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steel boning

schoonerchick | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi everyone! I have another question. I’m going to be making myself a corset this winter, and am planning on using a combination of spiral and flat steel boning (no plastic in the 19th century!). My main concern is rust… Do I have to make them removable so I can wash the corset? Does anyone know if they can be “rustproofed”? I work on boats and there are lots of rust-busting and sealing products around to experiment with, but any voices of experience would be most excellent! Thanks a lot!


  1. stitchmd | | #1

    It would seem obvious that there is at least a risk, if not a certainty, of rust. Also it would seem to be easier to remove the boning before washing either by hand or by machine. It could certainly do some damage to the machine.

    Edited 11/21/2003 3:16:25 PM ET by PASDENOM

    1. carolfresia | | #2

      From what I understand, spiral steel boning is preferred by many dressmakers because it's more comfortable and offers greater support than plastic (which we could refer to as artificial baleine, perhaps?--or is it spelled baleen?) Anyway, I wonder if the steel boning is stainless...I don't know, actually. I've never heard of anyone having problems with rust, but then again, it's probably almost always used in dry-clean-only garments.


      Editorial comment: this was meant to be part of another discussion on steel boning, but something went wrong with the posting and it ended up as a new topic. Sorry!

      P.S. never mind....I guess it's here after all. Is it those sun flares, finally sending our computers into a frenzy?

      Edited 11/21/2003 10:54:45 AM ET by CAROLFRESIA

      Edited 11/21/2003 10:55:51 AM ET by CAROLFRESIA

  2. callie1 | | #3

    Spiral steel  boning must be drycleaned!  It will rust.  The solid steel kind that is coated in white plastic can be washed.  There is a coating you can buy for the ends of the boning, but I think if you coated the spiral steel boning you would lose the advantage of it's flexibility and comfort.  You can either make the bones removable by making a buttonhole opening at one end of the casing and slipstiching the boning in, or you can just dry clean the whole thing, which is best unless you plan on needed to clean it very often.  In the old days they very rarely cleaned their corsets at all.  I only clean mine if they actually become soiled.  Especially if you wear a chemise or some type of top under the corset it doesn't really need to be cleaned after each wearing. 

    What pattern are you useing to make the corset?

    1. schoonerchick | | #6

      thanks for the info everyone! i thought that dry cleaning or making the bones removable would probably end up being the only option, but you never know! historically corsets were not washed, in the edwardian period this was partly to protect their steam shaped finish. i think i am going to make at least one of them washable tho', one does not have to be extremely accurate!

      as for the pattern i don't really have one. i've got the excellent corset book "waisted efforts" and many edwardian resources to draw from. the corset i'm leaning towards at the moment is a turn of the century flat front model, i think it will serve my costuming needs the best. i'll keep y'all posted if i discover anything as i go!

      1. Barbaran8 | | #7

        The flat steel is plastic dipped, and you can get a can of the dipping solution from some of the places where you can buy the boning - or you can go to the local hardware store and get the solution that you dip tools in to plastic coat them - in several colors.... Oooh the possibilities! The hardware store stuff will be thicker, of course.

  3. BlueSwan | | #4

    Hi, I make corsets fo a living, Spiral steel will rust, they cannot be rust proofed to my understanding, the coils are locked so closely that any coating will lose their flexability.  All ours are dry cleaning only unless spicific requests are made before hand. 

  4. rjf | | #5

    Wouldn't they have used whalebone...baleen, by another name?  Carol Fresia's baleine might be a French whale, I think.   rjf

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