Costumes and Performances by Tab Kimpton

Tutorial- Steel boning for Corsets

Now this is something I get asked about a lot- how do you bone your corsets? I use flat steel boning, which you can buy from Vena Cava. I use the 13mm stuff because it’s a easy measurement to make 15mm boning cases on my machine, and it’s heavy duty without being too hard to work with.

So first off, why steel boning? Well, most people don’t realise that with corsets it’s actually the fabric that does all the cinching in. The boning is there to push the fabric out so it doesn’t rumple and hurt you. The more boning and the stronger the boning the more comfortable a corset actually is. Steel boning is actually easier to use than you think, and works out just as cheap as many other alternative methods out there.

The issue with steel boning is that you have to finish the tips, otherwise it will just poke its way out of the corset over time. This tutorial will show you the method I use to make my tips safe, so without further ado, here are the materials you need!


You will need:

  • A Dremel/Rotary tool. You can use a metal file, if you want to do this forever. A grinder will also work wonders.
  • Tin snips to cut the steel
  • PTFE tape. Used by plumbers for radiators. Get some cheap on ebay or a hardware store.
  • Continuous steel boning. This is 13mm from Vena Cava.

You will also need the corset you’ll be boning so you can take the measurements.

Lay the steel against the corset and mark 1.5cm from each edge to give enough room for the binding.

Cut it with your tip snips. The edges will be razor sharp so look out for that! Label your bones as you go along and make sure you cut the same for each side of the corset or it will be wonky.

Here are my finished bones. I do 2 pairs around the grommets, one on each panel seam and one for the under busk for a total of 13 bones.


Now get your dremel and sand the crap outta them.  My preferred position to do this is holding the dremel between my thighs, having it on a slow speed (because any faster and you get sparks, yay fire hazards) and take the bones to it. You can see how I’ve used this attachment before to sand bones down, it has a nice little groove now for slotting them in.


Sand until they won’t cut your fingers if you touch them.



Now grab your PTFE tape and wrap it around the tip a few times leaving the top overlapping. This stuff is non sticky so if you go wrong just unravel it.



Fold the top down so the end is cushioned.


Then wrap around a few more times then cut the end off. You can’t bite this stuff with your teeth or pull it, so use sissors.

Repeat for all your bones for both sides, then use them to bone your corset. Preparing bones for corsets normally takes me 1-2 hours to give you an idea of time.


Now go forth and bone!


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7 Responses

  1. Timelady

    Have some stupid… What do you mean when you say “under busk”? I’ve only ever worked with commercial patterns (they confuse me enough as it is…) and they’ve not mentioned an under busk.
    Thanks, and sorry to sound like an utter ‘tard.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    • Tab

      Don’t worry, it’s not a common feature on most corsets so it’s not likely you’ll have heard of it. An under busk is just a piece of boning which is placed in a additional boning case and sits behind the join in the busk. It strengthens the busk and means you don’t see a flesh gap at the join. It’s good it’s a tightlacing corset with a lot of strain on the front of the busk, but I tend to include it on every one.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:57 am

  2. Aranel

    Thats really great!
    Thanks alot!
    I was wondering if you were going to do any tutorials for drafting patterns for corsets?
    I can’t seem to get my head around them.

    May 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    • Tab

      I don’t have any corsets in my commission list at the moment, but next time I get one I’ll take some pictures of the drafting process for a tutorial.

      I’d recommend trying out an underbust corset first, they’re much easier to figure out first time!

      May 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

  3. Miranda kolodziej

    I am young And currently cannot afford much… I was wondering if shark cartilage, horse bone or cow bone could be used as well if cut/stripped properly. I am aware that this question is a tad strange but they are all I have access to. However I would not harm any animals.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    • Tab

      The problem is that bone will shatter under stress, which can cause splinters to go into your torso during wear. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative thick plastic zip ties will work.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm

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