She had to drop out of fashion school, but her granddaughter is resurrecting her stifled dream.

When Julia came upon the dozens of sketches her grandmother had made decades ago, they took her breath away. She already had a very close relationship with her grandmother — but this was something else. She wanted to know the story.

In the 1940s, Julia’s grandmother had enrolled in fashion school. Before she could finish, though, and make a career for herself, she had to drop out to support her family financially. It was a dream her grandmother set aside, along with stacks of sketches she had made. As it often does, life took Julia’s grandmother in another direction and she was never able to return to her fashion studies.

Resurrecting the Dream

rack of clothes
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

Decades later, though, her own granddaughter would also develop a passion for fashion. And when Julia found those sketches, she felt yet another connection to her grandmother. She was inspired to bring these sketches to life for her. The only problem was, Julia didn’t know how to sew.

She didn’t let that stop her. Getting her hand on cheap materials from thrift shops and watching YouTube videos, Julia taught herself how to sew. And when she posted the journey from sketch to reality of one of her grandmother’s ideas, the TikTok video went viral. In it, Julia walks down the steps to her grandmother, wearing a dress pulled straight off the page of one of the elderly woman’s sketches from the 1940s. 

“It’s one thing to see it in a drawing,” says Julia’s grandmother, “but it’s when you’re putting it together and I see it in real life [that] it kind of makes me want to cry a little bit.”

So Julia continued bringing her grandmother’s ideas to life and creating TikTok videos to share the process. The videos have millions of views. And though Julia thought the novelty of her project might wear off after a few videos, momentum is still going strong. 

Fashion Design: A Shared Love

Julia also undertook the restoration of her grandmother’s wedding dress, but her favourite project so far is a black and blue Moulin Rouge-style ballet dress. Julia says she’s always loved vintage clothing.

While the sentimental value of Julia’s project is strong, her grandmother is also impressed with her fashion talent. “You always add a little touch of your own creativity to the different designs,” she told her granddaughter, “which is very lovely to see because it brings us into this time in life.”

“We talk almost daily on the phone,” says Julia. She reads the social media comments to her grandmother and tells her about the videos that go viral. “I don’t think she really understood the gravity of what was going on until her relatives started calling her up,” Julia acknowledged. It was a surprise to her grandmother to hear that her family and friends had had seen her creations online or even on the news.

“Some people look up to rock stars or singers or artists. I always looked up to my grandma,” Julia explains. Her grandmother helped raise Julia and her siblings. She was at their house nearly every day when they were growing up. Julia also remembers going to her grandmother’s condo. “There would just be beautiful, sparkly old things,” she remembers. Her grandmother was resourceful and had an eye for nice things.

Having Fun With Her Grandmother

Undertaking this project has brought the two women even closer together. Says Julia, “Now, she talks to me more about fashion and her interests, [it’s developed into] more of an adult sort of friendship relationship that we have now. I think that she’s now able to not only see me as her granddaughter, but also see me as a friend. As someone who’s also interested in fashion. We definitely have more of a peer relationship, as opposed to before all these videos.” 

Julia is not sure where the project will take her, but for now she’s having fun taking her grandmother’s designs off the page and surprising her by modelling them in real life. “My main focus is just having fun with Grandma doing these videos, enjoying time with her. And then after the dust settles, we’ll see where we want to take it from there.”

For now, she continues to post videos on TikTok under the handle @boringbb. Besides videos revealing her grandmother’s designs, Julia posts her grandmother’s fashion advice and other DIY projects.

It’s inspiring to see such a close, intergenerational relationship, two women connecting through a shared interest. Millions of TikTok viewers would agree.

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