time.
  • In one preferred embodiment of the heel securing mechanism, a flat elastic band or member is used to secure the heel covering portion of the footwear cover to the heel of the shoe being covered. By using a flat elastic band as the heel securing member, the member is able to lay flat against the heel and allows the heel cover portion of the footwear cover to not stick out or protrude from the heel and, thus, remain less noticeable or harder to see (e.g., more imperceptible) than would otherwise be possible with the use of other bulkier elastic material such as rope elastic.
  • In other forms of the heel securing mechanism, the heel securing member may include a receptacle, such as a cupped member with a bottom surface and protrusions, such as an upstanding wall, extending generally vertically therefrom or transverse thereto. In one form, this cupped member is positioned below the heel of the shoe being covered and is configured to receive at least a portion of the heel. In a preferred form, at least a portion of the cupped member is sized to friction fit on the distal end of the heel of the shoe being covered to ensure that the shoe will not move with respect to the footwear cover and specifically the heel portion thereof in order to prevent the cover from moving or slipping while the covered shoe is worn by the user. In a preferred form, at least a portion of the upstanding wall of the cup member are sized to receive the distal end of the heel of the shoe being covered in such a friction fit manner (if not the entire upstanding wall). In other forms, however, a non-friction fit may be desired in order to make the footwear cover more easy to install on and remove from the user's shoe.
  • In some forms, the footwear cover may further define one or more additional openings to accommodate a design feature of the shoe being covered (e.g., to accommodate or mimic the open-toe portion of an open-toe shoe, the sandal strap portions of a sandal, venting or other design elements present on the shoe being covered, etc.). Thus, for example, when an open-toed shoe is used with the footwear cover, the open-toed nature of the shoe may remain visible. Such additional footwear cover openings allow the user's foot to breath and the covered shoe to vent in addition to the venting that is provided by using the breathable elastic fabric of the footwear cover itself.
  • The footwear covers disclosed herein may be provided in a variety of different configurations and/or constructions. For example, in one form the footwear cover is made from a one-piece pattern configuration which reduces the amount of stitching required and number of seems required and further helps in making the cover harder to see or detect when installed on the covered footwear. In other forms, multi-piece pattern configurations may be used to make the footwear cover. For example, specific two-, three- and four-piece footwear cover patterns and configurations will be discussed further herein, with each piece covering certain regions or portions of the covered footwear.
  • In a preferred form, the footwear cover covers the entire surface of the footwear to be covered including the sole of the footwear. The specific portions of the footwear that may be covered by the cover include the heel counter, quarter, heel, heel breast, top lift, upper, toe box, sole, shank/arch support and the like. Alternatively, the footwear covering may cover only some portions of the shoe and/or include openings as discussed above (e.g., to conform to, for example, open-toe shoes or for aesthetic effect, etc.).
  • As mentioned above, the footwear cover may include one or more tread or grip pieces on the bottom of the cover to provide traction to the sole of the footwear and enhance comfort and use of the cover. In one example, the footwear covering may be provided with a first tread piece on the forward portion of the sole (e.g., ball of the foot area) and a second tread piece on the rear portion of the sole (e.g., heel area). The sole is thereby enhanced in areas in which it touches the ground while the user moves (e.g., walks, runs, etc.). The tread may provide the wearer with enhanced confidence, style and security while walking, running, dancing, etc. In addition, traction may be customized for particular seasons (e.g., treads adapted for wet surfaces or for snow/ice, for smooth/slippery surfaces, etc.). Furthermore, by covering footwear with any of the cover embodiments disclosed herein, the life of older footwear may be extended, and the cover may protect the footwear from scuffing or other damage during use.
  • In addition to these embodiments, various methods are disclosed herein as well. For example, a method for manufacturing or assembling a footwear cover is described herein. The method includes providing a stretchable fabric, providing a stretchable thread, and stitching the stretchable fabric into a footwear cover using the stretchable thread. As previously described, in some embodiments, the stretchable fabric may comprise a one-, two-, three-, or four-piece pattern construction, thus, the method would include providing and stitching such pieces. The method may further include providing a flat elastic band located around an outer edge of the stretchable fabric and connecting this flat elastic band to the cover. In one form, the method of connecting the flat elastic band comprises hemming the elastic band into an edge of the cover and, preferably, an edge that defines the opening for the cover within which a shoe is disposed in order to install the cover on the shoe. The method may further include connecting a flat elastic band to the heel securing member and/or stitching either of the flat elastic bands to their respective parts of the cover if a free-floating configuration is not desired.
  • In yet another form, a method for providing a footwear cover is described. The method includes providing an elastic material defining a first opening, moving the elastic material and/or first opening to a first position where the elastic material and/or first opening may be stretched to receive footwear, and moving the elastic material and/or first opening to a second position where the material and/or first opening return toward a normally biased position or compress to form fit to the footwear inserted into the opening. The method may further include the step of providing a flat elastic band to connect to the elastic material at the first opening thereof to define the first opening with the elastic material and positioning the band such that a broad surface of the band lies generally flat against an outer surface of the footwear when inserted therein. The method may further include providing at least one friction pad connected under the toe portion of the footwear cover, and the method may also include providing a second friction pad connected to a heel portion of the footwear cover. Further, the method may include providing a heel securing member that is connected around a periphery of a heel of the footwear to prevent unintentional movement of the footwear cover while allowing for intended movement to allow the cover to be used with or accommodate footwear of different shapes and sizes.
  • Thus, the cover may restore the appearance of older, worn out shoes and give them a new appearance. In addition, the style of the footwear may be modified without permanently altering the shoe itself. Since the cover form fits to the footwear it is applied to, it may be discreetly worn such that it is not apparent that a cover is being worn, thus allowing for one pair of footwear to have any number of effective appearances. The cover also helps protect the shoe from becoming damaged (e.g., high heel shoes easily become scratched and scuffed, which makes them unsightly). Also, the cover extends the life of shoes by covering the entire shoe to ensure weather conditions don't wear the color out or the material out over time (e.g., direct source of heat will strip or crack the shoe's leather or other material of its natural oils, leaving it cracked and distorted, and heels should be kept away from dampness and strong sunlight due to similar damage these items cause the shoe). With the covers on the heels, can be left anywhere as the fabric protects the shoes original appearance from being damaged and the cover handles moisture better than the shoe's material (e.g., natural substances like suede or leather, etc.).
