US 20030190096 A1
A surface-forming sheet (1) suitable for play that can be converted through two or more sewn-on zip fasteners (7) into a bag, closed at the top, which can receive, for example, building blocks or other equipment lying on the sheet (1).
1. Flat sheet (1) formed to be closable to a carrying bag (15), comprising a textile surface structure with a round or polygonal shape and with means for erecting and bringing together a peripheral outer region thereof, including at least three zip fasteners (7) mounted on one surface side of the surface structure, forming sides of a triangle, each of the zip fasteners (7) having two zip fastener portions (7′), and ends (8′, 8″) of the zip fastener portions (7′) which are engageable together in an inlet area for a closing element (9) are arranged at an obtuse angle relative to one another.
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 The subject of the invention is a flat sheet, formed to be closable to produce a carrying bag, which includes a textile surface structure with a round or polygonal shape and with means for erecting and bringing together the peripheral outer region.
 Covers or bath towels which can be drawn together by cords and the like to form a substantially closed bag are known.
 In German Utility Model 93 18 975, an octagonal bath towel is disclosed in which eight trapezoidal cloth sections connected together along the sides are fastened around a central, octagonal surface. A cord or string is inserted into the base sides, formed with hems, of the eight trapezoids, and at one place projects as a loop over the outer edge of the cloth. The base sides of the trapezoidal sections can be gathered up by pulling on the cord, and a bag is created in which bathing accessories and the like can be transported. A disadvantage of this bath towel is that an opening which cannot be closed remains at the top, since the gathering up of the externally situated seam of the bath towel does not permit a tight closure. Thus small accessories cannot be securely stowed, since the bath towel shaped into a bag has no intrinsic stability and, when not carried by the cord, collapses into itself, and so the contents can fall out at the top through the opening.
 From EP 0 578 247 B1, a multi-purpose container is furthermore known which is drawn together at the top by a cord set into the seam of a cloth of annular shape. The bag has the same disadvantages as that in the above-mentioned German Utility Model 93 18 975.
 The present invention has as its object to provide a flat sheet which can be closed to form a holding bag and which makes possible a substantially complete closure of the interior and prevents small objects falling out.
 This object is attained by a sheet upon which at least three zip fasteners are mounted on one surface side, forming the sides of a triangle, each having two zip fastener portions. The ends of the zip fastener portions of the zip fasteners which are engageable together in an inlet area for a closing element are arranged at an obtuse angle relative to one another.
 The replacement, by suitably arranged zip fasteners, of the cord heretofore used for forming the bag makes possible an absolutely secure closure of the bag. The bag furthermore obtains high stability, even without stiffening means of the floor region, making it possible to make the contents of the bag accessible from above with the zip fasteners partially or fully opened. The opened bag makes it possible, for example, to set this down as an island-like play space for small children on parquet floors, carpeted floors, or in the open outside a house, on stone floors or lawn surfaces. For example, children can play and build with LEGO building blocks on the flat structure. By closing the zip fasteners, the mostly small play blocks fall into the center and can be placed aside or carried on travels. Partial opening of the bag upper portion makes it possible for children to have access to the building blocks when traveling in a car or train, without the blocks falling out or first having to be spread out.
 The invention is explained in detail based on the preferred exemplary embodiments.
FIG. 1 shows a flat sheet of circular shape with holding loops or handles fitted to the periphery (use side upward),
FIG. 2 shows the flat sheet from the back side with the zip fasteners fastened thereto (use side downward),
FIG. 3 shows the flat sheet according to FIG. 1, with building blocks spread out thereon;
FIG. 4 shows the flat sheet when forming a bag (first zip fastener closed),
FIG. 5 shows the flat sheet when forming a bag, with two already closed zip fasteners,
FIG. 6 shows the completely closed bag, lifted from the floor and carried by a loop or loop,
FIG. 7 shows the bag with partially opened zip fasteners for accessibility from above,
FIG. 8 shows the flat sheet held by four holding loops for carrying to another place of use,
FIG. 9 shows a sheet provided with four zip fasteners.
FIG. 1 shows a surface structure preferably made of textile material, termed a sheet 1 for short, with plural, for example four, holding loops 3′ or handles 3. The sheet, laid out flat, can be cut circular or polygonal. Natural or synthetic fabrics can of course be used as the textile material. The outer border is preferably reinforced with a seam or hem 5.
