US 20030128897 A1
A multi-purpose carrier is provided for carrying one or more loose articles. The carrier comprises a sack and one or more carrying features for carrying the sack. The sack is convertible into different configurations for carrying items. In one embodiment, the sack may be configured for use as a tall shopping bag or a smaller shoulder bag. The sack may also have a drawstring operable to close the bag and for carrying the bag as a tote bag.
1. A multi-purpose carrier for loose articles comprising a tubular sack of flexible sheet material being permanently closed at one end of the sack to form a closed bottom and being open at the other end, said open end having a closure element operable to effect closure of said open other end, said tubular sack having a circumferential fold line dividing said sack into an upper segment and a lower segment, said lower segment having an axial length greater than the upper segment, said lower segment having straps secured to said sack on the outside adjacent said fold line, said upper segment operable to be folded inside the lower section along said fold line by everting said upper segment into said lower segment.
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10. An article for carrying items comprising:
a first carrying feature; and
a top edge on the sack adjustable to allow different methods for carrying the sack.
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19. A method for converting a carrying bag, comprising the steps of;
providing a tubular bag having an open top end and an open bottom end, wherein the bag has an upper portion having a height and a lower portion having a height separated by a fold line;
substantially permanently closing the second end of the bag to form the bottom of the bag;
providing a pair of handles having terminal ends;
attaching the terminal ends of the handles to the bag on opposing sides of the bag adjacent the fold line; and
everting the upper portion of the bag into the lower portion of the bag.
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 The present invention relates to carrying bags and more particularly to a versatile bag that may be converted for multiple uses and carrying positions.
 In the present state of the art, individuals have countless options for carrying loose items. Backpacks, dufflebags, purses, tote bags, and shopping bags all offer different advantages and are frequently manufactured with a specific purpose in mind. As bags have become more specialized, they have become more limited in function. In some instances, functional limitations are not important to consumers, especially when style and appearance are considered. In these instances, the consumer is willing to buy and use different bags for different occasions.
 Various functional attributes may be considered when selecting a bag, including: the size of a bag, the strength of the bag, the means in which it can be carried, and the durability of the bag. These attributes may be important to individuals engaged in everyday tasks, such as carrying gifts, groceries or library books. In these instances, different loads will vary in size and weight, and the individual is not assured to have a suitable bag at hand. Bags may be too small or too large for a particular load, or they may be too flimsy. Bags may also be limited for one carrying position, which may be a problem if the load is particularly heavy, or if the individual can not comfortably handle the bag in that position. Based on these practical considerations, it is desirable to have a carrier with sufficient strength and storage capacity to hold a number of different-sized articles. In addition, it is desirable to have a versatile carrier that can be adjusted for different carrying positions.
 In light of the foregoing, an improved carrier bag is provided. The carrier is easily convertible for use as a large shopping bag, a large tote bag or a smaller shoulder bag. Since the carrier can be converted into different configurations, the carrier is versatile enough to carry a variety of different sized loads. The carrier may be formed of a woven or extruded material that is durable enough for reuse. In addition, the bottom of the carrier may be constructed to form a rectangular base that conforms to the rectangular geometry of boxes, flat bottomed bags and other items.
 The foregoing summary as well as the following description will be better understood when read in conjunction with the figures in which:
FIG. 1 is a front view of a convertible carrier in accordance with the present invention, said carrier being configured for use as a large carry-all bag or shopping bag;
FIG. 2 is a front view of the carrier in FIG. 1, wherein the carrier is inverted for use as a shoulder bag;
FIG. 3 is a top view of the convertible carrier in FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the convertible carrier in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the convertible carrier in FIG. 2.
 Referring to FIGS. 1-5 in general, and to FIGS. 1-2 specifically, a carrier 10 is shown in accordance with the present invention. The carrier comprises a tubular sack 12 having an open top end 20, a closed bottom end 30 and a strap 40 for holding the carrier. Sack 12 is easily convertible into multiple configurations suitable for carrying items having different sizes and weights. The sack 12 may be configured as a large carry-all bag or shopping bag, or alternatively as a smaller shoulder bag. In addition, the sack may be closed and carried by a drawstring.
