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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

  • The_mermaid_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 03.14 PMby blueartisan

    It’s wonderful to know more about you Ralf, I admire your classical yet modern and ever so slight flamboyant style, I think it is tougher for men in the world of fashion as people are for more critical of men being creative with their sense of style (especially in Australia!). I am looking forward to seeing many more great things from you! Oh and I am so glad I am not the only person who does the tea thing… must be the mark of an artist huh?

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.58 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      wellcome to the “cold-tea-club”! again another one! i really think, that this is a sign of quality for our work :-) !!

      thank you for your kind words and your compliments. i only can repeat myself by saying how much all this means to me!!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 02.31 PMby ajtak7171

    Ohhh congratulations, this is well deserved!! I didn’t know you’re from Innschbrukk!? Reading your interview was so inspiring – all the best to you!

    2 Replies
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.56 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      jo i bin a tiroler! but not really much anylonger! i have a german passport, as i got married to my husband 10 years ago, at a time, this was not allowed in austria. thank you very much for your kind words!

    • Blogportrait_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 08.46 PMby ajtak7171

      Dafür wohn ich in Wien, bin aber Schweizerin… Hey tausend Dank dass ich in Deinen Top 10 bin, das ist eine grosse Ehre!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 01.48 PMby sunnilj9

    You are a gem Ralf! I love reading more about you and your inspiring journey! Your sewing accomplishments are truly fabulous! I am in love with your three piece suits – gorgeous. You have great style and a definite eye for amazing fabric. xoxo, Sunni

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 04.55 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear sunni! thank you very much for your kind comment and beeing a lovely friend here at burda! i send you all my love and greetings to you!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 01.26 PMby Peter Lappin

    Congratulations, Ralf. Great to learn so much more about you!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 04.54 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear peter! thank you for beeing such an inspiration to me and for your kindest words!

  • Nanacosta_marzo_2011_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 01.20 PMby Adriana Orozco

    My dearest Ralf¡¡¡ congratulations for being feature here!!! As you well know, I have great love and admiration for you as a wonderfull person, and for you as a very artistic and talented man!!. God acts in such ways….as I read your story, and the problem with your illness, I could see how He acted in your life for you to show us all, the wonderfull talent that you have and now are using in such a wonderfull way. Every single proyect of yours, it is an enjoyment to see. your natural good taste, your lovely details, the enthusiasm that you proyect thru your work, it is really inspiring, and I feel so honored, to be counted amomg your friends. May God keep blessing you!!! much love to you…..“all the way” from the rainforest!!!

    2 Replies
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.53 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      beloved adriana! i am sure everbody here at burdastyle is not astonished if i confess that you are my best friend here! our connection is going far over the sewing and your love, creativity and friendship are so amazing to me. i feel gifted and blessed knowing you and hope that we will once meet in person! (i am sure we will in the future!)

      be embrassed and kissed from us here in the icecold east (we had minus 12 degrees and wind today and i can not wait until spring arrives again!)

      love

      ralf

    • Nanacosta_marzo_2011_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 06.52 PMby Adriana Orozco

      Wow!! wow!! my darling friend!!! thank you so much for your loving words that…..make me tearfull!!! but this is a way this lating woman shows happiness!!! My darling….have you noticed how many people have written to you to congratulate you??? there is a reason for that!!! YOU are speciall !!!! I love you a lot, and I know that in one moment of our lifes we are going to be able to embrace and kiss!!!! God Bless you my darling friend. Love to Ludwic also!!!

  • Sam_0020_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 11.39 AMby wardrobe-cat

    You are an inspiration. Amazing. I love your attention to detail and design lines. And I want to say THANKYOU. Both for inspiring me but also showing my son what he could do. Your style is classic, stylish and a little cutting edge. Again thankyou and well done for your feature. :))))))

    2 Replies
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.51 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear friend! what a lovely compliment to be an inspiration for you! i only can give this back to you and all the others here at burdastyle. it is one of the highlights of the day to check out the new things here and a fruitfull inspiration to me too! thank you again and greetings to your son!

    • Sam_0020_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 08.05 PMby wardrobe-cat

      I shall pass that on. :)))))

      Enjoy your ever growing popularity. You’ve earned it.

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    Jan 31, 2012, 11.00 AMby dottty

    Arrrrrrrrrrr Ralf you are beautiful jj:)x

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.49 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      oh dotty! and you are such a great friend, my dear! thank you for beeing you! love from berlin! ralf!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 10.35 AMby libra-s

    Your projects are amazing, and your story is very inspiring! Keep up the good work!