 The sheet 1, which includes three zip fasteners 7, is shown from the underside in FIG. 2. Zip fasteners are sewn or otherwise fastened as an equilateral triangle to the sheet 1, and the vertices of the triangle are situated on the periphery of the sheet 1. Each side of the triangle is formed by the zip fasteners 7 and includes two zip fastener portions 7′ of equal length. The zip fastener portions 7′ can be connected to the sheet 1 in three different ways. In the two preferred ways, as shown on the sides a and b, the slider 9 with which the zip fastener halves 7′ can be guided into facing engagement, is situated in the region of the two opposed ends 8′ and 8″. On the side b, the two ends 8′ and 8″ are connected together and the slider 9 already engages around a few teeth of both zip fastener portions 7′. For bringing together the two zip fastener portions 7′ on the side b, the slider 9 consequently has only to be guided toward the ends 10′, 10″. On the side a, the two ends 8′ and 8″ easily mutually overlap or cross, and to bring the two zip fastener portions 7′ together, the end 8″ has first to be inserted into the slider 9, as is usual on closing a jacket or the like. A further possibility is that the two ends 8′, 8″ of the two zip fastener portions 7′ which intersect in the middle are connected together, and the slider 9 is arranged at the end 10′ and has to be connected to the end 10″ for closing (not shown). This embodiment makes it easily possible to bring the sheet 1 together into a bag; with greater filling, the two first mentioned embodiments are preferred. The zip fastener portions 7′ can run straight or curved.
 In the example according to FIG. 2, in which the three zip fasteners 7 form an equilateral triangle, i.e., the zip fastener portions 7′ are arranged on a common straight line, the closed bag obtains a triangular base surface 11 (shown by dashed lines in FIG. 2). An enlarged base surface 11 can be attained if the zip fastener portions 7′ run at an obtuse angle or, as indicated in FIG. 2 by dot-dash lines in the region of the side c, run in a curve. The arrangement of the according to the invention 7′ does not alter the functionally of the invention.
 The holding loops 3′ can be formed, in a particular embodiment of the invention, by the support band of the zip fasteners 7. Additional sewing-on is thereby dispensed with, and the forces on lifting a filled bag 15 are transmitted directly to the zip fastener bands. A local high tensile load of the surface structure does not occur in this embodiment.
FIG. 3 shows the sheet 1 again, as previously shown in FIG. 1, but with building blocks 13 situated on it, for example, LEGO building blocks (LEGO is a registered trademark of the company LEGO System A/S, DK-7190 Billund, Denmark).
 The sheet 1 can serve as a “play area” or as a stowage surface for reserve blocks when building with the blocks 13 near the sheet 1.
 At evening or on ending play, the sheet 1 can be converted with little effort into a bag 15, in that the zip fastener portions 7′ are closed one after another. For this purpose, the sheet turned over inward on one side, and the two zip fastener portions 7′ are made accessible which during play are situated at the back side of the “play area”. After the closing of the first zip fastener 7 there follows the closing of the second, in that a further portion of the sheet 1 is turned over and the next zip, fastener portions 7′ are closed (see FIG. 5). After closing the third zip fastener 7, the sheet 1, now reshaped into a pyramid with a triangular stand surface, can be gripped by the loop 3′ and transported, without a substantial distortion of the bag 15 (FIG. 6).
 According to FIG. 7, the bag 15 can also be made accessible from above by partially opening one or more zip fasteners 7, i.e., the building blocks 13 no longer lie on the extended sheet 1, but can be taken out of the bag 15 when space conditions are restricted, for example in automobiles or on a train.
 For temporary transportation, for example at evening when the children are put to bed, the sheet 1 can be carried open (FIG. 8) by the loops 3′ and 3″.
 The invention has beed described for three zip fasteners 7 forming a triangle. Four zip fasteners 7 forming a square could of course be fastened to a sheet 1 (FIG. 9). On closing the respective zip fastener portions 7′, there is likewise formed a bag, 15 closed at the top, with a square base 11.
 The sheet 1 must not overlap the zip fasteners 7 on the outside, i.e., the zip fasteners 7 directly form the edges 5 of the sheet 1. According to the first embodiment example, the sheet 1 would then by triangular in shape; according to the last-named embodiment (FIG. 9), with four zip fasteners 7, the sheet 1 would accordingly be square. A disadvantage of this last-named embodiment is the smaller “play area” (cf. round surface indicated by a dot-dash line).
 The sheets 1 according to the invention, when the zip fastener ends 8′, 8″ are not connected, can be widened to corresponding larger sizes with further sheets 1 of the same kind (not shown). Two sheets 1 connected together can be built up to a bag 15 with double the content.
 Instead of zip fasteners, which consist of two mutually engaging zip fastener portions, adhesive strips or holding strips (also known under the name Velcro® strips) could also be used.