Jamie

Chainmail Bodysuit

19 posts in this topic

Hi guys! I have a big project that I'm planning to use chainmail for but since I'm still pretty new to working with it I want to make sure I get a lot of information first. What I'm basically shooting for is covering most of my body (chest, back, arms, and tops of legs) in chainmail and I know it can be a little tricky to make the weaving look seamless so I definitely could use some advice on that. I'm not particularly sure what the protocol for attaching sleeves is? I have a few questions regarding this project:

 

  • Would the smaller or the larger aluminum scales be optimal for this kind of project?
  • What is the trick to attaching seams? 
  • Is there anything I need to keep in mind when trying to get the chainmail around my legs? 
  • I was considering buying a form-fitting bodysuit in the same colour as the scales and placing the chainmail over that, should I just skip the idea and use only the chainmail?
  • Is there anything I need to keep in mind when embarking on a project this big?

 

I'm sorry for all of the questions, just want to make sure that I have a thorough understanding of the process before I start the project. Any and all help is extremely appreciated, thank you!!!

Zolsta and Euar like this

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Hi Jamie, pretty ambitious for a first project.

 

As a general rule; the smaller the rings are the more seamless looking you can make your costume but the more work it takes overall. The shoulders and sleeves are the trickiest part, you generally need a lot of experience/talent to pull them off seamlessly and form fitting.

 

-Small scales are always better unless you really want the look of large scales.

-Stick to simple geometric shapes to keep the seams tidy looking, let the natural stretch of the material handle the form fitting part.

-For the areas that you want to cover it would be simpler to do the entire thing as a one piece dress sort of arrangement, separate legs & crotch makes it much harder.

-Metal costumes are relatively heavy, you'll likely want a cloth bodysuit to wear under it anyways to keep it from chafing.

-The amount of hours involved in this for an amateur is likely to be huge, count on the better part of a year working in your spare time. it might be better to hire a professional for something like this.

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start with a smaller project

 

Thanks for the confidence. I plan on taking it slow. 

 

Hi Jamie, pretty ambitious for a first project.

 

As a general rule; the smaller the rings are the more seamless looking you can make your costume but the more work it takes overall. The shoulders and sleeves are the trickiest part, you generally need a lot of experience/talent to pull them off seamlessly and form fitting.

 

-Small scales are always better unless you really want the look of large scales.

-Stick to simple geometric shapes to keep the seams tidy looking, let the natural stretch of the material handle the form fitting part.

-For the areas that you want to cover it would be simpler to do the entire thing as a one piece dress sort of arrangement, separate legs & crotch makes it much harder.

-Metal costumes are relatively heavy, you'll likely want a cloth bodysuit to wear under it anyways to keep it from chafing.

-The amount of hours involved in this for an amateur is likely to be huge, count on the better part of a year working in your spare time. it might be better to hire a professional for something like this.

 

You're right, the smaller scales would be a lot better for a seamless look, I imagine the larger scales might run the risk of calling attention to any slip ups. Keeping the simple geometric shapes in mind is it easier to sketch out a general template/pattern/shape I want the piece to be for when I start weaving? It is a lot of work, that is true, but I'm very determined and excited to get working on this, I've been itching to start for a few months now. I could hire a professional but I'd really like to do this for the personal growth and to learn the weaving skill, it's a good one to have since I do a lot of costuming. You've been very helpful, thank you!

Edited by Jamie

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Thanks for the confidence. I plan on taking it slow. 

Not confidence. Statistics. I have been watching the mailing community for more than 30 years. I have seen about 40 attempts at a one piece suit and only 3 completions (and only one of those that might realisticly be called 'functional') None were by novice mailers. There are just too many fitting proplems that must have simultanious perfect solutions. The success rate for the two piece configuration (shirt and pants laced, belted, buttoned, snapped, hooked, or velcroed together) is ever so much higher. That's how all modern shark suits and most historic armor is made.

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Not confidence. Statistics. I have been watching the mailing community for more than 30 years. I have seen about 40 attempts at a one piece suit and only 3 completions (and only one of those that might realisticly be called 'functional') None were by novice mailers. There are just too many fitting proplems that must have simultanious perfect solutions. The success rate for the two piece configuration (shirt and pants laced, belted, buttoned, snapped, hooked, or velcroed together) is ever so much higher. That's how all modern shark suits and most historic armor is made.

