General Questions


I will try to answer any questions you wish to write, but I can not teach you how to sew bustles through this site or by email. That's why I produced a DVD. The information for it is at:

added April 2010


I just went for my first dress fitting and afterwards I looked at your website which was very helpful.  I was surprised by how much my bustle cost was and I was just wondering if you could let me know if it was a reasonable charge or not.|-49998999|-49978992&catentryId=6097269&sort=

That is a link to the dress it's david's bridal style #t9466

They ended up doing a 15 point bustle underneath for $75 and then they did something with the top layer for $50.  They didn't really say anything about what hey were doing or give me any options and I didn't know what the charge would be until I had taken the dress off and was ready to leave.  

That just seemed to me like an excessive amount of points for that train compared to what I saw on your website.  Was just wondering if you had any input on if this was necessary or not or what a bustle for that type dress should cost.

Thanks so much! Meghan

Hi Meghan,
Yes, 15 points sounds like more than necessary. I looked at the link you sent and do think I could do that bustle in 6 or maybe 8 points. I do see that there might need to be something on the top layer that needs to be done once the lower layer is up. I would need to see the gown on the bride to determine what is necessary. I would guess my charge for your bustle would be not less than $100 and could be more, so they aren't far off the mark. Bridal stores are generally a little higher priced than independent alteration people like me.

added January 2010

Hi Leanna,

I just found your website and saw many valuable sources on how to bustle the gown. I purchased Maggie Sottero 'Harlow' wedding gown few months ago and thinking to bustle it. I'm just wondering if you can give some input on how to do it. My wedding is end of this month. I know this is quite last minutes :(

Here's the link on the gown:



Hi Jeni,
When the train has a design that is uniformly distributed over the train area I tell brides that most any style is good. Your gown has an evenly distributed lace pattern, but the waist seam is dropped very low on the hip. Though you can do a French bustle I do think you will like the look of the Ballroom style better because the riggings should be placed at that dropped waist seam for best support. A French bustle at that location might look odd if the resulting puff is set right below your butt, but the fabric does also look very soft so it might drape nicely so if you like the French style, it might look good too.

Hi Leanna,

Thank you so much for the quick respond.
My mom wants to help me to do the bustle, but she has never done wedding gown before. She used to own garment business and just sew regular Women, Men, Boys, Girls clothing. Do you think if I purchase the DVD from your website can guide my mom to work on the bustle? Also, how long do you think it take to do this kind of bustle?


Hi Jeni,
I made the DVD to be aimed at the person with the most beginning sewing knowledge but I have had professional bridal people tell me it helped them. I tried to explain everything in great detail. With your Mom having all the experience with sewing she has, it should be very easily understandable to her.
The DVD does not explain the exact bustle for any specific gown but the three gowns I use as examples. But using these three basic gown types, it does give the process for the 3 styles of bustle I most use. A creative sewing mind can figure out many variations on the 3 basic processes. For your gown all she'd have to do it set the points for the lower waist seam instead of one that is nearer the waist. The rest of the process is the same.

I was once asked about my pricing for doing a bustle and I responded with an outline of the time I spend designing a bustle. It's here: 


Hi Leanna,

I went to the alteration store and was quoted $100 for doing just the bustle. Do you think it's fair price or too high? I'm not an expert, so just want to know the average price out there.



Hi Jeni,
My bustling price starts at $40.00. If the bustle needs more than 2 points it is an additional $10.00 per point. In my system a $100.00 bustle would have to have 8 points. That would be a very long and full train. I think your gown would need at least 4, maybe 6 points at the most. I really don't know what an average price would be. Bridal alteration prices very greatly in different economic areas. I can only answer for my own experience and pricing system.

added January 2010

Is is appropriate to bustle the lining of a gown train separately from the overskirt of a wedding gown. (If so is there a best way to do that?) The lining on the gown's train is long but narrower and smaller than the center-gathered overskirt and is not attached to the overskirt except at the at the low hip. I will be doing a number of gathered (French?) pickups from underneath to bustle the outer skirt.
Thank you for your wonderful web site and any help you can give me.



Hi Nancy,
I have often found that it is necessary to bustle the lining of a train separately from the overskirt. There are several pictures on my site of gowns that had to be done this way. How to do it depends on many fractures. Since your lining is narrow it might need a low Pick-up bustle. I tell brides to pin the bustle several ways and decide which way you like the best. The site has many pictures to give you ideas. Start here:

added September 2009

I was just lookng at all the beautiful bustles on your website.
My gown has a red border of about 3 inches around the entire hem.
Can you offer any great suggestions as to how it should be bustled the best?
Thanks so much,

Hi Beth,
The only picture examples I have of dealing with color are here: 
When the decoration is mostly at the hem, I usually advise a Ballroom Bustle. But, since yours is a 3" border either French or Ballroom will look great.

added September 2009

I have bustled many wedding dresses, but never one that had a full lining under the bustle.
This train is approx. 47 inches from the normal length of the dress.
Can you suggest anything before I mess it up???
Any help will be appreciated  
Thank you in advance

Hi Helen,
I'm not sure what you are asking. The lining and anything else that is beyond the hem of the back of the dress has to be either caught up in the bustle you plan to do, or bustled separately. I have done both depending on the look the bride is going for. Sometimes, if the lining has netting on it and catching it up in one bustle makes the whole thing too fluffy, doing it separately will make it less fluffy. If the outer layer is lace or some other see-through fabric, bustling them separately may look really odd.

added August 2009

Dear Leanna,

You have a wonderful and really informative web-site!
I wish you lived in the Northeast.

I have a bustle question for you.  I have a feeling that a bustle is not possible, but thought I would ask.

I bought a size 10 sample dress that has a skirt made of 5 layers of silk organza and an inner layer of something just slightly thicker.
It is a really flowy dress and I am short (5'0").
The dress is being altered with the front being shortened, so the back has ~1foot train.

