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Pyreheart

Armored Hoodie Project

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I have an idea for a concept, but the options and pros and cons are overwhelming and I could use some advice before I start implementing. The concept is this: create a hoodie completely out of steel rings (looking at 16g, 5/16"), then envelope it in cloth (inner layer and outer layer). The result is a hoodie that does not stand out in a crowd, but is effectively knife-proof (as well as weighted for strength training).

I'm trying to accomplish this in under $150, but have a quality product when I'm done. Below are some of the options that I am having trouble deciding on:

*European 4-in-1 versus 6-in-1

*Galvanized or Mild Steel

*Gauge and ID of rings (in proportion to necessary 12 square feet of "cloth" and cost repercussions)

*Should the maille be accessible or not (via zipper or such)

I'm experienced in maille, and am sure that I can pull it off, but I have no experience in big projects like this. Any help is greatly appreciated!

~Pyre

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A couple of things. 1) if you're looking for "won't stand out in a crowd" don't use 16g 5/16". It still has some bulk to it, and not like slightly-too-large garment bulk. 2) If you're looking for knife-resistant, don't use 16g 5/16". Or anything butted, for that matter. If it's butted all it takes is for the tip of a strong thrust to get into the closure groove and it'll spread it right open.

Also, you'll definitely want 4-1. E6-1 is much heavier, much stiffer, and doesn't really open up much. Don't use mild steel-- if you're sandwiching it with cloth the oil you'll need to protect it with will rub off onto the insides of the fabric and probably stain through to the outside. Plus you'd have to make it accessible so that you could maintain it.

My suggestion would be to use patch some of TRL's welded fabric together into what you need-- after all, there is a reason butchers' gloves are often welded mail. Failing that, the 19g 1/4" split rings or a combination of them and 16g 1/4" punched rings. Much stronger than butted, and lighter but still hefty, and it'll look somewhat less bulky.

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I agree with Milquetoast on using the welded mail from Mailtec/TRL you will be able to go with a smaller gauge and ring size for less weight. I know last year I bought a hoody for my son that was actually lined and if you can find one like that you should be able to carefully open up enough of the seams to insert and sew into place the welded mail and then resew the seams closed again. if you need to get backatit , you would need to reopen the seams again but if you use the welded it shouldn't be very often

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The welded fabric would definately be the best option as far as weight and bulk goes, however, it blows away your desire for under $150 (or even close to it, I'd estimate you're looking at closer to $500). Even in hand made rings, $150 isnt too realistic if you want steel (maybe aluminum, but that get into a new set of concepts and problems) I'd suggest 18ga 3/16" is a good size to keep the bulk down, but still have a reasonable strength and weight. I'd steer away from mild steel to avoid rusting stains on the cloth over time. Yes, make the maille accessible, you will find many occasions for making alterations later on to make something fit better or not bind up.

Effectively knife proof is a touchy concept. If you had a hoodie of this, lined inside and out, it would be "effectively knife proof" but that doesnt mean you can take a knife thrust without fear of injury. Even modern day flak jackets can't make that claim, but the chance of serious injury is greatly reduced. If you want to avoid injury in a knife fight, bring a gun! :) (<-----insert massive sarcasm here)

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I wouldn't use TRL's welded mesh. I bought some of it a few years ago, as a curiosity, and did some strength testing on it. With little pressure, I was able to snap the welds with a pair of pliers. I see this kind of weld failure on rings I have welded myself, but either didn't have enough heat or didn't have enough pressure. A knife strike is going to apply a lot more force than this; it will be as though the maille is not even there.

If you're looking into welded, I would get TRL's resistance welder and do it yourself. I am able to get solid, 100% fused welds with some degree of reliability with this device. You can use the join as a visual cue as to whether your welds are good; I prefer mine to raise up at the join. This lets me know the material is totally fused.

If it's for personal protection, I wouldn't go much below 18g stainless. Too thin and you start worrying about tensile strength. It is possible for a thin wire to snap under the pressures we're talking about, or at least to deform. I also wouldn't got much larger than 18g 3/16" ID due to penetration concerns. Nobody is going to slash with a knife; at least, not as a primary attack. It's too slow, and leaves too much chance to fail. Most are going to default to the more difficult-to-avoid thrust, which is going to go right through an open weave. You'll want something tight enough to counter pocket knives, just to cover most commonly available models.

