Hustle, Bustle

For those of you who have asked for some examples of bustles…here we go.

They can be simple needing only one point or more complex in groups of odd numbers. If you are lucky and the train is narrow then one point will probably suffice. The wider and longer the train, the more points will be needed to get that sucker up off the ground for dancing.

I start with deciding where the top center point will be for attachment. Using the tail of the zipper, if there is one is a very strong area. I always prefer it as the weight of the train can be quite heavy and drag down on the back of the dress. If the dress is sleek and form-fitting you sure don’t want to attach anything to the end of the zipper if it is high on the clients butt thus creating a “rooster tail” effect. Form-fitting styles need to be set lower about 3 or more inches below the curve of the butt. Let’s start with an example:back-2bustle-button Select the top attachment point, pick up a point on the train and lining and preview it (just hold it and pin it there) making sure the center back seam hem is off the ground. You will notice in subsequent photos that I use colored safety pins to mark both points so the upper and lower pins match. This certainly helps me with multiple sets of points especially for under bustles!

This dress goes under a lace overdress so it is bustled separately. Use a metal backed satin button (from and create a thread loop (hand crochet type) with upholstery thread. On this dress and many others I worried about the satin not being strong enough to hold the weight so I ran a length of grosgrain ribbon down the center back seam from the tail of the zipper to the end point before attaching the button:close-upattach-ribbon Here is another satin/lace combo dress just like it…in fact I got in 4 of these dresses in one week!back-bustle-locations   zipper-ribbon

If your client wants an under/French bustle, the procedure is the same except the button can be clear plastic, larger and flatter and the loop a little longer for a one point type. Instead of a triangular drape of fabric, it is the reverse, a deep pleat or fold of fabric which can look quite romantic:P1130584

Next time, I will show you multiple pick-up points and more complicated scenarios that make me wish I had a sewing partner so we could wrestle with these problems together. I have bought CD’s of “how to bustle” and seen numerous sets of ribbons under trains, some color coded, some just plain confusing and decided that a button and a loop is way more simple for me and my brides. Considering most matrons of honor or faithful bridesmaids will have had a couple glasses of champagne by the time they have to crawl under the dress to find ribbons and/or buttons, I want to make it easy for them.

Before I get back to the emergency brides that showed up this week, I will tell you a little story…I assure all my brides that if the dress gets wrinkled in the garment bag, they can iron their dress on the wrong side especially if it is polyester. I tell them poly loves medium heat and light steam and that is what I use on them unless I have something that needs the professional steamer. Most brides seem OK and confident they can do this…but a few especially this week looked at me like I was asking them to remember a mimeograph machine (remember the smell?) from the 70’s instead of a laser printer of today.

One bride said that she had never used an iron, never owned one and “what was it like?”

Well, I said, “use a low temp and minimum steam and you will be alright.”

But what I wanted to say was, “An iron is like a huge rock with a handle that is heated over hot coals and you drag it over fabric until the wrinkles disappear like magic.” Lordie!

A bonus this week besides getting brides and their finished dresses out the front door…my veggies are producing despite the 103 degree temps!veggies-july-2013 Have a super cool week!

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22 Responses to Hustle, Bustle

  1. Shams says:

    LOLOL. I LOVE your “what I wanted to say” statement and am laughing over here. (Good thing I don’t drink coffee!)

    • mrsmole says:

      It makes me wonder what will happen to this new bride when her husband asks her to “press his shirt” for work…deer in the headlights?

      • Marty says:

        Every man I know sends his shirts out…I was really surprised by that, as I remember ironing my dad’s workshirts! And, if her husband wants his shirt pressed, he has hands 🙂

      • mrsmole says:

        Me too, Marty…it was my job from the age of 11 until I was 21 to iron the family’s laundry. I got paid 5 cents per garment and when I asked my mother for a raise, her answer was, “You are using MY electricity”. My kids were taught to wash and iron their own clothes from age 13 on so they could manage without help. My husband can iron a shirt but it takes him a very long time.