How would you bustle this?
Is it even possible?

Thank you.

p.s. the back looks like the front with a zipper in the middle.

Hi Laura,
That's a tricky one. On a dress like this I put it on a dress form and play with the train until I get something I think the bride will like. I am assuming that a simple one point Pick-Up bustle won't work as in most short trains, because of the skirt's fullness. Several points will me needed to get the whole back off the floor. The added complication of the pleating makes point placement difficult.
You could try forming tuffs in several scattered places over the train and see how it looks. Or maybe an Austrian Bustle would look nice.

added April 2009

Hi Leanna -

I was looking for information on bustles on the Internet and I found your Web site. I love the pictures. Very helpful.

I have been sewing professionally for almost thirty years so I have had my share of dealing with all sorts of bustles.
The problem that I run into is a bride requests a French bustle and she is only 5'2". I design an individual bustle by considering the height of the bride and the design of the gown. Nowhere have I seen it written that some bustles work better on tall brides and some work better for the shorter girls.

You comment about the tormenting by the designers is a fact. I had a bridesmaid gown last week made in Vietnam. It was a five-gore below the knee with a front drape. The problem is that the gores were sewn in individual hems and then the gores were attached to each other. A $40 hem became and $85 hem because of the design. Ugh!

Thank you so much for the information that you have on your Web site. Now I will have pictures to make suggestions to my brides.

Wishing you a prosperous Spring-Summer season.

Yes, some styles of bustle will look better due to the height of the bride, but that's not the main factor in deciding which bustle design to use. Even if I think the design a bride wants looks horrible, I do what she wants. I will explain the choices she has and the pro's and con's for each, but it is totally her decision. I had a bride just this week who wanted a French bustle for her gown to be rigged for the whole day, ceremony and reception. Her Mom was very upset that she wants to do this but I still support her right to do as she wishes. I did tell her she was giving up some really cool photo shots that are traditional and really neat to have but she was insistent about her decision. I told the Mom that the bustle is not a permanent thing and she just might change her mind at the last minute and it can be easily dropped for the ceremony.  
Designers do seem to be doing their best to make the Alterationist life harder, but it's often fun to raise to the challenge. It kind-of depends what mood I'm in as to wether it frustrates me of gets my creative juices running.

added October 2008

hi,i am a bride to be in mackay australia and am in need of some help to bustle my wedding dress..the bridal shop that i ordered my dress through has since closed down and now i am looking for some one else to do the bustle on my dress.i really like how you have done the last red alfred angelo dress on your site and was wondering how i would go about trying to explain this to  the lady that will be doing the alterations.if you could give me any suggestion it would be greatly appreciated,thanks so much,trace that is the style i would like to have,thankyou heaps.


I have a DVD that gives step-by-step instructions for doing most of the bustles pictured on my site. The ones it does not specifically show can be done using the principles given on the DVD. 

added October 2008

Wow, thank you for posting all of this info on bustles - there's no other website which provides this much info!
My wedding dress has 2 layers, satin with beaded lace all over it, and has a corset back. The underlay is white and the lace and beading is pewter colour so it shows a lot, and has a different repeated lace detail around the entire bottom of the dress. I'd like to bustle the dress but keep the lace detail showing. Would a low pickup (close to the knee) or Austrian bustle work on a gown like this? I'm open to anything which will keep the beautiful lace showing - but the French bustle might make me look a bit big. Here is a picture of the dress.


Every bride wants to show as much of the train as possible but something has to get covered to have a bustle. Your lace design is pretty consistent all over the train so there is not one place where it is more concentrated so any style of bustle will show just as much as any other. Usually, a French bustle is used when the train design is concentrated on the upper part of the train and a Ballroom bustle is used when the design is mostly near the end of the train.
Since it looks like the hip area of your gown is not full, you have to use a low bustle or risk unpretty bunching in the hip area. A Pick-up French or Ballroom will look very nice. I doubt you will like an Austrian for it bunches up the whole back.

added October 2008

Does it matter French or American bustle? How do you know what's best or is it mainly a preference? I have done a French bustle, having never known anything about it before. Now I have another opportunity to bustle a gown and I suggested the French bustle, since I did not see anything suggesting there should be an American bustle. I thought there was something in the design to help place this up on the butt when it was meant to be an American. The first gown I did was a very thin girl with much less fabric than the one I am working on now. This one bells out very nicely and has the train. I showed her pictures of French bustling online. After reading some of these posts I hope I am still ok with my idea the French bustle would be better. It is a halter type dress and has a lot of beading. I have limited time but I want to do the best for the dress. The bride is happy with the French, the mom would probably like to see the American- but the mom would like to see it sewn so tight to her skin she can't move, so I am trying to be polite and help the bride. I thought I would go ahead and get the loops and ties started. It is a previously owned dress and I will need to adjust the straps in the front at the bodice. Just wanted to post this as I am second guessing myself. This is for someone in our congregation that I have known for some time. She is the same age as my daughters. I just wanted to get your input since I will have to get it done very soon and want to make the best decision. Thanks ladies

In my opinion - this matter should be totally the bride's choice.
At the end of a first fitting with a bride I give her a bustle lesson. I will pin her gown in both Under and Over bustle styles (I call these
Ballroom and French) and tell her the benefits of each. I will also tell her many objections to each from other brides, like - "that French bustle makes my butt look big". I will take into consideration the decoration on her train and give her my opinion of how it can be best displayed with a bustle but I will not choose the bustle style for any bride. I say things like, this French bustle looks nice because your main decoration is high on the train and an over bustle would cover that up."
If the bride does not like either Over or Under styles, I will go on to show her the various other styles I have done for other brides either pinning them on her gown or showing her pictures on my site. I tell her she does not have to choose today but I am just giving her plenty of options to think about. After her hem is correct she will need to give me her decision and I take it from there.
This past year I have had several brides that have not liked any options I have shown them at the first fitting. In these cases I ask her lots of questions and get creative and think up other ways to display her train using her values of how she wants her butt to look. It gets frustrating at times but though I would sometimes rather just tell her what is "best". I just can't. I am so very serious about this being her decision. I do a lot of explaining of the mechanics of bustling and what methods are more secure then others, but in the end it just has to be her decision.

added September 2008


I came across your website which was very helpful regarding bustles for a wedding dress.  I am wearing a cathedral length mantilla and would like to bustle it and wear it all night.  Do you have any pics of a cathedral length veil bustled?