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.48 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank you so much for your kind words!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 08.28 AMby joost52

    Oh man, I’m all emotional to see you as a featured member :) This is truly awesome, I am totally coming to Berlin this year to go to this fabric store with you :) And I’m curious about your new sewing machine. What model is it? Obviously, congratulations are in order. You absolutely deserve to be a featured member, and I love love love to see a man being featured member (no offense ladies, but we are a minority and we have to stick together). I am sure that this men-helping-men spirit must have played a part in your selection of favorite projects, because I was rather flattered to see my jeans there :) However, I don’t care, it makes me very happy nevertheless :)

    Enjoy the spotlight, you totally deserve it! And I’ll let you know when I’m coming over to Berlin :)

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.48 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      my dear friend joost! thank you so so much for beeing a lovely friend and inspiration. thank you as well for your comment. it is heartwarming and i am full of joy and happines getting such a lovely response on my interview! my sewingmashine is a janome memory craft and has been horrible expensive, but worth every single penny! i can highly recommend it. the embroidery part of it is easy to handle and really such a source of new creativity to me! hope to see you soon in berlin. let me know, when you are coming :-)

  • Justoloco_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 08.02 AMby hwoodjusto

    Love this interview. I have you as a friend on here and am happy to get to see into your design/sewing life! Thank you for including one of my items in your selection. Also on a side note, when I was an exchange student in Germany, I lived in the Spreewald region. A small town called Lubben. From your photos above, I can see we have a similar style and am glad to see you make stuff for yourself…something I am just starting to do. Keep up the great work and designs and thanks for allowing us into your home and life for this interview!

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.45 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      it is increadible that you lived in Lubben (only 20 minutes away from our summerhouse!) you have to come back again and i show you around in our area as well. thank you very much for beeing such an inspiration to me and for your kind and lovely words. all this means such a lot to me! love and greetings from freezing berlin! ralf

  • Autoportrait_noir_et_blqncpm_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 07.43 AMby antony chauvin

    c’est toujours trés sympa d’en apprendre un peu plus sur la vie des couturiers, c’est triste d’avoir attendu votre"maladie" pour vous mettre à la couture, qui est maintenant une source d’inspiration et de réconfort, vous faites du trés joli travail (tout comme urbandon!!) c’est vrai que sur BurdaStyle il y a pas assez de projets pour hommes!!! Vous formez un beau couple, a bientôt TRADUCTION : It is always trés nice to learn it a little more on the life of the fashion designers(dressmakers), it is sad to have waited for your “disease” to put you in the sewing, which is now a source of inspiration and comfort, you make of the trés attractive work (quite as urbandon!!) it is true that on BurdaStyle there are not enough projects for men(people)!!! You train(form) a beautiful couple, soon has

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 04.43 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      mercie beaucoup pour tes mos ci gentilles! i do understand french quite well and really have been happy to read your lovely words. (especially to call me a dressmaker! i am thrilled!!!) thank you again and warm regards from berlin

  • Dscf6507_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 06.25 AMby urbandon

    Hey! Thanks for including me in your top ten! Nice to see some familiar faces too like Kazz, Peter and Joost.

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 02.17 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      well we seem to have the same taste at some point :-)

  • Dscf6507_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 06.22 AMby urbandon

    Finally! Well done for being featured- well deserved. Of course, your pieces are amazing- especially the Sherlock Holmes. So nice to hear a little more about you.

    Looking forward to you taking me to that fabric store when I’m there!!!

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 02.17 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear don! you are such an inspiration for me and i admire what you do so very much! thank you for beeing a friend within this family! allways love to see your new things upcoming!

  • P4010345_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 02.55 AMby pambox

    Add me to the list of sewers whose cup of tea always gets cold before I finish it.

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 02.16 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear pam! wellcome to the “cold-tea-club” than and thank you for your lovel words!

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    Jan 31, 2012, 02.42 AMby jennyrecorder

    Ralf I have marvelled at your expertise in the few short months I have been a member of Burdastyle, your workmanship is exemplary and yet you take the time to be encouraging to we lesser sewers :) I agree about the men’s patterns, I would love to see more on the site as I want to make more contemporary stuff for my rather conservative husband. Thankyou so much for sharing your story and smiling through all that you’ve been through. Best wishes, Jenn.

