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Handmade

Meet Dakota Grady, proprietor of Gentry’s Limited

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

In an age-old story, it was love that drew 24-year-old Dakota Grady to St. Louis from his hometown of San Antonio. Three years ago he and St. Louisan Myra Stull, a Montessori teacher and writer, were married.

Recently, he opened Gentry’s Limited, a made-to-measure men’s clothier located in the CWE’s TechArtista Co-Working Environment, 4818 Washington.

A reference to religion in a post about men’s fashion would seem rather unusual, except that Grady, a Reformed Baptist, wears his faith on his sleeve. The 2nd oldest of 7 children (his 4 brothers have Biblical surnames), the young entrepreneur said that fashion is “his calling” and that he has always had his own style and a knack for putting clothes together.

Upon arriving in St. Louis he talked his way into a job at Savile Row, a custom clothier in Clayton, despite that at the time they said they weren’t hiring. Initially he worked only 5 hours a week, but his work ethic paid off as he learned the made-to-measure menswear business and he was eventually hired full time.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

When Grady decided to strike out on his own and offer his unique brand of service to St. Louis, he chose to locate his shop, Gentry’s Limited, in the Central West End.  He said that there were already several men’s clothing stores in Clayton. When I interjected that there are several men’s stores in the CWE as well, he countered that the neighborhood’s history attracted him, as did its edginess, and the vibe at TechArtista appealed to him and to his customers who enjoy the novelty of the location..

Grady describes his customers as busy professionals of all ages who feel presentation is extremely important, some of whom don’t have the time or even necessarily like to shop.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

The striking suit above is an example of what Gentry’s Limited offers. Consultations can take as little as 30 minutes or more than an hour. Grady helps clients with design, fabric selection (he has an exclusive selection of fabrics to choose from), and takes measurements which are kept on file.

Grady offers two clothing lines at Gentry’s Limited. Black line suits, which are 1/2 hand-stitched and 1/2 machine-stitched and start at $1310. Black line jackets feature a softer drape. Gold line garments, which start at $1500, feature top luxury fabrics and are entirely hand-stitched. Whether Black or Gold, jackets and pants take 5 to 7 weeks to be completed.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

Examples of handsome fabric and imaginative lining selections are shown above. Fabric choices include wools, linens, cottons, bamboo, cashmere and a few synthetics.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

The photo above shows one of many books filled with off-beat fabrics to choose from for custom-made shirts, which start at $140 and take 3 to 4 weeks to complete.

As we wrapped up our interview Grady said the adage “less is more” can be applied to his made-to-measure clothing. Having one beautiful hand-made suit that fits perfectly is worth more than owning several less expensive suits of lesser quality.  He’s pleased that his clients have responded so favorably to his product and the service he offers, though he has never doubted his decision to venture out on his own.

Gentry’s Limited, 4818 Washington Blvd., Suite 305, is open by appointment only. For more information contact Dakota Grady at 314.239.7982 or dakota@gentryslimited.com.

Fiber artist Marianne Axboe’s gift to Second Presbyterian Church

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End

One of the many interesting and not generally known facts about the CWE’s Second Presbyterian Church, 4501 Westminster at Taylor, is that it features a collection of beautiful Tiffany glass windows in the sanctuary (see mention in post here). Additionally, the interior of the Romanesque Revival structure has undergone major renovations over the past 5 years, including removal of the organ’s 50-year-old pipes which were transported to Ohio for cleaning and reinstalled a few months later. See earlier post on that topic here.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End

Recently, I was invited by long-time friend Nancy Quigley, who is active at Second Presbyterian, to photograph stunning new banners and paraments (defined as “ornamental ecclesiastical hanging or vestment”) that were created by internationally-known fiber artist Marianne Axboe and dedicated April 23.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End   Axboe, photographed in front of one of her pieces, had promised her friends, former CWEnders Bente & Neil Seitz, that she would create the new banners for their church after the renovation of the sanctuary was completed. Her efforts were made possible by the 2PC Memorial Fund.

Axboe and her husband Carl Nielsen, formerly an anesthesiologist at Barnes Hospital, have since left their home in St. Louis and retired to their native Denmark.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End

In the artist’s statement regarding her work Axboe remarked that she hadn’t counted on the particular colors of green that were chosen for the walls of the sanctuary, above, saying she found it “on a very difficult place on the green color spectrum.”  She decided to “tone down” the selection of the bright green values that she usually works with, and “go with the more muted greens and let them play against rich golden colors…”

She continued: “The cross hanging over the altar table inspired me to use a mosaic technique, and by using small shiny gold pieces of fabric I could add life and movement to the darker colors.” Axboe also re-purposed fabrics that came from older paraments that belonged to the church.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End

Axboe explained that “the branches with leaves symbolize the daily growing and nurturing of our spirit.” Her signature “m” can be found in the lower right corner of the piece above and in the close-up below. Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade  St. Louis Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Quigley MO Marianne Axboe Central West End

The two banners that form an arch around the sanctuary depict a river running from one to the other, symbolizing baptism (see 2nd photo at top for a better perspective).