I do not have any pictures of veils because I do not recommend that any one bustle a veil. The veil fabric is much too frail and would not support the bustle riggings and it is much too shear and the riggings would be right out in the open and look very bad on what is suppose to be a shear veil.  
If a bride wants a shorter veil for the reception I recommend that she buy a second one that is shorter than her ceremony veil.

added July 2008

Hi Leanna!

I'm so glad I found your site because I've been stressing a little about the bustling of my gown.
I had originally wanted a gown with no train, so bustling wouldn't have been an issue.  But I fell in love with "Sugar" by Amy Michelson, which has a short-ish train (looks longer on the model than it does on me.)  It is multi-layered silk organza, with no seam at the waist (in front) and a ribbon of Alencon lace that trims the back.  The thing I love the most about the gown is the silhouette, which (in my head) would be ruined by any bustle I can imagine - creating a pouffy meringue-like skirt, which was exactly what I wanted to avoid: I am very petite, size 0 - I don't want a dress that wears me!
Is there any style of bustle that you would recommend for a dress like mine?
Thank you!!

All bustles break the line of the train. You can certainly have the train hemmed and you will have what you originally wanted. Or you can just not bustle it. It isn't a must to bustle. It's just a convenience for your guests who won't want to be stepping on your dress as you walk around.  

added July 2008

Hi!  First of all, thanks for having this page.  My daughter just returned from getting her gown after it was bustled by and Alfred Angelo designer and she is concerned because some of the semi-cathedral train is still draped across the floor. The saleswoman in the store assured her that her $200 was well spent as the man who did her bustle was from LA (we live in a Philadelphia suburb) and he was the "best".   Should a bustle have all of the gown just touching the floor?

Her gown number is Alfred Angelo #1612 and the thing that makes the gown complex is the contrasting color.  Her gown is beautiful in white with the accent in "pool".
Can you give us any information to help us?  Thank you so very much.


Anyone who tells you something "has to be this way" because it's their way is not the best at anything. I'm sorry but just because someone is from LA doesn't mean he knows diddly squat.
When I design a bustle it is my goal to get the whole train off the floor just like when I do a hem I want it off the floor. Some brides like the look of the hem and bustle brushing the floor. For them I do it that way. I never tell any bride what her dress "has to be". That's just shear pride.
I have had some brides like having a little train even drag some on the floor. It's all her choice. If your daughter wants the train up than they should do it that way. AND I have never charged such a price and not given a customer what they want. I would love to talk to this guy and give him a piece of my mind but he is obviously not worth my time.
If you didn't get what you want I'd ask for my money back or for it to be done again until it's the way I want it to be.

WoW! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly with your honest opinion. What area of the country are you located?

I will take some pics and send them to you for your opinion if that is okay. I'm not telling my daughter that I've contacted you because she just doesn't need one more thing to stress about but I want to make it what she wants if that's possible. Right now, she's buying the "that's the way it's supposed to be" even though I think she will have major problems dancing at her reception and she loves to dance!

Thanks again, Leanna!

A little bit of dragging should not impede her dancing fun. Besides, most people take off their shoes at the reception anyway and all the dresses are then too long so everyone is in the same boat. It's when she is standing still with people walking around her that I worry about. The point of a bustle is to get the dress up off the floor so the guests don't step on it.

Bottom line is it's up to her what is comfortable and looks good. If she's ok with it the way it is and trying to change it will only add more stress to her happy time, than I'd tend to leave it the way it is.

Added July 2008

Help!!  When bustling (american bustle) my wedding dress (full skirt), the lining hangs down on each side in the back. Suggestions on how to fix this?  Thanks, laura

Whoever did your bustle did not do it right. I have no idea without seeing the dress what is wrong. You need to take it back and tell them to redo it. 

added March 2008

I picked up my daughter's wedding dress which is a Syphany dress with claret (red) below the bust and near the hem. I need to shorten the dress by 2" in the front and bustle the back. I think a pick up bustle or ballroom bustle is what is needed to showcase the trim in the center back of the train. Attached are pictures of the dress. They told me not to lift the train by the buttons down the center back of the dress and train. Do I place a white eye between the buttons near her waist the then place the hook halfway down the train at the appropriate length. How do I hook the sides flat out to the side without the hooks showing. I feel I have to put a hook and eye on each side near the top of the pick up. The hem is fully enclosed on the inside with 1" horsehair braid at the hemline. Can I roll that braid under the hand sew it in place? Can I open the dress at the side the cut the braid at the side seams and then resew the opening?

Do you sell white hooks and eye for the train?

I have never done this but would like to do it myself for my daughter.

Thanks for your assistance. Cris

I usually put the loops on the train pick-up points and the hooks or buttons at the anchor points. I would not put hooks and eyes at the sides, but if you want to you can slip them into the seam and hide most of the hook that way.

I do not roll over horsehair. I take it off, move it to the new location and finish the hem as needed.

I do not sell hooks and eyes. You can get them at your local fabric store.

added February 2008

I’m trying to decide which bustle to get and, by the way, your site is SO helpful so thank you.

I think I need to go with a pick-up bustle b/c it’s not a poufy dress and there are no intricate designs on the back or anything. I’m just trying to decide which one, regular pick-up or French pick-up.

I’ve attached a picture of my dress. Any help you could offer before I go for my alterations would be greatly appreciated. I was thinking the French style pick-up.

