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Long Island teen sews success with 19th century dresses

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Angela Clayton, 19, is a self-taught seamstress who has drawn a following online by creating elaborate historical costumes from her home in Suffolk County. Feb. 7, 2017. (Angela Clayton's YouTube video, Newsday/Anahita Pardiwalla) Credit: YouTube / Angela Clayton

Angela Clayton could play dress-up all day.

The self-taught seamstress has made a name for herself online, creating elaborate historical costumes from her home in Suffolk County. To date, she has more than 164,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel and 34,500 followers on Instagram, all checking in to see her progress on making 19th-century replica dresses and period garments.

Clayton, 19, is largely self-taught, she said. She has spent the past four years building up her skills and portfolio, making about 20 costumes a year, she said.

“I was really interested in cosplay and it got to a point where the costumes I wanted to wear didn’t exist, so I started making my own,” she said, referring to a practice of creating elaborate outfits to mimic pop culture characters.

“I just tried a lot of different things,” she said. “I bought a dress form and taught myself how to drape and I looked up a lot of stuff online.”

Once she picks a project, Clayton researches the fabrics, stitches and historical patterns that would have made it possible during that time period, then either buys or makes her own pattern. A typical costume could take anywhere from a week to more than a month to make, she said.

“I really make them because I’m trying to grow my skill set — that’s really my point — and to really enjoy the construction process,” she said.

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