Beth Smith

Tie Bustles – Not just for brides

One of my favorite ways to bustle a wedding gown is with ties. This is often called a French Bustle, Victorian Bustle or Under Bustle. It doesn’t work with every style of dress but if you want a poof of fabric that falls over the bottom of the dress this is a beautiful way to bustle.

It’s the kind of bustle I had on my wedding dress that my mom made for me all of those years ago. Let me show you the dress:

Here is the dress with the train in place. This is me 24 years ago, June 1995.
That’s me and my dad. But you can see the bustle tied up there.
Here’s the underneath. I just have my dress hanging in my closet so it was easy to take it out to show you. This has three tie ups in the center and then a couple of ties at lower levels on each side to even out the hem

A few weeks ago I started thinking about bustling (it might have been because I was looking at my wedding album) and I remembered a skirt I wore until I wore it out that had a similar bustling option but it went all around the bottom of the skirt to make a drapey effect. There were some draw backs to how this skirt was made so I started pondering some better ways to do it.

There came a point last week where I decided to stop wondering about things and just do it.

I began with my favorite skirt of all. A full circle skirt, maxi length, with a waist band with a finished width of 4 inches.

I decide to use a clear button to strengthen the spot where the ties would be holding the skirt up.

I used 1/4 inch plastic rings from the drapery section of the fabric store at the lower part of the bustle. Often there is a tie at the top and the bottom but I wanted to have the bustle stay in place for a long time and not have to be retied over a day of wearing and so I thought a ring would be a better choice with both ends of the ties at the upper part of the bustle.

I alternated the levels of the bustles so they were higher and lower around the legs but I made the rings and ties the same distance from each other so that the lowest part of the hem, when tied all around, would be mostly even.

But I also love the high low look when just the front is tied up.

So, of course, as with all of my projects, I have new ideas and questions. What if I tie the bottom of the hem up evenly around rather than alternating? What if I do this with a gathered skirt rather than a circle skirt? What if I use a few loops and pull the ribbon through – what would be the effect?

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