French Factors


added December 2009

The dress I am trying to bustle has the longest train I have ever seen – with inverted v lace insert panels and loads of beading.  If you pick up the train at the lowest lace v pattern and hold it at the waist it looks very nice and the lace inserts form a perfect inverted v down the back of the dress from the waist, so the dress still looks really nice – a bit Edwardian really, but how on earth will I anchor the weight of such a long, wide train to the waist at one point?  There are no buttons down the back to hide a hook and I am scared it will come down during the reception.  I haven’t done this sort of thing before but am very handy at sewing and crochet etc.

Would be so grateful for any suggestions

Many thanks, Marian

Hi Marian,
I do one pointed bustles on short light weight trains. As you are saying, long heavy satin trains need more support. You can do 2 points close together if the bride really loves the one point design you are thinking of doing. That would be more supportive. There are other tricks and tips on my DVD.

added November 2009

Hi Leanna,
Thank you so much for putting so much information on your website! As many other people have said, your website is the most comprehensive with bustle information!
I picked up my dress a couple weeks ago, and when having my consultation before buying the dress the sales rep suggested a French bustle. I'm not a fan of the look, and was thinking the Ballroom Pick up would look better. This is the link for my dress:
The train is a bit longer on me since I am about 5'5" in the heels I'm wearing, but it's still a relatively short train. Would you think a simple loop to hook onto the buttons on the back of the dress would work? Or would you think adding a hook and eye would be more secure? The material is the heavier satin so I am just concerned about the weight of it and possibility of breaking. I have seen on websites that they suggest putting on more than one point to distribute the weight, but my dress is so simple I don't know if it would look right to add more than one. How many points do you think would be needed and if more than one how would you camoflauge the riggings?
My maid of honor's mother is doing the alterations for me and needs some guidance and so I was hoping you could make a suggestion to get her in the right direction. She is well experienced and made numerous beautiful dresses but obviously bustling a dress depends on the fabric/weight and style. Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated!
Thank you very much and I hope you are enjoying the weekend!

Hi Lisa,
A French bustle on this dress will look much like this one:
Instructions of how to do this bustle and the Ballroom Pick-up are on my DVD.  Ordering information is here:

added October 2009

I came across your website and my goodness it was a wealth of information.  You definitely have great input and I would appreciate your professional aesthetic opinion simply on just "what type" of bustle for the maggie sottero fiorella as shown in the following link:

Hi Frances,
The train already has a French Bustle design. It should not be hard to use that to create a second bustle either adding to that one or making a second bustle lower on the back of the gown. 

added August 2009

Thanks for your wealth of information.  I have watched your DVD and it was very helpful.  This is my first attempt at a french bustle and I felt confident that I was ready for the fitting. Then my client asked for a double french bustle and I am unsure on how to proceed with this. The dress is fitted through the waist and has several crinoline layers making it full at the hem.  It is also heavily beaded throughout the dress with a 6 inch lace hem. Any advice you can give me on how to do this for her is greatly appreciated.

The double bustle on the DVD had its top puff already in the gown from the manufacturer. From my experience with that gown, I would do a simple 2 point bustle for the top puff first, then go through the process as in the DVD for the lower puff. A bit of adjusting may be necessary to get the 2 puffs to look good in their spacing but with what you have described this should be great for your gown.

added July 2009

Hi Leanna,

First, I love your site, I am at a loss as to how to bustle my gown.

I have a red (yes, it’s gorgeous!) Justin Alexander style 8115 gown.

There are ribbons running in an asymmetrical pattern all around the dress. They are sewn to the lining of the dress (lining also is sewn to hem at bottom…then under that is the underskirt part with all of the tulle and stuff).

I need to be able to bustle the dress, and love the idea of the French bustle, but how can I do this to not loose the personality of the asymmetrical poofies that I love?

Your expertise is sorely needed. Thank you in advance.

