Chainmail Fabric


New Member
Does anyone know of a faux-chainmail fabric? I need to make a chainmail full skirt for my white witch costume and the cost of real chainmail makes it impossible (I would need about 5 yards of the stuff). The closest I've seen are those cheap Halloween fabrics: but they really don't do the costume justice. I've read the thread about knitting but I don't know how to knit nor do I have time to learn before Halloween! lol

So, does anyone have any ideas or alternatives to real chain mail? TIA!

5 yards would be a lot of chainmaille, but to be honest it wouldn't be that expensive. A roll of electrical fence wiring (1/4 mile) should be somewhere around $30-$40, which would be more than enough. Another $30 tops for the parts to make a basic winding jig and the snips/pliers.

As much material as it is, you can do it by Halloween. (You won't want to knit another link for a long, long time, though.)
I made a faux-chanmaille shirt by using the knitting method... OK, so since it involved knitting, it was actually my Mum who made it, but it turned out well. Sure you can't find a friend/family-member you can bribe/beg/shower-with-gifts, to knit for you?

Edit: Just looked at my bookmarks. This guy skipped the actual knitting by raiding thrift stores and looking for a chunky knitted top. The Lazy-Man's Chainmail-Shirt
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I also seem to remember that Monty Python used knitted maille. I think they used string and then spray painted (or at least painted) over it to give it a metallic look.
I've made a few square feet using Al craft wire. Nice shine and not too bad to work with since it's so malleable (sp?). It does have a tendency to stain your hands though.

I wound it around a stiff pen barrel and cut links with a pair of tin snips. putting together the links with my hands and a pair of pliers. In hind sight, springing for a second pair would have been a good idea. I did get reasonably efficient after I 'solved' how to best connect rings with the least amount of work/fiddling with structure.

If I were to do it again, I'd probably opt for a higher gauge (than the Al) steel wire for cost reasons while keeping the same flex in the wire and use a bandsaw to cut multiple rings at once from a sacrificial dowel or something.

Terra1's Split washers is a pretty good idea.

Also, I recall it being said that you can see the orc's mail being made of cut pvc pipe rings in one of the LotR soundtrack's album art
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Yeah, I think WETA wrote the book on making chainmail when they did the LOTR armor--12 million links from 7 miles of PVC pipe!! (FOTR extended addition special features) I think they have a special division now that just does chainmail for the film industry with some better methods they've devised.

Acquiring the links/rings I guess is the hardest part, I can't imagine cutting all that PVC pipe cause I'm afraid of saws : )

The linking, though tedious and you'd be enduring sore fingers for a while, I think could be done in several evenings in front of the TV and would probably go pretty quick once you got the hang of it and worked up a rhythm.

Lots of info comes up in Google, pick a method of madness and go for it!? One guy said he used 1/2 pipe and it took 384 rings to make 1 square foot of rounding that up to 400 times 9 square feet in a square yard, times 5 yards = about 18000 rings! Doable!

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you will have a hard time with split washers, they are made of spring steel and are not meant to be closed.
Since I make chainmaille, I would make it for a costume that I had.
But I would not suggest this because it takes a long time to learn and gather supplies.
There are alternatives mentioned above. I have not tried any of them though.

PVC pipe, like above, can be cut into rings and then the rings can be cut to make an opening to put them together. In the method of doing this, one cut ring to 4 uncut rings.
This pattern is called 4in1, it is a European weave.
M.A.I.L. - Maille Artisans International League - European 4-1 (photos, ribbon) - Submitted by David_Austin
M.A.I.L. - Maille Artisans International League - European 4-1 (CGI, one at a time) - Submitted by Big Vs Armory
Thank you all for your excellent suggestions. Making chainmail is out of the question for this project (although I'm sure I will try it some time) and so is knitting.

I'll post my solution when I have one just in case anyone else is looking for something similar.
if you are able to glue the edges of the fabric, then one of the cheapest ways to do small bits of maile is to get knitted sweaters/items in the look you want from your local thrift store and cut them out of that & paint. Just seal the edges of your pattern with glue or stitching before cutting & use enamel spray paint as a base.
Thank you all for your excellent suggestions. Making chainmail is out of the question for this project (although I'm sure I will try it some time) and so is knitting.

I'll post my solution when I have one just in case anyone else is looking for something similar.

Well, I don't know what kind of budget you have, or how picky you are on how it would look upon close inspection, or how much time you can devote to the project but there's always options......
.......assuming you have some money to spend, and want it to at least resemble chainmail from a distance, and have enough time to shop for and's a few more ideas.......

Some kind of netting could be made to work.
Something like this--just an example not necessarily this or this brand--
plastic netting products, buy plastic netting products from
if you double layered it so that it would have some dimension to it, could look the part especially in movement.....

Maybe some knitted plastic netting....

Or even some ye olde garden variety fish netting--
real or the decorative variety

You might also be able to find some knitted yardage fabric.

Most of the plastic stuff could be spray painted with Fusion for Plastic or some other spray paint formulated for plastic.

I was even thinking that stuff they use to make Spark Guard Curtains for fireplaces, though that would probably get pretty heavy and pretty expensive!

Thanks for the great ideas Shylaah! I may eventually go with the fabric mesh idea. I'm getting some samples from Collins Cottage so we'll see if one of them has the right gauge to be passable. I also thought of the metal mesh curtains but quickly dismissed the idea because of price, not to mention weight. In the movie, the skirt was held up by a sort of harness/suspenders because of the weight. I'm hoping to simply sew it on to the underdress.

I did a shirt of PVC chainmaile for my General Kael costume last year. I used a pair of PVC cutters


You want one like that, not one that ratchets. You want one that springs back easily.

I have no idea how many links I ended up cutting, but probably easily in the thousands. My hands hurt by the end, small bruses, etc. But I have no power tools, so I hand cut every single link out. If I did it again.. I would find some tools.

The actual weaving of the links took awhile too. I used some PVC glue on about half of the links. Armpits, back, etc. Painting was a multistep process. Painted the suit once, then rotated the links, then painted again, rotated the links, painted again. Eventually it got coated through. Although I painted after assembling the shirt.
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