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Get to Know Kathleen Broadfoot


In this episode we get to know Kathleen Broadfoot. Kathleen's degree in textiles and clothing from Indiana State University has served her well in her many contributions to Sew Powerful. Whether it is making over 250 purses or designing and making the purse panels to display our purses at quilt shows, Kathleen's life-long love of sewing coupled with her degree makes her a natural. You will enjoy learning about her family, travels and even her mother's enthusiasm for Sew Powerful.


Sew Powerful, purses, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, railroad ties, barbershop quartets, quilt shows, thrift shops


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Brothers of a Chord, barbershop quartet:

Indiana State University,


The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.


Host: Jan Cancila

Guest: Kathleen Broadfoot


Jan Cancila, Host 00:05

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started. Welcome by popular demand, we are speaking to Kathleen Broadfoot. I put a little announcement out on Facebook asking for people to nominate a guest for our podcast and numerous people said you've got to talk to Kathleen. So here we are. Welcome Kathleen Broadfoot. How are you?


Kathleen Broadfoot, Guest 00:39

I'm fine. Thanks.


Jan 00:41

Kathleen, where do you live? Where are we talking to you from today?


Kathleen 00:45

I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I am on the South side of town. And I'm a native Hoosier. So, Indianapolis is the big town that we would come to.


Kathleen 00:55

And I've lived here for 36 years.


Kathleen 00:57

Okay. Now you said you would come to Indianapolis. Where did you grow up?


Kathleen Broadfoot 01:01

I grew up in Clay City, Indiana, which is down by Terre Haute, Indiana. It's on the western side of Indiana. About a half hour from Illinois.


Jan 01:10

Well, I know Indiana fairly well, although from the olden days. I went to college at Hanover College in southern Indiana. So, I have an affinity for Hoosiers. Yeah. So, tell us a little bit about your family.


Kathleen 01:25

I've been married for 34 years. And we live in Indianapolis, and I met him here. He's actually from Missouri. So, he's a transplant like you are. Yeah, I remember that. We have three children. We have a son who lives in Chicago, and he's married to a lovely girl. And they have a little son who is 17 months now. And then we have a second son who lives in Bloomington, Indiana. And he is also married to a lovely Michigan girl. And they have a little daughter who's 16 months old. And then I have a 30-year-old daughter, my baby, who's 30, she lives on the north side of Indianapolis.


Jan 02:05

Okay. And what about your husband? Doesn't he have some kind of a real interesting hobby?


Kathleen 02:11

He is a singer. All you got to do is add a microphone to that man and he will start singing. He is in Circle City Sound, which is the men's premier men's chorus in Indianapolis. He used to do it a long time ago when actually he was about 11 years old. His father was also a barber shopper. And he had always really enjoyed it and they let him join at 11 years old. So yeah, he was in all through high school, and then went to college. When he moved to Indianapolis after college, he got back into it in Indianapolis. And then again, we start having children and he traveled a lot for work. So, if something had to give and that gave. And a couple of years ago for Father's Day, I took him to a concert; I thought he would really enjoy it. And he looked at me and he said, 'I'm joining back up.' Yeah. He joined back up. And then he's also in a quartet. And they are called Brothers of a Chord CHORD. So little play on that. Well, he's really had a fun time doing all of that.


Jan 03:16

Well, well, and you shared with me that he has a very interesting career. Tell our listeners what this is.


Kathleen 03:23

Okay. He had his own business. He's in with a couple of partners, and he sells railroad ties. And everybody says, 'Really, somebody does that?' Railroad ties are the wooden pieces that go in a railroad track. They help support the track to keep the rail up to keep it from sinking into the ground. So, I could probably sell you railroad ties on my own as much as I have heard about this business. But we get to travel a lot all throughout America everywhere. Everywhere. The only state I have not been in is New Mexico.


Jan 03:57

Oh, really?


Kathleen 03:58

Only state I've not been in and one of these days. I'm gonna get there.


Jan 04:01

Well, New Mexico is beautiful and interesting.


Kathleen 04:05

I got to see it.


Jan 04:06

Now. What about you? Did you have a career?


