The first steel, front-fastening busk was invented in 1829. (Waugh, 79) They’re nifty little beasties, especially at the end of the day when you would really, sincerely like to be OUT of your ding-dang corset. I’ve hear rumors that they can be used to get into a pre-tightened corset, as well, but I’ve tried, and I’m clearly missing a clue or two there. :/ The clue I do have is in how to insert the little buggers. Interested?
You will need:
- Two-part steel separating busk (I order mine from corsetmaking.com)
- Back lacing corset, nearing completion
I’m inserting my busk into a bias-bound boning channel at the center front of the corset. The process is about the same if you’re inserting between a lining and an outer fabric – just use your outer fabric everywhere I’m using the bias.
Word of warning: check the position of the buttons/eyes of the busk first. Not all busks are symmetrical top-to-bottom. (I don’t know why. It seems silly to have one that’s not, but I’ve met them in the wild.)
DO NOT make stitches in the eye areas. Even if it’s just one at the edge, it may make it impossible to get the eye through it’s opening.
Don’t do that, btw… It’s rather persnickety. If you just can’t resist a challenge, use the zipper foot to sew next to the metal busk, and be very careful. It will break your needle.
Please note: if you ordered a busk, it probably came fastened. Often, the buttons are closer to one side or the other of their metal stay. It’s a really great idea to note which edge is meant to go towards the eye side. In my case, it’s the side the button is closest to. (This particular busk works both ways, but is more inclined to jam when closed the other way.)
My secret super-power involves the ability to bend time and space in unlikely ways every time I pick up a ruler. I use the pin method. ;)
Now, more than likely, when you try to push the button through the hole you just made with the awl, the curved top of the button will make the hole magically disappear. That’s where Mr. Knitting Needle comes in – use him to enlarge the holes so they are as large as the button top. Trust me; they’ll snug down around the base of the button.
If your corset has a full outer layer, then congrats – you’re basically done. If you’re silly like me and using a bias binding, you’ll have to sew the other side of it down. (Or make it into a home for a piece of boning, as the case may be.)
Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines. 1954. New York: Theater Arts Books, 2000.