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.16 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear jenn! thank you very much for your kind comment! i blushed reading your compliments. thank you so much for all this! as for the patterns: i can highly recomment the pattern construction system from lutterloh called “the golden rule”. it has a special issue only for menswear within you find over 55 different patterns and this is a great base for a complete warderobe!

  • Patti_12-28-2011_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 02.36 AMby patti-r

    Ralf, Congratulations on being selected as a Featured Member!!! So enjoyed reading about your life and seeing how sewing brings you a sense of accomplishment, love your great sewing toys. As others said you have inspired us all!!! Very proud of you.. Blessings to you and your husband. Patti

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.13 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear patti! thank you very much! i think that my biggest sewing tool is the lovely and warm support of all of you here at the burdafamily! and the inspiration works in both ways. i love to see all your new things as well everytime, you bring up something new! lots of love from berlin!

  • Cali_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 01.38 AMby threadsquare

    I am SO HAPPY to see you featured!!! I feel like you’re an old friend, funny how the internet does that :) Thanks for sharing your story, Ralf. I’m so glad you found sewing. You’ve got talent! Oh, and the same thing happens to me… I brew a cup of tea, get down to business, take a sip, and it’s frigid :)

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.12 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      my dear! same here: i feel as if i know you allready in person! it was such a fantastic thing for me to be featured and i feel more than blessed with all this lovely comments here! thank you very much for yours!

  • 1-p1280522_large

    Jan 31, 2012, 12.13 AMby verypurpleperson

    Thank you for sharing the story, Ralf! I feel like I was invited to take a glimpse into your life. I always make a cup of tea before sewing and then get surprised too when it is cold before the first sip! All the best and love!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.09 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      my dear friend! thank you very much for this lovely note! i would so much love to give a hughe sew-along-party for everyone here at burda. would’nt that be fun to meet all of you in real live??

  • Img_1294_large

    Jan 30, 2012, 10.36 PMby emily-marie

    Ralf- Thanks so much for sharing you story, and always being such an encouragement to everyone here on BurdaStyle! You are amazing & so skilled! Looks like you throw one swanky dinner party, too. :)

    Oh, I have to add that I do the same thing with tea (and coffee) ALL THE TIME. Reheated is never quite the same!

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 02.08 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear emily! i agree: reheated tea is horrible and i start getting used to cold tea these days! thank you very much for your kind comment. this means a lot to me!

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    Jan 30, 2012, 08.15 PMby sala22

    So inspiring to see how sewing was/is a form of therapy for you! Thank you for sharing

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.07 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      thank YOU for your kind comment dear sala!

  • Ella_and_mama_large

    Jan 30, 2012, 07.52 PMby Pet Mama

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am new to sewing, just got my first sewing machine at christmastime. I have made my husband 3 vests and I am working on a 4th. I have made myself 4 shirts and will be making some flannel pyjamas. I am glad that you found something that makes you happy and inspires you after your illness. You and your husband are so cute!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.06 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      wow !!! 4 vests since christmas! you are very fast! i am very happy for you, that you started sewing. you will see, it is such a great thing and there is nothing more rewarding than to either wear your own made cloth or to see someone else wearing them! good luck for you and hope to see loads of new things from you!

  • Missing

    Jan 30, 2012, 03.55 PMby Victoria Callas

    I was wondering the same thing- do you blog? I would love to read more as your garments look so amazing and your life story is really inspiring. Congrats at arriving there where you found your happiness. All the best luck to you!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.05 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear victoria! thank you very much. sorry for not bloging or facebooking or anything else. i love the place here at burdastyle and this is what i can do so fare postingwise. kind regards from frozen berlin (minus 12 degrees today!)

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    Jan 30, 2012, 03.41 PMby mkonieczki

    Your sewing space is INCREDIBLE! And, I LOVE your trousers and vests! Seriously wonderful!

    1 Reply
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      Feb 2, 2012, 02.04 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      dear mkonieczki! thank you very much for your compliments. i love our place to! as the flat is located quite central in berlin, yet it is very quite, as we are overviewing a little garden!

  • Missing

    Jan 30, 2012, 03.38 PMby Podbod18

    Wow, your garments are amazing! I especially like…pretty much everything you showed. I agree that there is a shocking dearth of patterns for men, and it is a shame that burda have not as yet addressed this. Do you write a blog? If so,what is it called?

    1 Reply
    • Dsc09595avatar_large

      Feb 2, 2012, 02.03 PMby Ralf Schmitz

      Dear podbod! thank you very much for your kind comment (you where the first!). sorry, that i am a boaring person and have not got a blog. all i have to poste is here at burdastyle!

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