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Where are you from and where do you live? What do you do other than sewing?
I was born in Austria, in a small town called Innsbruck. For the last 12 years, I have lived together with my beloved husband and my cat in Berlin, Germany. Due to a cronic illness (polyneuropathy), I had to stop working about 5 years ago and that brought me to sewing.


A young Ralf!

If we were to come to your town, where would you take us?
First, I would take you to my favorite fabric store: Stoffe Berger at Potsdamer Platz. For me it comes very close to paradise :) My second stop with you during your visit would be our new little summerhouse and garden near Berlin in an area that is called Spreewald. You would be astonished to see so much almost untouched nature so nearby a big city!

Last but not least, I would like you to come over to our place for a great dinner (both, my husband and I LOVE cooking!)

How did you begin you sewing journey?
When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness of my nerves, I suddenly was faced with lots of time. I developed depression due to that, and thought that this would be the end of my life. One of the doctors I was seeing during that time recommended occupational therapy, which brought me back to my childhood, when I loved creating things. One of the first things I made was a very simple pillowcase on an old sewing machine and this was like arriving to where I always wanted to go to. Sewing is now one of the most important things to me in life!


Ralf and his husband

Who or what inspires you?
I have a few names to mention: Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent are only a few of the most important ones to me. To find inspiration for my own work, I check out very old issues of Burda (I have some of my mum’s issues from the ’60s and ’70s!), and I visit BurdaStyle.com on a regular basis. Aside from that, old movies are such a great source of inspiration for me.

What’s your sewing secret weapon?
When I got my new sewing machine I realized how much it makes a difference to have a really good one! I always tried to get the material of a good quality and my machines, scissors, needles and threads are always the best I can afford.

I love using the machine-embroidery part of my sewing machine. This [helps in creating] monograms, borders etc.


Ralf’s sewing machine and serger.

Tell us about your sewing experience.
I do not have a separate sewing room (YET!!!) and so I use our big dining table instead. Before I start, I prepare the room (get my machines ready (sewing machine, serger, steam-iron), I check out that I have classic music on (countertenor Phillip Jaroussky is one of my “heroes”) and than I can forget time and everything around me. I always make myself a cup of strong, hot tea before I start, and am again and again surprised that it’s ice cold before I drink the first sip.


Ralf’s sewing space.

What is your dream sewing project?
I wish I could work with an old fashioned mans tailor for a while and do create my own very classic 3-piece-suit in herringbone Harris-Tweed.

How long have you been a member of BurdaStyle? What keeps you coming back?
I have been a member for 2 years now. My username is my real name. I check out the site twice a day, every day (in the morning and at night). I love that BurdaStyle gives me a chance to “meet” all these amazing talents out there around the world. If I were able to change one thing, than it would be that BurdaStyle should do ONE (1!!!!!) pattern for men per month (but this seems to be an unrealistic dream!).

What is the most frustrating thing about sewing for you? What is the most rewarding?
I do not like to make buttonholes (no matter if machine or hand-sewn once). The most rewarding thing is if I see something going wrong and can correct it right then, as I seem to learn more and more about all this myself!

Discover ralf schmitz’s top ten favorite member projects!

204 Comments

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    Mar 21, 2013, 11.59 PMby mencansewto

    What lovely things you make! i to dislike making button holes they either make or brake the sewing we are doing,its not helped by machines being set up to sew woman’s side ones rather than mens,keep up the good work!

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    Mar 4, 2012, 01.39 AMby Becky Ware

    Hi Ralph (again)! I forgot to mention that you may want to consider looking for the Lutterloh pattern system. It is made in Germany, & while the main system does more women’s clothing, they do have men’s supplements (catalogs kind of) that you can purchase too. They have pictures of the patterns after a section on sewing techniques, but then they have the patterns in miniature at the back of the manual. You use their special measuring tape to enlarge the patterns to your size & your measurements. You can also mix & match sleeves or necklines or other features from one pattern to another, so it makes designing your own patterns fun too. You can always look up their site & look through the pattern books to see if you like their patterns before you buy them, too. I just thought you might like another way to get good men’s clothes patterns. Good luck! Becky in NC

    1 Reply
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      Apr 12, 2012, 01.31 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dearest becky! thank you so much for your lovely long comment and the many great tips! i did started with lutterloh system this year (it was my xmas present!) and i LOVE LOVE LOVE it! it is great to work with and the cloth really fit nicely! men’s wear is a bit out of the hot fashion, but you can allways adjust things when you have a good basic pattern.