Thanks so much,

This is simply a matter of your personal preference. Your decoration isn't a factor, so either will look good for your gown. Personally, I like the Ballroom Pick-up better in this type of situation.

Usually what I do is pin the bustle for both styles while the bride looks at them in a mirror. Then she can decide which she likes better on her backside. Looking at other people's pictures doesn't always help.

added February 2008

HI there,
I have a quick question about bustles. I marked the overbustle for my bride the other day. But when she went on her way I let her take the Crimolin under slip with her .
Will I still need that to make an accurate Bustle?
thank you so much, Judy

It should not effect your sewing on of the riggings (hooks, eyes, buttons etc.) But you should have her bring it back to test the bustle before she takes the dress. She will not know how to make her bustle and you should teach her before she takes the dress. I get so many letters from brides asking me how to rig their bustles and I have no idea because I didn't design it. It really bothers me that so many sewing professionals don't take the time to teach the brides how to do this.

My DVD is geared to beginners and brides trying to do their own bustles. It might not teach you anything you don't already know if you have been doing this for some time.

Thank you so much for such a quick reply. I do try to make sure that the Bride or the Maid of honor knows how to rig it up.
On time I had to ship a dress, due to a bride that could not travel back, so I sent detailed drawings of the bustle.
Again thank you so much for your help. I always love to learn as much as I can about the dresses. I also appreciate your comments about your DVD.
Have a great week, Judy

added February 2008


I was wondering if you could give me some information. My daughter purchased a bridal gown on-line, however it is not bustled. It only has a wrist strap to hold the train. I was wondering if you could give me information, or preferably a website, that would give me details on how to actually bustle a gown. I am a good seamstress, and have made a few gowns in the past, so if this isn't too difficult, I'm sure with a little information I could do it myself.

Thank you!

My DVD gives step-by-step instruction geared for the beginner. Here is the information:

added January 2008


My bridal gown was just altered. The French bustle is beautiful for my taffeta gown with pick ups.

Qt. Once busted, I noticed that the back of the dress was longer than the front, a good 12 inches. Is that appropriate, or should it be an even length all the way around once bustled?

I did ask the seamstress, and her answer was she couldn't make the back shorter due to the petticoat would show. But, I got to thinking, the petticoat is even all the way around; therefore, it wouldn't show.

Any advise would be helpful. Am I worrying about nothing? Should the back of the bustled dress be 12 inches longer and is that okay for a dance reception after our ceremony?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful. Thanks! Libby

My goal in bustling is usually to set the back to be the same length as the front unless the bride instructs me to do otherwise. Sometimes brides do want a little drag. If you don't, you have every right to ask that it be done the way you are wanting it. A petticoat can be bustled too if it is really hanging too long. Here's one that I did on my site: It's at the bottom of the page.

added January 2008

Hi Leanna,
Thanks so much for sharing what you know about bustles. It's been helpful. I do have a quick question though. I have a royal cathedral train so its obviously really long. I'm going to try to do an Austrian Bustle but I'm just a beginner so I'm not actually sure how to do it. It was either that type of bustle or the French bustle. You mentioned on your website to use ribbons. Is there a certain type of ribbon to use? Also, how well do you have to sew it on there? If you wouldn't mind, can you give me a step to step guide to how to do it? What materials to use, where to place the ribbons, etc. Thank you so much!
Bride to be, Lucy

Step-by-step instructions on making a French Bustle are in my DVD. Information about the DVD is here:

added January 2008

Hi! I too am a sewist who makes and alters wedding gowns for customers (located in Maryland). I have a gown that has me a bit baffled for bustling...
Gloria Vanderbilt strapless gown. It has two panels coming straight down from top bodice seam (no waistline seam) that are not attached except at the side back seams. Each panel has a wide row of beading straight down the finished edge of the panel and each panel is tacked at the edge of the train. The look is similar to the Alfred Angelo dress in your website, but the panels with beading are loose along the center back except at tacks at bottom.

Would you recommend your ballroom bustle style? I've tried bustling with the French style and it doesn't really fall correctly or smoothly. The train is chapel length.
I'm thinking that I need to tack the panels on to the dress at several points and then pick up closer to the bottom of the skirt rather than near the waist.

Any thoughts would be great.

BTW -- I did the AA dress same as yours (red) but a bit lower...bride was very happy. MoB didn't like all the hooks but ...oh well!


You have guessed correctly. You do need to tack the panel. I have done this style both ways depending on what the bride wants. They don't always want my first choice.

I would need to see the dress to tell you were the points need to go.

added December 2007

I've found your website to be SSOOO helpful for info and pictures on bustles. I have a dress that's particularly challenging because there is a ton of beautiful beading on the bottom half of the train, assymetrical beading on the waistline, and it's sheer satin organza. I'm not too thrilled with how it looks with just a simple one-point ballroom pick-up bustle. Here's are some pictures of my dress.

Can you offer any advice?

Sorry for the short notice but I just found your site. My wedding is in February and my next fitting is in about a month so any help you could provide would be great.

Thank you so much!!!

There is no way you can bustle this dress with only one point. In my system it will take 4 to 6. You can do a French or Ballroom. I think either would be good.

Thank you so much for your quick response! I'm curious... are you anywhere near the Chicago area? I'm wondering if there is any feasible way to get your help with my bustle.

Are there any other suggestions you could give me or a general idea of how the bustle could be done with 4-6 points?

I can't thank you enough! I can really tell that you're an expert in this field!

All the best,

I am in Cincinnati OH.

I have a DVD that teaches both the French and Ballroom basics of bustle creation.

Again, I really appreciate your quick responses! Oh, it's too bad you're in OH. Unfortunately, I'm a bride and my seamstress is doing all the alterations. Do you have any particular pointers, or even just the right vocabulary, to explain to her what could be done?

