This holiday season, the youth at Covenant House Vancouver are taking part in the Holiday Advent Calendar. Each day leading up to Christmas, our youth eagerly await to see which item will be given out for that day. One day the gift was a matching pajama set and each youth grabbed their pair and thanked the staff.
Marc stood by the box of pajamas debating which size to grab. Though he originally grabbed a medium, he deemed the size too small and returned shortly for a larger pair. Upon putting the pajamas on, it became clear that the pajamas fit him, but the pant legs were far too long. The fabric gathered in bunches around his ankles. Marc thanked me for the pajamas but explained that he would likely trip if he were to wear them.
I asked Marc to come to the office and returned moments later with a sewing kit and asked him if he would like me to hem the pajamas for him. At first, he refused, saying that he didn’t want to trouble me and exclaiming that it would be too much of an effort. I assured him that it wouldn’t take long and offered to show him how to hem his own clothing for the future. Marc smiled and agreed, following me out to the common room with his pant legs trailing along behind him.
We sat together at the table and I grabbed the thread and needle. Just as I began to thread the needle another youth, George walked by and did a double take at the table. “Oh, are you sewing those pants? Can I go and grab mine?” I nodded, and George returned moments later with a pair of tan chinos with a large rip in the back of his pants, leaving the pocket exposed.
I asked George if he had ever sewn before and he shook his head, “No I never learned how.” I grabbed another sewing needle and held it out to George, instructing him on how to thread it. With their garments in hand, they picked up their needles and began to clumsily weave the thread in and out of the torn fabric. We sat in silence for ten minutes, Marc and I each hemming a pant leg of the pajamas and George with the rip in his pant pocket getting increasingly smaller as time went on.
“It’s looking great,” I remarked to George. He startled and said, “Woah. I was in such a trance. This sewing is kind of like meditation!” I agreed, and George pushed his pants towards me, questioning how to keep the thread from falling apart. I showed him how to tie a firm knot and snipped away the excess thread. George held up his pants proudly and smiled as Marc placed the finishing stitches in his own pant leg.
I began to pack up the sewing kit when a pair of jeans crashed down on the table. I glanced up to see Remi towering over me, his brow furrowed, and mouth set in a straight line. “Can you fix these for me?” he questioned. “No,” I responded, “But I’ll teach you how.” Remi groaned and looked down at the pants, weighing his options. He held up his sizable hands and exclaimed, “Do you see these. How do you expect me to sew?” I threaded the needle for him and began the first few stitches, “like this,” I responded.
Remi sighed and sank into the chair, his hands reached for the jeans and sewing needle. I held the fabric together for him as his trembling hand fed the needle in and out. After several minutes his hand became steady and he reached instinctively for the jeans, no longer needing me to hold the tear together for him. Remi would sew for a few minutes at a time and then but the jeans down, grabbing his phone to text or turning around to focus on the movie playing in the background.
Thirty minutes later he stood up abruptly and strode towards his room, jeans in hand. I gathered the needles and thread and walked back towards the office. Moments later Remi emerged from his room, wearing the newly repaired jeans. He cracked a smile a beelined for the front door, “Thanks” he said and left for the evening.
Shared by Desiree, Youth Worker