With that said, please do not take anything said on this thread as 100% reliable self-defense advice. The best method is to avoid defense situations altogether. Armor is there to give you a better chance to survive; not to guarantee success. I would hate to see something happen to you because you trusted maille to be an all-encompassing solution.

Edited by The Old Way

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If it's for personal protection, I wouldn't go much below 18g stainless. Too thin and you start worrying about tensile strength. It is possible for a thin wire to snap under the pressures we're talking about, or at least to deform. I also wouldn't got much larger than 18g 3/16" ID due to penetration concerns. Nobody is going to slash with a knife; at least, not as a primary attack. It's too slow, and leaves too much chance to fail. Most are going to default to the more difficult-to-avoid thrust, which is going to go right through an open weave. You'll want something tight enough to counter pocket knives, just to cover most commonly available models.

With that said, please do not take anything said on this thread as 100% reliable self-defense advice. The best method is to avoid defense situations altogether. Armor is there to give you a better chance to survive; not to guarantee success. I would hate to see something happen to you because you trusted maille to be an all-encompassing solution.

Sorry if this derails the topic, but as a martial artist, stabs are MUCH more simple to counter than wild slashing (Though of course, maille generally works better against slashing attacks than stabbing). One of the reasons knives are a lot more dangerous in close range than guns is because they can go a near infinite number of directions, making it unpredictable.

Now, to be clear, it's best to avoid any kind of confrontation with weapons, but if I had to choose between someone holding a knife to me, or a gun, I'd choose the gun. It is much easier to avoid, as well as to disarm.

On topic, I would agree that using anything butted would be out of the question. I believe Lorezo said in another thread, something like 18 gauge 5/16" welded was equivalent to what they used when playing for keeps. (though don't quote me on that) I would personally probably go with 18 gauge 1/4" welded, though I tend to want more than what is necessary.

I must also agree with The Old Way's statement about not expecting anything to work 100%. There is ALWAYS something that can go wrong, and even with many years of martial arts training I would much rather avoid the situation, though I realize that there is not always a way to avoid a fight, and being prepared for those situations is important.

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I had a similar idea, but instead of protection I was going to make it into a weight shirt. Sweatshirt on the outside, long sleeved T on the inside, 35 lbs of chainmail in between. Less conspicuous, but still great leg and core exercise just walking around, much less walking the 3 mile uphill path to my house. Never got it off the ground. In terms of blade proof clothing, I think you may be better off buying some Kevlar fabric from the ebay or somewhere else, finding a hoodie from a thrift store that fits comfortably, taking it apart, and using it as a pattern to make a kevlar hoodie. Not quite as burly as chainmail, but far less conspicuous, heavy, and probably far cheaper.

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Neither is most of the chainmail here. For $150, you can't make a knife resistant hoodie out of chainmail, unless you want to hand rivet the rings. You might be able to do it with kevlar. But of course, if you're planning on entrusting your life to it, you have to research it.

Edit: I knew I saw this somewhere. A company called Bladerunner sells stab proof clothing that looks like normal streetwear, including a hoodie, and it retails 78 pounds, or about $125 american. Best advice I have. Check their videos, they're prettying impressive.

Edited by Fenris

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Kevlar treated with Shear Thickening Fluid (STF) is completely puncture proof. I've made some and it does work. Four layers of conventional Kevlar treated with STF is more than enough to stop a knife attack. You do need to think about how you are going to sew it into the garment, because once treated you can't get a needle to pass through it. You have to plan ahead.

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I wouldn't use TRL's welded mesh. I bought some of it a few years ago, as a curiosity, and did some strength testing on it. With little pressure, I was able to snap the welds with a pair of pliers. I see this kind of weld failure on rings I have welded myself, but either didn't have enough heat or didn't have enough pressure. A knife strike is going to apply a lot more force than this; it will be as though the maille is not even there.

Those old welds, although admittedly rather brittle, were the industry standard in cut protection for almost 30 years and have been proven to protect against most cuts and thrusts by a knife blade. They were never meant to protect against a full force attack with the intent to kill but even in that extreme situation they're better than wearing nothing at all. That type of mesh is still used daily by meat packers and marine biologists to do the job it was designed to do, it does often require extensive repair but it's saved thousands of people from injury or death.