It seems like the DVD would be helpful for people who are doing the actual sewing of the bustle. I'd be happy to pay you for the price of a DVD for whatever advice you can help with that I can pass along to my seamstress. If that's not possible, just let me know and I can stop bothering you.

You've already been really, really helpful! I can't thank you enough!!!!


Is it the seamstress who wants to do it with one point? You didn't say where that idea came from.

It's often hard to communicate with a bridal store alteration lady. They are often set in their ways and have policies they or the store are rather strict in following. I have worked in bridal stores where I was very frustrated that the store policies didn't allow me to do what a bride wanted or even give her the type of good service I thought I should give.

There is also the factor of what the alterations lady knows how to do. They are sometimes limited in their experience. It's hard for a bride to get a specific thing done if the seamstress has never done it before and isn't able or have the time to learn how. In this case it's not a good idea to insist in having your way because she just might hurt the gown trying to do as you request.

So, what can you do? You can print out pictures from my site or others to show the lady you are working with now how you want your bustle to look. There are several gowns on my site close to yours. If she doesn't seem to understand or is not willing to try, you can tell her you don't want a bustle and go find a different lady who is independent of store rules and has lots of experience. Chicago is a really big place. I'm sure there are many skilled ladies out there who can do what you are wishing. If you wish, I can post your name and email address on a professional list I belong to and see if someone can take you on.

thank you so much leanna! yes, it was the seamstress who suggested the one point. it was that, or a french bustle that was pinned under (also a one point). that didn't look as good because it didn't show off all the beading.

i think they will do what the bride requests because she was telling me a story about how a bride insisted on something and she did it for her even though she didn't agree that it was the best style. i'll take some pictures in and i'll ask if she can do something with multi points and if not, i'll see if i need to look for someone else in chicago.

which pictures would you recommend from your website? i really liked the bustles i saw under the "more french bustles" link. do you think those would look okay?

thank you once again! hopefully my alterations lady will know what to do! :)

many, many thanks!

It's not very clear in the pictures you sent where the decoration is on the back so I can't say exactly which bustle is best. I normally don't make such a judgement call any way. I give brides options and tell them the benefits and drawbacks of each and they decide. Creating bustles is a lot of experimenting with the train fabric to see how it drapes and folds. It's such a hands-on thing that I just can't do it through email. A seamstress who knows what she is doing can control the folding of the fabric to have the bustle hang anyway that is needed to display the decoration the most attractive way. I have often "played" with a gown for days before I find just the right combination of placements for the riggings to make the prettiest bustle.

Sounds like you have a great possibility of the lady you are working with now being able to do what you are wanting.

thank you so much for all your help! your advice and your website have been so incredibly helpful. i was nearly in tears the other night because i was so unhappy with my current bustle and i'm so glad i was able to talk to you.

i can't thank you enough!

all the best,

added November 2007

i just got my dress today, and im not sure if im 100% happy with how she did the bustle.. i think it is french style she has 5 hooks and to bustle i tie with a ribbon... when the dress is down i can see the loop through the dress and one part is buched up a litle from where she has sewn them on. am i supose to beable to see this when it is down?

thanks for your time, i have attached a pick of my dress, its made of chiffon on the top layer.

I'm sorry but the picture you sent is no help to me. It's obviously from a website. I can not answer your question without seeing your dress and what you are describing.

Most brides worry way too much about folks seeing the bustle riggings. Guest at your wedding are not looking at your backside that closely. They are looking for your smiling face. So, whatever the situation is, I would probably tell you to not worry about it.

added November 2007

I found your site and it has a lot of good information and pictures on it. I wondered if you could give me an opinion. I read most of your site and feel that I have a good grasp of the basics of creating a bustle. I am making my own wedding gown for a mid December wedding. I will include a link to the pattern from the manufacturer's site.

If you scroll down you can see on the design drawings that there is very little in the way of design features on the back of this dress. I can see how one could bustle this in virtually any of the main styles shown on your page, but I wondered which you might think would be best?

The train is not very long, according to the pattern pieces, the center back of the skirt is only about 19 inches longer than the center front. There is just the skirt and the lining which are hemmed as one, no built in crinoline or extra layers. I will be wearing a separate petticoat. The sheer overskirt is held in place with a thread chain along the center back seam near the bottom.

This is my second marriage, and since it seems to be popular of late, I decided to add some color to this dress. The sheer overskirt and sleeves are made of a light blue sheer crepon. I had some issues deciding whether to shorten the skirt in the cutting stage or not, and was afraid of cutting it too short, then decided I should have after the fact, so I did shorten the overskirt some, and will have to cut some off the front of the main skirt when I hem it. So the difference in length between the skirt and the overskirt will be longer in the back than in the front. Add the color difference, and I wondered if this would look odd when it is bustled, because if the skirt is high enough, the overskirt would hang shorter in back than in front. I don't think the difference will look odd at all with the skirt down.

There is lace trim at the waist that could hide a hook for a ballroom bustle, and the thread loops on the outside would catch both skirts. Or it would work with the French underbustle style. Could I catch the sheer layer with a short thread chain at the anchor point for this or would it need to be stitched together more securely? Is the train short enough for a pick up style to work?

You mentioned on your site something about a reinforcing technique you have. How do you do that?

I realize that it is difficult to make suggestions without seeing the dress in person, that it will be my decision in the end, and that it will take some playing around with the skirt to find what I like, but I just thought you might have a suggestion so I could try the best possibilities first.

Thanks so much for your site, and any help you might be able to give me.


This style of train really does not have enough length for a French bustle to look good - in my opinion. What you need to do is make the gown and then play with the various bustle styles until you find one you like. The is no such thing as what is "Best". What is best is how you want your butt to look.

My DVD has step-by-step instruction on how to do the main styles of bustles. Here's a direct link:

added November 2007

Hi I have purchased the same Alfred Angelo Red dress that you show on the bustle site. I love the way you bustled that dress, but i'm having troubles figuring out how you did it. The photo I'm refering to is Same Difference02 picture. If You could please tell me how you did that dress, I would really appreciate it?

