How to Bustle a Wedding Gown Train

Create an eyecatching bustle that also gives you the mobility you need to enjoy your special day

By Cynthia Myers

Bride with bustled wedding gown
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A wedding gown with an elegant train looks gorgeous as you walk down the aisle and take your vows. But at your reception, you'll want to move around and even dance without tripping over the train. You can enjoy the beauty of a train and the ease of movement of a conventional hem by lifting the train into a bustle after the ceremony. Attach hooks, eyes or buttons and loops to the dress and train to keep it out of the way. You'll be able to walk without tripping, and you'll keep the train clean and undamaged.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Ask your dress designer if they can be on hand to help bustle the dress after the ceremony; or show you when you get the dress.

Step 1:

Decide what style of bustle you want. The most common bustle is the overbustle. The train is drawn up over the skirt and attached at the waist. Other variations include the underbustle, also known as the Victorian bustle; the Venetian bustle and the pouf bustle. The directions below are for the overbustle, the style most often used for wedding gowns.

Step 2:

Match the fastener to the gown. Either hooks and eyes or loops and buttons must be sewn at the back waist of the gown and at intervals on the train itself. While you can sometimes hide these fasteners in lace trim, it's often impossible to entirely conceal them. To make them less noticeable, choose a fastener that blends well with the gown. You can get all the necessary supplies at a local craft store, or else talk to the dress designer or a tailor to make sure you find the right items. If your dress has tiny pearl buttons all down the back, use matching buttons at the waist and loops of thread all along the train. Otherwise, use tiny hooks and eyes.

Step 3:

Determine the distance between the waistline of the dress and the floor. Starting at the bottom of the train, measure up this same distance and mark with a pin. Lift the train at this mark and pin to the center back of the dress, at the waistline. The center of the train should now be approximately 1 inch off the floor. If you're concerned about damaging your dress, take it to a seamstress or tailor to find out where the exact point is.

Step 4:

Lift and pin the train at each seam, adjusting so that the train lines up evenly with the hem of the skirt. If the train is very full, add extra pins between each seam line and ask for assistance from friends or family. You want to end up with a row of pins at the back waist of the dress and the train falling evenly from them. Mark each point on the train you've pinned; then unpin the train.

Step 5:

Sew thread loops or the eye section of hooks and eyes at each mark on the train. Sew the hook portion of hooks and eyes, or buttons, at the back waist of the dress. The number of hooks or buttons should equal the number of loops or eyes sewn to the train. Hook or button the train and check the draping. Adjust if necessary.

Step 6:

If your concerned about things looking unseemly or tacky, add ribbon, lace or appliqué, as desired, to the train to hide the loops or eyes. You'll need to get all of your bits and pieces together in advance, and the help of a seasoned professional or family member can come in handy.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • White hooks and eyes blend very well with white satin gowns.
  • Use heavy-duty cotton thread, preferably button-hole twist, to securely anchor buttons and hooks and eyes and to form thread loops.

About the Author

Cynthia James is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

Planning Reminder:

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Set up an appointment with a bridal shop, then snag a friend or family member when it's time to don some dresses. Keep jewelry and makeup to a minimum when you go gown shopping -- you don’t want anything to catch or smear on those beautiful dresses.

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Wedding Glossary


Historically refers to the bride's possessions that she brings to the marriage. Can also refer to the bride's gown or attire.

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