 The open top end 20 is adjustable to different positions relative to the strap 40 to provide a versatile carrier. When the top end 20 is extended, the sack is configured for carrying a relatively large volume of items similar to a laundry bag. When the top end 20 is everted into the sack 12, the vertical dimension of the carrier is significantly reduced to accommodate a smaller load. Top end 20 is adapted to easily fold down inside the sack 12 to allow the carrier 10 to be converted from a large shopping bag to a smaller shoulder bag. A drawstring 24 in top end 20 is operable to open and close the top end and provide an alternate handle when the top end is closed.
 Referring now to FIGS. 1-2, carrier 10 will be described in more detail. The sack 12 is comprised of a tubular flexible sheet material, which may be formed of woven or extruded material such as a textile fabric, synthetic material or a plastic. For example, sack 12 may be formed of a ten-ounce cotton duck material. Sack 12 may also formed of a material with waterproofing or a water repellent material to keep the contents of the sack dry when the sack is exposed to moist or wet conditions. The sheet material may be closed by a side seam 23 that extends longitudinally along the side of the sack 12 to form a tubular shape, as shown in FIG. 1.
 Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 4, sack 12 has a top end 20 and a permanently closed bottom end 30. Open top end 20 has a peripheral edge 22 that defines an opening 21. Sack 12 also comprises an interior side 13 disposed inside carrier 10 and an exterior side 15 disposed on the outside of the carrier. Bottom end 30 comprises a generally rectangular bottom side 32. The tubular sides of sack 12 generally conform to the rectangular shape of bottom side 32 so as to maintain a uniformly rectangular cross section.
 A fold line 14 divides the sack into an upper segment 16 and a lower segment 18. Fold line 14 is represented in FIGS. 1 and 2 as a single dashed line. The axial length of the upper segment 16 is less than the axial length of lower segment 18. A pair of opposed straps 40 are attached to the exterior side 15 of sack 12 on the lower segment 18. Each strap 40 comprises an elongated material having a pair of terminal ends 42. Terminal ends 42 are secured on the lower segment 18 of sack 12 at points that are equidistant from bottom end 30. In addition, terminal ends 42 in each pair are spaced apart from one another at a distance less than the width of said side. Each pair of terminal ends 42 is preferably secured to a long side of rectangular sack 12 in a symmetrical arrangement. In particular, terminal ends 42 are preferably secured to sack 12 such that the straps form a generally parabolic or U-shaped configuration. A variety of fasteners and methods of securement may be used to secure terminal ends 42 to sack 12, including but not limited to rivets, sewing, snaps, velcro or an adhesive.
 Upper segment 16 is adjustable between two general positions: an extended position and in inverted position. In the extended position, shown in FIG. 1, upper segment 16 is disposed above lower segment 18 such that the peripheral edge 22 is disposed above fold line 14. Terminal ends 42 on straps 40 are secured to sack 12 immediately below folding line 14. Preferably, the axial height of upper segment 16 is less than half the length of each strap 40. As such, a segment of each strap 40 may be raised above the peripheral edge 22 so as to form a handle portion 45 and an arc-shaped opening 46 between the handle 45 and the peripheral edge, as shown in FIG. 1. The length of strap 40 and its positioning on lower segment 18 may be selected to form the desired size handle 45 and opening 46. In FIG. 1, the length of strap 40 permits an opening 46 for a hand so that carrier 10 can be lifted and carried like a shopping bag. When the upper segment 16 is unfolded in the extended position, the carrier 10 is preferably of sufficient size to completely hold one large loaded shopping bag.
 In the inverted position, shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, upper segment 16 is folded along fold line 14 and disposed inside sack 12. More specifically, upper segment 16 is folded inwardly and downwardly into the sack such that the upper segment and peripheral edge 22 are disposed inside sack 12 below the fold line 14. In this position, the vertical dimension of the carrier 10 is significantly reduced in comparison to the vertical dimension of the carrier in the extended position. A substantially large section of each strap can be raised above the upper and lower segments 16, 18, forming an enlarged opening 46. As stated earlier, the length of strap 40 and its position on lower segment 18 may be selected to form a handle 45 and opening 46 having a desired size. In FIG. 2, the length of strap 40 permits an opening 46 for a hand, arm or shoulder so that carrier 10 can be lifted and carried as a tote bag or shoulder bag.
 Straps 40 may be constructed from a variety of common materials known in the art, such as synthetic, plastic, nylon, fiberglass or woven textile fabric. Thus far, straps 40 have been illustrated and described as an elongated strip of material having a fixed length. It may be desirable, however, to have a strap on carrier 10 that allows individuals to change the length of the strap to accommodate their height, shoulder thickness, the bulk of their clothing or other factors that affect the use of the shoulder straps. Therefore, carrier 10 may include straps having either a fixed length or an adjustable length. Straps 40 may be adjustable by means of any conventional coupling device known in the art, such as a buckle.
