As we were prepping for the Georgia Dress Sewalong, we got to thinking about variations. We've started to make a habit of making three variations for our sewalongs, not only to demonstrate all the possibilities, but mainly so that all three of us get a brand new dress at the end of it all! Victoria was obviously going to go for the skinny strap number, and since she wasn't allowed to choose a black fabric (photographs awfully), she opted for lipstick red instead. I fancied a short & sweet floral frock, and am partial to the retro vibe of the wide collar straps. But what about Charlotte? It had to be something special, sexy yet demure, preferably blush in hue... And then the lightbulb moment came - strapless, of course! Showing just enough skin, but effortlessly elegant in the delicious nude and blush floral brocade from Mood. And even better, we get to try out an entirely new variation and show you how all at the same time!
Today we will be:
- Prepping the boning
- Boning the bodice
- Joining the lining
*Before we begin, please forgive me and my dirty mind in advance for the flurry of 'boning' jokes sure to follow in this post...*
Let's talk a little bit about boning. If this is your first time boning, it can be a little daunting working with something so stiff. Don't let that put you off though - like most things, boning is incredibly straightforward and easy to work with once you know how.
There are various types of boning available, from steel rod boning (used for seriously intense corsetry) to featherlite plastic boning (not as intense and ideal for ready-to-wear). You can also buy boning that comes in a casing (pre-covered boning). The casing is stitched to the garment first, and the plastic boning is then re-inserted. We like Rigilene, which is made up of woven nylon rods, available in various widths (go for 1/4" or 1/2"), has no casing and can be sewn directly onto your fabric.
Rigilene boning comes all coiled up, so before we begin, we need to straighten it out.
Cut a few long strips and give them a good press, with a piece of cotton fabric between the boning and your iron so it doesn't melt.
Now cut your straightened out boning into six strips, long enough to cover the bust seam (cut them a little longer to be on the safe side - you can always trim them down once they're pinned into place).
We're going to stitch our boning directly to the shell of our dress; the lining fabric is way too flimsy and we don't want to add more bulk to the dress by making an interlining on which to sew the boning to. However, if you do want to avoid stitching your boning to your dress's shell, then making an interlining (basically just another bodice made from a sturdy fabric like calico, that will be sandwiched between the bodice shell and lining) and boning that is the way to go.
Starting 5/8" or 15mm in from the raw neckline edge, pin your strips of boning to the seams at the bust, centre front, side seam (the one that won't have a zipper) and on the bodice back (no seams here, but just the continuation of the two seams either side of the skirt centre back. The boning at the back is optional; there are no seams here so the lines of stitching will be visible. However, if you don't bone the bodice back, it may not stay up as well. Judgement call. Just remember to insert your pins horizontally at this point, as vertically inserted pins will get stuck in your machine when we come to stitching.
Snip your strips of boning to the desired length, and tuck the ends into the waistline's excess seam allowance.
We're going to be stitching the boning 'in the ditch' from the right side. What this means is that instead of top stitching the boning down each length - which would show through to the front of your bodice, either side of the seam lines - we are going to stitch directly in the seam, so as to leave no visible stitches. This technique is only acceptable for narrow width boning (up to 1/2").
With the boning pinned into place, and the pins visible from the right side, carefully stitch the boning in the ditch, taking extra care as you go over the pins.
Once you've stitched all your strips of boning, your bodice front should look a bit like this:
And your bodice back will look a bit like this (if you've chosen to bone the back, that is):
Now all that's left to do is join the dress's lining to the shell.
With right sides together, pin the lining to the shell all along the neckline. At this point, if you're worried about your boning being spiky and damaging your fabric, you can give it a little file down to blunt and soften the ends.
Stitch into place, taking care not to catch the ends of your boning.
Clip and notch the curves to enable you to turn the lining to the inside and press.
*A quick note on clipping and notching curves
To enable curved seams to sit and open out just right, we have to snip into the excess seam allowance. But how do we know whether to notch or clip?
Notching a convex curve: cut out little triangles from the excess seam allowance on a convex curve (think sad face mouth). Removing those little notches of fabric reduces bulk from the excess seam allowance helping it to sit flat once pressed. We applied this to the bust seams of the Georgia Dress bodice.
Clipping a concave curve: snip into the excess seam allowance on a concave curve (think smiling face mouth). This relieves the tension preventing puckering, and allows you to press the seam smoothly. We applied this to the curves at the waist of the Georgia Dress.
And that's all there is to it - one Georgia, boned. Isn't she a beauty?