 

I definitely understand what you mean, it's a very intimidating and difficult project to work on, especially for my second chainmail project, but I'm really determined to see this through. Making it all one piece is most likely not in the cards but I'll try to make as many modifications as needed to suit my skill level and cover up the seams with embellishments. I wish there were an easier alternative for this costume but I have a vision that I'd really love to see come to life. Would you suggest a two piece configuration, or something with more pieces? 

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Your problem is that there may be very limited overlap between the 'vision' you are trying to create and the real properties of chainmail. The 'chainmail' depicted in most modern movies, video games and books is mostly a silvery knit spandex fantacy. The reality is a materiel that is flexable but completely inelastic, has two completely different biases at right angles to each other, has completely different draping caracteristics depending on which bias axis you are dealing with, can only be joined smoothly at certain angles and along certain edges and is many times heavier than any fabric you have ever encountered. I would sugest you get some samples from Mailtech ot The Ring Lord or Neptunic and re-evalate your 'visiom' based on the real materiel. You might also want to check out the 'Mack' Bible ( http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/maciejowski_bible.htm ) which contains numerous illistrations of real chainmail worn by real people by illistrators who were likely working from life.

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Your problem is that there may be very limited overlap between the 'vision' you are trying to create and the real properties of chainmail. The 'chainmail' depicted in most modern movies, video games and books is mostly a silvery knit spandex fantacy. The reality is a materiel that is flexable but completely inelastic, has two completely different biases at right angles to each other, has completely different draping caracteristics depending on which bias axis you are dealing with, can only be joined smoothly at certain angles and along certain edges and is many times heavier than any fabric you have ever encountered. I would sugest you get some samples from Mailtech ot The Ring Lord or Neptunic and re-evalate your 'visiom' based on the real materiel. You might also want to check out the 'Mack' Bible ( http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/maciejowski_bible.htm ) which contains numerous illistrations of real chainmail worn by real people by illistrators who were likely working from life.

 

Well thank you for your suggestions, I'll check out the link and I am ordering some scale samples to get a better understanding of the material properties. 

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How much are you planning to cover with scales? You may want to consider only covering the outside of your arms, or at the very least leave the armpit area as just chainmail. The scales might bunch up too much and hamper movement otherwise.

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How much are you planning to cover with scales? You may want to consider only covering the outside of your arms, or at the very least leave the armpit area as just chainmail. The scales might bunch up too much and hamper movement otherwise.

 

After getting some feedback on the forum I've been doing a lot of thinking about the movement of the scales when arranged as chainmail and it does seem like they would leave me extremely limited, motion-wise. I think that because I need this particular project to be form-fitting and relatively easy to move around in (I'm bringing it to a convention) I may just benefit from sewing the scales directly to the bodysuit in a pattern reminiscent of chainmail to avoid the bulk that a weave would cause. 

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Hi guys! I have a big project that I'm planning to use chainmail for but since I'm still pretty new to working with it I want to make sure I get a lot of information first. What I'm basically shooting for is covering most of my body (chest, back, arms, and tops of legs) in chainmail and I know it can be a little tricky to make the weaving look seamless so I definitely could use some advice on that. I'm not particularly sure what the protocol for attaching sleeves is? I have a few questions regarding this project:

 

  • Would the smaller or the larger aluminum scales be optimal for this kind of project?
  • What is the trick to attaching seams? 
  • Is there anything I need to keep in mind when trying to get the chainmail around my legs? 
  • I was considering buying a form-fitting bodysuit in the same colour as the scales and placing the chainmail over that, should I just skip the idea and use only the chainmail?
  • Is there anything I need to keep in mind when embarking on a project this big?

 

I'm sorry for all of the questions, just want to make sure that I have a thorough understanding of the process before I start the project. Any and all help is extremely appreciated, thank you!!!

Ok so this is going to be a scalemail project? or a mix?  Scales are far less see through and quite a bit heavier. Either way can and has worked, just wanted to understand what your thinking.