      about the patternholer, i will follow your recommandation! thank you so much for this interesting new idea for it. i hope, this brings me away from my buttonhole-fobia :-)

      i am so terrible sorry to hear about your healthissues! i can easily understand your situation and hope, that you have the same understanding and loving people around you, that i have. my hubby and my friends brough and still bring me through bad times and i had a lot of that in the past. i am quite stable at the momend and hope it will stay that way for a long time.

      wish you all the very best for your life and health and hope to see and read more of you here!

      warm regards and greetings from berlin

      ralf

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    Mar 4, 2012, 01.29 AMby Becky Ware

    Hi Ralph! I LOVE your sewing setup – even though you have to use the dining room table- it is HUGE & a perfect place for cutting out fabric as well as sewing! Your clothes you have sewn are INCREDIBLE! They look professionally sewn! You are clearly a very talented man! I noticed you said you hate making buttonholes, and I was wondering if you have tried one of the old buttonholers like Singer’s buttonholers that you use cams in it, so it sews the buttonhole exactly perfectly. I have to admit, now that I have compared the buttonholes from these buttonholers, to even the automatic buttonholes from the newer machines, I would choose the old buttonholer every time. A straight stitch only machine needs the older metal buttonholer, but the Singer Professional Buttonholer requires a zig zag capable sewing machine, & they come with the widest variety of buttonhole sizes & types, from eyelet, to keyhole, to the rounded ends, & even some for doing those bound buttonholes. The coolest look comes from doing the buttonhole once on regular settings, then reset the “bite” (I think that’s what it’s called- width setting on buttonholer), and then resew that buttonhole again, without moving the buttonholer at all, and it does a narrower tighter stitch around the inside of the buttonhole, making it look like it has been carefully hand sewn! I also have learned that my favorite way of cutting the buttonhole open, is using the chisel like buttonhole cutters that have different sizes of blades for different sizes of buttonholes. They come with a wood block so you don’t accidentally cut up your table, but they are razor sharp & cut the buttonholes the absolutely neatest, most perfect way! I also noticed you have a nerve disease, and while it is different from what I have, mine is Neurofibromatosis 2, I grow nerve tumors in my brain, spinal cord & nerves throughout my body, it sounds like it has a lot of similar symptoms, particularly the pain and/or numbness type of issues. I’m very sorry you have to suffer with this, but I am really happy for you that you have discovered how wonderful & fun sewing can be! By the way, you remind me very much of the actor Tony Curtis- you have the same gorgeous eyes & smile! My hubby has those same gorgeous eyes & long dark curly eyelashes even though he is a blonde- I guess you could say I love gorgeous eyes on a man! LOL! Back to sewing though, I really am impressed at what a wonderful job you have done of fitting your clothes! Particularly with you only having sewn for 2 years, you do an absolutely beautiful, quality job! What brand of sewing machines do you use? I noticed your comment about requiring quality sewing machines, and I absolutely agree! I have discovered huge differences in the quality of stitches, & how much easier it is when you have a quality machine, compared to cheap junk that just wastes your sewing time, by having to try to work on adjusting the machine all the time. I look forward to seeing your future sewing projects! Becky in NC

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    Feb 25, 2012, 12.17 PMby magdamagda

    wonderful feature, a lil late- I thought you must have been feature a long time ago! ..But I loved reading your story now! Thank you Ralf for all the details, wishing you lots of luck and strength, keep making impeccable happy garments and continue to inspire us all!

    1 Reply
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      Apr 12, 2012, 01.26 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear magda! thank you so much for the comment and it is never too late, to write something so nice! i will not stop sewing, don’t worry!

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    Feb 22, 2012, 02.09 PMby Justine of Sew Country Chick

    Hi Ralf, You are such a skilled tailor. I love that last checked suit. I wonder if you could tell me what type of machine you have?

    1 Reply
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      Feb 25, 2012, 06.52 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear justine! i have a janome memory craft 11000 for the sewing and embroidery part and a singer serger. the serger was very cheap but works really well. the janome was sooo expensive, but worth every penny! thank you for your kind comment!