Thanks, Bridgett

I get emails every day asking me how to do one or more bustles pictured on my site. I'm really sorry but I just can not write step-by-step instructions for this through email. To try to help Brides figure out how to do bustling I made a DVD. The information about it is at:

added November 2007


My sister has been doing all my alterations on my wedding dress. She is very nervous about doing my bustle. I am not to specific about how my bustle is. I tend to lean towards either the pickup or the ballroom. My dress does not have any buttons on the back but I was hoping that hooks might not be to noticeable. Here is a link to a dress almost exactly like mine. Do you have any suggestions on the easiest way to do a bustle? Thank you!


I can't see the back of the dress in this picture. There are many pictures of bustles on my site that you can look at and find a dress that closely matches yours. Http://WWW.Leanna.Com/Bridal/Bustles.htm

added November 2007

I found your website while trying to find information on bustling my wedding dress, it's amazing and makes me wish I could take a trip to America and get you to bustle my dress!

I wanted to ask you about bustling my wedding dress. I'm going to be taking it to an alterations place in late November/early December, and I really want to be able to talk intelligently about the bustle. The first place I went to wanted to do a one-point bustle (like your pick-up bustle) on my dress, but I don't think that will be enough to hold it. The train is chapel length, satin and decorated. I'm more concerned about having something secure, than with preserving the decoration though.

I wondered if you could give me any advise as to what would look best and be most secure, so that when I go in for my fitting, I can at least have some idea of what I'm talking about.

Thank you, Rebecca

No, you have way too much train for a one point bustle. A chapel length train usually needs 2 to 4 points.
I would try a bustle like this one first:
Than I would try this:
And see which one you liked better.

The French bustle is usually the most secure because it is made with ribbons that you tie underneath the train. You can tie them in nice knots so they are very secure.

added November 2007

I am getting married in a few days and I don't know how to do my bustle and the woman who did the alterations is not available. I believe I have a pick up bustle. There are 2 buttons on the back of the dress and a bunch of loops. Below is similar to where they buttons (B) and loops (L) fall on the dress:


I am assuming I pull 3 of the loops onto 1 button, but not sure if it should go outside loops first and then middle loop, or the other way around. Also, not sure if there is an extra loop by accident or if the 4th loop for the top button should be used. Any help you could give me would be so helpful and greatly appreciated. I am unable to find this information anywhere.

Thanks, Carrie

Since I did not design the bustle, I can not for certain tell you exactly how to rig it. Only the person who did the designing can do that. I make sure - (and I think all seamstresses should too) - that the bride and at least one other person understands how to rig the bustle before I let a gown go out of my studio. At the final fitting I ask the bride to bring someone - Mom, bride's maid, sister- and I teach them how to rig the bustle. I put the gown on a dressform so I can show the bride and her someone how it works. Then the bride puts the gown on and I have the someone do the bustle while I am there so she can ask me questions about anything she doesn't understand.

If you can not get the information from your designer, about all you can do is put the gown on and try different ways of matching up the loops with the buttons. What you have described makes a lot of sense to me. Try it and if you like how it looks go with it. If you don't like how it looks, try a different way until you do like how it looks. If the loops and buttons are just not making an good looking bustle in all the configurations you can think up, you may have to rig something yourself. Without seeing the gown on you, it's really hard for me to give you ideas of what to try.

Also, without seeing the gown it's hard to tell, but I would guess that the extra 4th loop that you are questioning is a hanger loop and not part of the bustle.

added October 2007

Good morning....

This would be a "mother of the bride" trying to make sure the bustle is correct for my daughter's beautiful wedding gown. Symphony Royale by Maggie Sottero has overlays of fabric that expose beadwork and detail pleating.... The seamstress at the store had a difficult time trying to bustle the gown...Yet I have to safety pin the length of the gown after it is bustled!

Attached is a photo of the gown....HELP ASAP!!!!
Many Thanks

The pictures didn't come through.

Some gowns are more challenging than others and designing a pretty bustle sometimes feels impossible. It's ok to pin things if that gives you the look you want.

added August 2007


I have read through many of your examples and find the detailed descriptions very helpful. A friend is getting married next month. Due to many financial set-backs, she is unable to afford the alterations needed for her gown to fit perfectly. I am not a novice sewer, but with ggod direction, feel confident that I can perform the minor alterations to the bust line and bustle the gown.

My questuin concerns the bustle. The dress and the linng are the same length.
The underbustle looks best because the gown has a few pleats/folds placed along the center back seam. I am puzzled as to what needs to be done with the lining so that it does not show when the busle is created and reduce the chance for any bulk. If you have any suggestions, I will appreciate your assistance. I plan to order the DVD in a few weeks.

Regards, Camille
Somerset, NJ

All layers of the skirt have to be sewn into the pick-up points. It does sometimes get bulky depending on the type of fabric and the width of the train. French Bustles are fluffier by nature. The fabric can be folded or patted down instead of left in a fluffy jumble, but it is still there and does create more mass when it is added to the back of the skirt.

added June 2007

I wanted to let you know that your page about bustling wedding dresses is wonderful! I did a lot of Google searching to find out what my bustle options are, and yours is by far the BEST!

The pictures and descriptions are really, really good. And I especially like how the pictures show the front of the dress reflected in the mirror. It helps to see what the dress looks like when the bustle is up.

I will be a September bride and almost have my dress. I have "The Great Bustle Debate" page book-marked and printed in color so I can reference it once my dress arrives.

Thank you so much for putting that page together. It is excellent!

Sincerest regards,
Haymarket, VA

Thank you for the kind words. I wish you all the best for your big day.

Hello again!
I was wondering if you could do a 'bustle consultation' by email? <smile>

Judging from your website, I'm sure you're very busy. I was just so impressed with your article & pictures on the different bustles that I figured asking for your help was worth a try.