I don't think the swirling gathers will look odd in a French bustle. The bustle points may end up needing to be placed in a pattern that is not usual for most French bustles but I think you will like the look. And if by some chance you don't like it bustles are totally changeable without any harm to the gown.  

added August 2009

I purchased your DVD to assist me in doing my first French bustle on a wedding dress.  It is very informative-I am not quite to nervous about attempting this bustle.  My question is how the ribbons and loops are sown onto the gown.  Do they have to be anchored anyway to keep them from ripping or coming lose?  I attempted French bustles on bridesmaids dresses and the weight of the bustle ripped the ribbons off.  (I may have had too much weight on the ribbons) but am curious if this is ever a problem with your method.
Thank you,



Hi Kay,
There are several issues here. The weight of the fabric. The length of the train. The desire of the bride to not have anything show, even tiny stitches. The transparency of the fabric. The number of points. Most of these factors I take into consideration when designing the bustle without the bride knowing what I'm doing. How to sew the points often is an issue you have to discuss with her. I head off complaints of my stitching showing by explaining that I have to do it this way to have the bustle be secure. She then knows to expect something maybe looking odd to her, but when she does see it she is pleased because what she imagined is always fare worse than what I do.
I have not watched the DVD in some time but I seem to recall I said something about sewing the ribbons by hand some of the time and by machine the rest and that I use nylon upholstery weight thread. I think I said you can also use button hole twist thread but it's a bit thick. Recently I found a button thread I really like from Banasch's. It's extremely strong though thinner than coats'n'clarks button twist thread.
I sew by machine most of the time but if the dress just can't get under the machine head, I sew the ribbons by hand. If the bride is particularly picky about the stitching showing on an unadorned train, I will sew it by hand with many small stitches. By hand or machine, if the fabric is rather heavy, like many satins, the ribbons have to be sewn with more stitches to support the weight. I have never had a bride report a broken ribbon back to me.

added May 2009


    Im hoping you can offer some advice on the bustle of my wedding dress.   I have attached a picture of the train and of the current bustle.  I am unhappy with it as it is uneven and just looks bunched.   Do you recommend a different bustle style?  Maybe a French bustle?


Hi Heather,
Yes, I have to agree, that is not the prettiest bustle. But it could be better if the sides of the points were tucked under with more grace. I do like your idea of trying a French bustle. The French usually compliments a lace-up bodice better and the placement of the lace decoration on your train is placed so that a French bustle will show it off nicely

added April 2009


I’m wondering about how to do an underbustle with a very full circle skirt back with lining layer, heavy satin layer and sheer (delicate) chiffon layer that all need to come off the floor. The only seams are at center back and sides. Fabrics have no ornamentation of any kind to hide stitches, hooks, etc. I’m most concerned about how to make a pick up point on very limp chiffon, then going through all layers without showing, damaging it and having it hold well enough. It is just so sheer.

I have altered clothing for 25 years, but never bustled a dress so plain without a seam or appliqué, or bit of embroidery to hide a pick-up point. I am stumped as to how to proceed. Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you so much, Janet

Step-by-step instructions of how to do this are on my DVD. 


added January 2009

I enjoyed reading your website, it has very helpful information and thanks!
I am working on a wedding gown alteration.
Not sure what is the best way to bustle this gown. I was thinking may be two pick ups in the centre back seam and bring it to the right side where you can hide the hooks. I demonstrate to the bride, she likes it. She prefers this to French bustle.
  There are some concerns I have -
1) I haven't seen this type of bustling in your website. But, I have seen a bride on TV having this type of bustle
2) the lining is satin (medium weight) and heavier than the dress (soft taffetta) and therfore  not sure whether the fabric will take the weight or not.
I would very much appreciate your sugestion on this as soon as possible.
Thanks for your help!



I love French bustles and any time I can get a bride to go that dramatic route I do. They are intrinsically more secure than any other type regardless of the fabric weight. There are several pictures on my site of French bustles:

added May 2008

Hi Leanna!

