Freighthouse Square Costume & Toy Maker Stitches Together a Colorful Good Time

"The shop is wall-to-wall color. From Renaissance dresses, to stuffed animals, children’s costumes, ornate hats and heraldic banners, the creations...

“The shop is wall-to-wall color. From Renaissance dresses, to stuffed animals, children’s costumes, ornate hats and heraldic banners, the creations on display in Fabric Fun weave fun throughout the shop.Owner Maria King has been sewing her creations for over three decades. She has owned a custom costume shop for six years, starting her business in Minnesota. Her Freighthouse Square shop in Tacoma has been open for about a year and just completed relocating to a new location within the mall.King got her start in an unusual and not-so-fun way when she was an Army nurse – in Vietnam.“I couldn’t forget about my patients at night,” King said. The war had become very personal, and she needed to find a release and some way to deal with its tragedies to get her own life back.One evening, King visited a theater with friends. They were interested in the theater – and she got involved too. Deciding she couldn’t act, she realized her talent lay in her sewing, and she began creating costumes for theater productions.Now, from the sanctuary of her own shop, King puts the finishing touches on Halloween costumes. She has been backed up on orders – 30 to 35 costumes at times, and sews full time at her shop. While it is too late for customers to order Halloween costumes, she adds quickly that there is still time to get Millennium costumes for New Years Eve.Prices for custom costume range from $27 to upwards of $150, depending on what a customer wants. King knows that having a costume created can seem expensive, but adds that for the price of a costume rental, a customer can purchase a costume and use it many times. She says her work is made to last, not something to use once and throw away. She tries to save her customers money when she can, she says.“I don’t charge a design fee,” King said. “Once I make a design, I keep it in the [shop’s] selection.”In addition to Halloween costumes, King has made corporate mascot outfits for commercial promotions, large toys up to 10-feet high, outfits for choral singers, puppets, and banners. She also produces costumes for theme events such as proms and weddings, which, King says, are often adopting a Renaissance motif with the coming Millennium.And though King keeps her shop inviting and fun, ultimately, she is the boss. In the course of owning her business, she stopped providing alterations and other services because they were too stressful and not fun enough, in favor of creating things like elf hats, romantic Juliet-style dresses and silly-faced frog-headed towel capes for diminutive frog princes.Behind the fun-loving creative seamstress, there lies a business-savvy retailer who is tougher than she seems.But then, she has to be – the first year she was in business, Power Rangers were all the rage for the primary school crowd. Hi-yah!”

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