If it's something you wouldn't mind doing, I can send you pictures of the dress so you know what the back looks like. I'm sure you'd be able to recommend the best bustle right away!

Please let me know if you could help, and if there's a consultation fee as well.

Thank you very much.

Sincerest regards,

From a picture, I can give you an opinion but without seeing the gown on the bride it's hard to do much more. I can not give you step-by-step directions of how to make a bustle. Gowns are very different and there are so many factors that need to be considered. For brides that come to me I give examples of several bustles that can be made depending on the width, length and fabric the train is made of. My opinion of what the "best" bustle is not always what ends up on my bride's gowns. It has a lot to do with how the bride wants her butt to look like. I sometimes do a few bustles before a bride can settle on a look she likes.

For bustles and any other alteration I do on a gown it is always the bride's choice of what gets done. I never dictate to a bride what she has to do. I never say what is "best" for that is simply my opinion. There are no rules here. What a brides wants is what is best. I do my best to give her options that will work for her situation and let her decide what is best.


I hope you had a great weekend!

This is the dress: You can click the pictures to enlarge them. The one of the back (full length) will show you the design... and why I'm stumped as to how to bustle it!

I've also attached 3 pictures of me in the dress. I hope all the pictures give you a good idea of what bustle style might work best.

I had to laugh when you said that it has a lot to do with how the bride wants her butt to look! Jon's one criteria before I went dress shopping was that I couldn't buy a dress that made my butt look big when I walk down the aisle!

Anyway, thanks again. I look forward to your suggestions... at your convenience, of course!

Have a great week. Take Care!

Best regards,

You can easily do either the Ballroom or the French style and they would booth look great. Though I love the dramatic style of a French bustle, you (or Jon) might not. It is fluffier and many brides think it makes their butt look big. I tell them that wedding guests know it's the fabric that is fluffy and not your butt.

added May2007

Thanks so much for your wonderful information regarding bustles. As a mother of a prospective bride, I am helping my very busy daughter ( studying for the Florida bar exam) to wade through the enormous amount of information necessary to purchase a wedding gown ! Do I assume, that after a dress is purchased, that a bustle is then created by a seamstress? If so, are there specialty seamstresses to create bustles? I wish that we lived in your area !! any information would be greatly appreciated !

Sarasota, Florida

Unfortunately, many seamstresses do not know how to create pretty bustles. I have attended many weddings where the bride's butt looked simply awful. I have found that bustling is more of a Northern thing, so you being in Florida will have a difficult time finding a seamstress who knows how to do it well.

Some gowns come with bustle hooks, but they are usually not in the right places for the height of the bride buying the gown. If the gown has to be hemmed at all it's likely the bustle hooks that might be there will be wrongly placed.

I don't mean to give you a sale's pitch, but my DVD is made to focus on the novice seamstress. Anyone having simple sewing skills should be able to create a bustle by using the techniques I portray in the DVD. I don't recommend that you get one to give it to the seamstress that is altering your daughter's gown, but I do encourage Moms wishing to make the bustle for their daughters to give it a try. It's not extremely hard.

added July 2006

Hi Leanna!

Yesterday my daughter and I went shopping to get an idea of what she liked and looked good in for wedding gowns. Her Aussie boyfriend will be here in December to propose, and they've penciled in 6/29/07 to get married.

The front runner dress right now is the tufted ballroom dress, which you just happen to have on your website! She tried it on at David's Bridal, and we also found it online for $350 less.

At any rate - it never occurred to me that dresses don't come with the bustles already on them! Kara noticed the sign at David's of how much was charged for every set of 3....... which was my first clue there might be something amiss. So - is this a usual normal thing for dresses to not come with bustles?

If so, guess I'll be faced with paying someone to do that -- but since I've sewn all my life (yes, I was a 4-H sewing champ!), I'm just thinking it can't be THAT hard to do it myself. Thus, more questions on how you did that tufted dress.

You said that you and the bride decided to make each tuft a bustle point and anchor them just below the tuft above them, which makes total sense for that dress - as the tufts and jeweled appliques are so pretty. Do you remember how many bustle points you eventually wound up with? And did you start from the bottom row of tufts and work up, or top row and work down? And how many from left to right?

What kind of thread did you use for the thread eyes? And are white hooks easy to find out there, say at Joann's? Are they regular metal hooks? I like to streamline my time when looking for the right materials.

I certainly appreciate any help you can give me. Even tho we're not ready to order the dress until there's a ring on Kara's finger, I have a feeling that's the one we'll wind up with. And if I can save considerable money by doing the bustle myself, which I'm fully capable of doing, that's what I'd like to do!!

Thanks - and have a great day!

Though some gowns come with some kind of bustle rigging, it's usually not useful or pretty. There is no way for the manufacturer to know the height of the bride who will buy their gown, or what shoes she will decide to wear. I have come across a few gowns with bustle riggings, but they have all still needed a bustle designed for their height and shoe selection.

My DVD has all the details of instructions you need for making the points. It does not have the Tufted design, but the pictures on the site show where to put the points. Click on each picture to get an enlargement.

added July 2006

Hi there

I found your website and think it's great! I have a question about pickup bustles though.

Please find attached a picture of my dress - can you tell me if a pick up bustle will hold this up? My dressmaker isn't sure about doing bustles but I just want to be able to lift my train up for when I'm dancing. Is it just a case of hook and eye or would I need a ribbon loop as well and if so, does this come from underneath the train?

Sorry for all the questions but I'm desperate!

Thanks, Nichola

Your train is much too wide and long for a pick-up type bustle. You might need at 4 points to form a bustle. The Alterationist you select should be able to answer your questions.


added May 2006

My wedding is on Saturday and the girl that was going to help me with my bustle just told me that she is not going to be able to attend the wedding! I have not seen how to do the bustle and need your help.

