38. In dressmaking, the term boning means the stiffening, or staying, of one part of a garment so that it will retain its shape and act as a support for another. At one time, whalebone was the only available stiffening medium, but an excellent substitute, namely, featherbone, so called from the fact that it is made of strips of feather quills woven together with linen thread, has been brought out; indeed, featherbone has proved to be so superior to whalebone that the latter is seldom if ever used.
Besides being costly, whalebone is unsatisfactory to handle. Strips of it cut into the desired lengths must be inserted into casings that are made long enough and wide enough to hold it; and to put them in a garment so that they will hold in position without slipping up or down or twisting in the casing requires much time, as well as the services of a person expert in such work. Featherbone, on the other hand, is not expensive; it is very pliable and may be sewed through readily and without injury, thus permitting it to be secured in place with very little effort.
Many kinds and grades of featherbone, covered with silk, satin, or cotton, are to be had, and as boning is generally put in places subject to great wear and strain it is advisable, if the best results are desired, always to employ a good quality of featherbone. The cheaper grades frequently break before a garment is worn out, making it necessary to replace them.
39. In order that a good idea may be formed of the way in which featherbone may be applied, the boning of a tight lining and girdles are taken up in detail at this time. The various steps to be taken and precautions to be observed should not be passed over lightly, for a knowledge of such work is of particular value in the construction of many dresses and parts of dresses.