1. Determine the type of bustle you would like to have on your skirt. Some bustle types are difficult to execute for a beginner, so these steps focus on a basic bustle, sometimes referred to as an "overbustle," which makes a long-skirted gown look more like a ballroom gown.
2. Determine where to put bustle buttons on the back of your dress. You will need two or four buttons at the bottom of the bodice, placed evenly on both sides of the center back seam. Mark the placement of these buttons precisely.
3. Determine where the skirt will attach to these buttons. Put the dress on and have a friend safety-pin the middle of the skirt to the bottom of the bodice to see where the hem falls. Make sure that the hem is not too high.
4. Take off the dress and put it on a dress form. Unpin the skirt from the bodice, but leave the pins in the skirt to mark the general placement. With the skirt in front of you, make sure that the pinned areas are level with one another. To determine the exact placement of these pinned areas, or bustle points, first decide how many you need. If you are using four buttons, you can make four or two bustle points, but if you are using two buttons, you can make only two bustle points.
5. Mark the placement of the number of bustle points with pins, making sure that they are evenly spaced from one another and from the center back seam. Pin them up to the bustle button points to see how you like the way the skirt drapes. Play around with the bustle point placement until you are satisfied.
6. Sew the buttons to the button points. You can also use hooks, if you do not like the look of buttons.
7. Sew loops of ribbon to the bustle points, on the outside of the skirt. You may prefer to hand-stitch the ribbon to the skirt so that it lays properly and is less noticeable when the bustle is let down.
8. Pull the loops up and onto the buttons as desired