Bustle Riggings


Riggings are the hardware that is added to the train to lift the fabric of the train up so that it is off the floor. Most gowns do not come with riggings. You need to add them by creatively designing where the bustle points will be. It is an art and a science. Function is important, but so is esthetics.

Brides do not like riggings showing in any way. They feel that odd items on their train will look strange during the ceremony. Their feelings are valid but not necessary. Brides know they are there and sometimes worry that their guests will see them too, but riggings are not obvious enough to be noticed during the ceremony. If someone does happen to notice then, they know that they are for the bustle and think nothing of them.

The most asked question I get about this is concerning the hanger loop that most gowns do have. This is a loop of ribbon sewn to the underside of the train. It is used to hold the train up while the gown is on the hanger, not the bride.

added April 2011

Hi Leanna,
Your web site is a wonderful and I purchased your video years ago and refer back to it frequently... I am a seamstress and have utilized  mahy bustle techniques. I have learned that sometimes the loop and hook separate, particularly when the bride sits down. Can you suggest any tricks to prevent this?

Thank you' Betsy


Hi Betsy,
Make sure the hooks you use have locking ability. These hooks have a small loop of wire inside the hooking area that locks the loop into the hook. I have never had a bride report a loop falling out of a locking hook. 

added April 2010

Hello Leanna,
Thank you for your Beautiful Bustles DVD and your website, both which provide quite helpful information.  I am working on a wedding dress and the bride and I are considering a french bustle.  I like your technique of looping one of the anchor ribbons through all the point loops.  But what I didn't see on your site or in the DVD was how you determine the length of the ribbons? 

I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate any advice you can give.
Thanks again for a wonderful DVD!

Sincerely, Karen

Hi Karen,
I generally make the ribbons about 18" long. That has been a good length to give enough for tieing comfortably. You can do yours longer or shorter as you wish. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that they not be so long as to hang past the train's hem when the bustle is down.

added July 2010

The dress I am working on has a lined satin underskirt with a train. I have figured out how to bustle it from your video. The over skirt has embroidery on it with a tulle piece set in the middle with sequens and beads sewn on it. The tulle is a longer train than the rest of the dress. Will I have to bustle it seperate? Could I use hooks and eyes Possiply?  Your video is great. Thanks for your help. Marilyn

Hi Marilyn,
I've been trying to visualize the situation but am having trouble. I often have to bustle layers separately depending on the situation. Aside from the rules I taught in the video, you do what the gown needs. Tulle is difficult because you can't hide anything you use for riggings and the holes make it hard to make the riggings secure. Fortunately, you have embroidery, sequins and beading that might help you find ways to hide the riggings. Don't be afraid to be creative. If you think the hooks and eyes will be acceptable to your bride it might be a good option for you.
Good Luck,

added February 2010

I would like to know what thread you use & what you use for the loop.


Hi Robin,
I use different thread types for different situations. The type of fabric and the number of layers are big factors. I sometimes used button hole twist thread for sturdier fabrics. This can be found at most fabric stores. I also have some specialty threads I get from a supply wholesaler in bulk. 1-800-543-0355
They are good at matching the thread you need to what you are doing. 
I make the loops with the thread. Detailed instructions on how to do this are on my DVD.

added January 2010

Hi Leanna,
    I'm a cleaner's apprentice in a dry cleaning plant and took it upon myself to look after the cleaning and preservation of my daughter's wedding gown.  When she asked to have the gown preserved, I was relieved, because there were several tears in the train's chiffon from getting caught on stillettoes and miscellaneous flora while pictures were taken in parks and other venues.  I lost a few pick-ups in the cleaning and a couple of buttons and hooks, which are fairly simple "fixes".  The problem now lies in the fact that she doesn't want the chest sealed, because she'd like to be able to take the gown out on milestone anniversaries and put it on.  So I'm hooped and now have some repairs to do.  I'm actually missing some of the "Rigging".  There's still a few threads where the buttons were sewn, but the loops are missing entirely and there are a couple of spots near the hem where the chiffon overskirt was tethered to the satin mainskirt, and the braid/thread is broken.  The cord used doesn't look like anything I've seen at the local fabric store and I'm wondering if this is a special order, or do you use top-stitching thread and braid/twist it?  After browsing through your site, I'm fairly confident in any advice you can give me regarding these bustle repairs.
Kindest regards

Fay W.