For a closer look at Marianne Axboe’s work, consider attending Second Presbyterian Church’s 2017-2018 Couts Music Series. The next event is titled Advent Vespers and will take place this Sunday, December 3rd at 4 p.m. The program features the Second Church Choir, Handbell Choir, flutist Jennifer Gartlet, and organist Andrew Peters. The Couts Series programs are free of charge.

Second Presbyterian Church, 4501 Westminster Place, (314) 367-0366.

The Gentleman Quilter opens in CWE

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

CWEnder K2 (Kristine) Kelley, above, opened The Gentleman Quilter at 4814 Washington Avenue in mid-August. The shop provides finishing services for quilters and custom-made quilts for any occasion.

K2, who retired last year after 26 years at Boeing, earned her nickname from her boss who kept mixing Kristen’s name up with Christina, another woman in the same department. To make it easier on himself, he started calling her K2. The nickname stuck.

The Gentleman Quilter is another unusual name, this one for a business traditionally dominated by women. The business website defines the term as a well-to-do man who runs a quilting service for pleasure. K2 decided that the name, which was suggested by her sister-in-law, would set her new business apart from others. Like her nickname, it’s also hard to forget.

Last year, while visiting a quilt shop on a trip to Colorado with her husband John, K2 saw a long-arm quilting machine which caused her to imagine that she could capitalize on a passion for quilting by opening her own business now that she was retired. At first she planned on operating the business in her dining room, but changed her plans when she found a studio space within walking distance of her CWE condo. Everything fell into place very quickly and, as K2 said, “When a door opens, you should walk through it.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

The photo above shows the shop’s twelve-foot long Gamill Statler 30″ long-arm quilter, an impressive looking machine made in Missouri by an 80-year-old inventor from West Plains. He saw a long-arm quilter at a state fair and realized he could make it better by adding a computer.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

The screen on Gamill’s computerized quilter shows one of the patterns that’s ready to be stitched onto the quilt that has been placed on the bed of the machine. Pattern design possibilities are endless. Examples of some of the different types available are shown on a sample quilt below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

K2, who grew up in O’Fallon, IL,  learned to sew when she was 8-years-old. She traces her love of sewing to her great-grandmother, who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 1880s. Her great-grandmother was a quilter at a time when quilting was a necessity, not a hobby. K2’s late mother, Evelyn Riebold (photo above left), loved sewing, tailoring and embroidery. Her 1948 Elna machine, right, which K2 used until recently, is prominently displayed in the shop. Her mother became a “strip quilter” in the 1990s when the rotary cutter was invented.  That made the tedious task of cutting out squares of fabric with scissors unnecessary and a quilt top could be made in a day.

As K2 looked around her studio during the interview, she said she wished her mother could see The Gentleman Quilter, she would be so amazed and proud to see how her daughter has turned a skill that was passed on into a business.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

Most of The Gentleman Quilter’s business, which to K2’s surprise took off almost immediately, has come by word of mouth. Her first customer was a referral who brought in a Mariner’s quilt to be finished. Amazingly, this intricate pattern was the 1st quilt she had ever made.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

On a design wall in the studio, K2 is in the process of laying out “a road less traveled” quilt patterned after one she made for a girlfriend as a thank you after a 2-week trip touring New Zealand in a camper van years ago. The quilt is being recreated with remnants of 12 different Australian prints used in the original quilt.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

One of K2’s sons-in-law is a big Marvel comic book fan, which inspired her to start making quilts featuring The Hulk, Captain America, Spider Man, Thor, and Iron Man, shown above and below. Quilts are the size of a throw,  50″ by 55,” and are backed with fabric depicting vintage comic book covers, see below, $145. To order or for more information visit the website.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End    Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services Shop News  The Gentleman Quilter St. Louis MO quilt finishing K2 Kelley Central West End

photo above courtesy of The Gentleman Quilter

The cost of finishing a quilt depends on how much work needs to be done. For example, queen-size quilts including batting, quilting, and finishing edges range from $200 t0 $275. Turnaround time is usually a couple of weeks.

For information on custom-made quilts—baby quilts range from $85 to $100 (see boy and girl owl quilts above as examples)—to wedding or “any occasion” quilts, contact K2 for pricing information. The shop stocks some fabrics, or customers can provide their own.

The Gentleman Quilter, 4814 Washington Avenue, Suite 120, (314) 478-9777. Hours are 10 t0 5 Monday through Saturday, though please call or set up an appointment via the website or via email first, thegentlemanquilter@gmail.com. Since K2 lives in the neighborhood, she’s happy to schedule appointments on Sundays too.