The Beauty of Bustling

By Donna Wilson

When you take your dress to a seamstress for alterations, they will probably ask if you want it bustled. If your dress has a long train, and you want to move freely and dance the night away at your reception, then the answer is YES! A bustle gathers up extra fabric or a train with ribbons or buttons to keep the hem from dragging on the floor.

Bustling can be done several different ways, depending on the style of the dress. Some gowns may be bustled or pulled up on top of the dress or alternately, the train or hem could be pulled underneath the gown. Many times I use ribbons in the lining and in the dress itself – the gown is actually tied up and has the effect you see in Western movies where the ladies have their dresses bustled in the back. There are many different styles of bustles to choose from – American, French, Italian, Waterfall, etc. The bustle placement depends on the style of the dress – it’s a very vintage, classic look. I recently bustled a lace dress and used satin buttons with invisible loops – it was lovely.

I have a lot of brides who come to me for bustling – and it is a beautiful addition to your dress, but a lot of work for the seamstress because wedding gowns may have as many as seven layers. When bustled, the back of the dress won’t have the exact same hemline as the front, it will be slightly longer. You will want to bring your maid of honor or a bridesmaid to the final fitting so she can learn how to bustle your dress – I use color-coded ribbons to make it easy to understand.

Make sure your seamstress is familiar with bustling – some fabrics, such as French tulle, is so fine and requires a skillful touch. The price depends on the style of bustle and the fabric, but it will add to the cost of your dress and alterations. Finally, remember that bustling is a process that can’t be rushed, so make sure you allow at least two months for your seamstress to complete the job.

About this writer

  • Donna Wilson

    Donna Wilson

    With over 25 years of experience, seamstress and designer, Donna Wilson, is the owner of Just “Sew” U Know in Georgetown. Donna specializes in alterations and custom fashion design. She also offers one-of-a-kind jewelry to accent any outfit. Contact her by calling 843-202-9443.

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