Here's my second attempt at the bustle skirt (in red - the black underneath is a separate, store bought, petticoat). I did a few things differently on this one:
Instead of having a full base skirt, I did 4 ruffles that just went 3/4 of the way around the waist. This required less fabric - I think ~2.75 yds??
I also used 2 snaps instead of buckles to close it in front - this works well for quick release.
I also made the waistband only 2" high, which eliminated the problem of it being too far from my body. The only problem I still have with this design is that because there are 4 layers of fabric going into the waistband, it becomes quite thick and difficult to sew (especially with thicker fabric like this brocade... which is also harder to iron folds into, fyi). If anyone has any ideas, put them in the comments!! Thanks!! Hope to see yours soon!