  2. agree with Shams re: what you wanted to say. Hey, I have friends that come over and see my sewing machine (not really old in my opinion – say 50 yrs or so) and exclaim as if it should be in a museum. I do a lot of baking and I think many have the same opinion of the oven as an iron…a hot thing that is scary…….

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Beth, sometimes those older appliances and sewing machines are just in their prime…all broken in and so darn reliable….wait that describes women my age…but with a few wrinkles around the edges….where’s my iron? What is to become of young women who cannot iron or bake?

  3. Lynda says:

    Makes me laugh. Some of my granddaughters will toss things that need to be ironed!

    • mrsmole says:

      Maybe have them toss them in a bag for the Salvation Army/St Vincent de Paul so that less fortunate gals could appreciate nice clothes? Some of our children and grandchildren forget that others have much less access to stylish clothes wrinkled or not.

  4. theresa says:

    Pretty darn nice veggies ya got there. It HAS been hot. How do brides stay cool under all that bustle I wonder. Anyway, thank you for the visuals on bustle uptake. I myself might be tempted with the dart board method. 😉

    • mrsmole says:

      Most tell me they are sweating like pigs under all that polyester and nylon netting and opt for wearing no bra and the ubiquitous pink thong or Spanx underpants to pull it all together. Try carrying off a 14 pound strapless dress zipped up skin tight or corseted tight with new tight shoes saying your vows in a sunny field or orchard in summer…whew!

  5. Trish says:

    Thanks for all the info on bustles. That idea about reinforcing the back seam with grosgrain was an excellent one.
    I agree that some dresses which come with bustles are terribly complicated. I had one which had a series of tapes which had to be matched up (they had corresponding numbers) under a very full skirt. It must have been a nightmare for the bridesmaids having to get it right after, as you said, several glasses of bubbles. One bride I know gave up and just chopped off the train with a pair of scissors! Fortunately that is rare…

    • mrsmole says:

      Some of the friends of new brides tell horror stories about their multi-point bustles having never been hooked up evenly and the photos to prove how much alcohol had been consumed before the photographer’s time. Cutting off one’s train would certainly be more drastic! A tipsy bride with a pair of scissors? Ouch! Thanks for sharing that, Trish!

  6. Bunny says:

    Once again, fabulous information put forth with great humor. Thanks, Mrs. M. I do pray your studio is air conditioned.

    We attended a wedding in Maine, once, in an orchard overlooking the ocean. It was totally fogged in at high noon and the temp was 98. I will never forget it . We prayed the ceremony would end soon and all could get in the air conditioned barn/hall. They did get some lovely, ethereal wedding photos in the hazy fog. But talk about drip……..

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Bunny I have some air moving around…ceiling fan and floor vents. Never thought about having fog as a backdrop for wedding shots…WOW! Hope you wore your latest sheer top! You would have needed some ventilation for sure at that venue!

  7. Great information as usual – but I loved the ironing comments (and those above too!)
    These girls are the sort that would probably change car rather than empty the ash tray. I dread to think how they will cope with actually being ‘married’ rather than just having a wedding.

  8. Pella says:

    Thanks for thinking of doing the ‘bustle’ info. Re shirt ironing. I was absent from home for a few weeks; when I returned I was instructed in how to iron them by a husband who had just learnt this skill from the internet. (Yes, it was the same way I have done them for forty years). So, no worries the new bride can google it.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Pella, you are too funny! Imagine such a resource at our hot little fingertips!

  10. prttynpnk says:

    Wow- what a delicate balance of the practical and the aesthetic. I now want French bustles on all of my animal print tunics.

  11. jillybe says:

    I too am Laughing out Loud at the hot rock thought! 😀 And where were you with this post when I first started making my steampunk bustles and had to figure this stuff out on my own??? (except I sew my multiples in place….buttons & catches? GACK!) I look forward to your next post on this!

  12. mrsmole says:

    One day I hope we meet up and have a real laugh…steampunk bustles and pencil sharpeners…Lordie Girl you are covering all bases!

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