St. Patrick’s Day: These will suit you to a T


A selection of themed t-shirts in the store My Chicago! in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. (Brenden Welper | The DePaulia)

There are three things that all Chicagoans encounter on St. Patrick’s Day: intoxicated people, beer and thousands of green t-shirts.

Some of these shirts display clever phrases like “Whiskey makes me frisky.”  Others are just plastered with clichés.  You’re bound to see the overused “Kiss me, I’m Irish” at least a dozen times.

Then there is the color-coordinated sports fan.

“I’m wearing my green Cubs t-shirt that I bought a few years ago,” Andrew Garcia, a senior at DePaul University, said.  “I love green sports apparel.  There aren’t many teams that wear that color.”

Finally, we have the guy with something crude written across the front of his tank top.  Sorry, no example for that one;  you’ll have to use your imagination.

Shirts such as these can be found in stores throughout the city.  But if you’re looking for a variety of merchandise, just go where to the tourists go.

“We put (shirts) out at the beginning of March,” Jose Bahenn said.  “Usually, you start seeing an increase (in sales) on that Wednesday leading up to the parade.”

Bahenn is the manager of “My Chicago!” a souvenir shop located along Michigan Avenue.  He says St. Patrick’s Day is the only holiday he stocks up for.

“We get them from different companies, along with hats, knee-high socks and other knick-knacks,” Bahenn said, “That stuff sells better than the shirts.”

  But there are only so many unique tees to go around.  Some of the shops downtown even order from the same distributor.  For those who want to get creative, customization is a better option.

“The t-shirt making process is kind of complicated, yet cathartic for people doing it by hand,” Sam Breedlove said.

Breedlove is a sophomore at DePaul.  Back in high school, she made her own t-shirts through an intricate method.

“Screen printing is a hands-on way of printing your own designs without a machine.  Basically, you print a design onto a special piece of paper.  You then put that paper onto a screen and coat it in this gross-smelling, orange putty.”

This was the exposing process, Breedlove explained.  The putty would then be placed in total darkness for 24 hours.  Everything on the screen would dry up, aside from the black ink of the design.

After 24 hours, she would blast it with a pressure hose.  Finally, the screen was taken to the printing table and lined up with a t-shirt.

“It was simple after that,” Breedlove said, “I just slapped some ink onto the screen and ran it over the design several times.  You just had to dry your shirt, and you were done.”

Despite being such a difficult process, she says she enjoys putting in the effort and taking pride in her work.

“Sometimes, people need to know when to make their shirts, and when to buy from the store.”

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, it would probably be wise to go with the latter.