A TikToker is turning grandma’s 1940s fashion designs into dresses

  • Julia, a 27-year-old TikToker, makes dresses designed by her grandmother in the 1940s.
  • She said her grandmother was an aspiring designer who dropped out of fashion school in her teens.
  • She told Insider that she wanted to surprise her grandmother and share her designs with the world.

TikTok viewers are engrossed in the story of a Chicago woman who made dresses designed by her grandmother in fashion school — and is recording her grandmother’s laudatory reaction to share on the platform.

Julia, a 27-year-old TikTok user who asked that Insider not reveal her last name to protect her privacy, said she was visiting her grandmother Georgie one day in January 2021, looking through old sketches of dresses Georgie had designed when she was Teenager.

Georgie declined to comment for this article, but according to Julia, she went to fashion school in the 1940s and dreamed of being a fashion designer, but dropped out before graduating because she had to care for some family members who were ill.

When Julia saw the sketches, she thought they were beautiful, she told Insider.

“I knew Grandma was talented, but I said, wow, these are really much better than what I imagined in my head. And she mentioned that when she died, she wanted them to be sent to magazines or displayed at her funeral,” she said.

“But,” Julia added, “I just kind of thought, why wait for her to die?”

In January 2021, Julia posted a video on TikTok showing some of her grandmother’s drawings and it became her first post on the platform to go viral, garnering 2.7 million views.

Julia said she had very little sewing experience at the time, but decided to turn the sketches into real dresses to “bring them to life,” watching YouTube tutorials to learn basic sewing skills.

Using mostly old pieces of material left over from her grandmother’s own collection of vintage fabrics, Julia has now made four of her grandmother’s designs, trying to keep the budget under $300 per dress. Videos of Georgie unveiling the finished products go viral, often receiving hundreds of thousands of views per video.

“It’s absolutely stunning. And I thank you because it’s just wonderful and it feels so good to see something that I drew so, many years ago,” Georgie could be heard saying in a recent video of the dress unveiling, which has 1.8 million views on Julia’s TikTok account.

Julia thinks viewers were captivated by her story of intergenerational bonding

Julia told Insider that she thinks her TikTok series got so much attention from viewers because of the strong relationship between her and her grandmother, which viewers loved seeing on camera.

“It’s a wonderful bonding experience between us that made Grandma happy,” she said.

“A lot of people who are older and watch my videos say they like to see someone younger appreciate something from their generation,” she said, adding, “And then younger people see it and maybe they don’t have the best relationship with their grandparents, or maybe they lost their grandparents, so they say that watching my videos reminds them of their grandparents.”

The key takeaway Julia said she hopes people take 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 so different from ours.”

A picture of Julia showing Georgie her designs.

Julia described the TikTok series as a “bonding experience” between her and her grandmother.


According to Julia, her grandmother Georgie enjoyed knowing that many people on TikTok have now seen her designs, adding that she sometimes writes positive comments for her to read, as Georgie herself is not the most adept at using social media.

As someone who grew up “idolizing” her grandmother, Julia said she was delighted that people online had fallen in love with Georgie’s story and designs.

“I love anyone who shows gratitude for someone I love. So it’s amazing to be able to share that gratitude for my grandmother with other people. I love that feeling,” she said.

For more stories like this, check out reports from Insider’s digital culture team here.

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