I love your website! It's so informative!
I have a quick question for you. My wedding dress is a Casablanca 1856 (link below). It has a pretty intricate train and I have no idea how to bustle it. I was wondering if I could have your opinion.
I really like French bustles, but I feel like with all the material, it might be too bulky, and just not look right. A ballroom bustle might maintain a little more of the detailing, but I'm not sure where I'd bustle it to, since there the dress has no waistline. Also, do you think that I should have the tulle under the skirt bustled separately?
I haven't met with a seamstress yet, but I'd love to have some ideas before I go and see her :)
Thanks so much! Sarah

French Bustles are at their best when they are fluffy. They are a dramatic style that I encourage brides to try. It will not hurt your gown to set up a French Bustle to see if you like the look. For your gown it has to be set lower than the dropped waist. You might not like it there. If this happens you can switch to a different type.

Added April 2008

I love your website! You have great advice and pictures. I just had my alterations done today for my May 10th wedding. I really like a french bustle, but the owner said a overbustle would look better with the details on the back of the gown. I sent a picture of my gown, casablanca 1844. What kind of bustle would my gown, casablanca 1844. What kind of bustle would you recommend
Thanks so much! Tracy

Either French or Ballroom will look great. The design on the back of the train is not specific to either style. You get to choose. Don't let the owner dictate what you have to have on your butt. It is only her opinion. If you had less design on the upper section of train I would say a Ballroom bustle would look better. If you have more design on the upper portion I would say a French bustle would show it off better. But your design is equally spaced down the whole back. I think a French bustle would be lovely if that is what you like best.

added April 2008

It is so sweet of you to offer all of this advice.  A picture of my dress is attached.  Should I use the same Ballroom Bustle design that you use on the Alfred Angelo white and black dress?


You can use a Ballroom design but you can not match the dresses on my site exactly. You need to set your bustle rigging where they need to be for your height with your shoes. Your decoration is very different than the dresses in my pictures too. The lady doing your bustle should set the design to show off your train decoration the best way she can. I do think a French bustle would not look very good for your train decoration placement though.

added March 2008

Good Afternoon,

I have spent a good day or so on your site, browsing thru your pictures and advice. Thank you for the wealth of information. I, as a bride, certainly appreciate it.

My gown is an Allure 8350. Do you have other pictures of different ways to bustle this gown???

Thank you so much for your help!

Most brides with this type of dress like a French Bustle.

added March 2008


I've been reading your website with great interest -- I never thought much about bustles until my daughter got engaged and I became Mother of the Bride-to-be, but I can see that there is a lot to know. The dress she bought has a partial pick up skirt in the front and the back. We'll be going for the first fitting soon, so I was wondering if you could suggest the best way to put up the train -- we want to keep it very simple in back so the beading will be visible. Also, are there alternatives to tying the sash in a bow? My daughter is not a 'bow' type of person & would like something more sophisticated. The site below has a picture of the gown with two views -- it is Oleg Cassini CT203 at David's Bridal.

I'd appreciate any suggestions you can provide.

Sincerely, Bonnie

For this style of gown I try a French bustle first. If the bride doesn't like that then we go on to other ideas.

Bows have been out for about a year now. Most brides prefer a simple knot.

added February 2008


I love your website, it really opened up my eyes to the possibilities of bustles. I love the look of a French bustle and always assumed that any gown I would get would would conform to that sort of bustle, but now that I have my gown, and have read your site, I'm not so sure- seems like a pick-up bustle may work better. After looking at my pics, what do you think..? I can't wait to hear back from you!

Thanks ever so much, Galit

You can do a French bustle. All you need to do is set it a little lower in the back because the hip area is very fitted. The skirt flares out nicely and could make a nice French bustle if planned carefully.

added January 2008

Hi there,
I agree with the comments from others: you have one of the most comprehensive bustle descriptions on the web! The pictures are very helpful, as are your pointers for purchasing both wedding and bridesmaid dresses.
I know you must get swamped with emails every day asking for your opinion, so I hope it won't be too overwhelming if I add my request! I have a gown that will be worn at an outdoor wedding in June and it's a dress that I want to have the option of using as a formal gown later on (perhaps by removing the train). What do you suggest? I've included a link to the dress as well as a couple pictures of the dress when worn. Thank you,



Yes, I do get a lot of email and it sometimes takes me a while to write. I hope I have not kept you waiting too long.

