On a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast, AEW Lead Seamstress Sandra Gray sat down with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone to talk about her career making gear in pro wrestling. Gray had worked for WWE for a long time before leaving in 2015, but she noted she got her start in WCW.
“Rena Mero, Sable, wasn’t Sable back then, it was Rena Mero, who was Johnny B. Badd’s (Marc Mero) girlfriend, went to one of the local fabric stores, and she needed a seamstress,” Gray recalled. “She asked one of the employees who could make a costume for my boyfriend. So because I always make friends with people who work in my favorite place, the fabric store, they gave my name and another neighbor’s name, who was also was a friend of mine who did the same thing. So not knowing either one of us, she called her first, and she couldn’t do it because it was prom and bridal season.
“She said to call me, so when she called me and was explaining to me that her boyfriend needed a costume pretty quickly and it was for wrestling, I’m like, ‘I don’t know how to sew on spandex. I have no idea,’ and she said, ‘We’re really in a bind. Could you please at least try to help?’ After struggling with that, not knowing how to do it, I said, okay because I knew how to sew. I got together with her. He had a pair of trunks that he wanted me to make. It was just a pair of trunks, but it was spandex. I don’t know how to sew on spandex, but I gave it a shot, and for some reason, I didn’t know how which stich to make. It was not great. There’s a certain stitch I know now. It kept breaking on the side.
“Every time I was sewing, it would break. I did the best I could. I figured I just stitch it a million times, that’ll do the trick. So gave him the outfit and I believe he did a pay-per-view in Charlotte. During the match, the problem I was having on the side of the trucks, someone picked him up. I didn’t even know what a turnbuckle was, but they picked him up by the side I was having issues with and threw him on the top of this turnbuckle. And I’m freaking out. My whole family’s screaming because we know these things are getting ready to come apart, but they didn’t.
“When it was over, he called me and thanked me, and my name just got kind of passed around through the company. ‘Who did your gear?’ And he mentioned my name, and it just went through the company like that. And I ended up sewing for a lot of people from WCW. And they would all come to my little cul-de-sac to get their gear made. And I’m still never thinking this is going to be a career. I’m trying to get this stuff done so I can get back to the prom dresses not even knowing what was ahead of me, but that was my first experience into wrestling gear.”
Gray noted that she did work for whoever came to her, so she had worked with both WCW and WWE talents. However, she recalled two WCW talents that encouraged WCW to hire her.
“I was also sewing for WWF at the time, just a few people privately at home, same as I was doing for WCW, and it got to a point where I got pretty busy and had to push the prom stuff off,” Gray said. “And I can remember, I believe it was Lex Luger and Miss Elizabeth because I had been done a lot of stuff with them as well and they told some of the people who were in charge at WCW that if I wasn’t contracted with the company, WWF might give me a contract and I wouldn’t be able to work for them anymore. I wasn’t contracted. I’m just sewing for whoever’s asking.
“So immediately, I got called into the office to talk about a contract deal, and I’m so excited. I don’t know what to expect. I go in there, and I make my deal, and I ended up leaving that day with a ticket to go to my first wrestling show and I believe that was in, I want to say, Philadelphia. They had never had a wardrobe department before. So I basically created the one and only wardrobe department that WCW ever had. I was only one that worked in it.”
Gray later answered fan questions in the podcast. One question regarded any wardrobe malfunctions, and Gray recalled a few including some iconic moments in wrestling history.
“One of them would have been Lex Luger. He had switched over from wearing some stuff he always wore to doing something different, and it was breakaway pants,” Gray stated. “And I put the snaps down the side, practiced it at home on myself, breaking away real quick, perfectly. The night of the match when he got in the ring, he’s standing there all muscled and baby oiled up, and he went to break his pants away and they didn’t break away.
“He ended up just pushing them down and stepping out of them real real hard, but they didn’t break away, and I was horrified. He didn’t give me grief because of that, but I just beat myself up about it. The other one would have been the [KISS] Demon cape, but this probably wasn’t a malfunction maybe. The Demon cape just took forever to make number one, and he came out with the big, I guess the coffin thing or whatever he was supposed to pop out of. He didn’t. It didn’t pop out. The cape was everything, but the thing just never did open, so that was a malfunction.
“But one more that I remember from WWE would have been Eva Marie’s top strap broke and broke on a Layla top once before, and they’re in the ring on top row. It was horrible, and I don’t remember them being mean or saying anything ugly, but I did get the side eye, but I beat myself up so much for stuff like that. So after those malfunctions, I’m super super careful to make sure nothing’s gonna happen. So when I’m making gear, I’m pulling and stretching and doing everything I can, so I’m not worried about that anymore. I hope I’ve had my last malfunction.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.