Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ditsies and Mela Koehler

Brenda and her mom have finished the top they made from a ditsy floral pattern I showed last year.

I'd seen a kit in an online auction and showed it when I was discussing ditsies---vague florals of basic shapes. The pattern was easy to draft (that's the great thing about ditsies-there's nothing to them) and they made it in hand-dyed fabrics with various black batiks for backgrounds.

A very modern looking quilt in the color scheme and in the simplicity of the floral.
You can follow her progress at her Scraps And Strings blog:

 A hundred years ago these simple florals (textile designers now call them ditsy prints) were a keynote in modern design.

Artist Mela Koehler often featured simple florals in her illustrations of fashionable women. Here's a modern floral on a period costume in a postcard from about 1910.

My favorite Mela Koehler illustration.
Two dachshunds and a rainstorm

Melanie Leopoldina Köhler-Broman was born in Vienna, Austria on November 1885. As an art student in Vienna between 1905 and 1910 she was a student of Kolomon Moser, one of the stars of the Vienna Workshop movement (the Wiener Werkstätte.) Her illustrations of fashionable women and children became popular postcards and fashion designs. She was interested in textile designs, as you can see in her postcard illustrations, and also designed prints for the Workshop. She died in Stockholm on December 15, 1960.


Translation of the German ö in her name causes numerous spellings of Köhler. She signed most of her postcards Mela Koehler but some have her married name Mela Koehler Broman. Another spelling is Koeler. She also signed some Mela Koehler Wien, which means Mela Koehler Vienna.

She often included dogs with her fashionable women.
Same storm, different pet.

And here's a little eccentricity from Vienna before World War I,
Taking your pet pig out for a glass of champagne.

Original Mela Koehler postcards in good condition are worth over $100.
I'm keeping my eye out at the flea market. 

Oh, we were talking about ditsies weren't we. Read more about them in this post that inspired Brenda.


  1. I think I have seen postcards like that, will have to keep my eyes open.
    I like the quilt with the flowers, bright flowers looks so beautiful against black.


  2. Love the colourful flowers on the black background. Very dramatic and effective.

  3. Those Mela Koehler works are incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  4. My favorite inspiration for ditsies are the Raggedy Ann books or anything else illustrated by Johnny Gruelle. I think he inspired some of Mary Englebreit, too.

  5. Love the post, isn't it amazing how we can take such a simple pattern and create so much beauty.