By Bryan D.
Step One – Collect Materials and Tools
- Tabs lots of them!
- Thin Gauge Wire or Ribbon
- A Pair of Pliers
- Side Cutters
- Staple Remover
- Sandpaper or File or Grinder
- Eye Protection
- Music or movie to keep you entertained
Step Two – The Pattern… or what do you want to make?
So what do you want to make? Shirt, Pant, Coif?? I provided some basic patterns to get you started but you can always modify them to suit your personal preference.
Note: you don’t have to make “Clothing” think outside the box. How about a bag or Purse?
Sample patterns coming soon!!!!
Step Three – Sanding and Sorting… or Prep Stage One
So you have collect all your tabs and you have your pattern you must be ready to go right?
Nope all those tabs need to be sanded down , so that the little burs don’t catch on you clothing which will wreak the other parts of our awesome costume.
So here is where a powered grinding wheel and your choice of entertainment would come in very handy.
If you are going to use the grinding wheel for this step you should employ some eye protection and possibly a pair of gloves.
Before and after sanding them down
If you have employed your friends and family to help collect tabs then you’re probably going to have a lot random tabs from beer, energy drinks and soda(pop) you’re going to want to sort them out. I suggest using that standard pop tabs for most of the project since they are all going to be mostly the same size.
Step Four – Cutting and Bending… or Prep Stage Two
For this we are going to employ the staple remover and your thumb. Place the tab with the longer side facing in into remover and then push down on the exposed part bending the tab into a slight angle.
In roughly the center of the short end of the tab use the side cutters to make a clean cut.
Now just continue to repeat this step to make the many links. I suggest to make 10 or so to start with and then go back and make some more after you have started filling in your pattern. It Helps to save your hands a bit to go back and forth between bending / cutting and linking everything together.
Step Five – Assembly
Now lay out the pattern you are going to follow
I suggest placing a row of tabs over the pattern to give you an idea of how many will be in each row.
Now start with one cut and bent tab, Slide the top uncut loop of one tab through the cut bottom loop of another tap
You should end up with something that looks like above.
Once you get a row of tabs put together its handy to keep them in place over your pattern with a piece of tape like so.
Now just keep slotting the tab together and fill out the pattern.
More tape keeps things in place!
I try to work from right to left if I can help it but sometimes you will find that you need to fill in the pattern from both directions at once.
Step Six – Sewing
In the pictures I am working on a scarf/ half-shirt sort of design which means I am going to end up with two mirrored pieces that will need to be connected together. This is where the Wire or Ribbon is going to come into play.
First we want to run the wire or ribbon around the perimeter of both the front and back pieces, weaving it in and out of the links this will help keep everything together.
Then stitch the front and back together on the seams with the same technique.
Step 7 – Show it off!
Notes and Suggestions
Color – Spice of life
There are many different colored and shaped pop tabs out there. These can be used to weave patterns in your creation or to finish off the edges. Here are some examples
Don’t Skip the Sanding!
I know it one of the tidiest parts of the entire project but it’s worth it so the chain maille doesn’t get caught on clothing and other items
Shape or Pattern
I would Suggest drawing a rough outline of the pattern or shape you want to weave into the item that way you can layout your colored tabs ahead of time and the can be added to the item in the proper order
Paint it on
Don’t fret if you didn’t collect enough colored tabs for the design you want you can always paint it on either with acrylic paints or by applying a stencil and spraying over top. Don’t forget to protect the design with a clear sealant or clear coat like this