In her second monthly column on alterations for big busts, Leila moves from altering loungewear to something much more . . . structured. Do you have something you’d like to see her write about on Hourglassy? Send an email to askleila [at] hourglassy [dot] com!

Have any of you ever bought or sewn a garment with boning? When you think of boning do you only think of corsets, costumes and weddings? Below you can see me in a dress I made that incorporated boning into the bodice. Can you tell that the red bodice has boning in it? Look closely. It goes directly over the fullness of the bust from the waist up and over to the neckline.

What do you think?

You can use lightweight plastic Rigelene boning, white steel or spring steel, each of which–unlike what you might imagine–is pretty flexible. I prefer using spring steel because it actually moves and lets me breathe better and holds me up better.

All you do to get the boning in is sew channels to encase the boning onto your bodice and make sure you sew across the top and the bottom once your boning is in so it doesn’t move around. Check out Tasia’s tutorial on her blog, Sewaholic, where she shows you how to add boning over the bust of a bodice. Tasia is using a plastic boning. The only difference between having boning that goes over the bust and boning that stops under the bust or at the waist is the length of your boning, and you can get it in tons of lengths. Check out Gertie’s tutorial on adding boning to a bodice, but unlike Tasia’s tutorial, she stops the boning under the bust. Also, Gertie is using spring steel boning. Note that you don’t have to cut and tip your own boning. You can buy it ready to use, which is what I do.

Back to my dress. Part of the shape I’m getting is from my strapless. I could not wear this dress without a bra. In this picture, I’m wearing my Fantasie 4530 in a 34G (I usually wear a 34H–I know, not the same size . . . it’s what I get for shopping at Nordstrom, and the cups of this bra ran large on me) which already helps me achieve this rounded shape. The boning keeps the dress in shape while my bra keeps me in shape. It’s really a two step process.

As an aside, I mentioned in Manipulate Darts, Not People that I prefer these kind of gathers to ones radiating from the underbust. I find them less bulky and more flattering on days I want a trim look.

I also used boning on a Victorian costume I made earlier this year. Granted, I also used a Victorian corset underneath but the boning in the bodice adds to the look. Below is the bodice, made of pink velveteen. You can see how far up the boning goes up the bodice. The boning channels are the raised bits you can see from the bottom of the bodice traveling up to the bust area. The reason this works is because of the Victorian corset. The shape you get in a Victorian corset–and I don’t just mean the waist definition, but the chest–is very particular to the time period.

Above you can see the bodice as I was constructing it. On the inside, I placed boning channels and stitched them down. Then I slid the right sized boning in, stitched the top and bottom of the channels so the boning wouldn’t move around and then completed the bodice.

As you can below, even sitting down, I look like I have an elongated torso–something I don’t have without a corset and boned bodice.

Also, you can see that my bust is lifted. Interestingly, the gores and the lift remind me of Curvy Kate’s Tease Me and Entice Me bras. They all have gores which give the lift. Yeah, I know my corset is heavily boned with spring steel bones, but I’m now thinking I’d like to wear the Tease Me or Entice Me bras!

Check out my corset up close and you’ll see what I mean by how these gores on this corset remind me of the CK bras. Do you see it?

A couple more links for you in case you’re curious:

-Here’s a tutorial Gertie put together (and also explains in her book) on adding boning to a waistband.

-You might also enjoy this article from Threads Magazine on adding boning to everyday garments.

Do you have any garments that have boning in them? Anyone use skirts with boned waistbands? Bodices with boning over the bust or up to the underbust? Any of you really dislike boning? Tell me.