CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application claims the benefit of provisional U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 60/575,742, filed May 28, 2004.
- COPYRIGHT NOTICE
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyrights.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to comfort systems, and more particularly to a comfort system adapted for conversion from a pillow configuration to a blanket configuration.
2. Description of the Background Art
Articles used to provide humans comfortable resting environments are well known in the art. The use of blankets, comforters, quilts, duvets, sleeping bags and the like are well known. Furthermore, the background art reveals a number of comfort devices that may be converted into pillows by use of various pockets, strings, zippers and other fastening means. U.S. Pat. No. 5,457,829, issued to Elliot discloses a comforter having a pocket which is permanently secured to one side thereof in a position located substantially centrally along the side edge. The pocket is sized so as to be turned inside out and have the comforter folded, rolled and tucked therein to form a pillow structure. U.S. Pat. No. 5,850,643, issued to Brumfield, discloses a blanket that folds into a pillow configuration with the aid of a pocket. U.S. Pat. No. 5,987,667, issued to Haverly et al., discloses a blanket having a pocket permanently attached to the top surface along one edge thereof such that the blanket can be foldably stored within the pocket.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The convertible blankets of the background art, however, are burdened with a number of inherent shortcomings and disadvantages. For example, many of the references of the background art disclose blanket-type articles that, when in the pillow configuration, reveal folds, tucks, and crevices that detract from the overall appearance. Accordingly, there exists a need for an improved convertible comfort system that is configurable from a conventional looking pillow configuration to a blanket-type configuration without generally revealing folds or tucked portions. In addition, many commercial airlines have recently stopped providing passengers with pillows and blankets. Accordingly, air travelers have an immediate need for a carry on accessory comprising a blanket and pillow combination.
The present invention provides an improved comfort system comprising a seemingly ordinary pillow that easily unfolds into a quilt, comforter, or blanket (hereinafter “blanket”). A blanket according to the present invention comprises a sheet of material having an external pocket centrally located along at least one peripheral edge thereof. The blanket may be easily converted into a pillow configuration by a folding method that transforms the blanket into a compact configuration and includes pulling the folded blanket through the pocket, in an inside out manner, such that the folded blanket is contained within the external pocket and the pocket opening is generally concealed by forming an edge of the pillow structure. The comfort system is further provided with a conventional pillow sized for insertion within the pocket, and a detachable shoulder strap to facilitate carrying.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved convertible blanket and pillow combination.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a seemingly conventional pillow without external pockets or flaps that is capable of conversion into a blanket-type structure.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a seemingly conventional blanket that coverts to a pillow configuration wherein there are no visible folds, tucks or pockets.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a convertible pillow capable of being selectively converted into a pillow configuration having a fabric style and/or pattern that differs from the primary pattern seen in the blanket configuration.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a decorative pillow capable of conversion to a blanket structure.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide in combination a blanket that folds into a compact carry-on configuration adapted to carry a conventional pillow.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other objects will become are achieved with the apparatus and folding method disclosed in detail below.
FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a convertible blanket and pillow according to the present invention in a blanket configuration;
FIG. 2 is a top perspective view thereof after the execution of a first fold in the conversion process;
FIG. 3 is a top perspective view thereof after the execution of a second fold in the conversion process;
FIG. 4 is a top perspective view thereof after the execution of a third fold in the conversion process;
FIG. 5 is a top perspective view thereof after the execution of a fourth fold in the conversion process;
FIG. 6 is a top perspective view thereof after the execution of a fifth fold in the conversion process;
FIG. 7 is top perspective view thereof illustrating a user reaching into the pocket to initiate the inside out folding portion of the conversion process;
FIG. 8 is a top perspective view thereof illustrating the pocket receiving the folded article;
FIG. 9 is a top perspective view showing the article converted to a tote/pillow;
FIG. 10 is a partial cross-sectional view detailing the pocket;
FIG. 11 is a side perspective view of the article converted into a tote/pillow;
FIG. 12 is a side perspective view illustrating a conventional pillow positioned prior to insertion within the tote body;
FIG. 13 is a side perspective view illustrating the conventional pillow inserted within the tote body;
FIG. 14 is a side perspective view illustrating the shoulder strap in a detached configuration; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 15 is a side perspective view illustrating the shoulder strap in an attached configuration.
