How To Fix Boning Issues

I’d like to address how to fix a few problems with the boning in your wedding dress, formal dress, corset , tops or really anything that has boning!

Recently, a customer tried on a dress that just didn’t seem like it fit correctly in the bust.

I knew right away that it had an issue with the boning, because one side looked fine but the other side was dimpled. It just didn’t follow the curve of her body.

So, after I finished marking the hem, she handed the dress over to me and I looked inside.

To look at the boning in your dress, if it has lining, reach up into the dress between the lining and the outer fabric and pull it out, wrong side out. If you have a corset you are working with, you may need to open up the lining to see what’s going on inside.

Can you see what I saw?

photo of dress with the boning going in 2 different directions,

The photo above shows the interior of her dress.

On the left side, the boning was just fine and the curve was “pushing out” like it should be.

In other words, it followed the natural curve of the body.

The right side, however, was the exact opposite.

The right side curves in toward us.

Here’s a side view. You can see that the dress fabric (where my hand is) is sticking out like it should, but the boning (where the lining of the dress is) bends towards the body:

photo of bust area with boning going out and in

That meant that the boning was in there backwards on the right side of her body (which we will call the right side of the dress).

To fix the problem, I needed to take the dress apart, remove the boning, and put it back in correctly.

It’s a process that can be done rather quickly.

Here’s what I found when I turned the dress inside out:

dress and lining attached together with a cord

The lining is attached to the dress. That is why it looks all scrunched up.

So, remove the cording that connects the two together:

close up of cord between lining and dress, boning issues

I usually just cut the cording in the middle. That way, there is a little bit of cording attached to the lining and a little attached to the dress and that will give me some to work with when I go to reattach them after I make the alteration.

Once I cut the cording, I noticed that this particular dress had the boning stitched directly onto the lining. It wasn’t enclosed in a casing.

We’ll talk about those that are enclosed in casings in a few minutes.

To get this boning out, I needed to rip out the topstitching that was holding the boning in place:

picture of boning before it gets ripped out

I just start by finding a stitch I can rip and then continue pulling out stitches until the boning is out.

Before I take the boning completley off, I mark it so that I know the direction it was in the dress:

mark the boning with a black pen

I used a black pen on this one because I knew it would never show.

If you are uncertain about the mark showing, use something that won’t show, or stitch some loose stitches by hand with a contrasting thread in the boning and take them out later.

I mark the boning so that I don’t put it in the same way it was before.

(I’ve done that before! You only make that mistake once, don’t you?!)

Now, turn the boning over and lay it in the same spot it was when you took it out.

turn the boning over and place it correctly back in

If you have a bit of fabric or ribbon wrapped around the top of the boning, keep it there:

ribbon over the edge of the boning

It is meant to protect the sharp ends so that the boning doesn’t poke through your dress.

If your dress doesn’t have this ribbon or fabric, you can put a piece on if you want.

If it looks like your boning is going to slip around while you are sewing it down, just anchor it to the lining with a few hand stitches to hold it in place:

hand stitch a few stitches to hold boning in place

Now, machine stitch the boning in place, from the right side of the lining, being very careful not to catch other parts of the dress underneath.

Make sure everything is out of the way before you begin.

I just sew along the original stitching lines:

topstitch boning into place over original lines

Sew down one side (be sure and pull out your pins so you don’t run over them)

stitch across top of boning

Then, sew across the boning to anchor it in.

(Don’t worry, you won’t ruin your machine by stitching over it.)

You might want to go slow, though.

Then, stitch back up to the top again:

topstitch other side of boning

Now, you can stitch across the boning at the top, again being careful not to catch the dress itself underneath the presser foot:

topstitch other end of boning

That should be all you need to do.

Make sure you replace the cording that holds the lining to the dress (or use a piece of ribbon or a strong thread).

Have the customer try the dress on again and you’ll see how it takes care of that bad dimpling problem.

Now, let’s look at a different dress that has the boning enclosed in a casing. Just take out the under stitching in the dress that is found at the very top:

picking stitches to get boning out of casing

Turn the dress inside out and take out a few stitches of this top seam:

opening top seam of dress to shorten boning

You only need to take out three or four stitches, the minimum amount needed to pull the boning out, turn it around and put it back into the casing.

Once it is back in the casing, just stitch the seam back up.

I don’t generally restitch the understitching, because it really doesn’t need it.

But you could if you wanted to.

Another problem you might have with boning is that it may be cutting into your skin at the top of your dress.

That means the boning is too long.

Just open up the dress as I explained above.

If the boning has a piece of fabric over the end, remove that first.

Then, just use a regular pair of scissors and trim off the end.

I usually take off 1/4″ -1/2″ .

Put the fabric back on the tip of the boning (or if you didn’t have a piece of ribbon or fabric on there in the first place, you may want to put a piece on now) and stitch it in place so it won’t slip around.

Put the boning back in and restitch the dress closed, if applicable.

That should fit alot better and keep her (or you) comfortable.

There may be other configurations with your particular dress but, hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to figure yours out.

If not, shoot me an e-mail at The SewingGarden@gmail.com and I’ll walk you through it.