MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Jul 21, 2011

Boning Demystified



The 1952 strapless cocktail dress project continues!

Yesterday afternoon I braved torrid temperatures and sweated up to Steinlauf & Stoller on 39th St., where they sell spiral steel boning in multiple sizes, already precut (to the half inch).  They also sell pre-made cotton channels (or casing) by the yard.  None of this is very expensive: four pieces of boning 1/4" wide, four extra tips (in case I had to shorten them) and a yard-and-a-half of pre-made casing came to less than $5.  I wasn't sure about the casing, but it felt soft enough to use in the lining of the bodice.  Susan Khalje makes her own using silk organza.



The spiral steel boning was nothing like what I expected: it's completely flexible.  I'd envisioned something stiff, akin to a brace, but no, not at all.  

I'll be adding 1" to the length of the bodice, I think, so I added 1" to the length of the boning; I have two 12" pieces and two 7" pieces.  (If I have to shorten them, I can with, I believe, wire cutters and/or pliers, or something.)

Anyway, I pinned the boning to the inside front of the bodice muslin; the recommended positions are drawn on the pattern.  (In the final lining, the darts and boning will be facing out (i.e., against the wrong side of the fashion fabric.)





Michael then pinned me into the bodice.  Ta da!





Of course, the fashion fabric won't have boning attached, just the lining, so the boning shouldn't be visible from the outside.  Here's hoping.

In the meantime, I cut the skirt out of the rose print polished cotton.  It's a six-panel skirt: front, back, and two side fronts and side backs.  Today I'll stitch the panels together.



If I say I am already tired of this fabric, will you forgive me?  It's just been around the house too long.

In closing, readers, suffice it to say I am glad I finally faced my fear of boning.  It was one of those things that I thought was simply beyond my skill level; it's not.  You're basically just sewing vertical (and sometimes horizontal or diagonal) reinforcements to maintain the shape of a garment when you're wearing it. 

Btw, you're not going to want to go through airport security in this dress.

And so the drama continues.  I hope to have another exciting installment for you tomorrow.

What's keeping you busy these days?

Happy Thursday, everybody!



P.S. Anybody up for making the red version of this?

30 comments:

  1. The boning/casings shouldn't be next to your skin, it should be on the wrong side of your lining and face the wrong side of your fashion fabric (if you already know that and I read what you wrote above incorrectly, I apologize!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your chest/breast shape looks fabulous! if it looks so good on you, i can only imagine that Cathy will be a show-stopper...if she goes down to the docks in that dress she won't have to wait long for a sailor or two...she'll have the whole darn vessel chasing her like cats in heat.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kristen, you are correct! I will change what I wrote.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wish we had a bit of that sweltering heat. England in summer is like living inside a Tupperware box - cloudy and grey. Plus lots of rain at the moment. So much for summer sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've made a couple of garments with boning, my favorite one was from one of the retro Butterick (B4918) evening gowns. It was for my daughter's high school prom.
    The boning was so nice in the design, and you can easily see that without it, the dress would not have been the same.

    Looks like there are many ways to work with it according to Kristen. I just followed the directions in the pattern, and it looked great!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for a review on boning! I bought Vogue 1174 a while back, and have the perfect fabric for it, but the instructions are rather terse in how to actually use / insert the boning. This makes me feel more confident!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I should have a lot more info on boning in the days ahead, too, Meghan.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You can also get plastic boning, if you have a dress you want to wear on a plane. The downside to plastic is that it's sold on a roll and it tends to hold it's curve for awhile. It's not noticeable while you're wearing the dress, as long as it's properly fitted.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Spiral steel boning is great stuff. It's light, flexible and it will keep its shape. Poly/plastic boning gets bent out of shape quite easily and flat steel boning is well... just about all you'd expect steel boning to be. Spiral steel is the best of both worlds... I really should sew something which incorporates it again.

    By the way, I don't know about airplane travel (security checks there can still be pretty outragious) but I have once worn a steel boned corset to a rock concert (where they had metal detectors at the entrance) and I've been stopped once by border security on the English side of the Channel when I was carrying one in my luggage. At both occasions, the security personnel involved didn't give me any trouble.
    Anyway, I wouldn't really want to wear a boned garment on a flight...

