By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
The Wooden Stitch, Vicksburg’s newest business at 117 East Prairie, combines the sewing and alteration skills of Kathy Austin and the woodworking talents of Michael Wessels; the result is a storefront offering a unique mix of gifts, products and services.
Austin, a 2004 Vicksburg High School graduate, said she has been sewing since she was a child. She honed her sewing skills under the tutelage of her mother and grandmother, Karen Austin and Phyllis Minnis.
Austin’s earliest memory at her mother’s sewing machine was making scrunchies. One of her mother’s friends owned a dime store and let her stock a little inventory. “They were a hit,” Austin says. “I thought it was awesome that people would buy the things I made.”
She gradually gained confidence running a machine, learned to quilt and follow patterns, and eventually began to experiment with her own ideas.
Alterations were a natural addition to her skills. She began by adjusting sleeves or seams on her own garments, and eventually friends and family asked for her help.
She found alterations both challenging and rewarding. Austin recognizes that her alteration skills are rare and valuable, and she regularly assists bridal parties and individuals with alterations.
In addition, Austin can make drapes, reupholster cushions, and stitch custom embroidery. She can decorate tumblers, glassware, and T-shirts. She is willing to tackle nearly any sewing or crafting project.
Michael Wessels’ woodworking products are many and on display, including various sizes of bowls, cutting boards, and signs. Like Austin, Wessels is also versatile. He custom designs and builds counters and refurbishes and refinishes furniture.
Austin says that wood cutting boards and hand sewn baby items are currently the most popular items in the store.
She has many plans for future classes and offerings, including sewing classes for all levels, even beginners. She also will offer craft classes.
“My favorite thing about opening the store in Vicksburg is meeting more people in the community I grew up in,” said Austin. “It’s been so much fun!”
The Wooden Stitch is open Tuesday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and by appointment, (269) 317-6657. It is closed Sunday and Monday. The business can be followed on Facebook or by emailing Austin at email@example.com.