Oh Noes! Boning! Aaaaaahh!
Does this sound like you or someone you know? It used to sound like me, but not any more.
So don't hide under that table - boning isn't hard at all! You can do it! Bone? As in whale bone?
Originally the 'bones' in corsets were whale teeth. Today, you don't need to borrow any teeth at all. There are several kinds of imitation teeth available, in lots of different widths:
These come in different stiffnesses. They usually have quite a bit of bendability, but still offer good support and shape to a garment. They come in pre-cut sizes with coated tips.
Spiral steel boning:
Made of, you guessed it, spirals of steel, these bones bend both ways.
These are usually pre-encased in some kind of cotton or polyester cover. You can leave them in and sew directly onto the fabric case, or you can take them out and use a stronger casing.
This is the lightest boning available, mostly used for shaping rather than support.
It's also the only kind of boning that you can sew on directly.
If you're feeling particularly thrifty, you can go down to the local hardware store and pick up some metal wire. If you use this, remember to put it in a pillow case or something like that when you cut it, so shards don't fly into your face. Also, you'll need to finish the tip either by melting it or coating it in plastic or rubber.
And remember: since it's not flat, it won't blend in to the garment as well. It's best used for something like a corset where you don't mind highlighting the boning. How does it go on?
Unless you're using the pre-made case on plastic boning or sewing through rigilene, you'll need some fabric to use as a case to hold the boning on to your garment.
My personal favorite is double fold bias tape:
It comes pre-folded in a strip that forms a neat, strong non-raw edged strip. You can also make your own.
You can apply the casing in different ways:
directly on to lining fabric, boning on the inside of the lining
directly on to lining fabric, boning on the outside of lining
onto the seam allowance of a seam How do I apply the casing?
1) Decide where you want the boning to go, measure the length of where it will lie. This should be about half an inch longer than the bone you are using.
2) Cut a length of bias tape (or whatever you're using for casing) to your measurement from step 1, plus one inch.
3) Fold down half an inch at each end of the casing and press. This will enclose the raw edges at each end.
4) Pin the casing to your fabric.
5) Leaving enough space for the boning in the casing:
a) Sewing directly on fabric: Sew down one side of the casing, along the bottom, and back up the other side.
b) Sewing on seam allowance: Fold the fabric away from the seam, leaving one side of the seam allowance. Sew along this side. Repeat on the other side. Hand sew the bottom to the seam allowance, leaving the outer side of the garment alone.
6) Insert bone
7) Sew along the top of the case.
I hope the fabulous paint illustrations were helpful. Let me know if anything's unclear