Sewing Boning into a Bodice

Part of my personal aims for the June Challenge was to try to step out of my comfort zone a little bit and try something new. For me, one of those things was to try boning. I’d never tried to sew the bodice of a dress with boning. One of the options for the Colette patterns Chantilly dress is to insert boning – and it’s always nice to have a bit of structure in a strapless dress especially if like me, you err more on the voluptuous side.

So using my Chantilly dress bodice, I’m going to show you how to insert boning! More precisely Rigilene boning.

First a couple of things –

When cutting your boning, make sure you that you cut it to the size of your seam minus the seam allowance and an extra 2mm.This is for comfort, you do not want to feel those bones poking through!

You want to ‘seal’ the end of your boning, so it is more comfortable to wear and it does not dig into you – there are three options for this – buying ‘end caps’, sealing the end of the rigilene with a flame or making your own ‘end cap’ by sewing a small square of bias binding or spare fabric around the ends. Personally I prefer making my own ‘end caps’ as I have never seen any premade ones on sale and it’s pretty easy to make your own.

It’s important to mould the rigilene to the shape of your body. Rigilene is sold coiled up into a roll and as a result when you unravel it, it tends to curve. Using a low to medium heat on your iron, flatten the rigilene for pieces that will go on your side seams and your back seams. (Don’t press for too long as the rigilene will then quickly bend the other way!) When shaping your rigilene for the bust, first flatten it with your iron then using a tailor’s ham, pin the rigilene onto it and try and press it almost into an ‘s’ shape. So you are shaping the top part to go over your bust and the bottom part is where it will go in.

Normally you would attach rigilene to something that is lined, so that you don’t have the rigilene being uncomfortable next to your skin. You would insert the rigilene into the seam allowances or diagonally across in between the seams. You can use the sew in type with satin, plain rigilene that is not covered or inserted into boning channels. Make sure that whatever lining you use has some strength to it, if it is a delicate silk or a flimsy cotton lawn, make sure it is interfaced. If the material does not have strength/is not particularly tightly woven, it will be useless to put boning into it.

Place your boning along the seam, in the seam allowance

Using a straight stitch, stitch down one side of the rigilene boning and then the other. Ensure that you are sewing onto your seam allowance and not through to the main part of the fabric. This may require a bit of jiggling about! This is important unless you want visible boning channels!

When sewing the rigilene in, you want to ensure that you try to maintain the curves that you shaped into your rigilene with the iron.

It actually seems a lot more complicated than it really is, but it isn’t!

And the finished result could look a little like this:

How to Appliqué Lace – Tutorial

I’ve been meaning to write up some sewing tutorials for some time now, specifically lingerie related sewing tutorials. (So if this is something people are interested in, I’d appreciate the feedback!)

Coincidentally Burdastyle, who incidentally have been running some sort of giveaway just about every week since the beginning of the year, have announced a tutorial competition and a chance to win a collection of Fiskars scissors. So I thought, why not!

How to Appliqué Lace

You can apply lace in many different ways but I am going to show how to applique embroidered lace onto a fabric. Here’s a picture of chantilly lace that I have appliqued onto the bust portion of a silk camisole that I am making.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Lace,
  • Fabric
  • Small embroidery scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread that matches your lace
  • An open foot or clear embroidery foot
  • Tear away stabiliser, tracing paper or alternative

Step 1: Cut your fabric out according to whatever pattern you are using. Lingerie tends to be cut on the bias.

Step 2: Position your lace over the part of the fabric you want to attach it to. You can pin the lace into place but be careful to only pin it where you will be cutting it away.

Step 3: You should try to use an open foot or a clear embroidery foot for this step, so you can see the line that you are following. But don’t worry if you don’t have one as it’s not impossible with a regular foot.
Using a narrow and fairly close together zig zag stitch you want to stitch along the main lines or border in your lace. From the picture you can see that is not quite as close together as a satin stitch but it is fairly close together. If the border line is positioned in the centre of your foot, you use the zig zag stitch to stitch across the border and you are in fact only stitching either side of the border.
It is a bit stop and start but that’s ok as you will be trying to move the lace underneath your sewing machine foot. In order to change the direction that you are sewing in, remember to keep the needle in the down position and pivot to get round all the shapes in your lace.
The thing to remember is that if your lace is particularly intricate, it will be too difficult to applique around every single shape and that you just have to follow the main lines. You may also find it easier to put the fabric and lace on top of some tracing paper or tear away stabiliser, especially if the fabric you are using is particularly fine.

Step 4: After you have appliqued your way around the lace, here comes the fun part! Cutting away the lace!

First, trim the lace to your pattern

Step 5: Here’s where your embroidery scissors come in handy because they are so small and cut fine details – cut around the appliqued lace from the front. Cut as close as you can to your line of stitching.

Step 6: Now turn your fabric over and make a little snip in the part you are going to cut away…

… And cut away the rest of the fabric on the back! Again, cut away as close to the line of stitching as you can. And because you cut the piece on the bias there will be limited fraying!

And you should end up with something a lot like this!