I would go for a French Bustle first. With the lines of the gown I think that would look great!

added January 2008

Hi Leanna!

I LOVE your website! There is nothing else like it on the web! I
hope you plan to release more DVDs and a book. I ordered your Beautiful Bustles DVD and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

I am not sure if you cover this in the DVD, but I was wondering how you would go about doing a double french bustle? would the second row of ties just be lower on the dress?

Thanks so much! Janice

Yes, you have the basic idea. The DVD doesn't cover this specifically. My focus for the first DVD was the basics. You can certainly use the techniques described in the DVD to make a double bustle. All you have to do is design the upper one first and then with the remaining train, design the lower one.

added November 2007

I have been brought in at the last minute so to speak to alter a wedding gown. The bustle points had already been pinned when the dress come to me. Due to the length of the train and the shortness of the bride there is a under bustle below the hip/rear area and an over bustle below that. This is a princess line dress with no waist.

My concern is doing the over bustle because there are several points that will be on plain ivory satin. I am afraid that hooks and loops or using clear snaps will be too visible when the train is down for the wedding ceremony. Am I being overly concerned? Or should I change it to a double under bustle? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Mary Ann

You are being overly concerned. No one sees the bustle riggings no matter how obvious they are. In my over 20 years of making bustle I have never had someone notice the hook, loops, eyes, or buttons. They are just not looking for such things. Even when pointed out many folks still don't see it. So don't worry.

You do not have to follow the pinning as it came to you. It is impossible to interpret what these pins mean if you do not have access to the person who put them there. I would normally take out any pins and start from a fresh perspective. You certainly can, of course, change to a double under bustle. That would be vary dramatic!

added August 2007

Don't know if you can answer my question quickly, but on a French Bustle should you see the string and squares through the dress when it is not bustled. A shop did 7 bustles on the dress. Three of them were between the seams that you still saw and four where between the fabric that you really saw. When the dress was down, all you could focus on was the bustle job. The dress did not have beading at the bottom of the train on at the back below to the buttock area. They recommended a french bustle and told me you wont see anything from the outside of the dress. In the meantime, they snagged the dress on the back, had a small cut in the front where no beading was and had spots all over the dress. Now they are getting another dress for us. The wedding is in a week. I am enclosing a picture of the back of the dress. I have added black marks where the points where. Everything on the inside with ribbon was done on a machine. The satin was had down with the string completely through the dress. Also, the dress is ivory and the string was white. The square where for labeling the numbers to bustle it up which also should through the dress and it was white.

Was this done correctly? Or should nothing show through the dress when there is no beading or decorations at the bottom? The first black dot on the right or left is in the fabric and ever other one is in the seam. Thanks if you can give any advice. At this point I will have to try to bustle myself.

French bustle points need to be sewn through all the layers of the train in order for them to hold it up. It has to be sewn securely to support the weight of the fabric. I try to make my stitching as unnoticeable as possible, but you do see it from the outside. If it's not sewn through the top layer it will not pull that layer up when it's rigged.

I know it bothers you but absolutely no one at the wedding will notice this. If by some odd chance someone does they are smart enough to understand that it is not a flaw in the gown. They know that it is for the bustle. Also, this will not show in your pictures either.

Some brides like to cover up the stitching with a small beaded design or a tiny bit of lace, but I think that calls more attention to it.

I'd need to see the dress in person to give you any more advice.

Thank you for your quick response. With this job they could be seen far away and they used white squares shown through the ivory dress with white string that could be seen for many feet away . You probably can see 1/4 of the white cording shown through the dress. It was so tight that you could see everything. The dress also could not have beading added to this dress to disguise it.


I am assuming they can't redo this to your specifications??? I'd be tempted to take it to someone else who can do it the way you want. If they can get a new dress in one week (which is very doubtful) I still would not trust them to do it the way you want. They probably don't know how.

It is very possible they told you they can get a new dress just to shut you up. In a few days you'll get a phone call saying the manufacturer can't fill the order and it's not the store's fault.