  • While most embodiments of the shoe cover of the present invention will be stretchable and adaptable to conform to the shape of a particular shoe, different designs may be provided for various types of shoes (open toe and closed stiletto, open and closed toe thick heel, ballet flats, etc.). The material of the cover may be made of synthetic fiber such as nylon, lycra/spandex and/or a combination thereof, or of natural fiber such as natural latex. As mentioned above, the cover may also include an elastic band around the opening defined by the cover, to hold the cover tightly onto the shoe. Also, ornamental and/or utilitarian features may be built into specific embodiments of the shoe cover, such as openings for open toe shoes, decorative bows, zippers, different aesthetic patterns on different portions of the cover, and other features. Optionally, the shoe cover may include padding in particular locations and/or rigid or semi-rigid reinforcement pieces, as desired. The cover also helps protect the shoe from becoming damaged (high heel shoes easily become scratched and scuffed, which makes them unsightly). Also the cover extends the life of shoes by covering the entire shoe to ensure weather conditions don't wear the color out/material (direct source of heat will strip the shoe's leather (or other material) of its natural oils, leaving it cracked and distorted. Heels should be kept away from dampness and strong sunlight). With the covers on the heels, they can be left anywhere as the fabric protects the shoes original appearance from being damaged. Cover handles moisture better than a natural substance like suede or leather
  • Referring now to the drawings, and in particular to FIGS. 1A-H, an illustrative example of flexible footwear cover 100 and footwear 102 is illustrated that is compatible with many of the teachings discussed herein. In a preferred form, the footwear cover 100 will be made using a three-piece pattern construction and, thus, we will begin our discussion with such a configuration before moving on to alternate one-, two-, three- and four-piece pattern constructions. A three-piece pattern construction allows the cover 100 to closely fit over footwear 102 without noticing there is a cover applied. Further, the three-piece design allows the cover to easily be placed over the footwear while limiting bunching or excess material, thus making it appear as if the footwear is not covered by external materials.
  • In the three-piece pattern construction illustrated in FIGS. 1A-H, the cover 100 includes first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108, respectively. In addition, one or more of optional items such as flexible band 120, heel securing portion 130, flexible stitching 140, and grip or wear pads, such as slip resistant or friction-increasing pad or element 150 may be used. It is understood that the footwear cover 100 is configured to accommodate many different styles and types of footwear as described herein.
  • The first piece 104 of the footwear cover 100 generally covers an upper or top portion of the footwear 102, such as the toe box, the vamp, and a portion or all of the shank/arch support. The second piece 106 generally covers a lower or sole portion of the footwear 102, for example the sole, a portion or all of the heel breast, and a portion or all of the shank/arch support. Preferably, the second piece 106 is made of a single material and sized such that it will not extend outwardly beyond the side of the shoe 102. The third piece 108 generally covers the heel region of the footwear 102, for example the top lift, heel counter, as well as the quarter and the heel breast.
  • In this example, the first, second, and third pieces, 104, 106 and 108, respectively, are constructed of a flexible or stretchable material that is not molded rubber or plastic. For example, the first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108 of the footwear cover 100 may be made of a synthetic fiber material, such as nylon, spandex (e.g., a polyurethane-polyurea copolymer such as elastane) or a blend of same or alternatively of non-synthetic fiber material, such as natural latex. In a preferred form, any of the following materials will be used: Matte or Shiny Milliskin Tricot 5.5 oz 80% nylon 20% spandex, width 58″/60″ first quality fabric; Matte or Shiny Tricot 6 oz and/or 10 oz 80% nylon 20% spandex, width 58″/60″ first quality fabric; and Sheer Stretch Mesh, 82% nylon 18% spandex, width 58″/60″ first quality fabric. In alternate embodiments, other fabric may be used such as any 4-way stretch material and/or Supplex or Moleskin. In a preferred form and to ensure the desired “one size fits most” concept discussed herein is capable of being attained, middle to heavy weight fabric will preferably be used to control the accuracy of the size and universal feature of the cover. In alternate embodiments a light weight or middle weight nylon spandex material may be used, but such materials may be more likely to rip or tear while walking outdoors or on other surfaces. In addition, such materials are typically more see-through or sheer and, thus, color of the footwear being cover may more easily be seen through the cover. Further, lighter weight 4-way stretch fabrics tend to shrink when cut and therefore sizing of product can be made more difficult when using such materials.
  • The first, second, and third pieces may also be provided with a water and/or stain repellant or resistant construction so as to reduce or eliminate the possibility of an unwanted stain from forming on the underlying footwear 102. It is further understood that the material may have different appearances as desired, such as flat, matte, gloss, semi-gloss or shiny or reflective finishes, and the like. The first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108 of the shoe cover 100 may also alternatively be constructed of a generally less flexible material, for example a wool blend, so long as a portion of the cover 100 has a flexible component to the material, whether that be one of the other pieces 104, 106 or 108, or the threading used to connect those pieces (or both).
  • The first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108 are connected to each other to form the footwear cover 100 using stitching 140. As with the first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108, the stitching 140 may be made of a flexible material or corded strand such as a combination of nylon and elastic, or of nylon or elastic alone. One advantage to using flexible thread to sew or seem the pieces 104, 106 and 108 together is that the cover 100 can more easily be moved from a naturally biased compressed state to an expanded state to fit over footwear 102 and can stretch to fit larger footwear 102 without causing damage to the pieces 104, 106 and 108 or seams/stitching of cover 100. It should be understood, however, that in alternate embodiments non-stretching or inelastic thread can be used to sew pieces 104, 106 and 108 together if desired.
  • The flexible band or elastic strap 120 is constructed of a generally flexible material and includes opposing broad surfaces 122 a, 122 b, as well as opposing narrow edges or surfaces 124 a, 124 b. In one form, an edge of the first piece 106 is hemmed over using stitching 140 to contain the flexible band 120. The opposing broad surfaces 122 a, 122 b have a width generally in the range between 3 and 10 millimeters, and are preferably 4-6 millimeters wide. The opposing narrow edges 124 a, 124 b have a width generally in the range between ¼ to 2 millimeters, and are preferably ½ to 1½ millimeters thick. Thus, the thickness-to-width ratio of the flexible band 120 is approximately 1:2. However, any desirable ratio may be used for the flexible band 120.