With that said, TRL doesn't make welded mesh anymore and hasn't for the last two years. The mesh we make now at MailleTec is far and away stronger than what TRL was capable of making three years ago. Since then we've invested thousands of man hours and tens of thousands of dollars into upgrading our welding technology. I would trust my own life to our welded mesh against any knife attack.

If you'd like a new sample to test just send me a PM with your address and I'll have one shipped out to you.

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Edit: I knew I saw this somewhere. A company called Bladerunner sells stab proof clothing that looks like normal streetwear, including a hoodie, and it retails 78 pounds, or about $125 american. Best advice I have. Check their videos, they're prettying impressive.

This information is dangerously wrong and totally irresponsible. None of the kevlar based clothing products currently on the market are in any way stab resistant, much less stab proof. The product page for the hoodies on the Bladerunner website explicitly states that they are only cut resistant to level 2.

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Wow! Didn't expect this much feedback so quickly! Thank you everyone!

Now, to responding. Due to the massive feedback against mild and galvanized steel, I'm looking to stainless steel for my rings. E6 in 1 is out, and I'll go with 4 in 1 instead. As for the armor-quality of chainmaille (especially with butted rings), I guess I need to clarify a bit. The purpose of this project is not to make myself 100% knife-proof (such a garment would be reminiscent of Bioshock's "Big Daddies", and not convenient for everyday wear).

This project has three purposes: 1, to be the biggest project that I have undertaken with maille; 2, to add a layer of protection against bladed weapons; and 3, to assist with conditioning and strength training on an everyday basis (if this thing ends up being 50 pounds, I would be happier than if it ended up being 20 pounds. I want it heavy). I realize that maille is almost completely ineffective against bullets, and only gives a certain amount of protection against blades, but it is a layer of armor that is not to be expected and is between me and a slashing/piercing weapon that I wouldn't have otherwise. I have martial arts training, and ideally, I won't ever need the protection, but I would rather have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it

Now: for a second round of questions :)

*To make a cloth hoodie, most patterns require roughly 18 square feet of cloth. Does this resemble the amount of chainmaille required to make a similar structure?

*While pre-cut stainless steel rings are pricey, the wire is not so much. Is it worth buying the tools to cut roughly 600 meters of wire into rings (approx. 2000 ft for empiric measurement), or should I let the guys with the nifty professional equipment do it and save myself the headache?

*Still trying to pin down a good size for rings. Looking at either 18g or 16g with an AR around 6 (18g 5/16", 16g 3/8"). Thoughts?

*Anyone forsee any problems I may run into with this project? I lack experience, so I'm looking to glean some hard-earned wisdom from ye veterans.

Edited by Pyreheart

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1- Related to this that I may forget about if I don't ask now-- are you planning on including the hood as well? If so, you may want to look into the mantle-top or yoke-top style shirt. Much less common than the ol' tube-n-straps, and more time-consuming to make, but very easy to incorporate a hood right into the piece, without changing grains or directions or anything. Roughly how big are you? 18sq. ft. seems like rather a lot to me, but I'm a small little fellow so my perception might be skewed.

2- The pre-cut vs. cut-your-own is a common question, and there's not really a definite answer. If you have more time than money or don't need this done very soon then it wouldn't hurt, and I can assure you that you feel much more sentimental towards pieces that you yourself have cut and wound every single of the tens of thousands of rings. Have you ever cut any of your own before? If not, you may want to head to the hardware or craft store and get something softer than TRL's steel and cut a few hundred. I know I cut several thousand for my first project (coif) before I discovered TRL, and it just burned me out. I loved weaving, hated the coiling and cutting. Also, how strong are your hands? Cutting steel can really take a toll if your hands aren't up for the job.

3- A couple of problems with those ring sizes. For one, at least one of those sizes will hardly even be a slight obstacle if someone stabs you, even if it's not full-force. 18g 5/16" (haven't worked with 16g 3/8") makes for a much looser E4-1 than you might think. Two, weight. If you want something heavy, you want low ARs. My current project is 14g 5/16" around the shoulders and chest and 16g 5/16" for the rest, goes to mid-bicep and mid-thigh, and I believe it weighs in at...23 lbs, 24 lbs, somewhere in there. 18g 5/16" would be, just a guesstimate here, somewhere around 13. Thirdly, depending on what you do in this hoodie, those sizes might not hold up to regular wear and tear. 16g 3/8" has been done as purely costume wear, but once you get into higher ARs the chance shoots up for rings to pull apart from stress when you move, or around the shoulders under their own weight.

