Kathie Sever is the founder of Austin-based Fort Lonesome, which specializes in creating tailor-made garments emblazoned with colorful embroidery and custom chain-stitched designs. A few of their high profile clients include Ethan Hawke, Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Murray, and countless musicians too.
We asked Seever to give us the rundown on Austin to find out where she hangs out when she’s not sitting behind her Singer sewing machine.
Tell us about your ideal day in Austin. How’s it start? Where does it end?
My ideal days in Austin start with a trail run on the Barton Springs Greenbelt, where you can cool off post-run with a jump into the transcendently chilly Barton Springs pool, and probably ends with a light-of-dusk dog walk with my husband (and dog... and sometimes even one of our two kids when I can coerce them to join us) in the neighborhood.
What’s your favorite thing to do/place/neighborhood to explore if you have a few hours to kill?
I can't actually remember the last time I had "a few hours to kill". Also, I'm a hopeless puttering homebody. That being said, I can spend and have spent many happy moments at Bookpeople, our local independent bookstore.
What are you favorite brunch and dinner spots?
Brunch is best served on the porch, but for dinner our favorite spots are Elisabeth Street Cafe (casual but super fresh Vietnamese cafe and French bakery), East Side King (Japanese street food), or when we get super fancy-time, Uchi- the most amazing restaurant I've ever been to in my entire life- a transformative and orgasmic dining experience.
What is the best place to escape the city, or place to relax in the city?
The Barton Creek Greenbelt and Barton Springs Pool are awesome, and I can walk from my house so it's my go-to. I try to avoid the car whenever I can. There are some great spots around Austin, as well- Krause Springs, Hamilton Pool, Blue Hole... all are worth the trip.
Quintessential thing to eat in Austin (BBQ?), and where to go to get it?
BREAKFAST TACOS. The fact that these haven't migrated to other US cities the way that Starbucks and Chipotle have is beyond me, although it's rare you get a decent chain-restaurant breakfast tacos. They're often best when mysteriously handed down from on high from a taco-truck window, where you can't really see the condition of the kitchen they've been cooked in.
Best place to have a drink?
My porch. To revisit a popular theme, I'm a homebody AND my husband is sober. But, according to Christina Smith, one of the designer/stitchers here at Fort Lonesome, the places to go are Weather Up, Kinda Tropical, and King Bee.
Tell us about a gallery or event we should check out when we visit.
We have some great museums here in Austin now. The Blanton really delivers. Plus it's a gorgeous building. My kids really love the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. There are so many vibrant small galleries all over Austin, and most weekends there are multiple intriguing offerings.
Any good bands, chefs, artists, people from Austin we should know about/follow on Instagram?
As far as bands go, Austin is lousy with shockingly talented musicians. So many. So I'll use this platform to plug those that are most closely connected to the Fort. My folkish-musician husband goes by the moniker Matt the Electrician. His songs are a bit quirky, but lovely, in my unbiased opinion. Designer/Stitcher Christina Smith is married to the banjo player in local bluegrass band Wood & Wire. Designer/Stitcher Dana Falconberry is actually Designer/Stitcher/Musician Dana Falconberry, and she plays magical wonderfully off-center songs about sticks. Sometimes they're about other things, too. Designer/Stitcher Amrit Khalsa is not in a band nor did she permanently hook up with a musician, so she'd like to take this opportunity to recommend Chility Vinyl Club.
Favorite shop in Austin?
Esby for locally designed and produced clothing and JM drygoods for locally lovingly imported handcrafts. Amrit's a fan of locally owned gift shop Las Cruxes. There are so many sweet little shops around.
You pick up an old friend at the airport whose never been to Austin. You drop their bags off. Where’s the first place you take them?
Barton Springs. Hands down. If they won't jump in, you need to reassess your commitment to the relationship.
Overlooked/lesser known thing to do?
Beth Schindler, who helps keep things organized and on track over here at the Fort, recommends The Cloak Room- it's a bar across the street from the Capitol building in this weird, vibey, speakeasy-esque environment where politicians hang out and hash, and they have live-streaming of what's going on in the Capitol.
Touristy but worthwhile thing to do in Austin?
Seeing the bats fly out from under the Congress Street Bridge at dusk is pretty incredible. Also? Stinky.
Favorite coffee shop, or morning routine type place?
Radio Coffee and Beer in south Austin or Once Over Coffee on S 1st St.
You need to escape Austin for the night/weekend, where are you heading?
Lost Maples State Park remote campsites. Especially during the late fall. Beauty-full.
Interview: John Peabody
Photos Courtesy of Kathie Sever / Fort Lonesome
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