  • It is understood that by appropriately dimensioning the width or “tightness” of the hem, the flexible band 120 may be “free floating” within the area defined by the hem and thus not require stitching to secure the flat elastic band 120 to the cover 100 and, specifically, first piece 104. Alternatively, the flat elastic band 120 may be directly stitched to the first piece 104 using stitching 140. The band may be spot stitched at regular intervals, or may alternatively be stitched along the entirety of the flexible band. This stitching may further consist of a single stitch running along a length of the flat elastic member 120 (e.g., such as down the center of same) or may alternatively consist of a plurality of stitches running along a length of the flat elastic member 120 (e.g., such as down opposite ends of the flat elastic member 120). These stitching configurations will be discussed further below with respect to the heel securing member shown in FIGS. 8A-10B.
  • The footwear cover 100 may further include a slip resistant or anti slip foot or friction pad or outsole 150 located near the toe area of the footwear cover 100, which further promotes the life of the footwear cover 100. The anti-slip pad 150 may be constructed out of PVC, rubber, or the like, or any combination of these materials. The anti-slip pad 150 may be secured to the footwear cover 100 by a fastener such as, for example, adhesive/glue, stitching/thread, ultrasonic welding, or other similar fasteners. In a preferred form, the anti-slip pad 150 is both adhered/glued to the footwear cover 100 as well as sewn to the footwear cover 100 at the edges of the anti-slip pad 150 using stitching 140. By securing the anti-slip pad 150 to the footwear cover 100 in a redundant manner like this, the strength of the connection and longevity of the pad improves to ensure that the pad will stay in place for many uses over the product's lifetime. Further, stitching the outer edge of the anti-slip pad 150 will reduce the likelihood that the pad will lift or pop up and cause an unstable walking surface or create a lip that can cause unwanted noise or friction when worn by the user and/or create a raised surface that could cause a user to trip. The anti-slip pad 150 further protects the toe end of the sole to extend the life of the shoe 102 due to this end generally wearing out faster than the rest of the shoe due to weight shifts towards the front of the shoe 102 during general movement (e.g., walking, running, dancing, etc.). It is understood that the anti-slip pad 150 may be dimensioned larger or smaller, and may not be used at all should the user so desire. For example, in some forms the pad 150 may extend up over at least a portion of the front of the cover and/or the sides of the cover 100 and footwear 102 while in other embodiments remain well hidden or out of sight under the sole of the cover 100 and footwear 102.
  • In some examples, the footwear cover 100 may additionally include an anti-slip pad 152 near the heel region of the footwear cover 100. This anti-slip pad 152 is configured in the same manner as the anti-slip pad 150 and serves to extend the useful life of the heel of the shoe 102. For example, in some forms both the heel pad 152 and sole pad 150 may be connected to cover 100 using adhesive and stitching. In other forms, only the heel pad 152 is connected via both adhesive and stitching and the sole pad 150 is connected via adhesive only. In yet other forms, the opposite may be true. In some forms, the way the pads 150, 152 are connected to the cover 100 will be determined based on the type of footwear the cover 100 is intended to cover. Other options for heel pad 152 will be discussed in further detail below with respect to FIGS. 9A-10C.
  • Turning back to FIGS. 1A-H, FIG. 1B illustrates the footwear cover 100 in a natural or relaxed position, in which the cover has the appearance of a compressed, shriveled or shrunken item due to the use of flexible or elastic materials in the first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108 as well as the flexible band 120 and stitching 140. As seen in FIG. 1C, the footwear 102 is inserted or disposed into an opening defined by the first piece 104 and flexible band 120 to initiate installation of the cover 100 on to or over footwear 102. The first piece 104 and band 120 are then stretched over the heel portion of the footwear 102 such that the heel inserts into the area defined by the connection of the first, second, and third pieces 104, 106, 108. The footwear cover 100 is then allowed to compress back toward its normally biased state and around the footwear 102, and may be positioned into place such that it closely conforms to the shape of the footwear 102 or form fits to the footwear 102 as seen in FIGS. 1D-H. Thus, the footwear cover 100 described herein conforms to the footwear or is form fitted to the footwear 102 without the need for external fasteners such as buttons, zippers, laces, and the like.
  • By using the flexible band 120 to connect to the opening defined by the first piece 104, the broad surface 122 a lies generally flat against an outer surface of the footwear 102 when the footwear 102 is inserted therein (or into cover 100). This flexible band 120 assists in securely holding the footwear cover 100 onto the footwear 100 while not damaging or destroying the shape or structural integrity of the opening of the footwear 102 which may occur when using other elastics such as rope elastic. In this way, the elasticity of the cover fabric of pieces 104, 106 and 108 serves as a first biasing mechanism or member for compressing and form fitting the cover 100 onto footwear 102, and the flat elastic band 120 serves as a second biasing mechanism for compressing and form fitting the cover 100 onto footwear 102. If used, the stretchable thread or stitching 140 serves as a third biasing mechanism for compressing and form fitting cover 100 onto footwear 102 and the heel securing member 130 (which will be discussed next) serves as a fourth biasing mechanism for compressing and form fitting cover 100 onto footwear 102.
  • With this configuration, the footwear cover 100 may remain on the footwear 102 for extended periods of time without needing to be removed and without damaging the footwear 102. Further, the use of a flexible band 120 increases user comfort as compared to other elastics in the event the flexible band comes into contact with or rubs the skin of a user. For example, frequently the cover 100 will come into contact with the user at an area near the back of the footwear (e.g., the user's Achilles tendon, stockings, leggings, etc.). In such situations, one of the flat broad sides (122 a, 122 b) of the elastic band 120 will be pressed into contact with the user (e.g., the user's skin, clothing such as stockings, nylons, etc.) such that the band 120 does not rub the user abrasively and in a manner which results in a more comfortable point of contact between the cover 100 and the user than would be the case if a rope elastic or other abrasive structure was used. Rather, the flat broad surface 122 a, 122 b of elastic band 120 disperses the point of contact with the user over a greater area and, thus, yields a more comfortable contact than would otherwise be experienced with common rope elastic members. In addition, the flat construction of band 120 further prevents band 120 from wearing through the cover 100 or hem of cover 100 that captures and retains band 120, whereas a rope elastic would create friction between the rope elastic band and cover (or hem of cover) causing this portion of the cover to wear needlessly.
