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.


10 Responses

  1. Thanks for your detailed instructions. I found your page when I was about to sew in boning for a corselette in my wedding dress. I didn’t know which way to sew in the boning (curve in or curve out).

    Looks like you run your blog the same way I run mine (though it is a different subject!) Document the problems you encounter so you can remember what you did, and others can learn from it. Well, you helped me!

  2. Here is another question for you related to boning…I am altering a size 30 wedding gown (making it into about a size 34). I’ve let out most seams, but the very top of the dress has needed tightening. I think I have it at about the right fit, but I still can’t get it to stay up. It occurred to me that the bride had me remove much of the boning (except in the bust curve). My thought is to add more boning…maybe 3 vertical pieces in the center of the bodice, plus side seams and maybe between the bust curve and side seams. Is there another place I should add boning, and how long should I make it at the bodice center? Or, am I on the wrong track and need to go another way? Thanks so much

  3. I just had my seamstress remove the boning entirely from my wedding gown. The fit seems great, I can’t imagine that I’ll miss the boning. Out of curiosity, I was wondering if this is a common request. The dress pictured here is the same dress I’m having altered! Apparently David’s Bridal has some issues with this dress and the boning they use!

  4. Hi ive bought a dress that has boning around the neckline and it goes into a narrow u shape in the middle of my bust but the bottom of the u shape sticks out so it makes all the fabric crease on my bust. I don’t know if it’s the boning or if my bust aren’t big enough to fill the dress out. I’ve already tried taking the boning out and that looked worse I’ve tried a bra underneath which slightly worked but not majorly. I just don’t know what to do to be honest.

  5. I found dress for prom for my son’s girlfriend. She has been blessed/cursed with a true hourglass figure. I got it for free from a coworker. It fits beautifully at the waist and hips. Knew it was going to need to be shortened in the front of the skirt. The problem i am seeing is the dress has some boning and the top won’t zip closed by 5+ inches. I was going to add some gussets but i am worried that the side boning may provide added difficulty. Since i need to add the gussets in such a way as to split the added material between the back an the front of the dress. But there is boning at the side seam.

  6. Hi! I recently bought a strapless prom dress, and while it fits, im a bit worried about it slipping down. Would you recommend taking it in to replace the boning? Or some other altercation?

    • Hi Tiffany, every person who puts in a strapless gown is worried about the dress slipping down, so you’re not alone on that. The boning is in there to give support and aid in keeping the dress up, so I wouldn’t remove it if I were you. Try the dress on and have someone pinch up the fabric (if possible) at both underarm areas. If they can pinch up at least a half inch of fabric on both sides, it might be worth taking in the side seams and putting the boning back in. If they can’t pinch up any fabric, then it might not be worth it. It’s a call you’ll have to make since each person knows what they want their dress to fit like. Most of my customers want it really snug, but just know that no matter how snug you make it, you will always be pulling it up anyway because of the pull of gravity and because it’s a habit we have when we put on a strapless dress. Hope that helps!

    • If you can get the whole corset area fitting snugly but comfortably first, you might want to also put in a waist stay into the corset. It adds extra insurance from the corset slipping down. It’s a fairly common extra you find couture dresses, but almost never see in RTW.

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