Hi Fay,
I can't tell you how this bustle was made because I did not make it. My methods are not use by everyone. That would be cool, but unfortunately, bustling is not a uniform art. The supplies I use are not the same as the person who did the bustle on your daughter's gown so I don't have the answers to your questions. Can you go to the person who designed the original bustle and either ask her what she used or get her to do the repairs?
All the details you are asking about are on my DVD. I do buy my supplies in large quantities that would not be economical for you to purchase. But you really don't have to do your repairs with my method or the person who did the original bustle. You can use whatever thread is available to you and recreate the riggings. I like your idea of twisting topstitching or button hole thread. It's not what I do but it should work nicely. You sound like you have a good understanding of the functioning of the riggings. And repairs are not always exactly as the original anyway.
Hope this helps,

added November 2009

I am  from Newcastle in NSW Australia  and so pleased to have found your site. I have spent several hours looking through all your techniques and suggestions and now feel that I understand the types of bustles and how to attempt them.
My problem now is with the type of fabric in my daughters dress.  It is a Calabro design with a close fitting  to mid thigh assymetric satin draped overskirt and several layers of plain and accordion pleated chiffon underskirt which are puffed out by stiff frilled tulle.  It looks pretty spectacular but will really need to be bustled for the reception.
The problem is how to lift the pleated chiffon  as it just expands and droops however many points I try to lift it by and I just cant work out a way to do it without it looking like a bunched up muddle.The satin overskirt can hide quite a lot of rigging.
I would so appreciate any advice you may have.
many thanks  Phillipa

Hi Phillipa,
Chiffon often does this, pleated or not. You do have to use more riggings to get the whole train up properly. I don't know what else to tell you without being able to see the dress. 

added July 2009

I am making a bridal gown of crepe with a chiffon over lay.  The train is cathedral length and we are trying to figure out how to bustle this train.  The chiffon and crepe are completely separate on the skirt/train, joined to the rest of the dress at hip level.  There is no lace or adornments at all on the dress to hide any ribbons or stitching.  I don’t want anything to show on the chiffon during the ceremony.  Any ideas?

Thanks, Cheryl

Hi Cheryl,

Instead of sewing riggings on the train, you can use large safety pins to bustle your gown. It will take a bit of doing to get the train up nicely, but it can be done. Traditional bustling using hooks & eyes or buttons and loops means something is going to show. Read what I wrote about riggings showing here:

I have just put up some new pictures on the Ballroom Bustle page that gives a neat way to hide riggings when you are working with Chiffon. Go here:


added December 2008

I am trying to put a bustle on dress with no seam down the back what would recommend I do?

I don't depend on where seams are. When they are there I do try to use them for it makes things more stable, but usually where I need to put the riggings to make the bustle hang right there is usually no seam anyway. 

added July 2008

I'm very new to this concept- I own a formalwear and now Bridal store, but had never done a bustle. I did my first one and it was beautiful, but I want to offer a different kind. But my question is where do I find the different hooks and how do I hide or camouflage the hardware? I have only found silver or black hooks and they aren't very attractive.


Dritz does white hooks. If your local Joann Fabric store does not carry them you can special order them at no extra charge. If you are going to use lot, you can order them in bulk from supply companies like Banasch's
Directions on how to sew them on the gown are in my DVD.

added July 2008

Hi Leanna,
I am getting married in a month and I am concerned about my bustle on the dress. My aunt is helping me with the alterations and doing the bustle for me but I am worried it is not going to look the best. My dress is Allure Style 8301 When I met with my Aunt last weekend she just pinned the train up in five places and was going to add buttons and then loop around them. Because the back of the dress goes into a V, she didn't use that area but is rather going to add buttons about halfway down the back of the dress and then attach them there. I am thinking this is going to look bad because there will just be random buttons. Could you please give me your advice on how you think that will look, or what you think would be better? Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thanks again,

I use buttons more often these days because there is usually little on gowns that I can use to hide hooks. Buttons are very natural looking on the backs of gowns because folks are more used to seeing them. Maybe you have not attended many weddings to see these buttons on the backs of dresses. I can assure you that it is very common and none of your guests will see it as random or silly.

There are several pictures in the Bustle section of my site to show you what these buttons look like when the train is not bustled.

added July 2008

I'm very new to this concept- I own a formalwear and now Bridal store, but had never done a bustle. I did my first one and it was beautiful, but I want to offer a different kind. But my question is where do I find the different hooks and how do I hide or camouflage the hardware? I have only found silver or black hooks and they aren't very attractive.

Dritz does white hooks. If your local Joann Fabric store does not carry them you can special order them at no extra charge.