  • Turning briefly to FIGS. 8A-B, the footwear cover 100 further includes heel securing region or member 130 as discussed above. In the form illustrated, this member 130 includes the third piece 108, flexible band 126, stitching 140, and stitching 142. The flexible band 126 is constructed of a generally flat flexible material similar to band 120 discussed above. Similarly, as with stitching 140, stitching 142 is preferably made of a flexible material or corded strand such as a combination of nylon and elastic. The flexible band 126 is secured to the third piece 108 using a fastener such as stitching 142. The stitching may be placed in a single position, such as a generally centered position along a length of the flexible band 126 as depicted by reference character 142 a, but it is understood that the stitching may alternatively be placed at any length or position along the flexible band 126 and in a plurality of positions such as the parallel rows of stitches at 142 b and 142 c. Alternatively, the flexible band 126 may be secured to the third piece 108 by other forms of fasteners, such as adhesive.
  • The heel securing portion 130 securely holds the footwear cover 100 on the footwear 102 and thus prevents unintentional movement of the footwear cover 100 while allowing for intentional movement of the footwear cover 100. In the form illustrated, the heel securing portion 130 securely holds the heel portion of third piece 108 to the heel of footwear 102. The heel securing portion 130 stretches to accommodate varying heel heights, for example, between one and ten inches in height, and may accommodate varying heel widths. By leaving the bottom of the heel of footwear 102 exposed with the flexible band 126 surrounding the heel of footwear 102, the life of the footwear cover 100 is further prolonged due to the cover 100 not being subject to the downward force of the heel of footwear 102 and friction present between the bottom of the heel and the surface the footwear 102 comes into contact with as a user moves (e.g., not being subject to the wear and tear that would occur to the cover portion that would otherwise be located intermediate the bottom of the heel of footwear 102 and the surface upon which the footwear is worn).
  • As discussed with regards to the flexible band 120, by using the flexible band 126 at the heel securing portion 130 as opposed to rope elastic, the flexible band 126 may be stitched in a desired position on the heel securing portion 130. Further, due to its generally flattened nature, the flexible band 126 is disposed over a greater surface area of the heel securing portion 130 and thus may secure the footwear cover 100 to the heel in a more uniform manner.
  • Thus, with this configuration, the footwear cover 100 may be placed over footwear to provide both a protective layer as well as a visually distinct design different than the design of the footwear 102 in order to increase the frequency with which the footwear 102 may be worn and/or allow the footwear 102 to be worn with different apparel. In addition to the added protection to the footwear 102 due to the footwear serving as an additional protective layer from the elements, the footwear cover 100 may serve as a barrier from the elements due to the use of resistant materials, such as stain repelling or water resistant chemical treatments, in construction of the different elements. By using different patterns or colors, the different pieces 104, 106, 108 or stitching 140 may provide an aesthetically attractive appearance that is distinct from the original appearance of the footwear 102. Thus, by using multiple footwear covers 100 having different designs, it is possible to use these footwear covers 100 to virtually increase the effective number of shoes in ones' wardrobe and/or increasing the frequency with which a favorite pair of footwear may be worn.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 2-7 and 9-14, alternative footwear covers in accordance with the invention are shown. For the purpose of convenience, items that are similar to those discussed above with respect to FIGS. 1A-H will be referenced using the same latter two-digit reference numeral but using different prefixes simply to distinguish one embodiment form the others. Thus, in FIGS. 2A-B, the footwear cover is referred to generally by reference numeral 200. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 200 is configured to accommodate footwear 202 which is lacking a raised heel, for example a flat, and in the form illustrated includes first piece 204, second piece 206, and optional items including flexible band 220, flexible stitching 240, and anti-slip pad 250. The footwear cover 200 may also include an exposed area 205 should the footwear 202 have a corresponding exposed portion, such as an open toe or heel or other designed opening (e.g., venting, strapping, etc.).
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 3, a footwear cover 300 is provided for a platform or pump 302. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 300 is configured to accommodate footwear 302 having both a platform and an elongated heel and includes first piece 304, second piece 306, third piece 308, and optional items including flexible band 320, and flexible stitching 340. While the first, second, and third pieces 304, 306, 308 may be elongated to better accommodate the dimensions of the footwear 302, it is understood that the flexible nature of the footwear cover 300 allows for footwear having varying dimensions to be used in this embodiment. The footwear cover 300 may also include an exposed area 305 should the footwear 302 have a corresponding exposed portion (e.g., open toe, vent area, sandal strap area, etc.). For example, the footwear cover 300 may accommodate for an open-toed platform shoe.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 4, a footwear cover 400 is provided for wedged footwear 402. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 400 is configured to accommodate footwear 402 having a wedged heel portion of varying heights and includes first piece 404, second piece 406, third piece 408, and optional items including flexible band 420, and flexible stitching 440. While the first, second, and third pieces 404, 406, 408 may be elongated to better accommodate the dimensions of the footwear 402, it is understood that the flexible nature of the footwear cover 400 allows for footwear having varying dimensions to be used in this embodiment. The footwear cover 400 may also include an exposed area 405 should the footwear 402 have a corresponding exposed portion. Thus, the footwear cover 400 may accommodate for a wedge-heeled shoe.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, a footwear cover 500 is provided for a sandal or shoes 502 lacking ankle supports. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 500 includes first piece 504, second piece 506, third piece 508, and optional items flexible band 520, and flexible stitching 540. While the first, second, and third pieces 504, 506, 508 may be elongated to better accommodate the dimensions of the footwear 502, it is understood that the flexible nature of the footwear cover 500 allows for footwear having varying dimensions to be used in this embodiment. In this embodiment, the flexible band 520 is configured to wrap over and wrap against an edge of the foot bed area of the footwear 502. The footwear cover 500 may also include an exposed area 505 should the footwear 502 have a corresponding exposed portion.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6, a footwear cover 600 is provided for a flat boot 602. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 600 includes first piece 604, second piece 606, and optional items including flexible band 620, flexible stitching 640, and grip or wear pad, such as anti-slip pad 650. In this embodiment, the first piece 604 may be stitched to itself at a plurality of different locations as depicted by reference characters 640 a and 640 b. The anti-slip pad 650 may cover a majority of the second piece 606 to provide increased traction, as the footwear 602 used in this embodiment if oftentimes used in adverse weather conditions.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 7, a footwear cover 700 is provided for a heeled boot 702. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 700 includes first piece 704, second piece 706, third piece 708, and optional items including flexible band 720, and flexible stitching 740. The footwear cover 700 may also include an exposed area 705 should the footwear 702 have a corresponding exposed portion.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 9A-B, an alternative configuration for a heel securing member or region 930 is provided. In the form illustrated, the heel securing member 930 includes the third piece 908, flexible band 926, flexible stitching 940 and 942, and grip or anti-slip pad 952. In this embodiment and as illustrated the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 8A-B, the flexible band 926 of the heel securing region 930 is constructed of a generally flexible material. The stitching 940, 942 is a flexible material or corded strand such as a combination of nylon and elastic. The flexible band 926 is secured to the third piece 908 using stitching 942. In a preferable form, the stitching may be placed in a generally centered position of the flexible band 926 depicted by reference character 942 a, but it is understood that the stitching may alternatively be placed at any length along the flexible band 926 such as at 942 b or 942 c. Alternatively, the flexible band 926 may be secured to the third piece 908 by stitching located a multiple portions along the flexible band 926.
