Which Bustle is Best for My Dress?


I get asked this many times a week. If you have read much on these pages you already know that my most frequent answer to this is, "the bustle the bride likes best". I do have opinions as to what buslte I would like, but it doesn't always match what the bride likes. She will always win. I never dictate to a bride what she has to do for her dress. But, since the question keeps getting asked, I'll place answers here that don't fit into any of the other pages, mostly because I like to give brides choises.

added July 2010

Hi Leanna,
    I just ordered my wedding gown that has a chiffon train and it just came to my mind that I forgot to ask the lady at the bridal salon where/how the bustle would be placed. I attached a link to a photo and details of my dress so you can see it and perhaps give me an idea of where/how the bustle should be placed. Thanks Leanna, I would really appreciate any advice or info you can provide me.
Sincerely, Anna

Hi Anna,
There are several ways to bustle any gown. Since the hips area is slim, the bustle will sit low, often near the knee area. I can't say where yours will end up being. Other than that you have several options. These can depend on many factors that the seamstress has to deal with in designing the bustle for each gown. Once you decide who will be doing your alterations you need to discuss your options with her to create a bustle that works for the fabric of your gown's train and the look you are wanting for your backside. She may have an idea you like better than any of mine. 

added July 2010

Dear Leanna:

Your website is wonderful!  My mother sews and has offered to bustle and make any needed alteration to my dress since they will be minimal.  She will probably be ordering your CD.  I was hoping to get your advice on what would be the best bustle for my dress.  My dress is Pronovias Ideal (pictures are below). The silhouette is in between an A-line and a mermaid - fitted but only to the hips and the skirt is fairly full at the bottom.  It has an over layer of lace (on tulle/net) with mainly features a large panel of Spanish lace down the front and again down the back (very light), a middle layer of organza (very light), and a bottom layer of silky satin (very light).  The train is fairly long - semi-cathedral, but due to the light materials the dress remains very light and flowy.  They suggested a French bustle at the bridal salon since that is pretty common, but I don't think that that style would show off the beautiful back panel of Spanish lace.  So, I was thinking that a pick up or over bustle would look the best.  Please let me know what you think.

Thanks! Teri


Hi Teri,

Your train is too Full for a Pick-up Bustle. It will need more than one pick-up point.  A French Bustle will have to be set low because of the fitted hip area. I can't say if you'd like it or not. Low French Bustles are either loved or hated. It can be very nice done on a lace train. You may just like it a lot. A Ballroom Bustle will need to be anchored on the butt, again because of the snug hips. You may not like this, but it can also look good if done carefully

Thanks Leanna!  I will pass this on to my Mom. 
We were thinking maybe something similar to your second example on the "more ballroom bustles" page.  It looks to be set right about where my drop waist ends and looks like it doesn't add too much fullness.
We will also experiment with a low french bustle - so far I am on the "hate" side, but maybe I'll be converted.

added April 2010

I love this dress, but can't figure out the best bustle. I'm having to do it myself because we cannot afford to pay for alterations (I got the dress as a gift from another bride who wore it 2 years ago). There is so much detail on the bottom and I don't want to cover any of that up, plus there is a Chiffon overlay, Im thinking a french overlay would be okay, but I love the idea of a ballgown/over bustle like the first picture on this page: The problems I see with this is that 1) I don't have the silk buttons on the dress, and 2) there is not a waist seam like with most of the ballgown bustles, and it could cover some of the detail on the lower back...
What do you suggest for a first time bustle for me? My wedding is July 31st...
Thank you so much

The buttons on the dress in that picture were added. They are simple satin covered buttons that can be purchased at most fabric stores if you really want to add them. The seam on your gown is just fine for this bustle application, but yes, it will cover some of the detailing that is directly below the waist area. All bustles cover something. It's up to you what you mind covering the least.
An option that will not cover the area directly below the waist is a French Bustle. A French Bustle on your gown will look much like this bustle:

Thank you for your response. I've had such horrible problems throughout my wedding planning and it really means a lot that you'd take time to get back to me and so quickly. My next question is when dealing with multiple layers what's the best way to complete the bustle? Do I have to bustle each layer individually or can I tack the two layers and pull them all under for a French Bustle?
I really appreciate your help, Where are you located?

Most times the layers get bustled together by sewing the loops through all layers. But when the lining is tighter than the outer layers, it will have to be bustled separately. From the picture I'm pretty sure your gown can be done with the layers together.
My DVD does have step-by-step instructions on how to do all this. It would take me many pages of writing to teach you how. If you are pretty experienced with sewing the instructions on the site will be enough to guide you on how to get the details done.
I am in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.

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

Hi Leanna,
                 I am doing my first wedding gown alteration for a friend and am nervous about it simply because of it being a wedding gown. She is getting married on July 24, 2010 I'm pretty sure I can do the job it's just getting over the anxiety of what if something goes wrong with it. I have made dresses from scratch and still had this anxiety and they came out beautiful. however the dress I am going to be working on is from it is dress # V8756 it has the split back and I'm curious if there is a certian way this is to be bustled or if the ballroom busle would be good for there a best way on this style also it needs hemmed what is your recommendation on this? I think I had mine sweeping the floor but I'm seeing others are saying 3/4" off the floor please help. I haven't seen the dress in person yet but if I don't think I can do it once I see the gown I will definitly send her to a professional as I don't want to ruin her gown or my reputation for smaller alterations.



Hi Cassie,
Getting over the big-important-dress anxiety is not easy. It may never go away, but that's a good thing. These dresses are precious to each bride and we need to appreciate that while we find a way to do our job.
The best way to do any bustle is the way the bride wants. When working with a bride I show her several ways to bustle her gown until I find a way she likes. For your gown I would try the bustle here:
There is a long discussion about hemming gowns on my site here:
I recommend that hems be done 1" above the floor but many brides want something different. Many think the hems have to touch the floor. There is no real rule, but after explaining why I recommend 1", I do what the bride decides she wants.

added January 2010


I found your site after a difficult search for information on wedding dress bustles.  I purchased an asymmetrical, drop-waist dress with a layered skirt.  I can't picture how to bustle the train?  I haven't been able to find any examples for a similar dress.  Any suggestions/guidance/information would be GREATLY appreciated :-)  It's dress style #2118 from Alfred Angelo.

Thanks you so much for your time!!!


Hi Tiffany,
It depends a lot on how the layers are constructed under the train but I think that a combination of this dress here:
And this Mom's dress here:
Would work well.



Thank you so much!  That really does help me visualize the bustle!

That was really kind of you to take time to answer my question. Thank you very much!


added January 2010

Dear Leanna,

My mother and I just watched your bustle dvd, and we loved it. 

I've attached a couple photos of my wedding dress.

We would like to know how you think it would be best to (1) shorten this dress a few inches, (2) which type of bustle you think would look best on this dress.

My mom will be doing the sewing herself.  She's had a lot of experience altering my clothes.

Thanks so much.  Again, great dvd!  I'll be sure to recommend it to my friends who've recently gotten engaged too.

Thanks again,

Hi Jessica,
You can hem this several ways but the easiest is to gather up more fabric at each tuft in the front to make them deeper and thus shortening the hem in the front.
There are pictures of several bustled gowns on my site that are like yours here: 
I usually do this type of gown French unless the bride wants something else. There is also a tufted bustle here:


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