    ReplyDelete
  10. http://thedistracteddomestic.blogspot.com/2011/01/wedding-corset-part-2.html

    I have a little bit about boning in this post. And it shows the difference when inserted into the top.
    boning seems so scary, but it really isn't!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Do you remove the steel boning to wash the garment? Will it rust or get bent out of shape?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very good question. I'm guessing it all goes to the cleaners and they leave it in. It's not easily removable...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Steel-boned garments can be dry cleaned all in one piece. I've hand-washed garments (well, corsets) with flat steel boning bec. it's covered in an enamel paint & tipped (kind of like that tool dip stuff), so it won't rust. I'm not sure about wet-washing a garment with spring-steel boning tho. Haven't tried it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow - you're bodice is coming along great! I think people let boning scare them unnecessarily, there are many sewing-related techniques that are a lot worse. For me zippers and buttonholes are more worrisome than boning!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I use wire cutters to shorten boning. I use a file to deal with any sharp bits that might be left over and then I wrap the ends in duct tape. Because it makes everything better.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for this post, Peter. I don't know of any menswear with boning, but it's nice to see it, and see how it works. As far as the red dress....ugh. I can't imagine anyone, even Cathy, looking good in that. It just seems very bottom heavy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Can't wait to see it finished. Cathy is going to look stunning :).

    ReplyDelete
  18. Christopher in Aotearoa NZJuly 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Forgive me, and this question may have already been answered, but how the heck do strapless dresses fight gravity and stay on and up?

    ReplyDelete
  19. That's what the bones are for.

    ReplyDelete
  20. LOL. I'd always wondered, that, too. I refused to wear tube tops as a teenager because in my mind anything that someone could grab hold of, pull, and show bits of my anatomy to the world couldn't possibly be considered real clothing!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Neat! I have been wanting to make something with boning for a while now... and I am glad that it doesn't seem too hard. Also, the red Burda pattern... I snorted milk out the nose on that one.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Amazing work looking forward to seeing the dress. I agree boning causes too much worry, it's really more work than a plain seam but not bad. To me the real worry with boned garments is the fit. It has to be so precise and it's not so easy to adjust once you commit to the position of the boning. No one wants to go to any extra trouble to have something that fits like a bucket. You've obviously got that down, too, which is the real accomplishment.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love that you're constantly challenging yourself with sewing! Boning is something I would have put in the seems-too-hard basket but you make it seem less scary.
    As for that last pattern - ugh! It takes me back to school formal days (mid-eighties) and that black & silver number could have inspired my year 12 formal dress... shudder....

    ReplyDelete
  24. Just use something like decent tin snips or bolt cutters to shorten boning. If you cut a wire at one side the other it's easier. It's tough stuff :)

    That boning tape works a treat, you can use twill tape too.

    I wouldn't wash anything with spiral boning. It holds the water for ages in it's grooves and then can rust and stain the fabric. Fine in a dry cleaner though.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow! What a great fit! The boning looks like it's perfect, and I'll suggest again a waist stay with a hook and loop across the back (or side) zipper to keep the whole thing up. Don't rely on the boning to keep it up!!
    The red dress looks to much like a radish to ever be worn by a human being!

    ReplyDelete
  26. It seems nice and flexible when there's only a few, but try a full corset with 30 of those puppies, and it's a whole other story, LOL!

    I wish they were easier to get in my area - there really is nothing like them for strapless garments.

    ReplyDelete
  27. OH! Glad to know the boning was easier than you thought! Yes, fabric fatigue - I know it well. When you've been thinking about using a fabric for a while it's sometimes better to just plow thru and sew it up so you can have a finished garment instead of a piece of cloth burning a hole in your stash.

    That Burda is spectacularly bad - circa 1985 prom dress bad. It needs taffeta and a plucky John Hughes heroine. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  28. The fit on your bodice is amazing, you have done a fabulous job as always. :) That spiral steel boning is amazing stuff... Love it.. but very hard to come by in Anchorage AK. :( or I would use it more often...

    Would love to make the red version of your dress.... just so I could make that little bolero. I have been needing one of those. I have a vintage car show coming up at the end of August that I am participating in...(driving a restored 50 Chevy) I have the perfect dress but August here can be a bit iffy on weather... always wise to bring a jacket.

    What would you think about the red dress made up in chiffon or other fine gauzy fabric? I was thinking it wouldn't seem so bottom heavy then.

    ~k~

    ReplyDelete
  29. On the last corselet I made I used super inexpensive nylon organdy ribbon for the casing and that worked well, it's very lightweight but strong. The heavier purpose made casing would have been too heavy. Rayon seam binding also works well. I've tried to use those boning caps but the problem is when I'd crimp the sides the top would open up and vice versa. I'm convinced there is some special tool needed to crimp the entire cap all around. In the end I gave up and just bought pre-cut lengths. Its important to cut spiral steel boning safely - wear safety goggles because the pieces tend to fly!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm sorry but the bodice does not look good on you. You just don't have enough chest to fill it out. Your sewing skills are brilliant though.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails