By: Nancy, ECC
While gowns with sweeper trains are beautiful and make us feel like queens when we wear them, brides get tired of carrying around the weight. Simple physics tells us the farther away from your center of gravity you carry a weight, i.e., your train, the heavier it becomes. Don’t ditch the dress, bustle it.
The idea of bustling is to gather as much of the train inward towards the bride. Most gowns do not come with a bustle and are added during alterations. There are several styles to choose, and variations among those.
The least amount of bustle is the over bustle. An over bustle uses hooks and eyes. The train can be secured to the base of the bodice at one point or at several; longer trains will require more hooks. This may be the least expensive bustle, but the hooks are exposed which may require bows or appliques to hide them. This is creates a full bustle and so works well for lighter fabrics. A note about the one point over bustle-that’s a lot of weight for one hook and eye to hold. If it tears out, it could be a hitch you would remember. So if you do have a heavier fabric, the three point bustle may be the way to go. The three point over bustle is more secure as it spreads the train out over several hooks. This holds the train a little more open.
Another type of over bustle is the ballroom bustle. It works well if you don’t like the look of a traditional bustle. Great for gowns with longer trains, and very secure, when done properly make the gown look like a normal skirt, like the dress had no train to begin with.
An under bustle works well for gowns without a definite waistline, or ones that have a highly decorated back area. Because it is secured under the gown it will not cover up any designs at the waistline or down the back of the dress. It is also a more secure bustle. Ribbons are used to anchor the back or the dress to the lining or slip. You can use as many anchor point as you want. Because the anchoring ribbons are under the gown, it is very helpful to label the ribbons or color code them. This is the bustle we see most often. For a more bouffant look, loops can be sewn in a diamond shape with a ribbon running through them. Pulling the ribbon and tying it off creates the look.
An under bustle is sometimes called a French bustle and can use from 2-25 points on different levels on the dress. Two levels of anchoring is a Double French bustle and three levels is a Triple French Bustle. Double and Triple French bustles are sometimes called whipped cream bustles because of the fluffy look they give the skirt.
We have not seen the Austrian bustle, but it is gaining popularity. Created by a loop and string system as with a window shade, it is secure and can be adjusted. An interesting look that we look forward to seeing.
Bustling is art. It should be created to best match your dress. It can complement or completely change the look of the dress. But after you bustle, fatigue will not keep you from dancing the night away. But the shoes might! Remember to have your bridesmaids/maid of honor practice the bustle before you wear it for your wedding so that they know how to quickly transform the dress in a matter of minutes (versus keeping your guests waiting 30 minutes while you panic the rest room).
Until next time, happy planning!