Step 5. Making the Body of Your Chainmail Shirt
We've finally gotten to the point when we can start weaving the chainmail shirt. By this point you should know what weave you are using, and you should have already gotten the rings- either by making them yourself or buying them. If not, go to the previous steps to learn how. The first step when making the shirt is to create a long tube that goes from your armpits down to however low you want it to go on your body, which is whatever you decided when you figured out the design. Keep in mind that the weave that I am using is European 4 in 1.
The first step is to figure out how big around and tall you need the tube to be. To do this, you first to find the circumference of your body at your shoulders. Why your shoulders instead of your chest? Because chainmail doesn't stretch. And to put the shirt on, everything will need to fit over your shoulders. Follow the instructions below to measure the circumference at your shoulders.
Measuring Your Shoulders
Find a string or rope. Or a flexible measuring tape.
Wrap the string or measuring tape around your shoulders, and pinch the two ends where they overlap each other in the front.
If you have a measuring tape, look at where it overlaps, and subtract the smaller measurement from the larger measurement. If you have a string, mark with a sharpie the point where it overlaps.
Measure from one sharpie mark to the other with a ruler or some kind of measuring device. Add two inches to this measurement, and write it down. Don't forget it.
Measuring Height from Armpits to Waist/Mid-Thigh/Knee
Take a ruler and put it directly under your armpit.
Flip the ruler down, making sure you pivot at the bottom of the ruler each time. Count how many times you flip it.
Once the bottom end of the ruler is past the length you want you shirt to be (either waist, mid-thigh, or knee), count the number of inches from the top of the ruler to this point. Add this number to the number of times you flipped it multiplied by 12. So if you end up with 6 inches from the top of the ruler, and you flipped it 3 times, your number is 6 + 3*12 = 6 + 36 = 42 inches. Subtract 2 inches from this number and write it down, and don't forget it.
The only tools you need to weave your chainmail shirt, since you have already made or otherwise acquired the rings yourself, are two pairs of pliers. Here are the ones I use. Yours can be big, small, bent nose, needlenose, with teeth, without teeth, or anything you want. As long as you can open and close your rings with them.
1. The first step is to close a bunch of rings (like 200). And by close, I mean align the cut ends of the rings. If the ring has a little spring to it, you might have to push the ends of the rings past each other, and then release so that the ends of the ring align. The images below show what a closed ring might look like.
3. The second step is to open a ring and put 4 other rings on it. To open a ring, twist the ends apart until there is a large enough gap to easily slide another ring on. Then put the 4 rings on, and close it. Keep doing this until you have used up all of your closed rings.
4. Now it's time to connect those sets of 5 together. Take one set of 5 and lay it out on a flat surface. Make it look like this:
5. Take another set of 5 and lay it out the same way, with the same orientation, but put the top two rings of this set overlapping the bottom two rings of the previous set.
6. Put a ring (red) through the eyes formed by the 4 overlapping rings (blue).
7. Repeat Step 4 and add onto the chain until you have reached the length of the measurement for your shoulders that you took in Step 1. You might want to count how many sets of 5 you use to do this. Then stop. At this point you have officially completed 1 row of your chainmail shirt!
8. Now you are in for the long haul. The next step is to keep making strands of 4 in 1 the same length as your first one. Your goal is to create enough so that, when they are connected side by side, their total width will be equal to the measurement you took for the length under your armpit. The image below illustrates the amount you might need. Notice how the strips go horizontally around your body, not up and down. This enables the chainmail to sort of conform to the shape of your body.
9. After you have made enough, it is time to connect them together. Start by laying two of the strands parallel to each other, making sure the rings are lying in the same direction.
10. Put an open ring (red) through the first two rings on each strand (blue). You will have to put it down through the rings on one side, and then up through the rings on the other side.
11. Keep doing this all the way up the strand. Remember, each ring needs to have 4 other rings in it, so don't skip any.
12. Rinse and repeat. Connect all the strands together using this method.
13. The next step is to connect the two ends of this sheet together to form a tube. Lay the two ends next to each other.
14. Put a ring (red) through the first two rings on one side, and then the first two rings on the other side (blue).
15. Repeat Step 14 all the way up the seam.
14. And that's it! You have the most longest part of making your chainmail shirt finished. If you can't wait to wear it, move on to Step 6!