The new dress did not arrive so they gave me my money back since I knew another shop was already holding a dress for us. It is the shop that I purchased my dress from and they did a wonderful job. The other dress was a complete disaster and not repairable. We had no time on our hands since my daughter's wedding is a week from tomorrow.

Thanks for all your info! Cheryl

added August 2007

Hello. I just got back from my 2nd dress fitting today. I'm so confused about the bustle on my wedding dress. Its totally stressing me out. My dress is a Maggie Sottero and Madeleine is the name of my dress. The seamstress talked me into getting a French bustle. I felt like it was very puffy and I hate that feeling. My dress has some of the pick me ups. If you know what I mean. Would you suggest me going with a regular bustle instead if I don't like puffiness to a dress?? Your website was very helpful and I appreciate all your help.

Thanks, Tammy

For gowns with the pick-ups a French Bustle usually does look better than a Ballroom. The Ballroom bustle will cover the pick-ups in the back making the back of the dress look like a plain skirt instead of matching the front.

Many brides don't like the fluffiness of a French Bustle but you can smooth it down by hand patting the folds after rigging it and as the reception goes on it does calm down naturally because of gravity.

added July 2007


Your site is wonderful and extremely educational. My daughter is getting married in 3 weeks. She just brought back her dress from the seamstress who hemmed her dress and sewed a loop at the end of the train for my daughter's wrist (only because she did not know how to bustle the dress). The train is way too heavy for this type.

The dress was made for the french style - 3 loops were placed by the manufacturer underneath the gown down the center seam and one single button at waist (underneath). The problem is that the loops are secured only to the fabric and not the outer layer of lace (which has decorative beads). When I looped each ribbon to the button, the fabric layered nicely but the lace did not gather.

I was thinking of tacking the lace at the ribbon meeting place but wasn't sure if this would tear the lace.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you! Dana

You are correct in thinking that the lace needs to be tacked. If you tack it securely it should not tear. Use many stitches around the meeting place. You can make them tiny, but do it at least a quarter size around the point and put some stitches in the center of the area too.

added July 2007


I have wedding gown Casablanca 1835. Anyway, I was hoping to get the French Bustle. However, the seamstress told me that because of the length of the train even with my shoes on, and the weight of the dress, that the french bustle wouldn't work on me. So she is doing the over bustle with about 5 buttons i think.

I just wanted to know if her reasons sound like they may be valid, or if a french bustle is possible on most dresses regardless of height.

Thank you so much for your advice in this situation!!


Most any gown can be Bustled French. I don't think she was advising you against the French so much because of your height or the gown's weight but because your decoration is clustered from the center to the bottom of the train. A Ballroom bustle will show it off better. A French bustle will cover much of the beading because the fabric of the upper skirt is folded under to form the bustle and covers much of the center of the train.

The way I do it, a French bustle is actually better for heavy fabrics.

added June 2007

Hello Leanna,
First of all, let me say thank you so much for all the wonderful information you have on your site. It makes it so much easier for brides like me who have no idea what a lot of the terminology means that are thrown at us by bridal shops and seamstresses.

My question regards bustling my gown. I've attached a picture so that you can look at it instead of having to rely on my inadequate descriptions. My seamstress has suggested a French bustle which makes sense since there isn't a waist to attach an overbustle to. However, to be completely honest, I don't really like how a French bustle looks. I saw the tufted ballroom on your site and am wondering if you think it would work on my dress. It doesn't have nearly as many tufts as the dress on your site nor are they as pronounced on my dress. Any and all comments and advice would be very welcome. Cheers!
Sincerely, Karla

You can try using the tufted style and just create more places for pick-ups than are now on the train. There aren't any rules with bustles. You just want to get it up off the floor in a way that you like. However you design the points is up to your imagination.

added February 2006

Found your website and am trying to find answers as to how to bustle my daughter's wedding gown. We went to the website of the designer but there is no way to contact'm hoping to find a little information from you.

If you go to and click on bridal then click on page 9, my daughter purchased the gown in the top row, on the right. It has red trim at the top of the bodice and along the lower edge.

