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Can you bustle a ball gown?

When shopping for your dream wedding dress, you may come across many different styles and silhouettes. One of the most popular wedding dress styles is the ball gown, which features a fitted bodice and a full, flowing skirt. The downside of this beautiful style is that it often comes with a long train. While this can be stunning during the ceremony, it can be difficult to maneuver during the reception. This is where a bustle becomes a lifesaver! In this blog post, we’ll explore whether it’s possible to bustle a ball gown and how to do it.

What is a Bustle?

A bustle is a method of gathering up the train of a wedding dress to create a neat and elegant look. The bustle can be sewn into the dress during alterations or attached to the dress with buttons, snaps, or ties. The bustle should allow the train of the dress to be lifted from the floor so that you can move around comfortably.

Bustling a Ball Gown

The good news is that yes, you can definitely bustle a ball gown! In fact, many ball gowns come with a built-in bustle option from the designer. If this is not the case, your seamstress can add a bustle during alterations. There are several types of bustles to choose from, including the French bustle, the American bustle, and the ballroom bustle.

The French Bustle

The French bustle is one of the most popular options and involves lifting the train from the back and creating a flowing effect. The bustle is created by attaching small loops of material (usually ribbon or string) to the underside of the train. Depending on the length of the train and the overall design of the dress, there can be several loops attached to the dress so that the train can be lifted and draped in a particular way.

The American Bustle

The American bustle, also known as an over bustle, is a more structured alternative to the French bustle. It involves gathering the train and fastening it over the rest of the skirt, creating cascading folds. This type of bustle works best for ball gown wedding dresses or gowns with cathedral-length trains.

The Ballroom Bustle

The ballroom bustle is a more complex option that’s often used for ballroom and dancing dresses. The bustle involves creating a fitted silhouette by bringing the train up and under the back of the dress, and securing it in place with buttons or ribbons. This results in a super chic and streamlined look, often paired with a mermaid or trumpet gown style.

When to Bustle Your Ball Gown

Knowing when to actually bustle up the train is an important part of the process. Most brides choose to bustle their train after the ceremony, so that they can move freely during the reception. When you’re ready to bustle the train, simply lift the train up and secure it in place with the buttons, snaps or ties. This should be done by either an experienced bridesmaid or vendor.


Don’t let the long train of your ball gown stand in the way of busting a move on the dance floor! Bustling your ball gown allows you to dance and move around freely without tripping over the fabric. Whether you choose a French bustle, an American bustle, or a ballroom bustle, there are plenty of options to make your wedding gown perfect for your special day. Just remember, whether you need to bustle your dress or not, your wedding day should be all about you, your partner and the love you share.


How does a ballroom bustle work?

A ballroom bustle is a popular style of bustle that is commonly used on ballgowns or formal dresses with long trailing skirts. The bustle works by flipping the trailing skirt of the dress under the main part of the dress, and attaching it to the inside of the dress, as if hemming it. The result is a beautiful, gathered effect that gives the dress a unique and elegant look.

There are different ways to achieve a ballroom bustle, and the specific technique used will depend on the style and design of the dress. However, the basic steps involved in creating a ballroom bustle are as follows:

1. Identify the center back point of the dress: The first step in creating a ballroom bustle is to identify the center back point of the dress. This can usually be found by locating the seam that runs down the center of the back of the dress.

2. Create gathers in the skirt: Once the center back point has been identified, the next step is to create gathers in the skirt by pulling the fabric up and towards the center back, using a needle and thread to hold the gathers in place.

3. Secure the gathers: Once the gathers have been created, they need to be secured to the inside of the dress. This can be done using a variety of techniques, such as sewing the gathers to the lining of the dress, using ribbon loops to hold the gathers in place, or attaching snaps or hooks and eyes.

4. Adjust the length of the skirt: Depending on the style of the dress, you may need to adjust the length of the skirt after creating the bustle. This can be done by hemming the skirt or trimming away any excess fabric.

By following these steps, you can create a beautiful and elegant ballroom bustle that will give your dress a unique and sophisticated look.

How did they sit with bustles?

During the late 19th century, bustles were a popular fashion accessory among women. These devices were designed to add fullness and volume to the back of a woman’s dress, creating an exaggerated silhouette that was fashionable at the time. However, with such an added volume, it can be difficult to imagine just how women managed to sit down comfortably while wearing them.

There were a few different types of bustles that were popular during this time period. Some, such as the “chimney bustle,” were designed to collapse as the wearer sat down. These bustles consisted of a series of metal hoops that were attached to a fabric skirt, creating a “cage” of sorts that supported the weight of the dress. When the wearer sat down, the bustle would collapse in on itself, allowing her to sit comfortably without any excess fabric getting in the way.

Other types of bustles, such as the “dress improver,” were not as collapsible. These bustles were designed to add fullness to the back of a woman’s dress without collapsing when she sat down. As a result, women who wore these types of bustles had to adopt a certain posture in order to sit down. They would typically slide sideways onto a chair, with their bustle hanging off the back of the seat. This allowed them to sit down without crushing the bustle under their weight.

It’s worth noting that while bustles may have been fashionable, they were not always practical. Even with collapsible designs, they could be cumbersome and would often create a wobble effect when women walked. Additionally, the exaggerated silhouettes that bustles created didn’t always fit with the active, outdoor lifestyle that many women were starting to embrace at the time. As a result, bustles fell out of fashion by the early 20th century, making way for more streamlined styles that were better suited to the changing times.