Ballroom Bafflers


added October 2010


The DVD came on Saturday.  Thanks

I’ve watched it and you make it seem easy to do and there are several things I’m going to do.

I have done several bustles, by trial and error, with moderately pleasing results.

My current project is “Holly’s dress” for an early Nov wedding.  I’ve attached 3 pictures.  The extended train and detail picture show a lace overskirt that is attached except for about 6” around the scalloped edge, which flops.  It seems like an under bustle would highlight that the best.  But in my first attempt I wasn’t satisfied, and not sure what to do with it.  I know I need to do something different on the sides and raise the skirt more level to the floor. 

I want to try again with 3 pickup points on each side. Am I on the right track? Or do you have other suggestions?

If possible, reply soon.

Thanks, Peggy

Hi Peggy,

This gown is very much like one on my site here:

I lifted the draping sides and designed a Ballroom Bustle on the underlayer. I think this will look great for Holly's bustle.

added March 2010

Dear Leanna - 

My daughter's wedding date is May 22, and we are STILL trying to determine the best way to bustle her wedding gown.  At her first fitting, we tried several bustle types and none of them seemed right for her dress or her small frame.  She is 5'-0" tall and weighs 100 pounds, and her dress is a size 0 that is being drastically altered to fit her!  Her dress is David's Bridal style # SWG9902, which has several layers of tulle and a sweep train.  Link =|-49973483&catentryId=6142349&sort=

Her next fitting is April 1st. Can you please give us your opinion on the best bustle for this dress?  We are having an outdoor, "full blown" reception (dinner, dancing, etc.) so she definitely needs a bustle!

Thanks for your help! Gail


Hi Gail,
I don't have any pictures on my site that are close to what I would recommend. The train is too short for a French bustle to look very good. Depending on how the seams were set under the ruffles an Austrian might look nice but it will be complicated to rig. I think it might be easiest to do a basic Ballroom. The train is not long but it is wide, so I think you'll need several points though, maybe up to 8.


Thank you so so much for your quick response!!  After researching the different styles online we kind of thought that the ballroom style might be the best option for her gown but didn't trust our judgement on that.  Again, thank you so very much in helping us with your expert opinion.


added July 2009

Hi Leanna,

I'm sure you get asked this question all the time, but your site is the only one that offers helpful advice on this subject.  I'm curious to see what bustle style will look best for my dress.  I've attached two pictures of the back of my dress and here is the link form the David's website:

Thanks for any help you can give me!


Hi Betsy,
I have a bride with this same dress. We aren't to the bustle stage yet, but she is thinking she will like a Ballroom bustle. I generally have a discussion about bustle options at our first meeting and then let the bride think about it for a few weeks while I work on the bodice needs and hemming. By the time I get to doing the bustle most brides have decided what they want.

added April 2009

Hi Leanna,
I hope you can help me with my bustle dilemma.  I have bought the dress in the picture, which I really love, but I would like to be able to pick it up of the floor to dance.  My Seamstress says it can't be bustled because you end up with two tails on either side of the dress and it can't be picked up at the back because the train is too small and It would look like I had tucked my dress into my pants by accident!!
The seamstress sewed a wrist loop on to the hem for me but this spoils the look of the dress completely.  Is this a hopeless cause, is there nothing that can be done.  I am desperate and would be really grateful if you could help.
With best wishes,
It is not a hopeless cause. I think your seamstress has just never come across this type if train. It needs to be bustled with several points. I would guess 6. She may be thinking of only one point which is the only method many seamstresses know.  Take a look at "Not the Bride" on my site here:
This is a Mom's gown, but the method is the same. Your gown is only fuller and will need more points to get the whole train off the floor.

