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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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    Feb 1, 2012, 08.10 AMby soaringviola

    This took definitely way too long! But FINALLY you became the featured member! :-) Congrats Ralf! Looking forward seeing more of your creations!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.39 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you so much for your kind words! this meant a lot to me!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 08.02 AMby caribbelle

    This is absolutely lovely and well deserved. Congrats Ralf!! Your dining table is amazing by the way.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.39 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you so much for your kind comment dear caribbelle!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 07.57 AMby 10ashus

    Love your details in your sewing projects. It is a tailors touch. I must learn to be more of a perfectionist. I am more likely to shrug and say it is close enough. That works all right for many things, but not the sewing.

    The beauty of that table setting would leave me so stunned that I would forget to eat.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.38 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear 10ashus! i know it is difficulte and tempting to quick quick finish things at times. but it is very rewarding when you really take your time to finish things. i allways try to finish a piece the best i ever can. that takes sometimes longer, but it is worth it.

      thank you for your kind comment! and greetings from berlin

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    Feb 1, 2012, 07.45 AMby JuliaBobbin

    Congratulations Ralf! I love that you found one of the brightest parts of your world while you were experiencing some of the darkest times in your life. You are an inspiration both in front of and away from your sewing machine. x

    3 Replies
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      Feb 1, 2012, 05.38 PMby Testosterone

      Ralf,

      I can only echo what JuliaBobbin has said (so eloquently!).

      Your spirit amazes and delights.

      Testosterone

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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.36 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear julia! i really feel the magic of beeing creative is a true gift and i agree with you, that it helped, bringing me over very dark and difficult times in my life! thank you for your comment!

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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.36 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear testosterone! thank you as well for beeing a friendly person and for your nice words here!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 07.45 AMby loulourosa

    Hello Ralf, congratulations! Your story is realy inspiring! I was allready impressed by how fast you learned all these sewingskills. I also love the pictures of your “weekend” house.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.35 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear Loulou! thank you very much for the lovely words you found for me! And YES we LOVE our little house in the gardens as well. it feels like a little escape from the noisy city, if we need it!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 07.02 AMby candicej

    It was great to hear more about you. I’ve (quietly) admired your skills for a while now, but more than that, the positive and constructive comments you pass on to other members is what really set you apart.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 3, 2012, 07.33 AMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear candicej! i can give that compliment back to you, as your lovely comment ment a lot to me too and makes me smile! thank you!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 06.58 AMby Vanessa Leigh

    Congrats dear Ra;f! I Love your feature and absolutely adore your vest trouser sets. Fabulous. I do love a dandy. I too went back to my childhood to remember my love of creating after a series of challenging events. I feel like you invited me in with your interview and so happy to have had a chance to read it and find out more about you. Continued creative joy doll. I wouldn’t mind one men’s feature a month :).

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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.04 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear vanessa lee! thank you so much for your encouraging words and comments! whenever i do something creative now, i do not want to make it as good as possible, i do want to have the most fun doing it. and that is such a great thing! don’t worry! nothing is going to stop me from bringing more thing on here at burdastyle!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 06.14 AMby monaverdour

    Love the plaid waistcoat, pants and bag! Bring on more men’s patterns. All you can find is pjamas and hospital wear!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.02 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      i can not agree more to this! when i wrote, i want more men’s pattern, i ment reall things, not those horrible carneval costumes or pjamas!

      thank you for your kind words :-)

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    Feb 1, 2012, 05.46 AMby Swirlz1

    Great article, thanks Ralf, it was inspiring

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.32 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you very much swirlz1

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    Feb 1, 2012, 05.41 AMby rita61

    Congrats! Well deserved! ps. My tea gets cold all the time too.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.31 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      another memeber of the “cold-tea-team”

      thank you for your kindness!

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    Feb 1, 2012, 01.46 AMby laikadoll

    Yay!!

    1 Reply
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    Feb 1, 2012, 12.16 AMby servareginae

    I am amazed at all you have accomplished in five years. …all of it fine work! The plaid suit and bag are fantastic!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.31 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you very much for this kind comment! i feel blessed having all of you as friends here at burdastyle!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 11.59 PMby mollykatherine

    Congratulations Ralf! such an inspiring story. I have always been a fan of your work (the matching pants/waistcoat/and bag in particular!) keep it up :) x

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.30 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear mollykatherine! thank you very much for these lovely words! love and greetings from berlin!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 11.36 PMby gatonju

    Yay Ralf! A much deserved feature!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.29 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      oh thank you so much gatonju!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 10.38 PMby arisaid

    Another tea drinker! Your work is very inspiring. With sewing the only way to find out if you can do something is to have a go. I really like your fabric choices. Keep sewing

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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.29 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you very much arisaid! you are so kind, writing this comment!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.55 PMby sophienissirios

    Ralf, i really enjoyed reading about you and what inspires you. I think you are a very well deserved featured member. I love the things you create. Thanks for sharing with us at Burdastyle and looking forward to seeing more of your creations :-)

    2 Replies
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.28 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear sophie! all these words mean so much to my. i am completley blown away from all the comments i got! thank you very very much!

