Women goes viral on TikTok recreating grandma’s 1940s fashion designs

A Chicago-based woman is set on making her grandmother’s dream come true − one garment at a time. 

Julia, or boringbb on Tiktok, is quickly capturing attention with more than 80 videos featuring recreations of her grandmother’s old designs. Her videos have been viewed anywhere between 54,000 and 27 million times. 

In the last year, Julia has made 14 of her grandmother’s imagined dresses from extravagant ballroom gowns to floor-length evening dresses.  

Exposure from social media lead to the two showcasing their work at New York Fashion Week in February. It was the first time Julia’s grandmother Georgie got to see her designs on a runway. 

How it all began

Julia took to social media like many did during the COVID-19 pandemic, to share about her life.

It was during that time that she and her grandmother found some of Georgie’s old design sketches from fashion school in the 1940s. Everyone in the family knew she’d pursued fashion for a time, but it wasn’t a narrative she harped on often, Julia told USA Today. 

After the designs were found, Georgie told her granddaughter she was proud of the sketches and wanted them displayed at her funeral or sent to magazines so people will know that fashion was a big part of her life when she’s gone.

“Well, that was pretty morbid. I was like why would we wait until your funeral? I was like can I go and take some pictures of those. And I made a TikTok post. It was essentially like a PowerPoint presentation, and it went viral overnight,” Julia shared. 

A lot of the comments under the original post encouraged Julia to physically make her grandmother’s designs. Though the extent of her sewing experience occurred in a middle school home ec class sewing a letter on a pillow, Julia decided to figure it out. 

She purchased a sewing machine nearly two years ago, learned the basics and started recreating her grandmother’s designs. 

“We’ve been doing this for a year and we have a good time with it.”

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Georgie’s dream − Chicago in the 1940s

Georgie was born in the 1940s to a big family in inner city Chicago and was the youngest of the lot. She was very frail, spending most of her childhood sick. 

Georgie graduated from high school but did not have the opportunity to complete higher education at the time.

“She wanted to go to fashion school, so she borrowed an exorbitant amount of money at the time — $500 from her sister. As soon as she started going, she realized very quickly that this is a cutthroat industry,” Julia said. 

Georgie felt like if she wanted to have kids, she wasn’t going to be able to do both. It also wasn’t an encouraged endeavor at the time, Julia shared.

What really drove the decision was a combination of having to care for older family members and the desire to start her own family.

“So, she dropped out and she felt awful. She had to pay back the $500. It was a hard point in her life. It was kind of the moment where she had to give up something that she wanted for herself in pursuit of something else she wanted,” Julia said. 

But Georgie never regretted choosing her family, which might be the reason why she didn’t bring up fashion as much, Julia said. 

“My grandma has always wanted to be a mom and has always wanted to be a grandma. It’s her favorite thing in the world. That’s why she’s so close to her kid and all of her grandkids so she’s definitely happy that she chose this life path,” Julia shared. 

After all, if it weren’t for her grandmother’s initial push, none of this would have been possible. 

“I am very happy I am going down this life path, but I don’t know if I would be here without her initial push,” Julia said.

What’s next for the dynamic duo

Quite a few things have occurred since Georgie and Julia began filming their videos last year, but one thing that hasn’t changed much is Georgie’s love for fashion. 

“COVID-19 was really really hard on her, as it was for many elderly people. It was very isolating and took a toll on her mental health.  You could tell like that being alone all day was really difficult for her because she always came over. I have probably seen her every single day of my life growing up unless I was at a sleepover or something.  I think getting to do this, going back to sketching has helped keep her spirit in a better place. She seems to be really a lot happier than she was a few years ago,” Julia shared. 

This hobby may have only become a full-time job a couple months ago, but Julia has dedicated countless hours to modernize her grandmother’s sketches with elegance and flair. 

She can typically crank out one design a time, but it really depends on the design and the materials needed.

Despite the massive interest her followers have in purchasing her grandma’s designs, Julia isn’t sure she wants to venture out into that territory yet. 

Especially, since her grandmother’s designs weren’t made to be sold in mass quantities. 

“We have fun when we do these projects and we don’t like to take this too seriously … maybe one day that’ll be in the cards, but right now we’re just focusing on our videos and having a good time. If I really like them [the piece], I will save them to potentially re-wear, but the majority of them I break down and take the design apart. Then I either dye or repurpose the fabric. I try to reuse and be as resourceful and as environmentally friendly as possible,” Julia shared. 

Right now, Julia is working designing bathing suits for a sustainable swimwear company launching next year. 

The biggest lesson she’s learned from sharing this experience with her grandmother has been that it’s never too late to pursue one of your interests. 

“I think as women… When we get older, we can fade into the background. And I’ve learned that you don’t have to do that. You can have interests and it’s never too late to pursue something you want to pursue. You just have to go after it. Maybe it won’t work out, but then the worst that happens is it didn’t work out. But it could work out. I think it’s worth taking that risk. You don’t just have to fade out into the background, you can still have a new start and a new exciting thing in your life at any age,” Julia shared.

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