I have an 8-point bustle and am hoping that you can help me out. If you can, please reply with step-by-step instructions or photos (if you have them available). Please Help!

You need to be asking the person who did the work to make the bustle how to rig it. I have no way to know how she placed the 8 points. There are usually points on the train that correspond to a set of points somewhere near the waist of the dress that you have to match up. These line-up in some order. For you it might be 8 to 8, but I don't always do it that way and the person that designed your bustle could have done it any number of ways. You need to talk to her to get the instructions of how to rig the bustle.

You could also have the girl who was going to do this teach some one else, who can be there, how to do it. Or you can also look at my bustle page to see if any of my pictures look like your bustle and fix the bustle like the picture.

added March 2006

Hi, would you mind telling me, is it normal to have a ballroom bustle with a bit of the train still on the floor? i like the ones in your pics where it is completely up but my seamstress says it will have to drag a bit. It is only a chapel length train so is she just saying that so it won't have to be perfectly even? Should I tell her I want it to look like your pictures? Thanks!!!!

She may not know how to do it the way I do it. I have yet to find a gown I couldn't get off the floor, but I have been doing this for a very long time. She may not have the experience.

Do any of the dresses on my site look like yours? Maybe you could print out the pictures to show her. She may get upset at you telling her how to do her job, but this is your gown and you have the last say in how it should look. - In my humble opinion anyway.

added January 2006

Do you think it's possible to bustle a kimono? And if so, what would be your recommendation?
Thank you

I did a little research into kimonos last year for a event I was going to. The ceremonial kimono with the train is worn only for the ceremony. It is not worn for the reception.

Kimonos are usually made of very expensive, hand embroidered silk and I would not even think of sewing hooks and eyes on to such a thing. If you really wish to bustle it, I would suggest pulling the excess length up and tucking it into the obi belt.

added June 2005

Hi Leanna: I am the mil of our future BRIDE... I have a short question... about bustling------- when she goes to be fitted for bustling and the pins are left in a wedding gown that is 100% polyester can the pins left in for 3-4 days till she decides on what type bustle she wants....and left in plastic carry bag will the pins affect the fabric and make a larger hole ??? I don't think it will be handled again till she goes in for second fitting?? Hopefully NOT... Many thanks for your reply... An answer to this question will certainly help with the decision of when and how long to make a decision......the sooner the better no doubt......all wedding fabric is delicate.........thanks soooo much


I leave pins in gowns all the time for many days and I have never had a problem that could not be steamed out - even fine silks. She can take all the time she needs to decide what she wants. For some brides the bustle is a very difficult decision because they are self conscious of how their butt is going to look. Assure her that the guests will not be looking at her butt/bustle that much - they would rather look at her happy face

added December 2003

I purchased a used bridal gown and I noticed there is a small loop on the underside of the gown but I'm not sure what or where I am supposed to hook it or is this the loop to carry the train by hand. Please help...


If the loop is on the train it's for hanging on the hanger. If you want a loop for your wrist, you can make a small hole in the seam near the loop by taking out a couple stitches. Thread the loop up this hole at your reception and then you can wear it on your wrist without the underside of your train hanging out.

About how much would it cost to get a bustle added to the gown and would a bridal salon do alterations even if I did not purchase the dress there. I do not want the headache of carrying my train around for the entire evening.


Bridal Salons normally only work on their own gowns. You can look in your yellow pages phone book to find an independent sewist. Try looking under "Alteration - Clothing".

I charge $10 per bustle point. Most gowns lately have been needing 4 points. It depends on the length and fullness of your train.

added August 2003

hi my name is sandy. i just wanted to know if putting a bustle on a wedding dress is as easy as putting a hook and eye to the back of the dress ? my best friend is getting married on the 24th of this month and she asked me to help her with the bustle . the bridal shop where she bought the dress already charged her extra for alterations and they wanted to charge her $25 for putting a bustle on the back of her dress. her dress style is a line. please give me some advise on how to make it a nice and simple bustle. I'd really appreciate it !
from Sandy

It's hard to describe without having the dress because there are many variables depending on the waistline configuration and the size and shape of the train. What you do basically is have the bride put the dress on with the shoes she is going to wear. Hold up the train in the back to her waist and pin it at intervals that make the bottom level with the floor. Where each pin is located you sew a hook at the waist and an eye on the train. For a French bustle you sew ribbons at these pin points to the underside of the dress. You tie the ribbons to set the bustle.

When the bustle is hooked up, tuck any folds of fabric towards the center seem to make the bustle lie as smoothly as possible over the butt.

Stores usually charge extra for alterations and $25 is not a bad price for a bustle.

added June 2003

Hello. I went in for my second fitting yesterday and the seamstress did not like the way the bustle looked and decided to change it. I don't know what kind of bustle it was originally but she is changing it to a French bustle. I am nervous about this, I am afraid something might go wrong and she might wreck the dress or something. Should I be nervous or am I just being a little neurotic??
Thank you. Lisa.

You can't be neurotic because you have the right to question everything. No, she isn't going to ruin the dress. And really anything that you do with bustling is easily reversible or changeable nothing is cut or moved on the dress itself. She is going to set the bustle so it hooks underneath instead of over the back of the gown. I actually have learned to love this style. And it's become more popular lately.

I am not happy that she made this decision though. She should have given you the bustling options and let you choose the style you liked. When you go for your next fitting look at what she has set up. I'm sure you will like it, but if you don't you have the right to have it done the way it was. (In my opinion)

I'm working on a page to illustrate bustle styles. It's a work-in-progress as I get gowns to photograph to illustrate what I am describing. The style of bustle I put on a gown depends a lot on the size of the train and the decoration on it, the fabric the dress is made of and what the bride likes. I had hoped to make this page to help brides understand what styles look good for what reasons so they can decide what they want. Here's a direct link: Bustles

Don't worry. I can't think of anything that could go wrong by you letting the alteration lady change the bustle. And you probably will like it better too.


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