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1. My hauberk is huge and ends up being roughly 19.5 square feet. I'm also 6'2", and it has no contractions, so take that measurement with a grain of salt.

2. I've done a LOT of hand wrapping / hand cutting rings, and it is simply not worth the time and effort (to me). Go with prefab rings, in my opinion. The cost is negligible and you will save yourself a lot of time.

3. Keep in mind that those sizes are for welded rings. If you do decide to weld the rings (You really should, it'll help the garment hold up better, both maille, and cloth-wise) either of these ring sizes will work well. If you do insist on butted, I'd suggest a much lower AR. A lot of hauberks these days are made with 14 gauge 3/8" rings, and that will give you more weight as well (When I was building my most recent hauberk with this size, I was easily able to wear it as a vest under a hoodie and no-one could tell). You could always use some of the punched stainless rings for extra strength, though that will lower the weight.

4. The most obvious issue I see is that the cloth will wear out from constant contact with the maille underneath, particularly if you use butted rings. Brimley's Mom suggested in a different topic to use interfacing, and you may want to look into that.

Another suggestion is to always order more rings than you think you will need; it's better to have extra than not enough.

Heat will likely be an issue as well. Maille acts as a heat sink. If you've got a breeze going, it's going to sap heat out. Having a layer of cloth on each side of the maille will help to reduce that, but I haven't done any testing to see how much of an effect this can have.

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I would go 14-16g 5/16, for a long sleeve similar I used a bit under 35lbs of stainless rings, so going 14 would definitely add weight and by a tighter weave but still be flexible. I have made (costume) armor of the 3/8(by request) and it is ok, but seems too open to me.

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TRL's shirt calculator put me at a little over 10 square feet of material, so the hoodie measurement was off a bit (the hood is not included in that number, though). I've also been wondering about sprint temper stainless steel. How much better of quality is it versus regular stainless steel rings? Also, I'm narrowing my search to 14g 3/8" or 16g 5/16".

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Spring temper will break your hands if you don't have great pliers and good-great form. One of my current projects is a hauberk in spring temper 16ga 1/4 mixed with the punched rings of the same size. I have to take a break after working on it for a few hours. 16 gauge 5/16 would be slightly easier to work with, but it's still going to be brutal going. At that size, though, you could mix the punched 16 gauge 3/8" rings fairly easily for extra strength, easier weaving, and less time. You could double the rings if you're insistent on more weight. Spring temper will be stronger, so repairs likely won't be necessary, though you will probably break a few rings from over bending.

Also, have you thought about the issue of shoulder padding? I have a high enough pain tolerance that I really don't care, but most people find padding helpful. Perhaps you can build it into the inside of your hoodie, so you don't need to wear more under it?

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Milquetoast, I do intend to make a hood. Any ideas on how to craft one or any patterns to share? Also, I am having trouble finding a mantel top hauberk design, but I think I found a yoke style pattern. http://www.bladeturner.com/pattern/hauberk/hauberk.html

Mdewaddic, good point on the shoulder padding. I'll definitely consider that in my design for the cloth portion of the hoodie.

General question for all, how would I go about mixing in punched rings? Should I replace the 4 with punched rings, or the 1? Or is there another method altogether?

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You are correct in having trouble finding a pattern for it-- I had seen one someplace at some point, but haven't been able to find it since. The fellows seen in these images (http://www.threerive...rmor_illusB.jpg) depict it decently-- you can see that when the arms are hanging the sleeves follow the direction of the body, and there is no transition between the coif and hauberk, because they're the same piece and weave right into each other. http://www.theringlo...0_12_550761.jpg is an image of mine in this style that picture is from before I lengthened the sleeves, but you can still see that it's an expanding circle, instead of something like the 45* seam where the body and arms meet at a definite seam. The fact that it's a circle allows the integrated coif to work more or less exactly like a regular hoodie's hood... except, you know, maille. Be warned, though, that this method tends to be more time-consuming, because you can't simply weave large squares and rectangles and patch them together. If you want, since I can't seem to find any online, I can dig through and see if I took any in-progress pics so you can get a better idea of the construction.

