How to Bustle a Wedding Dress for Dancing

by Andrea Hamilton

Bustles are added to gowns during the alterations period.

Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Pins
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • 1-inch plastic rings
  • 6-inch strands grosgrain ribbon
  • 3 pairs hooks and eyes

A sumptuous train is a gorgeous addition to your wedding gown, making your walk down the aisle even more breathtaking to your guests. However, hitting the dance floor with a cathedral train is a recipe for disaster. Save your gown from being stepped on over the course of the evening by adding a bustle. The two most common bustle types are the French or under bustle, which is well-suited for long trains and gowns with heavy fabric, and the American or over bustle, which is best for short trains and gowns with light, delicate fabric.

The French Bustle

Step 1

Measure the center of your train, starting from the point where the skirt meets the floor when you are standing, and continuing to the longest point of the train. This measurement is the length of your train.

Step 2

Repeat the process to measure the two side back seams, which lie directly to the left and right of the center back seam. Use pins to mark all three points where the skirt meets the floor. Pull the pinned sections up inside the skirt until the train's hemline is level with the floor. Mark with pins the points where the train and skirt fabric meet. Pin through the skirt on the underside of the gown, keeping to the center and side back seams. This helps keep your bustle symmetrical.

Step 3

Sew a plastic ring at each of the three marked points on the underside of the train. Hide your stitches by sewing on the seam allowances. If your train has more than one layer, sew through all of them to keep the train bustled properly.

Step 4

Sew pairs of ribbon strands to each of the marked points on the underside of the skirt. For this process, you only need to sew through the layer closest to the inside of the gown, even if the skirt is multiple layers.

Step 5

Thread one of the ribbon strands from each pair through its respective plastic ring. Draw the ribbon up to meet its pair and knot the two as close to the stitching line as possible. Try on your gown and test the stability of the bustle.

The American Bustle

Step 1

Measure the longest point at the center back train, from the point where the skirt meets the floor to the train's hemline. This is the length of your train. Record this measurement and superimpose it on the top of the dress, beginning at the waistline and measuring down the center back of the skirt.

Step 2

Mark with pins the two points at the beginning and end of the measurement, one at the waistline and the second down the middle of the skirt. The fabric between the two pins will be enveloped by the bustle.

Step 3

Sew three hook fastenings at the waistline and three eyes at the second point. Ensure that the stitches go all the way through your gown's layers. Using multiple fastenings will help to evenly disperse the weight, making the bustle less likely to break over the course of the evening.

Step 4

Bring the eye fastenings up to the hooks and secure them in place.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

About the Author

Andrea Hamilton has enjoyed being a writer since 1996. She has been published as a poet in "Fine Lines Magazine." Hamilton holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Iowa State University and is pursuing a Master of Arts in creative writing from London South Bank University.