  • The anti-slip pad 952 may be secured to either the third piece 908 or the flexible band 926 and is preferably secured via a fastener, such as adhesive/glue, staple, weld or stitch using any type of thread including flexible thread 940. In alternate forms, the grip or anti-skid pad 952 may be formed integral with the flat elastic band 926 (as will be discussed further below). Thus, with this configuration, not only does the heel securing portion 930 securely hold the footwear cover on the footwear and thus prevent unintentional movement of the footwear cover 900, the heel securing portion 930 also allows for increased traction with the ground when moving (e.g., walking, running, dancing, etc.) due to the additional use of the grip or anti-slip pad 952. As with all the features discussed herein, it should be understood that this alternative heel securing portion 930 may be used as a feature in any of the embodiments described herein.
  • In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 10A-C, alternative configurations for a heel securing member 1030 including a receptacle such as cup or cup-like structure 1026 are provided. The heel securing member 1030 includes the third piece 1008, cup-like structure 1026, and stitching 1040 and 1042. In this embodiment, the cup-like structure or receptacle 1026 may be constructed of a generally rigid material or a flexible material as desired. As with the previous embodiments, the stitching 1040, 1042 may be made of a flexible material or corded strand such as a nylon, elastic, combination of the same or the like. The cup-like structure 1026 is secured to the third piece 1008 using stitching 1042. In a preferable form, the stitching may be placed in a single position such as the generally centered position of the cup-like structure 1026 depicted by reference character 1042 a, but it is understood that the stitching may alternatively be placed at any length along the cup-like structure 1026 or include a plurality of rows of stitches such as at 1042 b or 1042 c. Alternatively, the cup-like structure 1026 may be secured to the third piece 1008 by alternate fasteners such as adhesive/glue.
  • In this embodiment, the heel of footwear (not shown) is inserted into the heel securing member receptacle (e.g., cup-like structure 1026) to limit relative movement therebetween (i.e., movement between the heel of the footwear and the heel securing member 1026). Thus, when the footwear is inserted into the footwear cover 1000, the heel portion of the shoe is constricted from moving relative to the footwear cover 1000, thus providing for added stability. In this embodiment, the bottom surface 1034 of the cup-like structure 1026 may include an anti-slip pad (not shown) to further provide for additional traction if desired. In addition, it should be understood that the receptacle/cup or cup-like structure 1026 may be provided in a cylindrical or columnar form with a constant diameter or may alternatively be configured with a tapered design that contains a larger diameter opening that tapers to a smaller diameter opening near the bottom of receptacle 1026 so that the receptacle taper serves as a guide for directing the heel of the footwear being covered into position within receptacle 1026 to further assist with or simplify the installation of the cover 1000 on the footwear.
  • While the previous embodiments have generally described a footwear cover having first, second, and third pieces, it should be understood that in alternate forms of the invention patterns comprising any number of pieces may be used. For example, in the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 11A-C, a one-piece footwear cover 1100 is provided for a shoe 1102. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 1200 includes first piece 1104, and may include optional items such as flexible band 1120, flexible stitching 1140, and grip or anti-slip pads 1150 and/or 1152. In this embodiment, the first piece 1104 is stitched to itself at a plurality of different locations using stitching 1140 as previously described to provide the one-piece footwear cover 1100.
  • Yet another embodiment is depicted in FIGS. 12A-C, but this time comprising a two-piece footwear cover 1200 for shoe 1202. In this embodiment, the footwear cover 1200 includes first piece 1204, second piece 1206, and may include optional items such as flexible band 1220, stitching 1240, and grip or anti-slip pads 1250 and/or 1252. In the form illustrated, the first piece 1204 is stitched to the second piece 1206 at a plurality of different locations using stitching 1240 as previously described to provide the two-piece footwear cover 1200.
  • Still another embodiment is depicted in FIGS. 13A-C, but in this form, a four-piece footwear cover 1300 is provided for a shoe 1302. In the form illustrated, the footwear cover 1300 includes first piece 1304, second piece 1306, third piece 1308, and fourth piece 1310, and may optionally include items such as flexible band 1320, flexible stitching 1340, and grip/wear pads or anti-slip pads 1350 and/or 1352. In this embodiment, the first, second, third, and fourth pieces 1304, 1306, 1308, 1310 are stitched to each other (or one another) at a plurality of different locations using flexible stitching 1340 as previously described to provide the four-piece footwear cover 1300.
