Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Corsetry: Straightening Plastic Boning

Today, I bit the bullet and boned my corset. And it was a long day. I started at about 10 am and got done around 4 pm.

First I measured my boning channels and cut (and numbered) all of the pieces of plastic boning I'd need. But see how they are all curvy. That's from being stored wrapped in a circle at the store so I had to straighten them.

You'll need:

A pot of hot/boiling water and tongs (preferably metal) so you don't burn your fingers,

And some heavy books and towels. I knew these text books would come in handy eventually!

So, you remove the casing (and that mesh stuff which did remove when straightening later pieces) and throw them in the hot water. I'd read about this online somewhere, but, of course, forgot to bookmark the link so I winged it on time. You want the boning to get hot and really flexible but not melt it.

Then you flatten it between two towels (so your books don't get all soggy) and throw a heavy book on top. Since I labeled all of the casings, I set the casing next to the boning so as not to get them mixed up.

Continue stacking up your boning and let sit until nice and cool. For stubborn pieces, let sit in hot water longer on the second go around. For long pieces, you may need a book on each end.

Once the boning is cool, I removed the corners off of each end as per the pattern instructions. Then I filed the end smooth to help prevent damage to the corset by sharp edges.

And then I stuck all 46 pieces in their boning channels. There was still a lot of curve in some of the pieces, so I alternated the direction of the curve like this: ( )( )( ) so that they balanced each other out and the corset was flatter. I still have to finish the top edge, add grommets, and put in the busk (which is coming in the mail).

And the inside! I love the look of the bias bound seams with peaks of green on the inside!

I've also finished the smock which was one of the worst patterns I've ever worked with. Seriously, I would have been much better off drafting my own out of two rectangles. It was huge which sucked up fabric. And it kept slipping off of my shoulders hence the awkward neckline darts. And the sleeves are a bit snug. Yay for muslin on the bodice of the actual dress! I was not about to do a muslin on a cheap undergarment like this.

I also whipped up a bum roll-the smallest size in my pattern packet since I figure my butt is big enough already..... I've been working on the hoop skirt part too but I haven't gotten the hoop material yet, so it's basically a big white skirt at the moment.

And here are my fabrics for the dress! (I'm using the first pattern in this post.) From left to right: red for sleeves, gold for underskirt, red and gold patterned reversible fabric for main body of dress. I'm planning on using the gold background side for the bulk of the dress with strips of the reverse side along the opening in the front and as a contrast on the neckline.

So that's been my sewing adventures this week. What are you up to?


  1. Wow, that certainly looks like a it's going to turn into a really awesome costume!

  2. I'm so impressed! I tried making a corset like that with tons of boning in the past. It was probably the most irritating thing I've ever done! Kudos!!! :)

  3. EEEEE! Loving the green corset--so, so pretty! (Any making me want to go find where my pink linen 1770s one is packed away...) I used to be really into costuming and gave it up years ago when I was going to college. Still, it seems lately lots of people have been posting things that are tempting me to dip my toes back in... (As if I need to start another fabric stash for another time period! haha!)

  4. This looks like it'll turn out great! Thanks for the mini-tutorial on straightening out the boning-- didn't know you could do that!

  5. You are brave doing all that boning. I do not envy you at all haha. It is so gorgeous!