Kathleen 04:09

Well, I actually have a degree in textiles and clothing. Yeah, I always really enjoyed sewing I started sewing for 4-H. I was a 10 year 4-H-er. I did the dress reviews and was in clothing and learned a lot there. My mother's a quilter. Both of my grandmother's sewed; my aunts did a lot of quilting. In fact, a couple of years ago, the music teacher at the school where my kids went, she would do a lot of costumes. And she would write her own programs because she just really enjoyed that. So, she would hear it and I would see it and made a lot of costumes. And I guess I had an aunt who used to do that. But somebody had remarked about me doing costumes. They said, 'Oh, your aunt Laura used to make costumes too.' So, I didn't know that.


Jan 04:54

You know what? My mom made costumes for the community playhouse and that just sort of triggered a memory. I hadn't thought about my mom doing that. So where is your degree from in textiles and clothing?


Kathleen 05:07

Oh, I went to Indiana State University, which is in Terre Haute.


Jan 05:10

Mm hmm.


Kathleen 05:11

And we actually had a buyer come and talk to us in one of our classes. I had worked retail several years ago in a department store. And, you know, I just thought, 'I don't know if I really want to do that.' And so, I thought, 'What do I really want to do? I want to travel.' Because I grew up on a farm. We never got to travel. When you have farm animals and farmland, you just don't travel. So, I became a travel agent. And I did that for, oh, probably 10 years, then got married and started having children. And so I was a housewife for several years. And I don't say just a housewife, because it's a tough job.


Jan 05:49

Oh, yes, yes.


Kathleen 05:51

Managing a house and raising children. And then when my daughter was in sixth grade, I went back and substitute taught at the school where my kids went to school. And it was very nice, because I knew all the teachers, they knew me, I knew where everything was. And I did that for 18 years. I would give out Tic Tacs as a treat. And I still have kids who are grownups now, who called me the Tic Tac Lady.


Jan 06:17

Oh, wow.


Kathleen 06:18

Still call me Tic Tac lady.


Jan 06:20

Well, and that was probably quite quite the treat because they usually didn't let kids have snacks or gum or anything like that in school, so.


Kathleen 06:27

Well, nobody choked on them. And nobody was allergic, so...


Jan 06:30

Perfect, perfect.


Kathleen 06:31

Best of both worlds.


Jan 06:33

Kathleen, I know that you're a very generous, giving person. And last year on Giving Tuesday, which is the first Tuesday in December, Facebook encourages people to conduct fundraisers and I conducted one and you very kindly donated to it. And the beneficiary of my fundraiser was of course, Sew Powerful. But I just want to let our listeners know that this is an excellent way of bringing awareness about Sew Powerful and I was able to raise $1600 on Giving Tuesday last year for Sew Powerful. And my husband mentioned it to his boss and the boss had a check written for Sew Powerful so they didn't give on Facebook, but they mailed the check in with a note that said because of Giving Tuesday, so to all of our listeners, if you have friends and acquaintances like Kathleen Broadfoot, who you think would donate to your Giving Tuesday fund, it's quite easy to set up and you will soon start seeing little notices from Facebook encouraging you to pick your charity. And of course, Sew Powerful is an official charity on Facebook. So that works out quite well. So, Kathleen, our listeners who may not know you, but they may have met you through the Meet a Purse Maker videos that we did back in the spring and yours was recorded in April. And in that video, we talked to you about purse panels. Tell us what purse panels are and how they're used.


Kathleen 08:11

Okay, purse panels are what we use at the different quilt shows to hang the purses. Because when you have a visual display that people can really see, they respond so well. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason and Cinnamon in Chicago, along with Donna who I know just recently did a podcast. She was adorable. And a couple other people were there. And they were hanging the purses on some of that webby stuff like you can make a wreath out of and it worked. You know it worked fine. But when you have six or seven purses hanging, there's a lot of weight involved in that. And we just safety pinned them on. So, I just said, you know, let me take this and kind of play with it a little bit. So, I came up with some and again sent one to Sue Kirby and said, Hey, will this work? And she said, 'Yeah, go for it.' They're black on one side and white on the other. They're supposed to match the curtains that are in the booth that you have at a quilt show or or whatever show you're doing. It's just a nice way to display the purses. It lets them hang nicely. And again, people just stop. They just stop and they just look around. Because usually it's covering like three different sides of your booth. And they just stop and look. That's all I can say about it.


