How to insert a busk
INSERTING SPOON, BROAD and FLEXIBLE BUSKS
Your busk comes in two halves, the clasps are usually configured to have two closer together these are always at the bottom. The studs are the left hand side and the clasps are the right.
I have found that the busk provides a much better finish and is less likely to wear through the fabric if it is fabric covered before insertion. To do this cut two rectangles of fabric (either interlining or lining) 4 times the width of the busk and at least one inch longer. This method also gives you a chance to practice busk sewing techniques before moving onto possibly expensive facing fabrics.
Draw a line along the centre of each rectangle. Lay the right hand clasp busk half (clasps uppermost as illustrated) along this line leaving an equal gap top and bottom. Using a chalk pencil or similar make small marks at 90 degrees to the line to indicate the position of the clasps. You may wish to use fray check or glue along these gaps before cutting, otherwise carefully cut a straight line between each of the small gaps.
Fold your piece of fabric in half and inset the busk so that the clasps protrude through the holes. Pin carefully in place. Using a zipper foot carefully sew the busk half into the fabric along its straight edge.
For the studded half of the busk place this along the line marked on the other piece of fabric leaving an equal gap top and bottom and matching it by comparing it to the placement of the clasp half. You will find that the studs are closer to one edge this is the outer edge and should be next to the line. Fold the fabric over the busk half pinning carefully in place.
Using the zipper foot sew along the straight edge keeping the busk tightly within its fabric envelope. The busk studs should now be seen as lumps in the fabric, if you wish use fray check or glue apply it over these bumps at this stage. Take an awl and carefully work a small hole through the fabric over the stud. This can be a little tricky and requires some patience but with practice you can work the studs through breaking the minimal number of fibres. Push the stiletto through the hole and work the hole until it is about 2mm across. Using you finger tips you should now be able to work the studs through the fabric. If they resist too much work the hole a little more with the awl.
Select the centre front fabric pieces for each half and lay the prepared busk pieces with their respective halves and double check that you have the busk the right way up and with it’s correct half (it is very easy to get this wrong!).
Taking the left hand centre front place the front fabric and lining right sides together and stitch along front edge using the seam allowance recommended by the pattern. Press the seam open, fold the two halves to the right side and press flat.
Staying as close to the centre front edge as possible and checking that you have the correct coloured threads sew a line of neat stitches as close to the front edge as possible. If you are using a different coloured top and bobbin thread it is worthwhile checking the tensions on some scrap fabric first. This line of stitches prevents undue tension on the centre front of the corset extending the life of the corset
Place your covered stud side of the busk half inside the centre front leaving an equal gap top and bottom, pin in place with the edge of the busk neatly against the line of stitching.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT SPOON BUSKS. Be careful about the placement of spoon busks as they are designed to fit the body profile exactly. The point at which the busk begins to flare outwards sits on the waist line marking at the centre front of the corset.
Using your zipper foot sew carefully along the edge of the busk. The fabric edges from your busk cover will be trapped by this line of stitching giving a stable and hard wearing finish. Now work the stud holes in the same way that you did in the busk preparation stage being careful to work neat holes in the outer fabric.
Take the right centre front pieces and pin them right sides together. Lay the clasp half of the busk on top and using the stud half as a guide place carefully with the edge along the line of the seam allowance. Take a little time here to ensure that the two front halves of your corset will match.
Mark the positions of the clasps at 90 degrees in the seam allowance. Machine carefully along the seam line, leaving gaps where you have marked the clasp placing back stitching either side of these marks for added strength. Press the seam open and the fold the fabric pieces flat and press again.
In the same way as the left half stitch neatly as close to the folded edge as possible leaving gaps and back stitching where the clasps will protrude.
Put the busk inside these pieces and checking that your fabric edges match carefully pin in place with the clasps showing through the gaps. Sew along straight edge using zipper foot.
INSERTING WOODEN BUSKS
The single piece corset busk now commonly made of wood was designed to be removed to allow the garment to be washed or replaced if broken.
Check that the busk you have matches the size of the channel given on your pattern. It should be the same width and shape as the busk with an mm or 2 to spare at the sides or more if you are using a thick busk and at least half an inch gap top and bottom.
The busk should be inserted at the same time as the boning.
If you are not planning on removing the busk at any stage it can be finished by stitching along the top edge to hold in place and the edge then bound in the manner chosen (e.g. Bias Binding).
If you would like the busk to be removable you will need to finish the facing and lining fabrics separately at this point (see illustration) and then insert or hand sew single part eyelets to each layer.
Once the busk is in its pocket you can use the eyelets as a feature point threading through a ribbon or cord.