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    Feb 22, 2012, 02.09 PMby fraulau-1

    ralf, du bist mir wirklich sehr sympathisch! vielen dank für die inspirierenden worte, ich fand es so schön, wie du beschrieben hast, wie du alles vorbereitest, bevor du mit dem nähen beginnst. wie eine kleine persönliche “zeremonie”. (: von den genähten sachen, die oben abgebildet sind, bin ich auch ganz angetan, werde gleich mal in dein profil schauen, ob ich da noch mehr entdecke. ich wünsche dir alles gute für die zukunft, mach weiter so!

    viele liebe grüße, laura

    1 Reply
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      Feb 25, 2012, 06.51 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      liebe laura! das ist wirklich sehr nett von dir und ich danke dir vielmals. das mit der zeremonie ist wirklich so, und ich bereite damit auch meine arbeit vor um den stress des alltags erst mal hinter mir zu lassen. wenn man ruhig ist (auch innerlich) dann lässt es sich einfach besser arbeiten , alles liebe! ralf

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    Feb 20, 2012, 03.11 PMby houmeri

    Hey Ralf! It’s great to know someone else is trying to get men’s patterns! Why don’t you try designing your own? You have the forms, and there is software available to help put it onto paper….. Mean while, I am so envious of your lovely table and home. Being in the UK, our rooms are not large, and I share my sewing area with a piano, desk, PC, chest of drawers, printers, bookcase and a chair the dog sits on!! Have just returned to sewing after many years, and I too, find my drink is cold before I get to it. You guys are lucky to have each other, so may I wish you many happy years of sewing!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 25, 2012, 06.49 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you so so much for this kind comment! i have a lot of friends in england and know about the problem, having smaller rooms there. we are lucky in berlin, with all the old buildings and hughe rooms! and a warm wellcome to the “cold-tea-club” :-)

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    Feb 19, 2012, 08.11 PMby Timea Schmidt

    Dearest Ralf! I didn’t get the chance to congratulate you ’till now. So here it comes: CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FEATURE!!!! You are sooo deserve it! Your talent , passion and patient is admirable. Best of luck with everything in your life. Keep coming back here to make all so jealous:)))) and happy with your wonderful projects! Love from the US!

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      Feb 25, 2012, 06.47 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      these kind words mean so much to me! thank you very much my dear timi! and kind regards from berlin! (sitting on packet luggage and wait to start into my hollidays!)

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    Feb 15, 2012, 02.53 PMby kelepso

    Congrats Ralf! Sorry I just had to opportunity to read your story. Great article David! Best of luck to you, your husband and cat :-)

    1 Reply
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      Feb 25, 2012, 06.46 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you kelepso! you are too kind. and i have to agree that DAVID created a wonderful article (thank you very much for that!)

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    Feb 14, 2012, 08.23 PMby emperorny67

    I don’t like to design men clothing but I would like that somebody one day come out with something out of the traditional style. Men clothing is always the same styles, Wish that someday the macho men could take out of their mind that mentality, so they could allow designers to be more creative and put more color and style to the s designs

    1 Reply
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      Feb 25, 2012, 06.45 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you for your comment! i hope that my men’s clothing is not too boaring for you!

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    Feb 8, 2012, 09.57 AMby zaarissima

    congratulations and a big hug!!! You deserve it!!!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 8, 2012, 03.15 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      my dear zaarissima! thank you very very much for your kindness!

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    Feb 7, 2012, 02.47 PMby Bartas DubLinski

    Congratulations! It’s nice to see men’s clothing! I like your style :)

    1 Reply
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      Feb 8, 2012, 03.14 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you bartas! happy sewing to you!

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    Feb 7, 2012, 10.33 AMby buddingnaturalist

    Congratulations! Totally coveting your serger + sewing machine combo as well you two (TWO!) dress forms!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 8, 2012, 03.14 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you very much! and i do love my “ADAM and EVE” dress forms as well :-)

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    Feb 6, 2012, 08.50 PMby mahaila

    WOW! I haven’t looked at Burdastyle for a few days. I am more then excited to see your feature! Congrats. One of the best features yet. It seems that your inspirational words have touched many members. Good onya ralf! …. and it’s about time that you were featured.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 6, 2012, 09.11 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you so much my dear friend! i am so thrilled about all the reaction on my article and can not belive how many people have contacted me in only so few days. it is great seeing how the burdastylenetwork is working! thank you for your kind comment and hope to see you very soon!

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    Feb 6, 2012, 08.37 PMby wzrdreams

    Congratulations Ralf! Your home looks lovely and I am envious of your long dining table. Keep up the good work!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 6, 2012, 09.09 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you my dear! i love my big table as well: it can host lots of guests, or takes all my sewingwork or or or…… many possibilities for one table. kind regards from cold berlin! ralf

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