EDIT: Found it! http://www.manningimperial.com/articles/EuropeanHauberkConstruction.pdf

Edited by Milquetoast

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Milquetoast: In Progress pics would be awesome! The pattern you found looks perfect, but I'm a little confused on the concept of expanding the pattern, as well as figure 8.b . If you have any up-close pictures of what they are talking about, it would help immensely!

Calisandra: The punched rings look perfect for this! What size of punched and butted rings did you use in that picture? I know Mdewaddic used the same size for both, but if there is another way to do it, I'd like to compare results.

On a previously untouched topic, what should I put on the front of the hoodie? I'm decent with cloth and want to put something sweet on the front, so suggestions for designs, slogans, etc would be awesome!

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Milquetoast, I do intend to make a hood. Any ideas on how to craft one or any patterns to share? Also, I am having trouble finding a mantel top hauberk design, but I think I found a yoke style pattern. http://www.bladeturn...rk/hauberk.html

Mdewaddic, good point on the shoulder padding. I'll definitely consider that in my design for the cloth portion of the hoodie.

General question for all, how would I go about mixing in punched rings? Should I replace the 4 with punched rings, or the 1? Or is there another method altogether?

I'm no fan of the Bladeturner -- lacks forward sleeve bias, though this can be simply put in by making the back portion of the shirt five to seven fingersbreadths wider than the front portion.Mantletops work rather the same way. Instead of the essentially "4 Trapezoids Yoketop" the Bladeturner method makes, it replaces that whole part of the shirt with the cowl part of a mail coif, using expansion links put in to do what is done in the BT by joining four trapezoids.This does call for a different method of building sleeve forward bias in, where Bladeturner just continues the left and right trapezoids on out: you need to determine the mantletop's quadrants, mark them, and then set the sleeves on ahead of left and right dead center. So, you figure exactly what link is at center front, center rear/spine, and centerline left and right.When the arm openings the sleeves fit in are made in the completed shirt body with the shoulder on top, you still have essentially the same kind of lazy-capital-D shape, lying on its back, but now it's also canted outwards instead of being straight up and down.It's a good method of construction for a short-sleeve mail shirt, one with sleeves that no more than slightly overlap the elbow. The more historical sort of NTLWorld Trevor Barker shirt, the one in "Butted Mail: A Mailmaker's Guide" has, as historical shirts do and likewise the modular component (though the Renaissance guys who wore mail sleeves for keeps would not have called them such) of light infantry armor, the pair of mail sleeves -- the mail weave is in open hang down the sleeve, as the linkrows simply continue out and down the arm from the shoulder rectangle (with sleeve biasing expansion zones inserted) that they usually built. Though there may have been mantletop hauberks made and used earlier.But historically, that's a maybe, because reasonably complete pieces of fighting mail pretty much run out about a century ahead of the period of the artwork that suggests maybe mantletopped construction of hauberks. Between rusting and cleaning off the rust, the shelf life expectancy of fighting mail that's come down to us is six to seven hundred years. But even the mail pieces we're sure date from the fourteenth century -- dating mail is hard to do -- are few. Takes until the fifteenth century for nice complete mail pieces to get something like frequent -- the Trevor Barker directions replicate a shirt of mail of c. 1438 from the Wallace Collection.All this is pretty roundabout, but I hope it is germane to the hang of mail in your sleeves: it's a lot easier to do the columnar-direction expansions needed to put ease in your sleeve elbow if the sleeve is in open hang. You can readily insert that easier kind of expansion into the elbow, easier than you can with the row-expansions you'd have to use otherwise, with your sleeves in closed hang. Long sleeves need this kind of room in the elbow so you don't cut off your circulation when you bend your arm -- just like how you can choke off the water from a garden hose by bending it tight. Every now and then we get a guy who has that happen because he's not figuring his sleeves out right.Mods: The site's ignoring my line feeds/white space.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

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This is the only progress pic I could find, but you can see how, as Konstantin said, it's essentially the cowl part of a coif extended to form the top of the shirt. It seems, too, that at least some of the expansions showed up, in the form of the little darker spots. Also it should be noted that those little rectangles were just markers for where the arms would be, and are slightly further forward than the picture would seem.

4y34Cl.jpg

Also, I won't be able to finish the shirt for at least a few months until I make my next TRL order, but as of now it's a 3/4 length sleeve and I have no problems with my elbow. I just put a few expansions behind it so there's a little pocket, almost like a sock.

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