Week IV: Sewing Corset Boning Channels

After the high excitement, and creativity of yesterdays Guest Blog Post from Steampunk Family, I will be talking today about Sewing Corset Boning Channels.

If you are a dedicated follower of Corset Month, so far you will have cut and adapted the Pattern, Inserted the Busk, Sewn Up and Fitted the Eventide Corset and we are now very close to finishing!

I have three different ways of sewing a Boning Channel into a Corset. My choice will be based on the look of the Corset, whether I am sewing up a Historically Accurate Corset, or would like a Period look, wear-ability and the speed I need to make the Corset as some of these methods are very time consuming.

I would highly recommend doing as I have done, and cutting a Front and a Side Front piece from spare Coutil and Outer Fabric to have a little bit of a practice on.

The Eventide Method

I’d like to first show you the method which is in the Eventide Corset instruction book, and a method which is the easiest way to sew the Corset up, with Boning Channels.

stitched1 stitched2

Having inserted the Busk, you will begin to Pin, with right sides together, each fabric Corset Panel to the next until they are in a line. Once pinned, you can sew them together with your Seam Allowance (1.5cm, above left).

Sew all of the Outer Fabric Panels in this fashion, and then the Coutil. You should now have all of the Panels for the Front and Back of the Corset- with Wrong Sides Together-  in a line running away from the Busk (above right)

stitched3 stitched4

The next part is a little tricky, and will require strong fingers! You will have noticed that each Seam is now curved, and not laying flat. As best you can, and pulling away from the Busk will help, smooth the Panels out so that the Seam of the Front Fabric is laying directly on top of the Coutil. Pin in place (above left).

This may require some fiddling on your part however; if the Coutil seams at the Back are a little mis-aligned this isn’t too much of a worry (unless it is more than .5cm). If you are finding vast discrepancies, and nothing seems to be lining up you may need to check you have used the correct Seam Allowance on every Seam.

Apart of lining the Seams up, you will need to make sure no Seam is pleated or in any other way distorted. They should lie flat. Pin at a right angle as illustrated so you can keep the Seam pinned for as long as possible when sewing.

Next, you will need to measure your Boning and the Presser Foot on your Sewing Machine. Roll your Needle in to the Machine, place a Measuring Tape up against it and lower the Presser Foot. Make a note of the measurement from the Needle to the edge of the Presser Foot. Measure your Boning.

As you can see, my Presser Foot measures approximately 6mm, and my Boning is 1cm. This means that, when I sew either side of the Seams on my Corset it will be stitched 12mm apart- the perfect distance as it allows for any slight wobble when sewing, and for sliding the Boning in when it is tipped.

stitched5 stitched6 stitched7 stitched8

You may need to attach your Zipper Foot to sew a narrower Seam however; as you can see your next task is to Sew either side of the Seams you have just Pinned.

You will need to remove the Pins as you get to them- this makes the stitching neater as your Needle can snag, or your Presser Foot wobble when a Pin is reached. Click on the images to enlarge.

And voilà, Boning Channels!

After sewing the first, I check the Boning fits snugly, but with a little movement and then continue with the rest.

The Internal Method

I used to create Bespoke Corsetry for a London Lingerie shop in Covent Garden, and one super fun day the owner and I ripped apart a very cheap Satin sample Corset because we simply could not fathom how they had hidden the seams… and this was our answer!

This method need to be sewn after any and all fittings as you are unable to get back in to each seam once sewn and unpicking is a nightmare!

internal1

Starting with the Front and Side Front Panels for both the Outer Fabric and the Coutil, after you have inserted the Busk lay out as above (click to enlarge), with the Outer Fabric and Coutil Front Panels Right Sides Together, and the Side Front Coutil Right Side up on the bottom and the Side Front Outer Fabric Panel on top, Right Side Down.

Pin, matching your Waist Line Snip first, and being careful to match all edges.

internal2 internal3

Sew with your Seam Allowance (1.5cm, above left).

Remove the Pins then, as close to the edge as you dare, Sew another line of stitching at least 12mm away from the first line (above right).

If you have purchased wider Boning you will need to adjust your Seam Allowance accordingly, and make sure these two lines of Stitching are separated by the width of your Boning plus a couple of milimeters.

internal4

Cut a length of Boning, and push in to your Seam carefully (above left) as it is not yet tipped, and the steel can rip the fabric. If it is too tight, or gets stuck, you will need to unpick and attempt the Seam again.

internal5 internal6 internal7

 Smooth the Side Front of the Fabric and Coutil out, and admire your perfectly hidden seam!

Check every Boning Channel as you sew, as you can now see- if you have not sewn it correctly there can be an awful lot of unpicking to do if you suddenly cannot fir the Boning in, or have (oh the horror!!), forgotten to sew the second line of stitching.

The Bound Method

This is easily the most complicated, and time consuming method of creating a Boning Channel however; when executed properly can look stunning!

Insert the Busk as usual. If you are making your own Bias Binding, you will be able to make it the correct width. If you are using pre-made Bias Binding (which is recommended the first time you do this method), you may need to cut it down slightly.

bias 1 bias 2

Un-fold one side of the Bias Binding and place the Boning on top (above left), from the edge of the Boning measure out your Seam Allowance (1.5cm) and see if the Bias Binding needs to be trimmed down. In my case, as you can see, the Bias Binding needs to be trimmed down .5mm.

bias 3 bias 4 bias 5

Once the Bias Binding is the correct width, Pin the side you trimmed down- Right Sides Together- on the Front Fabric Panel (above left). Pin the Side Front Panel, with Right Side Down, on top (above right).

bias 6 bias 7

Place the Coutil Front and Side Front with Right Sides Together, then slide underneath the Fabric (above left).

