Hi, my name is Gwen Loiselle. I am a Born and Bred Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Gal, and sewing has always been a large part of me. It’s been in my life a long time, as my mother has always been a seamstress. As a child, mom was always sewing, and used to sew up 1000 Barbie outfits to sell to help with providing for us (4) children at home at Christmas. Eventually she opened her own Custom Drapery company, and sewing was here to stay….
As it would be, once I married and had my first child, my husband and I agreed I should stay home if we could manage it, and as a part of that, I eventually began to follow in my mother’s footsteps, and sewing became firmly entrenched into my persona. For 15 years, I also had a custom drapery shop, until it became something that was no longer fun for me, I eventually agreed with my husband to close the shop, and change the course of my life…My children now emerging as independent souls, weren’t as needy of my being there as a Mom, in the sense that they could fend for themselves (teenagers), so I backed away from sewing for a time. Eventually I rediscovered sewing as a favorite thing to do, when what I would create was something I enjoyed doing again, and Quilting with my sewing machine was for me.
Then a way back in 2003, there was a “Creative Stitching” show held in the spring of the year, March to be exact. A very good friend and fellow quilter, Wendy, and I went to the show and I returned home all excited about the new sewing machine we had experienced at the show. I spilled over with excitement to my husband…I’m not sure that he shared in the excitement, as it did carry a pretty hefty price for us in those days, but the love affair with my “Soon to be” HQ Sixteen begins…
Before I can tell you more about that, you need to know how it comes to be that I would just get such a machine, since it turns out that it’s my husband’s pastimes that did me the favor! So I need to tell you a bit about him, so you can understand all this…He’s a Gadget guy…He’s a Snowmobiler…And he loves his tools (or should I say toys)!
So…His name…Louis…Louis likes his stuff just so…and he always likes to be in the thick of whatever he does, so you can imagine, when “Draperies by Gwen” was alive and well, he was also the installer…yet, the thing that brought me the machine to solve for my creative passion, was his love of the sport of snowmobiling…it had been some time since I had invested in a new sewing machine, and my husband was laying down hints of a new snowmobile…so I gave him a compromise…I’d go along with him getting a new sled, if I got a new sewing machine…but It wasn’t quite that simple…men do enjoy an incredible ability to be selective in their hearing…my Louis…An expert at this…however, when he is focused, he does hear…he doesn’t always respond, but he can listen, and does occasionally give me signs…this is to be one of those times…
It’s April, and the 25th is my birthday…Louis had been involved in a project for the company he worked with, and was in Houston, Texas before my birthday, so I wasn’t sure anything was coming, or he had anything up his sleeve. Anyway, he returns home from his trip on the 24th of April, and I was at home, at the time, and I don’t specifically remember doing what, but it was soon to not matter, for he was about to try to surprise me a whole bunch. So when he landed, he took a cab to his company truck, and as far as I knew was coming straight home. His truck was parked at the office of the company for which he is employed, and it is very near the airport, so it was an easy step for him in the day. It turns out, this worked right into his plan, for he had gotten into his truck, and drove right over to Central Sewing Machines in Edmonton, and was attempting to buy the very first HQ Sixteen sold to an Edmontonian. So, as the agent for Handi Quilter, the sale was being set up in Edmonton, but the actual purchase was being rung up right there in Bountiful, Utah. The key to this is his credit card, which he was using, has a fairly high security tracking on it, and Visa had been attempting to crack down on Fraud which had been on the rise… Now here’s Louis…clean credit card, except for his trip to Texas, loads of room on it for the purchase, but because of the way the sale was being setup, the computer flagged the bank, and his card is shut down…he is not impressed! The whole credit card thing did not go well for Visa when he was done with them, but that’s an entirely different story in itself…It actually involves the next little bit of the story, and the newly introduced privacy laws in Canada…please keep in mind this is his surprise to me for my birthday…While this is happening to him at the store, The folks at Visa call for him at home…of course…he’s not there with me..He’s doing the surprise!!!!! Surprise the simple, innocent, unsuspecting, person (fool) on the other end who worked with Visa…slips out the story, and now I know what he’s up to! How could I say no to a new quilting machine! That could never be right! He just isn’t aware of this just yet!
Always the careful planner, Louis has a second credit card with him, and he gets the sale completed. AHHHH, I’m getting a new HQ Sixteen! And I know it!
So when Visa is done telling me the story, which they shouldn’t have, I pick up the phone…Louis has a cell, and the bank has the number …they should have called him…but they didn’t….he did have the cell with him, and it was turned on, because when I dialed him, he answered….I probably shouldn’t have, but I let the cat out of the bag…I don’t think he wasn’t exactly happy…no ,he definitely wasn’t happy that the surprise had been spoiled…Hmm
So, the investment into my Handi Quilter life begins…At the time, when we picked up the machine, a table was going to be another large investment, so Louis also enjoying doing things with his hands, decided to build me a table…its very sturdy welded steel frame, and it has a sanitary white arborite finish, with a pine trim around to match the cabinets in my sewing room.
For the first 6 years, I allowed myself to just continue to fumble my way along, and complete some projects doing mostly freehand work, and enjoying the time I was able to work on the HQ…sewing had again become a fun thing to do. It wasn’t until the doctor for whom I now work for, decided to give me a Christmas bonus, in which she would buy me something I wanted, that I began to look for things to do, and I spent some time on the HQ website, and I learned about your HQ retreats. Well, the spark was again lit, and that was what Louis and I agreed I should do.
Now the HQ Family grows for me, as Vicki, Cathy, Cheryl and Hatti, become very familiar HQ people to me. I have now shared in 3 retreats, enjoying each one tremendously…as I always learn something new. I am always treated so well, I almost feel like family. Now, I have even moved up to having my own “HQ Pro-Stitcher” mounted to my table and HQ Sixteen. Louis is now finishing the expandable wing for my table so I can spread the machine out to 120”, and I will finish a quilt for our own king bed.
Seems like maybe we might need a new house soon, so I can have a larger crafts room, because I dropped the hint for the Fusion information in front of Louis a time or 2 now…And I’m never really sure what he’s thinking….
By the way, It turns out that, that spring he did do a “SnowCheck” advance order for a new snowmobile for himself….you don’t say! Hmm, men, they don’t think we understand them!
I own the following HQ machines: HQ Sixteen, HQ Pro-Stitcher