Archive for June, 2013

Why I Don’t use Lacing Bones

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013


Fig. 2 – washers pulling out

Fig. 3 – Grommets tearing fabric


Fig. 1 - Lacing Bones

Fig. 1 – Lacing bones

I recently had a corset from another maker come into my studio.  This corset was constructed with ‘lacing bones’ in the back to hold the grommets. This is a good opportunity to illustrate a problem I have found with lacing bones, and to let you know my reasoning as to why I don’t sell them or use them in my corsets. 

Lacing bones (photo #1) are enamel covered heavy steel designed to be used in the back of a corset.  A pocket is created in the fabric and the grommets are set through the holes provided in the steel.  It is an interesting idea at first look; a strong bone to hold the grommets in place and prevent them from pulling out.  Unfortunately, with experimentation, I discovered several problems associated with the use of these bones. 

The lacing bones are very stiff – and consequently, very thick.  They are 3 times or more the gage of standard corset bones.  They do not bend with the body, and a good corset should shape to the curve of the body – even in the center back.  

The thickness of the bones also makes grommet setting very difficult.  It takes a grommet with a long shank to set them properly.  You can get the regular shank grommets to set into the bones, but then you can have only one thickness of fabric on each side of the lacing bone.  This is not enough.  The grommet shanks will not ‘roll’ enough to hold together.  Long shank grommets are available, but not readily, and not in as great a color choice. 

There is a simple rule of sewing that when one area of a garment is supper strong, the weaker areas will give way.   If you have ever tried to sew Velcro on a thin fabric, you know the problem.  The lacing bones ‘out do’ the fabric, and the fabric, being the weaker substance, will give way – almost immediately, and the grommets will pull out.  (photo #2 and #3)  I see a lot of poorly set grommets.  The usual problem is that there is no interfacing used, and the grommets do not have anything to ‘grip’.  I use interfacing – usually two layers of #50 pellon on the back panels. This, along with the coutil layer, and the top fabric (also usually interfaced ) gives 4-5 layers of fabric – and still gives the grommet shanks enough space to curl and hold the washer to the grommet.  (I should also say here that my grommet of choice is the 00 size two piece grommet.)  Most setters will give you satisfactory results with this layering.  

My grommets, using this system, will hold under a great deal of heavy wear – Occasionally, I get one back that has pulled out – but it is rare.   Nothing is fool proof, but I do have excellent results.  I would much rather replace a grommet than mend rips in fabric.   

To sum up – use sufficient interfacing in the area of your corset where the grommets are to be set.  Use a two piece grommet – and place a bone on each side of the row of grommets.   No lacing bones necessary!