Directions on how to sew them on the gown are in my DVD.

added April 2009

I found your website when I was researching styles for bustles and just
Loved the ballroom bustle. I just took my dress in for the bustle yesterday
And the lady was able to recreate the look satisfactorily, but she
Immediately said that she would be using hooks and clasps (I think that's
How she worded it) and not buttons and loops. I don't really mind as long as
It looks good, but I asked if they would be visible on the train and she
Responded "Yes, you'll be able to see them." This response concerned me
Because my dress is a very smooth fabric all over, and I really don't want
People to see little hooks/clasps on my dress as I walk down the aisle, nor
Stitch marks for that matter. The ballroom bustle is really the only bustle
That I like, do you have any suggestions about how to not have the
Hooks/clasps so visible or is this something that I'll just have to deal
With? (This may seem completely crazy, but would it have been possible that
She thought I was afraid I wouldn't be able to see the hooks/clasps to
Connect them, and that they really aren't that visible?) Any information you
Have would be greatly appreciated. I'm not a seamstress by any stretch of
The imagination and so I just don't want to read into anything that may not
Be so.
Thanks so much,
P.S. I have included the link to my dress so that you will have a better
Understanding of what I mean.


If you can not see the hooks or eyes in the pictures on my site than no one at your wedding will see the ones on your gown either. Most of the bustles pictured on my site have visible eyes and button loops. If you look carefully at the pictures you will be able to see them. Most of the hooks are hidden totally or at least partially. They are there and they are visible in real life IF someone looks really close and hard for them. No one ever looks that close at the train of a wedding gown as a bride walks down the isle. Sitting in a pew at a Church, no guest can see a tiny white eye on the back of a white gown anyway even if they are looking.

When a gown has no lace or other decoration to hide the bustle riggings, they are going to be visible. Adding some decoration to hide these things only makes them more obvious because people's eyes will then be drawn to the decoration that should not be there on an otherwise unadorned gown.
I tell my brides that they need to not worry about such things because their guests will be focusing on their happy, smiling face, not looking for tiny hooks and eyes on the back of their gown. By the time you get to the reception where the guests get a better view of the gown, the bustle is rigged and the hooks and eyes are then not showing.


added January 2008

I have purchased a wedding dress at boutique (not a wedding boutique) with an extra long delicate lace/pearls,etc train that I do not know how to pin up or hold up. The back has buttons zippering from the top to the bottom and along the way there is a tiny satin hoop, there is also a satin hoop on the underside/inside of the dress. It also came with two individual straps that are about 8 inches long with hooks on them but I don't see where they hook up to on the dress???? I'm very confused about how to use them and I have not a clue where to start to hook it up without damaging the dress. How do I hook it up to hold up the train because it's a little weighted. Also, would you recommending cleaning the dress at home with any home remedies? Thanks, Cammy

I can not recommend that anyone try to clean a gown at home, especially if you have no experience laundering these types of garments. The risk of ruining the gown just because you are trying to save a little money is too great. I have laundered dry clean only items that I own and have had a little success, but I have also ruined many items I would have liked to wear again.

Gowns usually do not come with bustles already designed in them. The manufacturers have no idea what the height of the bride that will eventually buy this dress is, so there is no way to design the bustle. The satin hoop you found on the underside of the dress is for supporting the gown on a hanger. The straps with the hooks on them might be for a bustle but I have no way to find the loops they go in without being able to look at the dress. You have to look very carefully all over the underside of the dress for the loops. I position my loops near the waist. From your description of these straps I can't tell if there is only one hook on each strap, or many hooks on each strap. If there are many hooks, the loops might be in a successive line from where the strap is sewn to the waist creating more of an Australian Bustle look than a French.

added December 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 bunched up a little from where she has sewn them on. am i suppose to be able 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. I can not answer your question without seeing your dress and what you are describing. I need to see a picture of your dress. I am willing to bet that in the picture I would not be able to see the loops you are objecting to. 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 February 2007

I have a quick question--I prefer a traditional bustle and the seamstress said that the hook she is using is white. My dress is natural silk so the color is in-between white and ivory. My dress is very beading or lace so you can't hide the hook. I doubt it will be noticeable but is it possible to find a hook that matches in color?

What we used to do before they sold white hooks is the paint the silver ones with nail polish. You can get it in many colors from white to various ivories.

added October 2006

Hi Leanna,

I did a chiffon/organza overlay tear/repair on an outside gown for a client and it went well. I added decoration with lace that complimented the already existing lace and did a more secured pick-up (2 pts) bustle for her gown. She purchased the gown used and the previous bustle treatment had made the rip in this overlay. It was a thread chain about the size(circumference) of a thumbnail.