added October 2008

Hi Leanna,

I've purchased this gown from Alfred Angelo: and while I realize that you're help is limited because you have not seen the dress in person and certainly not on me, I would still appreciate any advice you can give.  It's satin with a chiffon overlay but the train is not very long or heavy and I'd like to maintain the simplicity of the dress with a single pick up bustle attaching it to the beaded waist detail.  I'm assuming that I should wear the dress while my mom sews the hook on top of the two layers of fabric for the attachment but if you have any other ideas, they would be appreciated.  I fear that if I have someone pin up and mark the point and then remove the dress for the hook to be sewed on, it will show a dimple or pucker because the two layers will have shifted.
My next issue is that I have lost quite a bit of weight but am very hour glass shaped.  I've dropped most of my size in my waist and not my bust or hips.   I do have the advantage of having an excellent seamstress for a mom, but we're both a little perplexed about the best way to attack the alteration.   If we go in from the side seams, we could compromise the ruching- I propose bringing it in through the back at the zipper.  I also read for letting out the dress using a corset tied back, would this work for bringing the dress in as well? Perhaps by taking out width along the removed zipper?
Thanks for your time!


Your train is much too short to attach the bustle at the beaded waist. You will have to do it much lower. If you try to attach it that high the sides will buckle into unpleasant bunches.
The best way to take in a dress is at the sides. Taking it in at the back is ok if the sides are impossible, but it will throw off the line of the whole bodice. Ruching makes it more complicated but not impossible

added March 2008

Hi I found your site and thankfully I did. I was wondering how this dress could be bustled. It is tulle and has a beautiful train with embroidery and beadwork close to the edges. I had heard that this kind of dress is problematic when it comes to bustling because of tears in the fabric. I was recommended to have a french bustle which I do not like. Any ideas on what could be done or should I just wear it without a bustle? Please help! Here is a link for my dress, you can enlarge the image by clicking on it.

Thanks, Catherine

You can do a ballroom bustle but the riggings have to be sewn through all layers of the tulle. It's not incredibly easy, but not impossible either.

added July 2007

Hello Leanna,

I stumbled across your website quite a while ago and found it most helpful. I am writing in hopes that you might give me your opinion on a matter that is bugging me. The concern is with my bustle. It looks bad to me. I don't if that's because the train is so long and with the fabric that this is the best it gets, or if it should have been a different style, or what. When she showed me what it would look like she only showed me three points. Much different than 7! Anyway, I feel like the dress is wearing me, and I'm not happy with it. I'm a short person. The train is almost longer than I am tall, but she refused to cut it. What do you think? Is this bustle going to look better than I'm thinking or should I start pursuing other avenues?

Thank you so much for your time,

You have a very wide train. I'm not surprised that it takes more than 3 points to get it all up. You can tuck the extra fabric under the points a little nicer, but the fabric has to go somewhere. The points could be placed closer together but I doubt that will make much difference in the way you feel.

You said "she refused to cut it". Did you ask her to hem the train and she wouldn't ? The train can certainly be shortened. It's a bit of a task but totally doable. Maybe she didn't know how or didn't think she had the time.

added July 2007


I have bustled many organza gowns and the fabric holds up well. The embroidery is not a factor in the bustle rigging since it is not involved in the pick-up points. For your gown I would probably try a Ballroom style bustle first and see how you liked it.

added June 2006

This is a great site and helpful too. I have a Jade Daniel Style #2009. I love it it's almost as if it walked out of my dream. Except I wanted a ballgown with no train and a corset back and it has neither. I don't want to wear it with a train, but there's a swirl of Swarovski crystals above the hem so it can't be cut and hemmed to be changed into a ballgown. I would like an "Over Bustle/ Ballroom Bustle" but I want it to look like this is a ballgown. I'd like to make the bustle just look like it's just a gathered waste as opposed to seeing buttons holding up parts of the train. Do you have any suggestions that won't cost a fortune? Any help would be great.
Thank you. Joanne

A ballroom bustle will look great and many people won't know it's a bustle.

You can actually open up the back waist seam and shorten the train there, but it will cost quite a bit to do it. I doubt I would be charging less than $200 for such an operation and I might go higher once I saw the gown and how the seams are constructed.

Is sounds like you know what you want. You have to understand that it often costs much to get exactly that. You may be able to find a seamstress who will ask for much less, but this is a good indicator that she is not very experienced. Do you really want to risk your precious gown to a cut-rate seamstress?

added January 2006

Hi Leanna,

I love you website. You really are talented. You have the cleanest bustles I’ve seen.

