The Bead-It-Forward story

In 1985, beader Jeanette Shannigan of Alaska lost her mother to a 15-year battle with breast cancer. Naturally, Jeanette wanted to do something to honor her mother’s memory and further the search for a cure.

In 2005, Jeanette called for stitchers to donate squares of beadwork based on a specific theme, and 24 beaders answered the call. Jeanette then worked the squares into a quilt, which sold in an online auction held by Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer.

She did it again in 2006, this time enlisting 31 beaders for the squares. Building off her relationship with Bead&Button magazine, the quilts were auctioned at the Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee, Wis. All proceeds went directly to breast cancer research.

From there, Jeanette’s endeavor became known as the Bead-It-Forward project, and it quickly morphed into an international phenomenon. Just two years after its humble start, the 2007 Bead-It-Forward project brought in 374 squares from around the world. Each year, that number grew. As the squares poured in, Jeanette transformed them into quilts, which continued to be auctioned at the annual Bead&Button Show.

By 2011, the Bead-It-Forward project had grown so large that Jeanette turned it over to Bead&Button magazine. Under its new management, the 2012 Bead-It-Forward project brought in 900+ squares, which the Bead&Button staff assembled into quilts, shadowboxes, ornaments, cards, and other items. All were auctioned at the Bead&Button Show to further breast cancer research.

After three years of Bead&Button hosting the Bead-It-Forward project, the number of squares donated annually was approaching 2,000. It was time for the project to find a new home with more dedicated hands.

Each chapter of the Bead-It-Forward story evolves the project in new and exciting ways, but the goal is always the same—to rally our gifts as beaders to benefit breast cancer research, treatment, and ultimately a cure.

You can find out more about the Bead-It-Forward project at the new official website at http://beaditforward.blogspot.com/ under the direction of Amy Severino (since 2015).


Past & present Bead-It-Forward themes

2007 – Butterflies

2008 – Roses

2009 – Hearts

2010 – Turtles

2011 – Hands

2012 – Birds: Flocking together to find a cure

2013 – Flowers: Stitching to find a bloomin’ cure

2014 – Ocean: Turn the tide on breast cancer

2015 – Animals: Wild about finding a cure

2016 – Space: Out there somewhere, there’s a cure

2017 – Fantasy: Dreaming of a cure


Click here to view finished examples and find out how you can support the project