Sew the Seam, and remove all Pins (above right).

bias 8 bias 9

Smooth out the Front and Back, which will leave the Bias Binding flapping! The Back however; should be laying flat as for the Internal Boning Method.

Next, smoothing out the back and the front, Pin the Binding down as illustrated (below). As the seam is now curved, you will need to do this carefully and use of a Tailors Ham is advised.

You will need to ensure that the back is smooth, with no puckers or pleats, as well as the front at the same time as smoothing the Bias Binding out evenly. Remember the Bias Binding needs to stay the same width all of the way down the seam, and be wide enough to fit the Boning.

bias 10 bias 11 bias 12

Once pinned (above centre), you can attach your Zipper Foot to the Sewing Machine and Top Stitch along the Bias Binding (above right).

Remember that, whilst this can be unpicked if you wobble a little, the Bias Binding will look rougher for it so try to stitch as neatly as possible, and with care.

bias 13 bias 14

 And there we have it. A Satin Bias Bound Boning Channel. I have executed this in Black on Cream so you can see what I am doing however; your stitching will match the Bias Binding (unless you are a complete sadomasochist!), and any slight inconsistencies would not show as obviously.

Well, I do hope you have a go at all of the different ways to stitch a Boning Channel! As you can see they all have their merits.

Don’t forget, if this is the first you are seeing of Corset Month, check out what this is all about here, and buy your Eventide Corset Pattern here.

Happy stitching!

Week III: Sewing the Eventide Corset up

stitching up

Today I will be starting to actually sew the Eventide Corset up! Yay!! There’s so many little preparation tasks in Corsetry that actually sitting down and stitching can be a long time coming!

A few notes first, on the order of Sewing. What I have designed the Eventide to be is an excellent easy Corset to stitch up, whether you are a beginner, want a quick make or just want to explore a different part of sewing. Because of this, the Eventide is sewn together in a very specific way- the Seams are stitched, then fitted and then adjusted as needed and finally the Boning Channels are sewn either side of the Seams. Normally, the corset would be tacked together temporarily at this stage, fitted and then sewn together properly with internal Boning Channels. This is still possible with the Eventide pattern however; you will need to decide how you would like to stitch the Corset together at this stage. If you are unsure and this is your first Corset, I would recommend sticking with the Eventide method for your first try, and then attempting something a little flashier on your next Corset. If you would like to keep all options open, simply at this stage sew the Fabric and Coutil panels together as illustrated, fit and then decide later!

It is popular assumption, amongst my classes, that inserting the Busk is the most difficult task when assembling a Corset. Whilst this needs precision however; I think that it is in fact the Seaming which can be more troublesome as you are stitching together many different curves, whilst maintaining a Seam Allowance and trying not to stitch anything which shouldn’t be!

Once this is done, you can begin the Fitting process, which is exciting and tends to make students rush this bit… please do not be tempted! If rushed, you may have to unpick and if using a Silk, Lace or more delicate fabric you stand to damage it.  The seaming needs to be precise and rushing can cause less than smooth lines to be stitched which, when the Corset is worn, will pull and stretch the Fabric in an unsightly way.

So, further dire warnings aside, let’s start stitching!

sewing up

To sew the Corset together using the Eventide method, you will need to lay all of the panels out in front of you, with the Front panels in the middle. They need to be Wrong Sides Together as illustrated (below left).

sewing1 sewing3 sewing4

Remember those Waist Line snips I was talking about last week? This is where you will need them, and if you forgot, snip them now!

With Right Sides Together, match the Waist Line snips of the Front and Side Front panels of the Fabric (above, Centre). Pin at this point, then continue to Pin up and down the seam as illustrated. Smooth out as you Pin and concentrate on matching the edge of the Fabric. To do this you will need to Pin every few centimetres (above right).

sewing6 sewing7 sewing8

Sew, with a 1.5cm Seam Allowance, along the pinned seam. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end. Slow as you come to the Waist Line, as it is more curved and you may need to stop and start as you sew.

Continue by matching the Side Front and Side panels, then Side and Side Back and stitching all with a 1.5cm Seam Allowance until all panels are sewn in a line.

Repeat for the Coutil panels and then the other side of the Corset. You will notice (above right) that the Corset will very quickly start to take shape and begin to curve.

Of course, if you have the ability, or are wanting to sew quickly, pinning all of the Seams for the Fabric and Coutil for both sides, and then sewing them is an awful lot quicker than pinning and sewing individually. In fact, I do not pin at all! This increases my speed and efficiency and this technique is something I will be covering in more depth in my Video Series The Corset Sessions.

The Boning Channels will be sewn once the entire Corset has been stitched together, and fitted. Using the Eventide method, you are still able to get back in to the Corset seams whilst not unpicking anything which isn’t extremely necessary however; this will all be explained in further posts next week and I think that’s enough for today, lets all grab a cup of tea, step back and admire our handiwork, and have a little rest before making up out eyelet strips and preparing to Fit the Eventide Corset tomorrow!

Happy stitching!