  • While it is noted that the footwear cover described herein closely conforms to the shape of the desired footwear inserted therein, it is understood that the footwear cover may include aesthetic embellishments such as fasteners to increase visual appeal. Thus, in the embodiment provided in FIG. 14, a footwear cover 1400 is provided that includes first, second, and third pieces 1404, 1406, 1408, and optional items such as flexible band 1420, flexible stitching 1440, and embellishments or design elements such as zipper 1460. It is understood that the elements of the footwear cover 1400 perform in the same manner as the footwear cover 100 depicted in FIGS. 1A-H, but include an additional embellishment or design feature 1460 for aesthetic purposes. For example, this embellishment 1460 may include zippers, bows, crystals, buttons, sequins, patterns and the like. Further, any number of embellishments 1460 may be placed on the footwear cover 1400 at any desired location on cover 1400.
  • While the embodiments previously described herein refer to the use of flexible stitching, it should be understood that stitching of any type, flexible or non-flexible, may be used with the footwear covers as described. Similarly, the footwear covers are not intended to be used solely with wedges, pumps, open or closed toe heels, flats and the like. Rather, the footwear covers described herein may be used with any type of footwear wearable by a user.
  • Thus, it should be understood that in one form, a footwear cover is disclosed comprising an elastic material defining a first opening and moveable between a first position where the material and the first opening may be stretched to receive footwear and a second position where the material and the first opening compresses to form fit to the footwear inserted in the first opening. The footwear cover may further comprise a flat elastic band connected to the material at the first opening, and together with the material, defines the first opening. The band has opposing broad surfaces separated by opposing narrow edges and is positioned such that one of the broad surfaces lie generally flat against an outer surface of the footwear when inserted therein. The footwear cover may further comprise a friction pad that may be connected under a toe portion of the footwear cover. Further, the footwear cover may comprise a second friction pad connected to a heel portion of the footwear cover. The footwear cover may be stitched together using a flexible thread.
  • The footwear cover may additionally comprise a heel securing member that is connected around a periphery of a heel of the footwear. The heel securing member prevents unintentional movement of the footwear cover yet allows for intended movement to accommodate different shoe sizes. The heel securing member may comprise a cupped member having a bottom surface and protrusions extending generally vertically therefrom, the heel securing member being positioned below the heel. Alternatively, the heel securing member is connected around a periphery of a heel of the footwear and comprises a cupped member.
  • The footwear cover may further define a second opening. The second opening may be configured to align with an open toe portion of the footwear. The footwear cover may be at least a one piece configuration. Alternatively, the footwear cover is a two piece configuration where the first piece of the cover covers a heel portion of the footwear and the second piece of the cover covers a remaining portion of the footwear. The footwear cover may alternatively comprise a three piece configuration where the first piece of the cover covers a heel portion of the footwear, the second piece of the cover covers a top portion of the footwear, and the third piece of the cover covers the remaining portion of the footwear. The footwear cover may alternatively comprise a four piece configuration, wherein the first piece of the cover covers a rear heel portion of the footwear, the second piece of the cover covers a front heel portion of the footwear, the third piece of the cover covers a top portion of the footwear, and the fourth piece of the cover covers the remaining portion of the footwear.
  • In another form, a removable footwear cover comprises a flexible cover having an opening and a flat elastic strip attached to the opening of the flexible cover. The flexible cover is configured to conform to the shape of an article of footwear and the flat elastic strap is positioned adjacent to an opening of the article of footwear. The removable cover may further comprise a heel securing member attached to the flexible cover, the heel securing member configured to stabilize a heel portion of the article of footwear so as to minimize shifting between the flexible cover and the article of footwear.
  • The flexible cover may comprise a two-piece construction having a first piece and a second piece. The first piece and the second piece may be secured together to form an integral flexible cover where the first piece of the flexible cover conforms to the shape of an upper portion of the article of footwear and the second piece of the flexible cover conforms to the shape of a lower portion of the article of footwear. The flexible cover may comprise at least a third piece being secured to at least one of the first piece and/or the second piece. The third piece of the flexible cover closely conforms to the shape of the heel portion of the article of footwear.
  • The removable footwear cover may further comprise a friction-increasing element attached to the flexible cover to reduce slipping between the flexible cover and a ground surface. The heel securing member may comprise a flat elastic strap configured to stretch to accommodate the heel portion of the article of footwear. This heel securing member may include an opening to allow the heel portion of the article of footwear to extend therethrough such that the heel portion of the article of footwear contacts a ground surface. The heel securing member may further comprise a friction-increasing element attached thereto to reduce slippage between the heel securing member and a ground surface. Alternatively, the heel securing member may comprise a cupped structure having a lower surface and an upwardly extending sidewall, wherein the heel portion of the article of footwear is positioned inside the heel securing member.
  • In yet another form, a versatile footwear cover is provided including a stretchable cover fabric material having a first elasticity and defining an opening and recess within which footwear is disposed and a hem located proximate the opening defined by the material, a flat elastic member disposed in the hem of the stretchable cover fabric material and having a second elasticity, stretchable thread having a third elasticity for stitching the stretchable cover fabric material into the versatile footwear cover and the flat elastic member into a band of flat elastic member positioned about the opening, and a heel securing member having a fourth elasticity and being defined by the stretchable cover fabric material. In these forms, the stretchable cover fabric material is opaque or non-transparent. The stretchable cover fabric material and the flat elastic member are movable between a first position where the cover material and flat elastic member are stretched to fit the piece of footwear and a second position where the cover material and flat elastic member are compressed to form fit over an exterior surface of the piece of footwear. The versatile footwear cover also includes biasing mechanisms for form fitting the footwear cover to the piece of footwear being covered by the versatile footwear cover. These biasing mechanisms comprise two or more of the first elasticity of the stretchable cover fabric material, the second elasticity of the flat elastic member, the third elasticity of the stretchable thread and the fourth elasticity of the heel securing member. In another form, the biasing mechanisms include four biasing mechanisms including the first elasticity of the stretchable cover fabric material, the second elasticity of the flat elastic member, the third elasticity of the stretchable thread and the fourth elasticity of the heel securing member, elastic or stretchable thread, flat elastic member or band, and the heel securing mechanism.
