Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Bustling the bridal gown

virg | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am trying to start an altering business at home.  I have started to do okay as far as customers are concerened.  I am getting more requests for bustling on the wedding dresses and more work with wedding formals etc.  I only  knew one thing about bustling.  You put three hooks around the waist and the loops on the train after experimenting to get the train even with the gown.  Now I find that it is not that simple.  Brides come in all sizes. And gowns are made so different that this does not work as simple as I thought.  Will I just have to keep experimenting ?  Does the gown necessarily need to be worn when deciding where to put the hooks.  I was asked about under bustling, or french bustling whew, I need some instruction I guess.since I know nothing about french bustling.  I would just work the same under neath as on top I guess. 

 So far everything has worked out with bustling a gown, but I spent so much time on it that the charge was a mystery for me to figure.  Obviously wedding dresses should be charged more to work on since they are so huge in fabric.  Would it be okay to charge by the hour?  Please lead me to some instructions on bustling and charges for this type of work.  I appreciate this site very much.  Thank you Virg


  1. suesew | | #1

    I just worked on a very full dress that had already been bustled with no less than 14 sets of ribbon underneath, I was really glad I didn't have to figure that one out. I often bustle without the bride in the dress, I get it on a dress form or hanging in a doorway. I figure if I get it all to hang even with the front it will work and it does. Under bustles can be done with short ribbons sets that are tied together after the wedding. The bustles either need to be fastened through all layers that need to be lifted or the layers are sometimes (but rarely, I find) done separately, Little ribbon loops and buttons can also be used on the outside. Onced in a great while one or three loops can be placed to hang on the back dress buttons. Then I'm sure to reinforce the those buttons. I charge $10 to bustle plus $5 for each additional set of ties or buttons after the first. (By the way the 14 sets of ribbon ties were done with a variety of pastel colors so one would know which ones to tie together.) Be sure to charge enough. Bridal shops charge huge prices.

  2. mygaley | | #2

    Go to this site http://www.spindiana.com.  They give great advice on bustling dresses.  A tip for you:  I always require that the bride have three fittings to be completed 48 hours before she picks up her dress.  Bridesmaids must have two fittings to be completed 24 hours before they pick up their dresses; they will moan and groan that they can't get here that early, but they do.  Also, I put a card on my door that says No cell phones:  If I am waiting while the bride visits with the groom, my charge is five dollars per minute.  One of my worst bridal moments: at the church the bride was crying and fainting from tension and stress.  When I tried to seat her, a bridesmaid told me the bride couldn't sit there, because she had her shoes and makeup there.  In three minutes the MOB had helped me move the attendants and their gear to another room.  They had to go in their underwear. lol I am telling you this so you will know that you have to stand by your prices and stand your ground in every other way.  Another service I offer: if I knew the bride's mother before the bride was born, I offer to go to the church and press the dress on the day of the wedding.  They always seemed relieved about this.  Galey

    1. annienet | | #3

      I tried the web site you listed but didn't get to the right place.  Could you please repost.

      Have you tried sheer tape?  I am thinking you stitch to the seam allowance and then pull up to bustle and tie at the top.


      1. mygaley | | #5

        Dear Annienet, my life online is strange and wonderful.  I used this address http://www.spnindiana.org/main_tips.htm and got a page saying try this so I did and it took me right to the page.  I have used sheer tape in draperies and if you used the roman shade kind it might give you the effect you want but would be as much trouble as a more individualized method.  Galey

  3. mainestitcher | | #4

    I work in a bridal shop and here are some general guidelines we use.

    Traditional,or overbustle, looks better on a gown with a full skirt gathered into a fitted bodice. Owing to the style of gowns we currently carry, we don't do a lot of these right now.

    Underbustles, or French bustles, are generally used on sheaths or a-line, princess seamed gowns. On very close fitting sheaths, it's useually just a little sweep train, and ends up quite low, behind her knees.

    The bustle is concocted first, then the hem is marked. FWIW, alterations on bridal dresses in the stores I've worked in are marked with big safety pins.

    traditional bustles are usually made with a covered button, I back it with a clear backer button, if the dress is heavy. The loop goes clear through all layers of train, and through a backer button on the underside. There is actually a notion that looks like crocheted thread for the loops, but you can use ribbon, too.

    Our under bustles are made with ribbon. Each ribbon loop (top of bustle) and ribbon tie is stitched to scrap material matching the shade of the dress, which is then stitched to the dress. The shop I worked last summer used little white Hooks and eyes, and I thought that was a PITA, frankly. Occasionally on an underbustle, the top fold of fabric is devided into two layers, the top layer just a tad shorter than the bottom.

    The heavier the train, in general, the more loops you need to distribute the weight.

    The length of the train and the height of the bride will determine how much fabric is taken up in the bustle. If you have a mannequin, you can use it to fine-tune the bustle points.

    Oh, I've never done one, but rumor has it there is also a "ballroom bustle." Thread loops are placed at the hemline, and buttons on the inside of the dress, so when they are fastened, the hem is even with the floor.

    While I was getting ready to leave work the other evening, a bride and her entourage had decided that the underbustle covered too much of the embroidered motif at the back of the dress. Department manager pinned an overbustle instead, and clearly they didn't like that either. When I left, MOB and entourage were fiddling with the safety pins and placement, trying to find something that was pleasing to them.

    In my area of the world, an ordinary bustle is priced at $35-50, with each extra button charged $7 or so. I worked at more of a bridal boutique last summer, and brides were charged $250 or so for a custom bustle. One $250 bustle turned out to be a rather ordinary bustle, but since the bride took up five hours over three fittings the owner stood her ground.

    Edited 6/25/2006 9:41 am ET by mainestitcher

  4. happy2sew | | #6

    there is also another website that explains a method of under bustling.  the woman does alterations at a bridal shop as well as a  personal business ( I think).  [email protected]  However, I like the pictures and tips from the http://www.sprindiana.org website best.

    1. mjorymer | | #7

      Bustling is not as easy as one might think as I'm sure you are figuring out.  Mary Orens of the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers taught a half day class on bustling at last year's conference. She's in the process of writing a book on the subject. 

      I use ribbons for under bustles and mark the end of each ribbon set (upper and lower) with a pastel Sharpie --a different color for each set--so that the person tying the bustle can match the ribbons.  They really appreciate it. 

      I have found that narrow white petersham works better than other ribbons and holds the knot--poly ribbon can easily slip and I think that would be a problem with the sheer tapes--I don't know.

      IF the dress has a sheer overskirt, you need to attach it to the underskirt with either thread chains or a thread chain with snamps before buslting the dress. 

      Marijo Rymer


This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All