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Woman discovers her grandmother's forgotten 1940s gown designs and turns them into reality

'The older generation is so similar to us in many ways. They all had dreams and hopes that weren't all that different from ours,' Julia said.

Woman discovers her grandmother's forgotten 1940s gown designs and turns them into reality
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb

Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 10, 2023. It has since been updated.

When Julia, a 27-year-old TikTok user (@boringbb) from Chicago, found her grandmother's old sketches of classic fashion gowns in January 2021, she resolved to fulfill Nana's old designer dreams. Despite having never sewn anything before, she was determined to bring the forgotten designs to life for her grandmother.

Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb
Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb

It's not surprising that when Julia shared her hard work with her ecstatic grandmother and later with her followers, more than 21 million viewers tuned in to see who the designer behind these iconic styles was. Her grandmother, Georgie, had designed these when she was a teenager. She attended fashion school in the 1940s and aspired to be a fashion designer but dropped out before completing her studies. Georgie, who was Julia's age at the time, put her fashion designer dreams on hold indefinitely to care for ailing family members. 


Julia thought the fashion design sketches, nearly three times her age, were lovely when she saw them. "I knew grandma was talented, but I was like, wow, these are really much better than what I was envisioning in my head. And she mentioned that when she dies, she wanted them to get sent out to magazines or displayed at her funeral. But, I just kind of thought, why wait until she's dead?" Julia shared with Insider. That's when the loving granddaughter decided not only to turn these designs into reality but also to record her grandmother's reactions to them.


Julia posted a video of some of her grandmother's sketches on TikTok in 2021, and it first gained traction on the platform, receiving 2.7 million views. Julia admitted she had no sewing experience at the time. But she decided to turn the sketches into actual gowns as a way of "bringing them to life," watching YouTube tutorials to teach herself basic sewing skills. 

Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb
Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb

Julia makes her grandmother's designs mostly out of old scraps of fabric left over from her grandmother's own collection of vintage fabrics while trying to stay under $300 per gown. Videos of her showing the finished products to Georgie continue to go viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views per video. Julia said that she believes her TikTok series has received so much attention from viewers due to the strong bond she has with her grandmother, which viewers have enjoyed watching play out on camera.


"It's a beautiful bonding experience between us that has made Grandma happy," she explained. In a recent dress reveal video which has gained 2.2 million views on Julia's TikTok account, Georgie said: "That is absolutely stunning. And I thank you because that's just lovely, and it feels so nice to see something that I drew so many, many years ago."

Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb
Image Source: TikTok | @boringbb

"Lots of people who are older and watch my videos say they love seeing someone younger appreciate something from their generation," Julia shared, adding, "And then younger people see it and they maybe don't have the best relationship with their grandparents, or maybe they lost their grandparents, and they say seeing my videos reminds them of their grandparents."

Julia stated that one key takeaway she expects people will gain from watching her series is that "the older generation is so similar to us in many ways. They all had dreams and hopes that weren't all that different from ours. I love anyone who shows appreciation for someone that I love. So being able to share that appreciation for my grandma with other people is amazing. I love that feeling."


Julia also says her grandmother Georgie is thrilled upon learning that many people on TikTok have viewed her designs. She occasionally prints out positive comments for Georgie to read because her grandmother is not the most adept at using social media herself. Julia, who grew up "idolizing" her grandmother, is overjoyed that people on the internet appreciate Georgie's story and designs.


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