The “Costume Lady”

Our Town
Nancy Fields has photographs of nearly every costume she’s made.

TILTON, Ill. (WCIA) – One woman’s talents with needles and thread led her to stitch up a reputation in town.

She was known as the “costume lady.”

Every Halloween, her garage became a gathering place where adults and kids alike could pick out their holiday apparel.

Nancy Fields has probably made as many costumes through the years as she has pictures of them.

As she shuffles through the pile, each one she picks up has a special memory.

It’s a well-documented array of the hobby she held dear to her heart for many years, dating all the way back to her humble beginning.

Nancy’s first homemade costume was for her daughter, pictured here.

“As I had three kids…I would make them something every year. I had one lady that says ‘well that kid won because it’s Nancy’s kid,” she laughed. “She wins every time, because she makes her stuff.'”

Perhaps it was jealousy…or admiration…or both…that turned her gift into a business exploding in popularity.

Nancy’s been doing this for dozens of years, and every fall, she would turn her garage into a family’s Halloween one-stop-shop.

“It was something that really just kind of clicked with everybody,” said Nancy. “I’d made over 200 kids costumes…and over 200 adult costumes…and so there was a big variety of items to pick from.”

Throughout the years, up until the late 90s, her place was the place to go.

But, something happened after 9/11. The mood about Halloween changed.

When the community recovered, there wasn’t as much demand for her work anymore. Since then, Nancy has given many of her costumes away.

But these racks are still stuffed with adult costumes she hangs onto.

“If somebody calls and wants to see what I have, sure, they can come over.”

Even though you could say she’s retired from costume-making…Nancy smiles as she recalls the name she made for herself in Our Town Tilton.

“I miss it. I really do,” said Nancy. “Because at school, the kids would say ‘that’s the costume lady.'”

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