 

Seams are either extremely easy (they line up like they are supposed to and just fit) or a pain in the hoop (they don't line up or the weave direction has changed) and you have to adjust on the fly. It can be a true pain in the hoop, I have done it both ways, the only sure problem is under the arms ( I didnt say this would be the ONLY problem .. just this one is gauranteed. ) And scales adds a level of difficulty and a solution .. ya .. it gets a bit weird :)

 

Chainmail around the legs has 3 things to really remember,

1 Chainmail doesn't stretch. ... It will expand to a maximum, but no farther without taking damage (ping rings are gone or cutting into you)

2 The area just above the knee is smaller than the knee, the mail will not go above the knee (see1)

3 Chainmail wedge is far less of a problem than chainmail brakes! When the mail rubs from one leg to the other they interlock and you stop or tear! ..

 

Is there anything I need to keep in mind when embarking on a project this big? I love this .. unlike most of the others, I heartly cheer you on. You will learn tons more, faster than any other way. Just in ring closures, you will advance by an order of power.

When you finish this you will be able to look at any other project and accurately decide how long it will take.

You will be able to look at any other project and decide if your really interested in doing it.

You will have mastered the basic skills in ways that would take others 3-4 years of doing smaller stuff. And they still might not be up to your level.

And if you don't finish .. you will know your limits, what your actually willing to do .. and what your not. I couldn't say how many people have done jewerly level stuff for years and then decide to do a bikini piece, and about 1/2 way through realize they don't know what they are doing, and "it takes so long" .. and most tellingly "I don't want to do this, it seems to never be finished". You will not have these questions .. ever.

Or you will move on to smaller stuff .. not everyone wants or is willing to put the incrediable effort into a large piece.

I wish you well .. and any help or encouragement you need is freely given.

 

As a true and best suggestion .. start your work .. if you come upon a problem .. take a pic and post it and explain what your issue is .. we stand ready to help.

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Would you not rather build it as a shirt?  Solves every problem we can foresee.  Also lets the mail flow and hang in accordance with its properties.  The shirt would be a haburgeon, pretty much:  mid-thigh length as a skirt, waist well defined both by tailoring the mail in the fashion Butted Mail -- ntlworld's Trevor Barker page -- instructs and by using a waist belt which puts about a third of the weight of the shirt on your hips rather than 100% of it on your shoulders.  Haburgeons proper have short to half sleeves, but developments of shirts this length did later use long sleeves -- later than the haburgeon's latter-fourteenth-century heyday.

 

Never wear a chainmail shirt directly on your skin.  You will be acutely uncomfortable all day.

 

Building a shirt takes a long attention span whether of mail links or bits of scale, and anti-tedium measures like music, television, or having friends over for conversation.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

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Building a shirt takes a long attention span whether of mail links or bits of scale, and anti-tedium measures like music, television, or having friends over for conversation.

I find non-stop meditation on money has real staying power ... but then I sell everything I make.

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Biggest consideration is somewhere to lay the thing while you're working on it. I was a it over ambitious myself when making my first shirt, and found that turning and flipping it when i was in the last stages of assembly were the toughest. You may want to think out where you can lay it flat to piece it together, or getting a dress maker's form to hang it from so you can make alterations.

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I hate to think that we've discouraged you, it's not impossible to make but it is very difficult.

 

You would likely be better served with the appearance of scales sewn onto a bodysuit for costume purposes.

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It is not very difficult.  In fact, it's plain easy.  That's the only trouble -- it gets tedious too.  Takes a long time; it will probably mean 100 or more man-hours in the weaving.  With reasonable commitment of time per day, call it about two months, what with the rest of life.

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On 2014/6/15 at 2:14 PM, lorenzo said:

Hi Jamie, pretty ambitious for a first project.

 

As a general rule; the smaller the rings are the more seamless looking you can make your costume but the more work it takes overall. The shoulders and sleeves are the trickiest part, you generally need a lot of experience/talent to pull them off seamlessly and form fitting.

 

-Small scales are always better unless you really want the look of large scales.

-Stick to simple geometric shapes to keep the seams tidy looking, let the natural stretch of the material handle the form fitting part.

-For the areas that you want to cover it would be simpler to do the entire thing as a one piece dress sort of arrangement, separate legs & crotch makes it much harder.

-Metal costumes are relatively heavy, you'll likely want a cloth bodysuit to wear under it anyways to keep it from chafing.

-The amount of hours involved in this for an amateur is likely to be huge, count on the better part of a year working in your spare time. it might be better to hire a professional for something like this.

Well done. bump!

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