1884 Collapsible Wire Bustle Tutorial

1884 Collapsible Wire Bustle

This is an imitation of an 1884 collapsible wire bustle based on a bustle pictured in the Victoria and Albert Collection: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O73542/bustle-the-new-phantom

Materials: 7 wire coat hangers, soldering iron and lead-free solder, copper wire, 1 package of woven edge seam binding (or ribbon), scrap bias tape (enough to go around your waist and a bit more).

First, untwist 5 of the coat hangers and form them into arcs. Mine were approximately 15 inches wide and 12 inches high, which made fit a few inches smaller than the back of my hips.

Untwist another coat hanger and bend it into a straight line, with rings at the end that are turned upwards.

One at a time, bend the ends of the arcs into loops thread them through the two rings on the straight coat hanger. It should look something like the picture to the left.

To secure the arcs to the straight piece, wrap copper wire around the ends of the loops to hold it closed. Then solder over the copper wire to completely secure the loop closed, as the picture below shows. (An example of the un-soldered copper wrapping can be seen on the table in the picture. It was my practice piece before I wrapped the wire arcs.
Then do this for all of the arcs of wire until they are all attached to the "hinge piece." I covered the soldered joints with electrical tape to make sure that they wouldn't damage the petticoat, but it is not necessary if the solder joints are neat.
Use the last coat hanger to create the waistband of the bustle. I measured it to a few inches smaller than my waist (as I'll be wearing a corset with my dress) and made soldered loops on the ends as well. Sew along the very edge of the bias tape in a small zig-zag stitch and slide this tube over the coat hanger. Attach two lengths of sturdy cord onto these loops so it can be tied around the waist to the size needed.
To attach the arcs to the waistband, use copper wire to create small loops on the top sides of the top arc and solder them in place. Then loop woven edge seam binding around the arc, through the loop and around the waistband. Sew these into place at the length needed to hold the bustle where it should fall. Also, for extra stability, sew loops of seam binding from the hinge piece to the waistband.
Then sew the seam binding from arc to arc to hold them in place at the right distance from each other. I did three rows of seam binding to keep them in place.
The result is quite sturdy, which is necessary as it'll need to hold about 5 pounds of skirts, and it collapses and opens quite easily.
The picture below is how my bustle came out!

April 5, 2013:
I am currently working on a prototype of a spring hinged collapsible wire bustle of this kind to support heavier skirts. Once I complete and test it, I'll post a link to the new tutorial here!


Nikki said...

How creative! Thanks for the tutorial!

Schaulis said...

Thank you for an amazing tutorial. I kept thinking to myself "that's something I can make our of coat hangers" and I've searched and searched the web to see if anyone else had, and had written about it..then I found you! I'm not much of a "read the instructions" kind of girl, I'm more visual, but after re-reading it several times, I got the basic concept and managed to make a pretty darn good bustle! Instead of using a coat hanger around the waist, I found a super heavy/thick weaved belt (if that makes any sense)and I machine stitched all the arches in place on both the belt and the ribbon. I used 1 inch grosgrain ribbon, a couple yards in length. I folded the ribbon in half for more stability, then stitched over the metal (zigzag 6.5 length) I also put glue on top of all the stitches to ensure they don't come unraveled. I still need to clean up some of the stray wires, as I have to wait for my DH to come home and find MY wire cutters HE misplaced. haha. I'm excited to see how it'll look under my garments! Thanks again for a great tutorial!

Rachel said...

Thank you, Schaulis! I'm glad my tutorial helped you make a bustle of your own. :)

I'm working on another version of the collapsible bustle using cable/duct ties (which I use for boning corsets) instead of coat hangers, and I love the idea of using a heavy woven belt for the waistband. I'll have to post another tutorial (full of pictures) when I finish it!

Anonymous said...

Hello, and thank you very much for this tutorial! I am considering this bustle, for the HSM 2015, as my "foundation item", for the month of January. I was wondering, if you happen to know what gauge your copper wire is, or if it matters? I am happy that I found your blog, and I'm off to check out your other posts now. Best wishes for a Happy New Year! :)

Katie said...

Thank you for this great tutorial!! I used 12 Gauge Galvanized Utility Wire from Home Depot instead of wire hangers.

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