The Great British Sewing Bee's May Martin

Posted on February 16, 2015

Yesterday we were up at the Birmingham NEC for the Hobby, Craft & Stitch Trade Show; on the lookout for exciting new products . We found some fabulous new printed fabrics and kits but more of that to follow in the following weeks and months!

Whilst there, we were lucky enough to hear May Martin talking about her sewing career and how she was selected to be a judge on The Great British Sewing Bee! In the audience with us were former contestants Lauren Guthrie, from Series 1, and founder of Guthrie-Ghani & Jenni Taylor from last year’s show.

May learnt to sew at the age of 13; and it very quickly became her passion. At a time when most women were encouraged to pursue a career in either hairdressing, secretarial work or nursing, May bucked the trend by opting to study at St, Osyth’s College at Clacton-on-Sea, a teacher training college which specialises in needlework. She said the it was the hardest three years of her life, but it stood her in good stead for the future.

She taught for several years at secondary schools and was Head of Department before deciding to go into adult education.

When the BBC researchers, for what was to become The Great British Sewing Bee, were looking for potential judges, they visited and interviewed lecturers from all the top fashion colleges including Central St Martins but were struggling to find the right person for the role.

Out of the blue, May received an email from the BBC saying that they’d like her to audition for the show!! May, very nervously went along for the interview; and after 90 minutes of questions, whilst being filmed, once they’d finished she remembers saying to them that it'd had been great fun but they wouldn't use her, she felt they opt for someone from one of the elite fashion schools.

Shortly after she did screen tests with Patrick Grant, who she was sure would get the job, but she wasn’t at sure what they thought of her! We all now know, that they were very impressed with her calm, kind manner and extensive knowledge.

She kept the fact that she was filming the show a secret from all her students, and as you can imagine they were really surprised, and delighted, when GBSB first hit our screens. After that first show went out they asked her why she was so quiet, and she told them it was because she'd been petrified! After that first series May was offered some presentation training for when she's in front of the camera and hasn’t looked back since!!



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