There are five strings under the skirt and two loops. I figure one loop is for hanging on the hanger; it's on the lower edge. The other loop is nearer the waist area, in the center. One tie is in the center, near the bottom edge. There are two strings on each side of the back center seam....the higher placed ones are a little closer together and the lower ones are farther apart, one on each side. I hope you can get a mental picture of it. I'll try to make x's where the strings are located and o's where the loops are located.

  x   x  
x       x

I hope this kind of gives you an idea of the placement. I went back to the bridal shop where the gown was purchased and the owner had no idea. She said to ask her seamstress, which I did, and the seamstress had no clue, either. (We're having a local seamstress alter the gown and she had never seen anything like it before.) I figure that if there are strings, there must be a standard way to tie them. We've tied the strings across from each other loosely and then have tied the bottom string into the top loop tightly. That's about as good of a deal as we've come up with and it looks sort of like the Pick-Up Bustle, similar to the French Bustle in the bottom photo of your website but it doesn't exactly come out looking like that so I'm not sure that we're doing it correctly.

The gown has beading on the backside and if we tie it the way we've been tying it, more of the beading shows as opposed to attaching a button near the waist and bringing the train up to the button.

If you have any ideas of how it should be done or where we can go for advice, I would really appreciate it. Her wedding date is March 18, 2006.

Thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it more than you know.


The only thing I can tell you for sure is the loop nearest the bottom is probably for hanging the train on the hanger and can be ignored. It's near impossible to figure out these things. If you can not talk to the person who designed the bustle, all you can do is try different combinations of tying the ribbons until you come up with something that looks good.

The easier thing to do is ignore the ribbons and let your alterationist design a bustle and teach you how to rig it.

Okay... Thanks so much for your reply. I just hate to be so ignorant! If I could contact the designer....or the designer's office, I would gladly do that but the website doesn't indicate an e-mail, phone or that's why I bothered you. Thanks for your reply. I just thought that we'd explore all options and see if we could find anyone that has an idea of a routine procedure for such a thing! Guess there isn' we'll do what we think looks best.

I do appreciate your reply. Thanks so very much.

Unfortunately, there are no "routine procedures" for these things. I always give a bustle lesson to my bride's maid or Mom before I let a gown go home. It's so frustrating to get these letters and know that there is so little I can do to help.

added September 2005

Would you suggest french bustling a tulle ballgown? The tulle is not really pouffy (approx 7 layers), my daughter doesn't like all that fullness up at the top with traditional bustles and I thought that french bustles might drop that fullness down a bit and spread it out, am I wrong in my thinking? Thanks, your site and insight are awesome.

You can french bustle a tulle gown and the position of the fold can be dropped down. It's not easy because the many layers are hard to deal with, tulle is very delicate to begin with and it does look VERY pouffy. All bustles are pouffy to some degree. Many brides don't like the feeling that their butt is big, but the guests at a wedding understand that it's not the bride's butt, it's the dress.

Hi! What a wonderful website! I have recently started doing bridal alterations and could use all the help I can get. I have two questions.

How long should the bridal gown be on the sides. Should it be at the floor or should it be shortened the same amount as the front. I realize it should be longer at the sides.

How would you bustle a gown with a corset back? The opening at the back usually goes down to about 7 or 9 inches below the waist.

Thanks bunches!

I do a hem so that it's about 1" off the floor from side seam to side seam then start the taper to the train. I find it easier to do the bustle when the hem is up to the sides. I know gowns usually come with the sides already tapering down, but most brides seem to like the way I've been doing it.

Many gowns lately come with a dropped waist of some sort. I simply place the bustle points where ever that drop is. And it usually makes for a better drape on the bustle too than putting the points right on the waistline.

added August 2005

I have a question about my bustle - the seamstress did a French bustle (which I love), but the sides of my gown touch the floor when the gown is bustled. The hem on the front is fine. She said that if she shortens it on the sides, that would ruin the shape of the train. It makes sense, but I would like reassurance that nothing else could be done. I am uncomfortable with it dragging on the floor, not to mention it would get really dirty.

