Soo.. top stitching is basically used to reinforce seams and/or be decorative. It looks like this.
That rolled-looking line is the actual seam, and the line of white stitching beside it is the top-stitching. It looks pretty but also means that when the garment is being stretched the force of the stretch is distributed more to the fabric than the seam itself because that top-stitch goes through the seam allowance on the back side of the fabric, pinning it down.
This second set of stitches to the right of the top-stitching is the boning channel stitch. This stitch line pins down the seam allowance even further, creating a pocket between both lines of thread that I can put the bones into. Using the seams for placement of the bones is pretty normal (or so I am told).
This pic shows you the boning being placed into the channel.
Ok, so here's a story. after getting all the boning channels sewn down, I wanted to check them to make certain they were big enough and that the boning would fit. This is where I had a minor freak out.
After getting everything sewn down, certain I had all my measurements right, I placed this one piece of boning into one of the channels. It fit very snugly as this was the channel I had made and thought might be a bit too small. So I get it in and boom... the boning is TOO SHORT! Better than too long, sure, but too short is also a big problem because this means it will slide around, causing friction and end up rubbing through the fabric. It also means that the corset won't be supported from top to bottom completely which is essential to a corset.
I was really bummed.
So as I was taking the bone OUT of the channel, it got caught. The channel was tight enough that the end cap of the steel bone got caught on the fabric and wouldn't come out. I tried working it out as softly as I could and it finally came loose... that is to say, the cap came loose from the bone. The bone slid right out with it's sharp, pointy end slicing my finger on the way and the cap was sitting stuck in the channel.
I was really not amused.
So, I left to go nurse my poor index finger and ignored it for an hour or so and drank some tea. When I got back to the corset, I very VERY slowly worked the cap out by pushing it out the OTHER way using one of the flat steel bones, which are more rigid. Here's a picture of all the bones and the busk. The white ones are the flat steel bones, the grey are the spiral steel and the thing in the middle is the two-piece busk.
This story does have a happy ending however. See how the bones are different lengths? Ends up I used the shortest length with the longest channel. Once I figured this out, I grabbed the longest length and tried again and was relieved to see that yes indeed, my measurements were spot on.
I was really relieved.
So, now knowing that the boning SHOULD be ok, I Hmm'd and Haww'd for a while, trying to avoid getting to the busk. I knew the procedure and theory but since I haven't done one before I wasn't positive of my ability to make it work.
Finally, I got up the courage and started in.
So we start here. This is the catch side of the busk. The vertical blue line is the final edge/seam for when the lining and outer fabrics are joined.
The small horizontal lines should be obvious, they're the outline of the catch. The idea is that I'm going to sew down the blue vertical line but not sew between the small space of those horizontal lines so when the fabric is turned right-side out, the catch will fit snugly through the hole.
Like this. It's a little hard to see but if you look closely, you can see that I did not sew between the catch lines. You can also see that I sewed just a little bit over one of them. That happened in two areas................
But it worked! The catches fit through very easily... kind of. Getting it to stay in place while I sewed it down was a bit tricky but I did it. It now sits securely in it's little spot.
The next task was to get the peg side of the busk in. The same idea, it's going to sit at the edge seam where lining meets outer fabrics however instead of creating openings by sewing and not sewing certain spots, I instead have to make holes because the pegs sit in the middle of the steel bone they're attacked to. Since I don't have a dressmakers awl, I instead used pins and knitting needles to stretch the fibers of the fabric out.
Ripping or cutting holes is a really big no-no because that weakens the fabric and directly counteracts what we've been trying to do the entire time which is strengthen it. So, you can see in the picture from top to bottom; the knitting needle pushing the fibers apart with out breaking them, the hole created by said needle, then the pegs poking through the right-side of the fabric. I did this for all the pegs.
We get a picture that I can't rotate. Darn. But you can see that the busk is sitting nice and straight and centered. Yay! The boning is not inserted in this picture.
Since these pics were taken, I've attached a bottom trim and tried it on with all the boning inserted. I've found it to be too big around the bust and hips. >.< The shaping on the bust is awful and awkward and is gonna need a major re-do. The hips should be fairly easy to take in though.
Now, I think I've probably gone on too long and had too many pictures so this is gonna be the end of part 4. I hope that part 5 will be the final installment!