  • In addition to the previously discussed embodiments, several methods related to the versatile footwear covers disclosed herein are also provided. For example, in one form a method for manufacturing or assembling a footwear cover is herein described. In one form the method includes providing a stretchable fabric, providing a stretchable thread, and stitching the stretchable fabric into a footwear cover using the stretchable thread. As previously described, in some embodiments, the stretchable fabric is at least two pieces and in preferred forms may comprise two, three or four piece pattern constructions. The method may further comprise providing a flexible cover like those discussed above and further includes providing a flat elastic band located about an opening defined by the stretchable cover for assisting the cover in moving from a first or stretched position wherein the cover can be extended over a desired shoe or footwear item and a second or compressed position wherein the cover is form fitted to the shoe or footwear item. In one form, either or both the flexible cover and flat elastic band biases the cover toward a compressed position. In another form, stretchable thread is used to bias the cover toward the compressed position (either on its own or in combination or in addition to any one of the flexible cover and flat elastic band, which includes in addition to both as well). In yet another form, the heel securing mechanism is used to bias the cover toward a compressed position (either on its own or in combination with one or more of the flexible cover, flat elastic band and flexible thread).
  • In other embodiments, a method of manufacturing a flexible footwear cover is provided herein. In one form, the method includes providing a stretchable cover fabric material that is capable of covering a majority of an exterior of a piece of footwear in a non-transparent manner and being shaped into one or more pieces with at least one piece defining an opening through which the piece of footwear is disposed when installing the cover, forming a hem in the stretchable cover fabric material proximate to the opening through which the footwear is disposed, and disposing a first flat elastic band within the hem. The material defining the opening and the first flat elastic band are movable between a first stretched position where the footwear may be disposed within the opening and a second compressed position where the material and the flat elastic band are form fitted to the exterior of the footwear.
  • In other forms, the method further includes providing a heel securing member made from the stretchable cover fabric material that is connected to the at least one piece defining the opening through which the piece of footwear is disposed. In some forms, the heel securing member may further include a second flat elastic band, and the method further includes connecting the second flat elastic band to the material of the heel securing member. The material may be shaped into at least two pieces, with a first piece including the one piece defining the opening through which the footwear is disposed and a second piece including the heel securing member. These two pieces may be connected to one another to form the flexible footwear cover.
  • The material of the heel securing member and the second flat elastic band may be movable between a first normally biased position and a second expanded position where the material of the heel securing member and the second flat elastic band are stretched to fit a heel portion of the footwear. In other forms, the method further includes stitching the second flat elastic band to the material of the heel securing member to secure the second flat elastic band to the material of the heel securing member.
  • In yet another form, after the hem being formed and the flat elastic band is inserted, the cover material is stitched together to form the opening. When the cover material is stitched together to form the opening, distal ends of the elastic bands are also stitched together generally at the same location to define the opening. In an alternative form, the elastic band may be placed over the material and the hem is then formed to cover the flat elastic band. When the material is stitched to define the opening through which the footwear is disposed, distal ends of the elastic bands are also stitched together to further define the opening generally at the same location.
  • In other embodiments, a method for providing a footwear cover is described. The method includes providing an elastic material defining a first opening, moving the elastic material to a first position where the elastic material and first opening may be stretched to receive footwear, and moving the elastic material to a second position where the material and the first opening compress to form fit to the footwear inserted into the opening. The method may further include the step of providing a flat elastic band to connect to the elastic material at the first opening thereof to define the first opening with the elastic material and positioning the band such that a broad surface of the band lies generally flat against an outer surface of the footwear when inserted therein and/or generally flat against the user, e.g., against the user's skin, clothing (e.g., stockings, socks, hosiery, leggings) or the like. The method may further include providing at least one friction pad connected under the toe portion of the footwear cover, and the method may also include providing a second friction pad connected to a heel portion of the footwear cover. Further, the method may include providing a heel securing member that is connected around a periphery of a heel of the footwear to prevent unintentional movement of the footwear cover while allowing for intended movement to accommodate different sizes.
  • In yet other examples, a method of manufacturing a versatile footwear cover that form fits to an exterior surface of a piece of footwear is provided. The method includes providing an opaque or non-transparent stretchable cover fabric material having a first elasticity and a hem located proximate to an opening defined and recess within which a piece of footwear is disposed, providing a flat elastic member disposed in the hem of the stretchable cover fabric material and having a second elasticity, providing stretchable thread having a third elasticity, and providing a heel securing member defined by the stretchable cover fabric material and having a fourth elasticity. The method further includes stitching the stretchable cover fabric, flat elastic member and heel securing member into the versatile footwear cover so that the versatile footwear cover is moveable between a first position where the cover is compressed and a second position wherein the cover is stretched to receive the piece of footwear being covered and biasing the versatile footwear cover toward the first position via a plurality of biasing mechanisms to form fit the footwear cover to the piece of footwear being covered by the versatile footwear cover. In these examples, the plurality of biasing mechanisms comprise two or more of the first elasticity of the stretchable cover fabric material, the second elasticity of the flat elastic member, the third elasticity of the stretchable thread and the fourth elasticity of the heel securing member.
  • Additionally, methods of covering footwear, biasing footwear covers into a form fitting configuration and protecting footwear are contemplated and disclosed herein. For example, a method of covering footwear according to any of the embodiments disclosed herein is contemplated and disclosed herein. Similarly, methods for biasing footwear covers into form fitting configurations are contemplated and disclosed herein wherein the cover includes a plurality of biasing mechanism into a form fitting configuration on footwear that the cover is installed on including any two or more of the following biasing mechanisms: the cover material itself and elasticity of same; the flat elastic band or member and elasticity of same; the stretchable thread used to stitch the cover into a finished cover shape or product and elasticity of same; and heel securing mechanism and elasticity of same.
  • It will be apparent from the foregoing that, while particular forms of the invention have been illustrated and described, various modifications can be made without parting from the spirit and scope of the invention. Other variations may be made within the scope of the invention. Consequently, the invention is not limited to the foregoing illustrated embodiments, which are presented for purposes of illustration and not of limitation.

Claims (15)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. A removable footwear cover comprising:
    a flexible cover configured to closely conform to the shape of an article of footwear without the use of an external fastener;
    a flat elastic strip attached to an opening of the flexible cover, the flat elastic strap being positioned adjacent to an opening of the article of footwear;
    a heel securing member attached to the flexible cover, the heel securing member configured to maintain a position of the flexible cover with respect to a heel portion of the article of footwear so as to reduce or hinder shifting between the flexible cover and the article of footwear.