 When the upper segment 16 is folded into the inverted position, fold line 14 forms a perimeter for an opening 48 in the sack 12, as shown in FIG. 2. Opening 48 may be slightly smaller than the opening 21 formed when the upper segment 16 is in the extended position because the thickness of the upper segment decreases the inside dimensions of the sack. Preferably, the cross section of upper segment 16 is no larger than the cross section of lower segment 18. In this way, upper segment 16 can be easily folded inwardly into sack 12, and the inverted upper segment will not form significant folds that substantially reduce the interior dimensions of the sack.
 Bottom end 30 has a generally rectangular bottom side 32 configured to conform with department store boxes, paper shopping bags and other objects having rectangular configurations. Bottom side 32 has an interior bottom face 34, shown in FIG. 3, and an exterior bottom face 36, shown in FIG. 4. The bottom end 30 may be closed to form a generally rectangular shape using any conventional manufacturing technique. Referring to FIG. 5, the terminal edges of the fabric sheet are overlapped and stitched together on the inside of the bag, such that the exterior bottom face 36 forms a substantially smooth and continuous surface. Preferably, the seam allowance, or the amount of cut fabric extending within the interior of the sack 12, is less than one half inch in length. In this way, the amount of excess fabric that bunches up on the interior bottom face 34 is reduced, and objects can be placed into the bottom of sack 12 in a stable position against the interior bottom face 34. Referring to FIG. 4, the bottom end 30 is shown with a main seam 33 that bisects the bottom side 32. A pair of cross seams 35 are formed at the ends of main seam 33 and extend in a direction generally perpendicular to the main seam. This configuration of seams provides a generally rectangular contour on bottom end 30.
 Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 3, top end 20 may include a drawstring 24 operable to substantially close the top end of sack 12 when the upper segment 16 is unfolded in the extended position. Drawstring 24 extends outwardly from peripheral edge 22 and may be contained in a closed conduit 25 formed in the open top end 20. Fabric at the top end 20 may be folded inwardly into sack 12 and top-stitched onto the inside of the sack to form the conduit. A slit or notch 28 may be cut into the side of the folded top end 20 to form an aperture 29 through which the drawstring 24 can be reached. Alternatively, a small segment of side seam 23 may be left open or unstitched to form an aperture in the folded top end 20, providing access to the drawstring 24. Drawstring 24 may be formed of any woven or non-woven chord material. Drawstring 24 is operable to close the opening 21 as tension is applied to the exposed section of the drawstring 24. More specifically, drawstring 24 is operable to contract the size of the opening 21 when the exposed section of the drawstring is pulled outwardly from the top edge 20 of the sack 12. As opening 21 is contracted or closed, an increasingly longer section of the drawstring 24 is exposed out of the slit 28 in top end 20. This exposed section of drawstring 24 forms an alternate handle for supporting the sack 12 when the opening 21 is contracted or closed.
 An external pocket 50 may be attached to the sack exterior 15 for holding additional items. Pocket 50 may include a pouch section 52 and closure tab 54 configured to open and close the pocket. Pocket 50 may be formed of a woven or extruded material in the form of fabric, synthetic materials or plastic. The pouch 52 may be formed from a piece of material attached to the exterior 15 of sack 12 on all but one side, said unattached side being left open to form an opening for the pocket. The pouch material may be secured to the exterior 15 of sack 12 by sewing, lamination, rivets, snaps, velcro or other conventional fastening methods. Closure tab 54 may cooperate with pouch material 52 to secure the pocket 50 in a closed position. More specifically, tab 54 may cooperate with the pouch 52 to close the pocket by a snap, a zipper, a button, velcro or other conventional fastener. Pocket 50 may be configured in one of several shapes. In FIG. 1, pocket 50 is shown having a generally rectangular pouch 52 sewn to the exterior 15 of sack 12. An arcuate closure flap 52 extends over the pouch to maintain the pocket 50 in a closed position.
 The terms and expressions which have been employed are used as terms of description and not of limitation. There is no intention in the use of such terms and expressions of excluding any equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof. It is recognized, therefore, that various modifications are possible within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the invention incorporates variations that fall within the scope of the following claims.