Rita Gramsch — Banking on Creative Sewing

(Originally posted August 30, 2015)



With over 26,000 attendees — Toronto’s Creativ Festival is a comprehensive interactive marketplace and Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to sewing, knitting, quilting, beading, needlework, scrapbooking, DIY decorating, crafting, fibre, textile and paper arts and more. Creativ Festival is held twice a year in Toronto, Ontario Canada, every April and October, with two distinctly different formats. So, how is it that a woman who doesn’t sew starts a successful international consumer sewing show?

Rita Gramsch

Rita Gramsch

Rita with her mother, Eva.

Rita with her mother, Eva.

Rita Gramsch, the founder and president of Creativ Festival, laughs when she replies, “I never learned to sew because my mother was so good at it.  She sewed all my clothes.  And it was my mother, Eva Gramsch,  who was my inspiration. She was the General Manager of the Canadian Home Sewing and Needle-craft trade association.  Although I started my professional life in the banking industry, while on maternity leave, I helped my mother during the trade shows for the CHSN, and show biz got into my blood.”

a-aDSC_2219Retailers could attend the trade shows where they are exposed to the fabulous fabrics, fibres, yarns, tools and notions, but there was no such venue for consumers. It was blind faith and the belief that there was a need to educate, inspire and provide an exclusive shopping experience all under one roof that made Rita quit her management job at the bank.

In April 1988 she took that leap of faith and incorporated her business and launched the very first Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival (later renamed to Creativ Festival).  They were expecting 10,000 but had 18,000. It was a cold blistery October day with line ups wrapped around the building and a one hour long wait to get in.  Rita had the caterer staff walk the lines with canteens of coffee on their backs, serving complimentary drinks to the waiting crowd.

This is the 27th year and the biggest change Rita sees is the way they market and advertise the show. “It used to be we wrote the brochure, and breathed a big sigh of relief when it was printed.  But nowadays consumers expect instant and constant information.   Although we still print the conference brochure, most people receive it digitally.   They thrive on in-depth information and updates.  So we are always working on our website, our blog and, of course, Facebook . . . to provide additional information — teacher bios, detailed class information, any changes or additions as they happen.  So the job never ends!  It is hard and time-consuming to keep up with all the changes in technology and people’s access . . . but to remain successful we need to constantly be improving our skills and platforms.”

The 2014 Creativ Festival line-up includes:

  • “Bespoke” techniques, the almost lost arts of the tailors on Seville Row. Gio Gaudet, known internationally for his exquisite collections of felted outerwear will share Bespoke Tailoring Techniques for Jacket as well as Pants.
  • Author and former Threads editor, David Page Coffin for Making Trousers:  The Details and Shirtmaking:  The Details.
  • 200 hands-on workshops and seminars, inspirational exhibits, how-to demos and an exhibit hall buzzing with the hottest fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, notions, tools and more! You can try before you buy the latest sewing, quilting and embroidery machines from all the major brands.

aaFabric-Dyeing-Class-with-Maggie-VanderweitRita would like to issue her personal invitation for you to join in the fun this year.  Creativ Festival is your chance to meet sewww many fabulous designers, artisans, industry experts, phenomenal retailers and individuals who are passionate about what they do. Come to the show and be inspired!!

The 2015 Creativ Festival is October 15 to 17 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Nouth Building. Please call 1.800.291.2030 or visit:


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