Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bustle me up!

With some exceptions, most American wedding gowns require a bustle. No, not this type:

(although we guess you could do that, if you wanted). More this type:

Bustles exist to prevent anyone (including the bride) from traipsing on or tripping over the train on a dress. Usually, the selection of what type of bustle to prepare a dress to hold depends on the shape of the dress, gown’s fabric and bride’s taste. Typically, the seamstress provides advice about what type of bustle will work best.

Historically, bustles were worn all the time and shaped by a framework of metal or wood tied around a woman’s waist. Being able to wear a bustle indicated wealth due to being able to 1) afford extra fabric to trail after a woman and 2) afford the contraption to hold that extra fabric away from the woman’s feet.

Today, bustles exist solely to avoid tripping. Unlike their historical counterparts, moreover, they are shaped by an intricate pattern of hooks, buttons and ties sewn into a bride’s dress. Because they are created out of these sewn-in designs, they are referred to as a separate entity from a bride’s dress.

Now, to the specifics:

A single-hook overbustle is one in which a button or hook is affixed at the height where the bride desires the topmost portion of the bustle to lay and a loop is affixed a few inches from the edge of the train. The hook is the positioned over the button or hook and - voila! - a bustled created. Although extremely simple, this bustle-type has its downsides: 1) it usually displays the underside of the fabric of the dress and 2) often slips apart when created on satin or other heavy-fabric gowns.

A three-hook overbustle has the same concept as a single-hook bustle, but uses a triangular shape of hooks to create the bustle. This style eliminates the slippage described in item #2 in the previous paragraph.

The underbustle uses a single tie underneath the dress to pull up the extra fabric. It creates a drape-like appearance and is usually pretty secure, provided that the seamstress does not use a satin string to connect the ties.

The French bustle uses a series of ties and hooks underneath the topmost layers of a gown’s fabric to pull up the dress at several points. The number of hooks and span of their placement depends on the gown’s fabric and shape and are usually determined by the seamstress. This bustle can also be created in double and triple form, in which multiple layers of full ruffles appear on the back of the dress.

The Australian bustle is extremely structurally complex, but pretty basic to implement. This bustle is created by pulling a pair of strings that scrunch up a gown’s extra fabric in a corset-style shape. The visible effect is similar to ruching on the back of the gown.

The ballgown bustle - perhaps the most traditional American bustle - is created when points on a gown’s train are lifted up and attached using buttons or hooks to the exterior of the gown’s waistline. This bustle, which is best suited for gowns with extremely long trains, creates a full-looking gown with an even hemline.

So…which bustle will you choose? When selecting your bustle, consider your dress’s fabric and overall shape. And, no matter what, remember that most bustles require someone crawling under your dress to create them…which is the point at which you really get to know your planner!