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      Feb 2, 2012, 09.45 PMby sophienissirios

      You are very welcome. :-)

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.48 PMby mrsmole

    We share the same Janome machine and passion. Uplifting story and fantastic photos and clothing! Keep up the great work! Best wishes for 2012 with your work and husband. Jo Ann

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.27 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear jo ann! thank you so much for your kind words. isn’t this janome just the best! aside of my husband it is the big love of my life :-)

      so many compliments……………..Thank you!!!!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.44 PMby marta176

    Ralf: You would like to make a Harris Tweed Jacket? I made this one, Burda magazine, 10/2008 page 76, for my husband. You wouldn’t believe the number of men, both young and older, who stop him on the street, in the shops and stores to ask him where he got that jacket. It is a brown and black herringbone Harris Tweed. It is a bit untraditional for a Harris Tweed, but, hey, he’s an untraditional guy. Great to read about your new found “love” of sewing.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.26 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear marta, thank you very much for the great idea from burda 2008! i love the material Tweed very much and have also gotten so many great reactions on all my outfits. i think, we face a new classical look with a little twinkel in the eye in menswear! thanks again for your lovely comment!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.38 PMby poppykettle

    A sewist AND a tea drinker! Fabulous! Seriously, it’s incredible how having a hobby (like sewing) can take you to a happy place you never even knew existed. Loved reading about you, Ralf. Thanks for your time :)

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.18 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear poppy! looks like we have a lot in common! thank you very much for your kind words! hope to see more of your lovely creations on here at burdastyle soon!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.32 PMby Gabriele Yorlano

    Ralf, You are an inspiration to us all, I enjoyed reading more about you. You have been blessed with the talent of sewing…you are truly a Fiber Artist. So glad to count you as one of my friends. I am always wondering what you will make next. May God continue to bless you. I agree with Adriana, above. This is your gift! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.17 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear gabriele! i am particularily blessed from god to have you and adriana as my friends! the creativity is such beautiful thing in my life. having that and my husband and my home is almoust too much! but i do not forget to say thank you again and again! love and kisses from berlin! ralf

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.24 PMby MotherOfMany

    I agree with Ralf – it would be helpful to have men’s patterns more regularly. Ralf’s article is also a timely reminder that if you want to sew well then just get on and sew. Wishing you a long and creative life, Ralf. Adele.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.27 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dearest adele! thank you for your comment! i agree that sewing is so creative and lovely to do and you learn with every project you do something new! happy sewing to you and hope to see many more of your new creatins soon!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 09.05 PMby fashionfreek

    Excellent feature Ralf. Glad you are overcoming illness through creative art of sewing. I enjoy seeing your work. Nice pics of your work and home. Lol regrds to tea..my cuppa gets cold too and sometimes i forget to drink it too or never finish it. Its always good to see your projects..when you lay low for a time,i know you are creating your next masterpiece. All the best to you and your family:-D

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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.26 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      my dear friend! thank you very much for these lovely words. wellcome to the “cold-tea-club”! and i can only give these words back to you: i wait allways to see the next new lovely thing on your profile! kindest reagards from berlin!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 08.42 PMby disy

    Your sewing space/dining room looks incredible!! I love your suit with matching bag, fantastic

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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.24 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear disy! thank you so very much for your kind words!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 08.38 PMby funkyteal

    Wish you’d done this interview in the fall, I would have LOVED to come by for dinner! Ich war in Berlin nur ein Semester, aber es ist jetzt meine Lieblingsstadt. Fiel Erfolg mit deiner Gesundheit. I’m so glad you found sewing to keep you going!

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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.24 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      my dear! you HAVE to come back at one point and we will meet! thank you very much for your kind comment and lovely words! happy sewing!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 08.38 PMby sew4my3

    It’s about time you were featured! It’s so awesome to read about you and your trials and triumphs. Your honesty and sharing is a great inspiration. Oh and I have to mention that your sewing skills are proficient, and fashion friendly.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.23 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you so so much for all your support and help you gave me through the last 2 years. it has been a pleasure beeing here with you at burdastyle!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 08.33 PMby Leana Luna

    Your garments are absolutely amazing! And I do agree on the point that Burda should have at least one male pattern a month. It can’t be that hard, could it? :)

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.22 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear eline! i really hope, that burdastyle is waking up and going on the train to do more cloth for men and also for people with really big sizes. all these friends are out there and waiting just for this! thank you for your lovely words!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 08.19 PMby thefabledneedle

    Ralf, I’m so glad sewing has brought you joy and has helped you manage your condition! You are very talented (sewing men’s clothes is challenging, I know, I used to do so for a living) and are so positive. I hope BurdaStyle starts producing more men’s patterns. :)

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.21 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you for these lovely words! i know, that sewing “safed my life” in a way and i am really taking it as a gift whenever i start creating something new. the challeng of doing mens outfits is my best way to heal all my “problems”. kind regards from berlin!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 06.35 PMby martinK

    Hello Ralf, I have expected this interview for a long time, congratulations. As Joost already mentioned, the men sewing community has to stick together :-) I appreciate your work very much. Because of nerly no men pattern on burda I started to draw the patterns on my own. I will visit Berlin in may/ june and I’m sure that I will visit the fabricstore.

    Liebe Grüsse aus Rotterdam Martin

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.19 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear martin! thank you so much for your lovely comment! i agree: those few men in here have to stick together and that is what we do! please let me know, when you are coming to berlin this year, we have to meet in person and i would love to show you around! lots of love from berlin! ralf

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    Jan 31, 2012, 04.06 PMby daisybrain

    Such lovely suits. In the next year if I could create one so beautiful I’d make my husband very happy. He’s very particular and… I’d love to come over for dinner.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.01 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear daisy! come for dinner and bring your particular husband with you. we will talk about his new outfit than and there :-)

      thank you for the kind comment!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 04.02 PMby anajan

    It was a pleasure to read your interview, and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you better. I know what it feels like to be depressed and I believe sewing saved my sanity. I’m really glad it helped you, too. Isn’t it strange how hard times sometimes pull out the best from us and help us discover our talents?

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 05.00 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      one of the greates things in live is beeing creative and that can help you over so many bad things!

      i hope that sewing does mean as much to you as it means to me and i am very sure, that it will help us all to get out of very deep depressions.

      thank you very much for the kind words my dear!

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