No announcement yet.

Bustle Construction

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Bustle Construction

    Well, there's been a couple of threads in the beadwork forum that are "How To" instructional threads. This gave me an idea. Bustle construction seems to be a common question. Since a nice pair of bustles is the distinguishing feature for a fancy dancer, lets talk a little about how they are put together. I've made some drawings that illustrate different stages of the process. I look forward to hearing other's insights and ideas.

    First of all, when you get your feathers (turkey spikes) you have to understand the difference between left and right wing spikes. The attached drawing shows a left wing feather on the left and a right wing feather on the right. Notice where the "fat" part of the webbing is in relation to the quill. The view of these feathers is as if you were holding them in front of you, looking at the TOP of the feather. The BOTTOM of the feather has a little groove running down the center of the quill.
    Attached Files
    If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.

  • #2
    After you can tell the difference between left and right wing spikes, they all have to be straightened. This is a pretty time consuming step, but it is very important to have all feathers absolutely straight before beginning.

    The feathers, before straightening, have a large amount of natural curve in them. There are several methods to straightening the feathers. I prefer to iron them.

    Just hold the feather flat against an ironing board and iron it on medium heat. Be careful not to scorch the feather. You may have to gently pull up on the quill to gently bend it against the heat of the iron. In some cases, where the quill is thick near the base of the feather, you may have to crimp the quill against the side of the iron by pulling up on the quill until you feel it soften and give way.

    Practice on some of the roughed up feathers that you don't plan on using and you'll get the hang of it.

    Other methods are to bend the quill backwards over a lightbulb. 100 watt lightbulbs work well, but wear DARK sunglasses. This method makes me see spots.:Chatter

    I've heard of some people straightening feathers over the steam from an old tea kettle. I think I would probably burn myself doing it this way.

    Some people can just crimp the quills with their fingernails. I find ironing to be the fastest and easiest way.
    If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


    • #3
      Once you have the feathers straightened, I pull off the "Fluff" at the base of the spikes. This makes for a cleaner look. Especially if you're not going to have an inner row of hackles. This also makes measuring the spikes easier in the later steps. Once you pull the fluff off the base of the spikes, they should look something like the feather on the right.
      Attached Files
      If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


      • #4
        Once all of the spikes look like those above, make a template to measure and cut all of the feathers. To make a very clean looking set of bustles ALL feathers have to be cut the SAME. This attention to detail will show in the final product.

        There will actually be two for the right wing spikes and one for the left wing spikes. These templates can be drawn on a wooden yard stick with a Sharpie or marked directly onto the top of a work bench. Anyway, use the templates to mark all of the feathers.

        Allow 1.5 inches per row of hackles. This will give you enough room to tie and give a good separation of colors for a nice clean look. For this set of virtual bustles, let's have three rows of outside color and one row of inner color. Our web length, or amount of white webbing will be 5 inches. This set of bustles will be trimmed on the tips with surveyor's flagging tape.

        The templates for this set of bustles should look like this: This is the right wing template

        5 inches 1.5 inches for the 3 rows of hackles
        Attached Files
        If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


        • #5
          This would be the same template for the left wing spikes. The 5 inches for the webbing is on the right and the 1.5 inch slots for the rows of hackles are on the left.
          Attached Files
          If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


          • #6
            Well, that's all I have time for today. Please, all you fancy dancers, offer suggestions/ideas on anything. This could be a great resource. I hope to post more tommorrow.
            If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


            • #7
              Mark all the feathers according to the templates. For this example, this template is for the right wing spikes. Mark them with a pencil or pen along the quill as such:
              Attached Files
              If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


              • #8
                Cut all of the right wing spikes based on the marks you just made. Repeat this process for the left wing spikes using the left wing template. Just cut straight in towards the quill and remove the webbing with your fingers. You'll want to round off the 5" portion of the webbing that will show. Try to make this as even and uniform as possible on all of the feathers.

                The triangular pieces of webbing that are formed by making the cuts can simply be tied over, when you start tying hackles. I think this adds to the strength of the quill. Some people strip this portion of the feather down to the quill, so there is no webbing left. Others may trim a little of the webbing so that you don't tie over all of it. It's personal preference.

                Please note that the tip of the feather as shown below is considered excess. The quill at the tip is just too thin and weak to support hackles.
                Attached Files
                If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                • #9
                  Tie the surveyor's flagging tape (pre-cut to the desired length). A little glue and thread will do the trick. Be sure to tie it tight. I cut the flagging tape double the desired length and tie it to the quill in the center of the tape. This gives two pieces of tape per feather.

                  Other things that I've seen used for tip decoration is horse hair, plastic streamers from chearleaders pom-poms, strips of plastic garbage bags and mylar "icecicles" that you get at Christmas.

                  After the tip decoration is tied securely, the feather should look like this:
                  Attached Files
                  If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                  • #10
                    Now that all the tip decorations have been tied, you have to start tying hackles. There are several methods to do this.

                    1. I'm lazy. The hackles come strung. I prefer to cut about an inch or so of strung hackles and wrap them around the feather and secure with a little glue and thread. This gives what I call the Firecracker effect, where the hackles stick out everywhere. I think this is more common on Northern bustles.

