How To Fix Boning Issues

I’d like to address how to fix a few problems with the boning in your dress or tops.

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 was fine and the other was dimpled.

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

Can you see what I saw?

On one 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 other side, however, was the exact opposite.

Do you see how the left side looks just fine, but the right side is incorrect?

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) pokes towards the body:

That meant that the boning was in there backwards.

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

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

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

So, remove the cording that connects the two together:

I usually just cut it in the middle so that when I go to put the two layers back together later, I know exactly the spots on both sides where I need to attach a new cording.

Once that was finished, 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 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:

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:

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 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.

Hey, I’ve done that before! You only do something stupid once, don’t you?!

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

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

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 stitches to hold it in place:

Now, 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:

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

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:

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

That should be all you need to do.

Make sure you replace the cording that holds the lining to the dress (or use 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, if your boning is enclosed in a casing, just take out the understitching in the dress that is found at the very top:

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

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 its 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 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 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 found in the “Contact” section and I’ll walk you through it.

How To Take in Side Seams and Facings

This short jacket needs to be altered at the sides:

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Because I needed to take up quite a bit, I also needed to take it up in the sleeves as well:

Can you see the yellow headed pins and how I’ve pinned into the upper sleever area as well?

It may be easier to see in this diagram:

(The other option in taking in the side seams, is to leave the sleeve alone and just taper your stitches back to the underarm seam as the diagram below shows. The new seamline would be the blue dotted line:
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This is the method to use if the customer doesn’t want any excess fabric taken out of the sleeve as it sometimes  hinders the mobility of her arm.)

Ok, now for the jacket.

I tapered back to the original seamline before I came to the wrist area because the wrist (or cuff ) area was just fine.

If the sleeve is too wide in the cuff or sleeve area, you can take it in there as well.

That may mean having to take in the facing, if you have one, at the wrist area as well.

In this case, there was a facing on the inside of the jacket at the hemline:

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So, I will show you how to alter that.

Once you understand that process, you can alter the facing at the wrist with the same method.

To begin, I looked for understitching .

This is usually found on the inside edge of the facing at the hem:

(I needed to take the jacket in about a total of two inches on the side.)

So, with a seam ripper, I took out about four inches of understitching.

Next, take out the stitching that holds the facing to the garment.

If you peel back that facing, this is typically what you’ll see:

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Then, I took out the lowest horozontal seam along the bottom of the jacket:

Once you get that opened up, you’ll see that we can alter that facing:

In this case, I took in about an inch (which translates to two inches if you count the front and the back).

Whatever amount you are going to take in at the lower side seam is the amount you will take in the facing because you want them to be the same so they’ll match up when you go to put it all back together again.

Next, trim off the excess fabric and press the seam open.

If you can’t press the seam open because the original seamline stitches are in the way, take out the old stitches and then press the seam open.

Leave that hem area for a moment and travel up to the underarm seam.

If your underarm seam is continuous all the way from the hem to the wrist, you won’t have to do the next step.

But, most jackets have the side seam interupted by the underarm seam.

In other words, the side seam was sewn first and then the sleeve was sewn on.

If that is the case, you’ll most likely have a serged edge on that underarm seam, which the manufacturer did to keep the seam edges from fraying.

Remove more stitches than you need to so you have ample room to work in that area without having to come back and take out more:

I like using my little stork scissors for this type of work, but a seam ripper does the job too.

Once those stitches are taken out, pull the seam apart so you can work on it.

Now, take in the side seams of the jacket the amount you needed to alter it by:

Trim off the excess fabric and finish the raw edge.

Take in the sleeve seam and taper back to the original seamline just above the wrist area.

(Refer to that diagram above if you need to.)

If you held the sleeve seam next to the side seam, they should match up.

Now,  match the sleeve seam to the side seam and restitch the underarm seam along the original seamline:

Finish the raw edge with your serger or a zig zag stitch.

Now let’s go back to the lower edge of the jacket again.

At the lower hem edge, match the facing seam to the jacket side seam and stitch along the original seamline:

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Understitch this area.

To understitch, pull all the seam allowances toward the facing and stitch along the original stitching line.

This helps keep the facing turned under.

That’s all there is to it!

You can use this technique on any garment that has facings.

If the garment has lining, it’s basically the same idea, only you would need to stitch up the lining when you are finished.

Any questions?

If so, send me an e-mail and a photo, if possible, and we’ll figure it out together.