I never liked the look of bustles and thought they were strictly to serve a purpose, but your ballroom bustle is so seamless and beautiful, you almost can’t tell. If you were closer to me, I would ask you to do my bustle and I don’t think $10/button is too much to ask. You are most certainly talented.

I’m attempting to do the hem and bustle myself to save in cost. I was searching the net to find helpful tips. How far from the ground should the hem be? I was going to use pearl looking buttons and loops. I wanted to use 4 points. Do you have any tips on the placement of outside hooks? I’m trying to reduce the “bunchy” pull up on the fabric from the front. Also the lining seems to separate from the train and turn out when dragging, as you can see in the photos. Please advise.

I start pinning a hem at 1 " off the floor and let the bride walk around in it pinned that way. If she likes it I baste it that way and have her test it again. If she still likes it I finish it there. Most brides like the 1", but a few want it longer. I don't recommend any longer than 1/2".

Your gown may just need a good steaming or the lining is sticking to the carpet you are walking on and making it turn out. It's really hard to say without being about to look under the gown.

I can't begin to advice on where to put the hooks and loops for the bustle. I have to see the gown on the bride and it's a trial and error process that can take quite some time. I have been working on a dvd to teach how I do bustles. The filming and editing is done, but the cover art is not and I doubt will be for several weeks. When is your wedding date?

Thank you so much for your response. I was so inspired by your website, that I attempted the bustle and hem. I’m happy to say that it seems to have worked. I did the hem at approx. 1” and I tried to emulate your images for the bustle. Attached are some photos of the hem & bustle.

Good luck on your video. I’m sure it will be fantastic. My wedding is in April in Mexico.

Thanks again for your website and your help.


added January 2006

Thank you so much for this wonderful website. I just got into period costuming a few years ago so I am comfortable in corsets, ball gowns and used to wearing (and making) bustled gowns. However, when I picked out my wedding dress, I was completely at a loss as how to create a bustle on such a skirt.
Any advice.


Sorry it's taken my so long to get reply to you. It's been real busy and then I got sick. BUt I have been looking at your picture now and then to try to get ideas. This is one of those situations where I'd have to play with the gown until I find something that looks good. I would try to find points that would hold the train up at the places where the skirt is gathered. It probably would not be as I normally set the points but it would end up looking much like a ballroom bustle. However it is done, the bustle will be quite fluffy because of all the fabric in the gathered flounces.

Without seeing the gown on you. It's really hard to give you advice, but I hope this little bit helps.

added July 2005

Do you know of any bustles that look like a bow?

There is a way to do this. You have to have a lot of fabric in the hip area. What you do is a normal Ballroom bustle and instead of tucking the excess fabric under, you pull it out the edge of the points. It sort-of looks like a bow. I've not found a bride that likes the effect though. Anytime I've tried doing it the bride decides to just tuck the fabric under after see sees how it looks on her butt.

added August 2005

Thank you for responding. Everyone I ask in alterations don't seem like they know how to do a bustle. I have one place that says they would put a button on the outside of the dress so the loop can hang around the button. Are you suppose to see the button? They plan to put it on the outside of the dress. Is that correct?


If you are not having a French bustle all the loops, hooks and/or buttons go on the outside. Have you looked at the pictures on my site? The bustle buttons are not obvious. I often have to explain to brides that this is not a bad thing. Your guests are not searching your gown for oddly placed buttons and if they do notice the bustle buttons they will know what they are for.

Bustling is not a refined art. There is really no central standard for stating what should and should not be done to create a bustle. I'm trying to change that. Plus brides have no idea what they should be looking for or asking for. It's not like you will be needing another bustle next time you buy a dress, so it's not something we think to learn about.

I've seen a lot of ugly bustles that could have been easily fixed. Your worries are normal. It's important what your bustle looks like and that it functions like it should to protect the dress from the damage of people stepping on it. From what you have said though, I think you are getting a good bustle.


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