                    2. Hackles, like the wing spikes naturally curve left and right. Some people unstring the hackles and separate the lefts and rights. The then tie the hackles on the feathers so that the hackles all lay the same way. This gives the bustles a very clean look that is common in the south. I would suggest tying NO LESS than 12 hackles per feather to make a full set.

                    3. Some people separate the hackles and strip off the fluff at the base of the hackle, tying just quill to quill. This is very time consuming but probably worth the effort.

                    4. I've found that, even with the first method, the natural wearing of the bustles and hanging the bustles when not in use will make the hackles eventually droop similar to the other methods.

                    Note: Almost always, the outer row of color is a bright color. Stick with something light and bright for this row. Some bustles have the first (top) four or five wing spikes decorated with a contrasting hackle color. (If flagging tape tip decoration, there may be a contrasting flagging tape color on these spikes as well)

                    After you tie the first row of hackles, the spikes should look like this:
                    If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                    • #11
                      Oops, it didn't take the picture. They should look like this:
                      Attached Files
                      If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                      • #12
                        Always a good bustle maker. As you remember from last summer the three of us (with W.H.) had slightly different methodology when it came to bustle construction. I'll offer a few variations when appropriate.

                        The step where you tie the tape, ribbon, or horse hair to the tip I save for later. It always gets tangled in my arm when I wrap the feathers on. I make sure to leave about 1 1/2-2" of spike at the end (it is hidden by the hackles) and tie the streamers on later, by pulling the hackles out of the way. I know some Okla. Guys that do this too.

                        And a clarification: What type of cord or string are you using to tie the streamers and hackles on with? I use cotton crochet thread, it comes in bright colors that can contrast with the hackles and spikes. (use the same color as the hackles on the outer rows to blend in better)


                        • #13
                          Hey Beadman,

                          Thanks for the suggestions. I've also heard of people waiting until last to tie the tip decoration.

                          One thing that I have done is to attach a very small snap swivel (like used for fishing) to the tips of the spikes before I start tying hackles. Again these can be attached by several methods. I believe the size swivel is a #14.

                          Anyway, after the bustle is made, you can "snap" in your flagging tape or ribbon. The good thing about that is, you can change it out for a different color/look or when it gets dirty. They really don't add a lot of weight. In addition, they are completely hidden by the hackles.

                          Weight is a pretty big issue with fancy bustles.

                          As for the thread, Chrochet thread works well. I have used a plain cotton string. People here in Eastern North Carolina refer to it as "Tobacco Twine". It's what they used to use to tie tobacco to tobacco sticks for curing before they had bulk barns.

                          I think the crochet thread is probably the best bet.
                          If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                          • #14
                            After all the outer row of hackles have been tied, tie the second row of hackles in the second 1.5" spot marked on the feathers.

                            After the second row of hackles is tied, the spikes should look something like this:
                            Attached Files
                            If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                            • #15
                              The next logical step after all the second row has been tied, is to tie the third row.

                              Take your time tying this row. Not only are you tying to keep the hackles on, but this will be very visible. So tie very neatly and cover up all of the base of the hackle with the crochet thread.

                              A lot of people use a contrasting color thread here. It adds to the look and flash of the bustles.

                              When done, they should look like this:
                              Attached Files
                              If you are what you eat.... I'm fast, cheap and easy.


                              Join the online community forum celebrating Native American Culture, Pow Wows, tribes, music, art, and history.

                              Related Topics


                              • Ego-hut-key
                                How to make a Mess Bustle?
                                by Ego-hut-key
                                I don't know how to start a mess bustle, i've looked all over the internet on how to make one and there are no instructions on how to make one. So if anybody has any formation on how to make one I would really appreciate it.

                                Thank You

                                in ...
                                05-03-2007, 04:58 PM
                              • Rolling Thunder
                                Dance Sticks
                                by Rolling Thunder
                                I am wondering if anyone can tell me how to attach feathers onto a stick to make a dance stick. here's a link...I think the pic maybe copyrighted:


                                How would you attach the feathers on the top? how about the ones in the...
                                05-23-2007, 05:38 PM
                              • Privateer6
                                Ideas on Bustle making
                                by Privateer6
                                I am in the process of getting all the supplies needed to make a bustle. I have been using the Evans' book,but i've seen bustles with extenders, sinew and beads connecting the feathers, etc. Anybody has ideas on how to improve upon the Evans' book?
                                For the extenders, is there some type of reccommended...
                                07-23-2003, 10:06 AM
                              • DreamsOfEagles
                                Few Questions...
                                by DreamsOfEagles
                                Hello everyone..
                                Just to introduce myself im a 21yo guy whos
                                working on a fancy outfit right now..

                                first question is where is the best place to buy some good spikes at? i have a bustle kit that ive been practicing on from crazy crow, but dont think the feathers are that great......
                                07-07-2001, 11:51 PM
                              • greyhawks
                                Tying Feathers
                                by greyhawks
                                Looking for info on properly tying feathers.
                                Any help is appreciated.
                                11-19-2000, 10:49 PM



                              There are no results that meet this criteria.

                              Sidebar Ad