  2. 2. The removable footwear cover of claim 1, wherein the flexible cover comprises a two-piece construction having a first piece and a second piece, the first piece and the second piece being secured together to form an integral flexible cover, wherein the first piece of the flexible cover closely conforms to the shape of an upper portion of the article of footwear and the second piece of the flexible cover closely conforms to the shape of a lower portion of the article of footwear.
  3. 3. The removable footwear cover of claim 2, wherein the flexible cover further comprises at least a third piece being secured to at least one of the first piece and/or the second piece, wherein the third piece of the flexible cover closely conforms to the shape of the heel portion of the article of footwear.
  4. 4. The removable footwear attachment of claim 1, further comprising a friction-increasing element attached to the flexible cover to reduce slipping between the flexible cover and a ground surface.
  5. 5. The removable footwear cover of claim 1, wherein the heel securing member comprises a flat elastic strap configured to stretch to accommodate the heel portion of the article of footwear.
  6. 6. The removable footwear cover of claim 5, wherein the heel securing member includes an opening to allow the heel portion of the article of footwear to extend therethrough such that the heel portion of the article of footwear contacts a ground surface.
  7. 7. The removable footwear cover of claim 5, wherein the heel securing member further comprises a friction-increasing element attached thereto to reduce slippage between the heel securing member and a ground surface.
  8. 8. The removable footwear cover of claim 1, wherein the heel securing member comprises a cupped structure having a lower surface and an upwardly extending sidewall, wherein the heel portion of the article of footwear is positioned inside the heel securing member.
  9. 9. A versatile footwear cover comprising:
    a stretchable cover fabric material having a first elasticity and defining an opening and recess within which a piece of footwear is disposed, the cover fabric material being opaque or non-transparent and having a hem located proximate the opening defined by the stretchable cover fabric material;
    a flat elastic member disposed in the hem of the stretchable cover fabric material and having a second elasticity, the stretchable cover fabric material and flat elastic member being moveable between a first position wherein the cover material and flat elastic member are stretched to fit the piece of footwear and a second position wherein the cover material and flat elastic member are compressed to form fit over an exterior surface of the piece of footwear;
    stretchable thread for stitching the stretchable cover fabric material into the versatile footwear cover and the flat elastic member into a band of flat elastic member positioned about the opening defined by the stretchable cover fabric material, the stretchable thread having a third elasticity; and
    a heel securing member defined by the stretchable cover fabric material and having a fourth elasticity;
    wherein the versatile footwear cover includes a plurality of biasing mechanisms for form fitting the footwear cover to the piece of footwear being covered by the versatile footwear cover, the plurality of biasing mechanisms comprising two or more of the first elasticity of the stretchable cover fabric material, the second elasticity of the flat elastic member, the third elasticity of the stretchable thread and the fourth elasticity of the heel securing member.
  10. 10. The versatile footwear cover of claim 9, wherein the plurality of biasing mechanism comprises four biasing mechanisms including the first elasticity of the stretchable cover fabric material, the second elasticity of the flat elastic member, the third elasticity of the stretchable thread and the fourth elasticity of the heel securing member, elastic or stretchable thread, flat elastic member or band, and the heel securing mechanism.
  11. 11. A method of manufacturing a flexible footwear cover comprising:
    providing a stretchable cover fabric material capable of covering at least a majority of an exterior of a piece of footwear in a non-transparent manner and shaped into one or more pieces with at least one piece defining an opening through which the piece of footwear is disposed when installing the cover;
    forming a hem in the at least one piece of material defining the opening through which the footwear is disposed, the hem being positioned proximate to the opening defined by the at least one piece of material; and
    disposing a first flat elastic band within the hem, the at least one piece defining the opening through which the footwear is disposed and the first flat elastic band being movable between a first stretched position wherein the piece of footwear may be disposed within the opening of the at least one piece and a second compressed position wherein the at least one piece and first flat elastic band are form fitted to the exterior of the piece of footwear.
  12. 12. The method of claim 11, comprising providing a heel securing member made from the stretchable cover fabric material, the heel securing member being connected to the at least one piece defining the opening through which the piece of footwear is disposed.
  13. 13. The method of claim 12, wherein the heel securing member further includes a second flat elastic band and the method further comprises connecting the second flat elastic band to the stretchable cover fabric material of the heel securing member, the stretchable cover fabric material of the heel securing member and the second flat elastic band being movable between a first normally biased position and a second expanded position wherein the stretchable cover fabric material of the heel securing member and the second flat elastic band are stretched to fit a heel portion of the piece of footwear.
  14. 14. The method of claim 13, comprising stitching the second flat elastic band to the stretchable cover fabric material of the heel securing member to secure the second flat elastic band to the stretchable cover fabric material of the heel securing member.
  15. 15. The method of claim 13, wherein the stretchable cover fabric material is shaped into at least two pieces, with a first piece comprising the at least one piece defining the opening through which the piece of footwear is disposed and a second piece comprising the heel securing member, the method further comprising connecting the at least two pieces to one another to form the flexible footwear cover.
US14268853 2013-06-27 2014-05-02 Versatile footwear covers and methods relating to same Pending US20150000165A1 (en)

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USD751800S1 (en) * 2012-06-28 2016-03-22 LSIL & Co., Inc. Shoe with decorative sole
USD753380S1 (en) * 2014-10-07 2016-04-12 LSIL & Co., Inc. Shoe with decorative sole
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USD761540S1 (en) * 2014-10-27 2016-07-19 LSIL & Co., Inc. Shoe with decorative sole
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US20170042292A1 (en) * 2015-08-12 2017-02-16 Adriana Ghirda Device for protecting a heel
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US20160227872A1 (en) * 2015-02-06 2016-08-11 The Floor Show, Llc Shoe cover
US20170042292A1 (en) * 2015-08-12 2017-02-16 Adriana Ghirda Device for protecting a heel
US20170238647A1 (en) * 2016-02-22 2017-08-24 Christian Sharifi Changeable Shoe Cover

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Owner name: HEEL SKIN, LLC, ILLINOIS

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:REIFF, ALEXIS L.;REEL/FRAME:032820/0121

Effective date: 20140502