Turning now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-15 depict a preferred embodiment of the present invention, namely an improved comfort system, generally referenced as 10, comprising a decorative pillow and carrying tote, that is convertible to a blanket configuration. Comfort system 10 includes a main body blanket with four peripheral side edges, referenced as 31, 32, 33, and 34 respectively. Comfort system 10 further includes at least one external pocket 20, which cooperates with the blanket structure for simple conversion into a combination pillow and carrying tote configuration. Comfort system 10 may include a plurality of pockets, such as one pocket on each edge thereof, each of which pockets may be fabricated from different fabric styles and/or patterns such that one comfort system may be configurable into a pillow configurations having a corresponding variety of styles and patterns. When configured as a blanket, the external pocket(s) may function as feet warmers or hand warmers.
With reference to the cross-sectional view seen in FIG. 10, the main body blanket structure of comfort system 10 preferably formed by first and second layers of fabric, referenced as 12 and 14 respectively. Fabric layers 12 and 14 are preferably stitched so as to be connected along a common peripheral edge as shown in FIGS. 1 and 10. As best seen in FIG. 1, pocket 20 is connected to fabric layer 12 and has peripheral edge stitching runs substantially continuously along sides 21, 22, and 23 thereby forming an opening along side 24. It should be noted that the first and second fabric layers may include more than one layer of fabric. The fabric layers may comprise silk, fleece, satin, cotton, synthetic material, or any other suitable fabric or textile. In addition, fill, such as down, or other suitable fill material may be disposed between fabric layers to provide insulation and warmth. In a preferred embodiment, one layer is formed by a sheet-like material and the other layer is formed by a plush material to provide the user with two different side textures.
FIGS. 1-9 illustrate the conversion of the comfort system from a blanket configuration to a pillow configuration. FIG. 1 depicts the article in a blanket configuration with pocket 20 disposed upward. FIG. 2 illustrates a first step in the conversion process, wherein the blanket is inverted from the position shown in FIG. 1 such that pocket 20 is disposed on the underside of the blanket. As best illustrated in FIG. 2 the conversion process commences by making a first longitudinal fold. FIG. 3 illustrates a second step in the conversion process wherein a second longitudinal fold is made. FIGS. 4-6 illustrate the next three folding steps and show the three additional folds such that comfort system 10 is in the compact configuration depicted in FIG. 6. FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrates a user's hand reaching into pocket 20 and grasping the distal end portion of the article from the inside/bottom of the pocket, whereafter the user pulls the folded distal end portion of the comfort system toward the pocket opening at side edge S4 such that the pocket is turned inside out thereby receiving the folded blanket therein. FIG. 9 illustrates the article converted into a finished pillow wherein the blanket portion of comfort system 10 is contained within pocket 20. As should be apparent, the folding process may be altered without departing from the scope of the present invention. More particularly, the folding process may be varied from that shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, such that the configuration shown in FIG. 3 is folded in half, and folded in half a second time resulting in a substantially similar configuration as that shown in FIG. 6.
As best seen in FIG. 9, the outside surfaces of the finished pillow are formed by the material that lines the interior of pocket 20 when configured as a blanket. In an embodiment wherein the comfort system includes a plurality of pockets the present invention contemplates forming each of the pockets from different materials, designs, colors etc. For example, in the embodiment wherein each of the four sides of the blanket includes pockets the four pockets may be fabricated from fabric having different patterns and colors thereby providing the user alternate pillow designs. In an embodiment intended for outdoor use, such as camping, the pocket may be formed of waterproof material to prevent the blanket from becoming wet when enclosed in the pillow configuration.
When configured as pillows, a plurality of the comfort systems may be stacked, such as in a closet, thereby minimizing storage space. As should be apparent, a number of comfort system devices may be used on sofas as conventional decorative pillows, and converted as needed into blankets for use by people sitting or relaxing on or near the sofa.
FIGS. 11-15 depict further significant advantages realized by a comfort system of the present invention. FIG. 11 depicts the blanket of comfort system 10 in the folded configuration within pocket 20. FIG. 12 depicts a pillow 40 provided with comfort system 10 and sized for insertion within pocket 20. Pillow 40 preferably includes a pillowcase 42. In a preferred embodiment, pillow 40 has an outer layer formed of a fabric having a first plushness or texture, and pillow case 42 is formed of a fabric having a second plushness or texture. The user may employ the pillow either with or without pillowcase 42, such that the user is provided with different first and second textures to choose from. FIG. 13 depicts pillow 40 inserted within pocket 20. FIG. 14 further depicts a strap 50 having end clips 52 provided with comfort system 10. End clips 52 allow strap 50 to be connected to comfort system 10 as best seen in FIG. 15.
Additional variations and advantages will be obvious to those skilled in the art. This includes those based on combinations of the above-referenced mentioned variations. The instant invention has been shown and described herein in what is considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment. It is recognized, however, that departures may be made therefrom within the scope of the invention and that obvious structural and/or functional modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art.