OK, after the grommet problem was resolved next up was the boning and bone casings. I already wrote about making the bone casings, and sewing them in place was fairly easy. Just place the bone casing centered over a seam, then sew it down on both sides, close to the edge. I did have to go slow to make sure the stitching was nice and even on both sides. Not only for neatness, but also if the seam drifted too far in, there wouldn't be enough room inside the casing for the boning.
The photo shows one half of the corset with the bone casings all sewn on. If I do say so, the two colors look pretty nice together. Even with interfacing these bone casings are a bit on the light side. I'd be worried about the boning popping out if it were going to get any heavy duty use, but it's just for a costume so I think it will be OK.
Next was the boning. There are two kinds of boning used in corsetry: white steel and spiral steel. White steel is a strip of steel that has a white coating, so it won't scratch I guess. It comes in various lengths, and you just buy the lengths you need. Spiral steel is made of tiny coils of steel wire, with a metal tip on each end to prevent scratching. I thought the tip was to prevent unraveling, but actually the coils are crimped together pretty well and don't unwind. It also comes in precut lengths, or you can buy a 10 yard length and tip it yourself.
(There's also plastic boning, which I think is used in clothing where lighter support is appropriate, like prom dresses. But plastic wouldn't hold up in a corset, everyone uses steel.)
I already had a bunch of white steel from my old corset, which I originally planned to reuse. But then I read that the advantage of spiral steel is its flexibility. White steel, being a flat strip of metal, only bends one way, while spiral steel bends in all directions. Apparently if you're trying to create a nice hourglass figure with your corset, spiral steel is the way to go. Also it's easier to move while wearing the corset if it has spiral steel. Which is a good thing!
So I ordered spiral steel. For cost reasons I bought the 10 yard length instead of precut. Most of the boning in a typical corset is 1/4" wide, but I lucked out and also got 10 yards of 1/2" wide because they sent me the wrong thing. They let me keep the half-inch and sent another roll of the quarter inch. The delay of a few days was no big deal, so it worked out great for me.
Cutting and tipping spiral steel requires a lot of tools. The corset supply company sells a very expensive boning cutter, which I did not buy because I already had a bolt cutter. In fact I had a funny exchange with Lisa when she was here helping me tear down the paneling in the bedroom: I was looking for the extra pry bar, and didn't find it, but did yell out "Hey, I found the bolt cutters! I need those for my corset!"
Unfortunately the bolt cutters didn't slice right through the boning like I thought they would. It was more like wiggling the boning back and forth against the bolt cutters to snap the individual wires. Sometimes I also needed a pair of wire cutters to finish them off.
Once the boning was cut, getting the tips on was a bit trickier. If you squash them flat with pliers, the sides splay out. But if you pinch the sides, the top and bottom puff out. The only way I found to do it was to use two sets of pliers at once: wide ones on the sides, and then needle nosed on the top and bottom. Alas, I did not get a photo. It was hard enough just to do it, I didn't want to fool around with making Georg take a photo too.
The boning fit into the casings just right. A bit snug, but they went in there so all is well. And with that, the corset is almost done! All I have left to do is finish the top and bottom edges. Then the chemise and bloomers have to be made, but those will be easy. Actually the corset was easier than I expected. It was time consuming and tedious, but there weren't any tricky seams or anything. I've made dresses that were more difficult.