If it's not dragging more than an inch or 2 I would not worry about it. Sides are hard to get up into the bustle. I try to do it but sometimes they do drag a little. You can hem the sides without ruining the train. Your seamstress may not know how so she is advising you not to. As for it getting dirty - well, the whole gown is going to be filthy by the end of your wedding day. It only has to be clean for the pictures and your walk down the isle. Do not fret yourself with it getting soiled the rest of the day. You need to be thinking about what a great time you are having and about your loved ones who are sharing it with you.

added January 2004

I surely hope you can help me. I have recently purchased a wedding dress and cannot figure out what bustling technique I should request. I have searched all over the Internet and cannot find any info,except on your site. Enclosed is pics of my gown, and any input you can give will be greatly appreciated!! By the way my gown is made of delustered matte satin with organza overlay. Also,this isn't a feat I would ever try myself.

Again, thank you for any advice you can give me! Carla

Wow, what a beautiful and dramatic back. The pictures of you standing at the alter are going to be fabulous.

I would try the French bustle first. That would give you the advantage of not covering up the lovely lace that drapes down past the waist. But this bustle is bulky and brides often feel that it accentuates their butt too much. The degree of bulkiness depends on a lot of things including how much netting is under the skirt and needs to be tied up with the bustle. Also the skirt fabric itself may not drape smoothly if it's a heavy satin. This will add to the volume of the bustle.

If you find you do not like the degree of bulkiness, try the Ballroom Bustle. The simple fact that the fabric is folded up over the skirt to connect to the waist makes it weigh the part that's underneath down and look less bulky. But for you it will hide the neat lace below the waist in the back.

You can try each and see which you like better without hurting the gown any. The choice is up to you because only you can say which look you like best.

added November 2003

I have my wedding gown and have been working with my seamstress on the alterations. Everything is great but we are unsure on what to do exactly with the bustle. There is no waistline on the dress and the bottom of the train sort of splits and opens up. I'm really not sure of the correct way to describe it, but hopefully this link will work and you can see the back of the dress. Any suggestions you have would be REALLY appreciated!

Thank you so much,

Demetrios is my favorite bridal designer. Yours is simply elegant!

From this picture it looks like that part that is dividing and opening is a separate piece of fabric that is sewn into a seam at the side that does not open. It could also be an overlay that drapes over the whole skirt, but the picture doesn't look that way.

I would try a french bustle first. I would do some tacking on the edge of the part that is open so it doesn't stick out funny while the bustle is set. Start at the top of where it separates into the 2 sides and baste about 1" back from the edge. Continue down to a little past where the bustle ties will be sewn. I would try to stop there so that the train can flow nicely while the bustle is not set. If the bottom hangs funny when the bustle is set, you may have to tack all the way down the edge but setting the stitches back from the edge will still let the piece hang nicely while the train is down. I think with this little extra effort it can be a lovely bustle.

If this idea does not work for you I'll try to think of something else. Constructing a bustle is just as much art as it is engineering and it often takes a few tries to get something that is both functional and pretty.

added August 2003

I bought my gown at David’s Bridal salon which is nowhere near my home. My wedding is in 2 days and the seamstress never showed me how to tie my French bustle. Can you help?

Kind regards,

I don't know what to tell you without seeing where your ties are.When I do a french bustle I sew ribbon loops on the train and ribbon ties at the waist or at the end of the zipper. You thread the ties trough the loops and tie them to set the bustle. I don't think that is how David's Bridal does it though.

Try laying the gown out on a bed upside down. Look at what is there on the inside of the train and at the waist. There is probably ribbon ties at both places. the trick is to figure out which ones tie to which. Some places tie knots at the ends of the ribbons and you match up the number of knots with it's corresponding tie. You'll know you have it right when the back of the gown is level with the floor when you have it on.

If this does not help you, I'll be back later today. If you can write me a description of what is under your train I can probably tell you how to tie it.

Here’s a drawing. Thanks for your help.

That's a quizzical arrangement. I would try tieing the 1, 2, and 3 ribbons together and ignoring the loops first. I would think the loops are for hanging on the hanger and not part of the bustle.


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