Talk about cutting it close. With Mardi Gras just about a month away, Sheila Gray is trying to finish 60 costumes for three krewes. One of them is the big Gulf Coast Carnival Association. Final fittings are in three weeks.
"I do like it, but actually towards the end, when everything gets so frantic and hectic and busy, it's not so much fun," Gray said. "You start getting real nervous. Is this done? Is that done?"
Creating elaborate Mardi Gras costumes from scratch, has become the fabric of her life. Gray has been gluing and stitching costumes since 1978. The Vancleave seamstress started the designs back in July, focusing on the capes, trains, headgear and hats.
"If we waited until Thanksgiving to get started, we wouldn't get finished," Gray said.
Gray gives every gown and Duke's costume her personal touch. She literally dresses Mardi Gras royalty from their heads to their feet.
One costume can take up to eight days to finish. It all starts with a concept of what the costume will look like to the final creation. And seeing her creations shine at the ball or at a parade is a magical moment.
"I like them under the lights. I like to see what I've done, what took me so long to do, and how good it looked on the floor," Gray said.
Gray also provides the jewelry that complements each costume, and makes the mantels and masks for the krewes. Remember, Fat Tuesday falls on February 5th.