Then I did some alterations for a different client who also had a gown with a chiffon/organza overskirt and the same thing happened to hers' from the bustle I had created for her( after a successful evening, tho, not right away!), which was the small 1/4 inch size loops from your 'bustle DVD' that I had purchased. I created 2 loops, about 3.5 inches on either side of the center seam and put hooks up near the end of her zipper. I think the hooks are what tore this particular overlay (MY BAD!!)

My question is this:
Is there a better bustle solution for wedding dresses with chiffon/organza overlays? The under skirt type, possibly? How do you convince a bride to accept that one if they're worried about how their bottoms look?
Should I have used satin buttons? (There were none on this gal's gown. like some dresses that have all the buttons down the zipper for effect.)

I DO appreciate any advice/experience you can lend on this subject.
Thanks again for your time!

I've not had a bride report back any problems with any of my bustles. There may have been but I have not been told. Chiffon is a delicate fabric but it's usually backed with a more stable satin. When the bustle loops or hooks are sewn it goes through the chiffon and the satin and then I back it with a wire stay for more support. The only way it would tear is if someone at the reception was rough with it or if the bride was doing something that would let a part of her hem become accessible to a guest stepping on the gown and that is not under my control. I have not had a situation where I needed to make a bustle point on a chiffon only layer. I have done lace only. In this case I used a small white wire as a backing for the loop. The bride did not report any problems.

When talking to a bride about her bustle I try to give her many options of design. I let her know the pros and cons of each and let her decide what look she wants. Often something has to be sacrificed for the sake of the "look" the bride wants. The French Bustle is the most secure but often brides don't like the look. I try to help them make a wise choice as opposed to just a "look" choice. I find that many Moms object to the exposed buttons more than the brides. I ask them if at all the weddings they have been at in their life have they ever noticed exposed buttons that didn't seem to be part of the design of the gown. They always say no. I assure them that they have been there at some wedding and if you did not notice them or see them as odd, neither will the guests at your wedding.

I don't see how the hooks could have torn the overlay on that one gown. Maybe they hooked it wrong and some of the dress was improperly hanging from your hook but I don't see that as reflecting poorly on your workmanship. Receptions are sometimes chaotic affairs where anything can and does happen. It sounds to me like you have done everything in your creative power to give your customers secure bustle designs. I can't think of anything right now that you could have done differently but if I do I'll be sure to let you know.

added March 2006

Thank you for your website, it's extremely informative!
I have a question about the bustle. I just purchased a used wedding gown which has a bustle already. I noticed the stitching for the bustle appears on the outer skirt, and it's very noticeable (1/2 cm long stitching) for each point. I don't like it, but is this normal/necessary to make sure the skirt picks up and holds, or is it a seamstress flaw? I'm wondering if it can be taken out and redone, however, the fabric may have stretched there and may be better to leave in. Thank you,

This is normal and necessary. The stitches have to go through all layers of fabric to hold up the train. They do show a little if you are looking closely, BUT no one ever sees them standing back from the gown. No one at the wedding is going to have their noses right up on your train looking for bustle stitches. And they will not show in pictures either.

Go look at the pictures here:
In all of these gowns there are bustle stitchings that show on the outer skirts if you look up close enough but you can't see anything in the pictures.

added March 2006

My daughter has a polyester satin bridal gown that we just had bustled up by a seamstress in our neighborhood. The gown has a very long train. She put 3 satin buttons on it and put 3 loops to attach to it. Actually she put 3 thin elastic loops at each of the 3 places because she said it was heavy. The first time I tried to attach the loops, one of them pulled out. The other ones were pulled down about an inch from the weight of the train. I am afraid that they are going to break easily at the reception. Do you have any ideas as to what else we could use that wouldn't break? Also, I am wondering if you think we need more than 3. There is a scallop look where the material dips down between the buttons or is this effect ok?
I would really appreciate your advice. You have a wonderful website.

I make loops using thread and knot them like macrome. Here's a picture to show you how to rig it:

Here's a close-up of another gown. It shows the loop better:

You can also use 1/8" ribbon. Carefully remove the elastic loops and sew on loops of ribbon.

added August 2003

I have heard of using bias tape to bustle a train, how well does this work? I assume it creates a balloon effect, but would it work well with a heavy satin? Is the bias tape strong enough to hold the skirt up? Would it just be in the center of the train, or on the sides also? My dress has a fitted waist and full skirt, but no waist band/seam and no decoration below the bust. What type of bustle would you recommend?


I've heard of sewing a ribbon across the back of the dress and looping the train through it and it is held up that way, but I have not seen it done this way. It's much more secure to use ties or hooks and eyes.


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