Jan 09:33

No, that's the definition of a showstopper.


Kathleen 09:37

Exactly. I never thought about that.


Jan 09:40

Yeah, yeah.


Kathleen 09:40

They do and and you know, some people go to a trade show and walk in the middle of the aisle because you really don't want to be approached by anybody at any particular booth. I've done that too. So when they're walking along in the middle of the aisle, they stop and they just look and that's when you pull them in a little bit to give them a brochure. You know, tell them about the program a bit. It's just so cool to see them just just stop and stare, because that's what they do. So anyway, the purse panels are easy to hang up, they're easy to roll up. They can hang six purses very easily on them. You can get seven in a pinch, you can squeeze them all together and get seven. So.


Jan 09:56

And you know what I liked about your design? You use one of those giant grommets that people use for hanging drapes directly on a rod and it looks really nice. And then the hook goes right in there. Well, speaking of showstoppers, why don't we take a quick break here and when we come back, we're going to explore Kathleen's devotion to Sew Powerful in more depth. So, stay with us.


Jan 10:49

Have you gotten the second edition of the we are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original best seller, 4.9 out of five stars by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order if you use and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 11:52

Welcome back. We've been speaking with Kathleen Broadfoot, and we have learned of her family and the interesting careers that both her husband and she have had and her work with Sew Powerful is amazing. And I know that you all see her purse photos posted quite frequently. So, Kathleen, when you make purses now, what pattern do you prefer the beginner or the intermediate?


Kathleen 12:22

You know, I prefer the beginner because I feel like I can whip through that one a lot quicker. The intermediate, like several of the other podcasts that I've listened to everybody wants to pull their hair out the first time they do the intermediate and I was one of those also. And in fact, I had one that I, I don't I'm not an angry person, but I practically threw it in the corner because I was worked on it and I had ripped out seams at least four times. And we've all been there. And so finally one day picked it up. I thought this was not going to beat me. So, I finished it. But as far as making a purse, I've got some intermediate actually still cut out that I'm going to sit down and finish, but my preference is the beginner one.


Jan 13:12

I like the beginner one now too, although like you the intermediate was hard to do and I can't tell you how many times I accidentally sewed the little flap into the side seam until I learned to turn it and pin it while I was sewing that side seam and I think Shirley Utz has the tip to make your little flap slightly more narrow so that you don't catch it in the seams. But then some people really like doing that gusset but I had maybe two or three purses that I was proud of the gusset, but most I was trying to steam those wrinkles out of the corner.


Kathleen 13:50

Been there.


Jan 13:51

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So anyway, okay, because you have a degree in textiles, what kind of fabrics do you recommend that we use for both the exterior and the and the lining of our purses?


Kathleen 14:04

Well, again, when you go to a quilt shop, and they have the 100% cotton, oh, it is so nice to work with. The hand, one of those formal, very specific words, the hand is so nice. And I do always always wash the fabric first, before I work with it. My daughter in law, the director of a nonprofit and they have a thrift shop that's associated with their organization. And they sell fabric there. And I've gotten some really interesting fabric from there too. I've used some old pillowcases that are of a nicer quality. And some of the designs are just really wow. I remember one of the teachers was talking about a course we made clothes when I was in college, but she said let your fabric do the talking. And if you have a real simple design, let your fabric be highlighted in a simple design. And that's one other thing about the beginner purse pattern. You know, a lot of the fabrics can really be showcased or a lot of the design elements that are put in or embellishments, they can really be highlighted in that more simple design.


Jan 15:11

Well, and it sounds like when you go to the shrift, oh that's easy for you to say, the thrift shop, you're not looking for yards of fabric. You're looking for items made of fabric that you can repurpose into a purse.


Kathleen 15:26

Exactly, exactly. And one of my favorite things, they'll put little bunches of pieces together in a bag for like 50 cents. And I just drool when I see those because you don't know what you're gonna get a lot of the time. And you know, I only have 8000 yards of fabric here, but something will match it, you know, and it can be made into just a really, really cute little purse.


Jan 15:49

Do you use denim?


Kathleen 15:51

I have not used denim in a purse yet. But I do have a pair of jeans that my sister gave me, and I do have some denim pieces that I have planned to use as purses, but I have not done that yet.


Jan 16:06

Now another fabric that you might want to consider is corduroy. I've made several purses out of corduroy and they turn out really nice and the hand is so nice. And they have a little bit of structure to them and not right stiff. So yeah, that's another item that you could look for in the thrift store is something made out of corduroy. Now, are you on Team Strap or Team Webbing?


Kathleen 16:34

Team webbing.


Jan 16:35



Kathleen 16:38

The straps are great, and I got some straps already made. One of the things I like to do too, and I don't know if this will help anybody but assembly line sewing as it were, again, I just listened to Donna's, Donna Moscinski's webcast the other day, and she talked about making 10 purses at the same time. And actually, I got to tell you, when we were in Chicago, she had like a block kind of print. And they were very, very bright and we spaced them out. And every time you looked at the wall of purses, you would see one of these purses. They were just so cool. Anyway, she did assembly line, and I will do assembly line also. And I'll make a lot of the lining. It seems like when you get to the lining, it's like, okay, you're almost to that last part. You know, it's like, whoop, I can just whip that right up.


Jan 17:27

Oh, cool. Yeah.


Kathleen 17:29

Yeah, that's the same way. I made a bunch of straps one day.


Kathleen 17:33

That's sort of a reward. You reward yourself by getting to that point, by having it already pre-made. Yeah. That's a great tip. I I like that tip. So that takes more forethought, then maybe I'm like, Oh, I like that fabric. I'm going to make a purse. So yeah.


Kathleen 17:51

Creativity. That's where your creativity comes into it.


Jan 17:55

How many purses Do you think you've made since? Well, first of all, when did you start making purses? I didn't even ask you that.


Kathleen 18:01

I've been making persists for a couple of years now. I did not get in in the very, very beginning. I have made let me see, I think all total about 250.


Jan 18:13

Wow. Well, 250 is a lot of purses for just doing it for a couple of years. So that's fantastic. And when you talked to me a little bit before we started recording about your mom and how your mom is a spokesperson for Sew Powerful. Tell us about that.


Kathleen 18:32

I've got three sisters, and my mother is a widow. And very fortunately, she's in wonderful health. And we do a lot of weekend-y trips. Indianapolis is really good because you can go several places within just a couple of hours. And we'll go to a quilt shop and she is a quilter, so she doesn't buy much fabric anymore. But she loves to go and look like we all do. And I'll see fabric for a purse. And when we're going to the cutting table or to the cashier my mom will say, 'Oh guess what she's doing with it. She's going to be making a purse for Sew Powerful and here's what they do. And isn't that a great organization?' And she's the one who sells it before I even have a chance to mention it. I might say, 'Oh, this is gonna be a girl's purse and my mom will go right into the whole Sew Powerful program.


Jan 19:21

Well, maybe I should be interviewing your mom for the next podcast. You've worked at two three quilt shows? How many Quilt Shows have you worked at?


Kathleen 19:33

Three. I did Chicago and that was two years ago and then Paducah, that was last year, last April, and then Atlanta, which was just this past March.


Jan 19:44

Mm hmm. So you you've been to three and were your purse panels used at all three of those shows?


Kathleen 19:51

Well, no except for Chicago and Jason and Cinnamon had purchased the grommets and so when I took the panels that they had made, the meshy ones, home with me and reused those same grommets. I was able to pop them out and reuse those for panels that went somewhere else.


Jan 20:06

Oh, well, very good, very resourceful, very useful. Well, Kathleen, it has been a pleasure to speak with you and to be able to continue our conversation that we had back in April in Meet the Purse Maker. So I understand why you were a very popular nominee to be on the podcast. So thank you for your time.


Kathleen 20:29

Well, thank you. It's always a pleasure.


Jan 20:32

All right. Well, we will talk with you soon. Take care. Thank you. All right. Bye-bye.


Jan 20:39

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at