From Rings to Ready-for-Battle: Crafting a Chainmail Shirt for a Lady Knight Look at VA Ren Faire

Hey, it’s me, Hannah. This weekend, I’ll be attending the Virginia Renaissance Faire at Lake Anna Winery. So for this video, I am going to take inventory of the armor that I have and figure out what else I need to do in order to fill out this lady knight Ren Faire fit.

Okay. Let’s talk about base layer. So it’s not exactly cold here, in mid-May, but I don’t think I’m really going to have to worry about like getting heatstroke if I wear boots and leggings. So that’s kind of probably option number one for me is just a pair of black leggings and I’ve got some kind of over the knee boots that are low heel, definitely a go to for me when I wear more of a knightcore look. I also tend to reach for this white blouse when I am donning my gorget and pauldrons, although for this faire, I do want to wear a chainmail shirt. So I might opt for something lighter. But in general, this is not it’s not a heavy shirt. Relatively light fabric. I think it’s just kind of a lower quality fabric. It’s not pure cotton or anything like that. So this is what I’m going to plan for for now.

I mentioned them before, but I definitely want to wear my metal gorget and pauldrons. So that means I will not be wearing my scale male pauldrons even though they are black and would go really nicely with my black leather bracers that have this really cute heart detail on them that are going to be perfect for a romance theme. I am very excited about that. But I guess it’ll still work with the silver accents on those bracers, matching the silver on the metal armor and the chainmail.

Speaking of which, my non scale chainmail is in a bit of an unfinished state right now. The back and front are different lengths. There are no sleeves. Things like that. So I am going to spend some time over the next few days working to make this shirt at least a little bit longer. I haven’t exactly decided what shape I want the chain shirt to be in. But I will probably either go with taking the bottom of the front and back panels down to a point so that it kind of drapes between my legs a little bit. Not not too far down, but enough.

Or, flip it and reverse it, bring it down on the sides to cover my hips with a little slit open up in the front and back, probably starting just below my waist either way, because I only have a few days to work on this. I’m just going to get started and see how far I can get.

My hands already hurt so badly. Basically, my strategy thus far has been close a bunch of rings, create a bunch of 4-in-ones, and prepare to put them all together. This seems to kind of universally be the strategy when it comes to creating chain mail. That’s not to say there aren’t a million different ways and really amazing patterns you can use while creating chain mail, whether it’s armor or jewelry or clothing or whatever. But at least when it comes to using the four in one pattern, it seems to be pretty universal that we create a bunch of four in ones before connecting them. And I’ll show you how to do that.

I’m using bright aluminum jump rings from Chainmail Joe This bag was full and it comes with about 1700 rings. So it’s going great. I find that these 14 gauge five and 16 inch jump rings are my preference, but they the rings come in a bunch of different sizes. This is not sponsored content, but I do enjoy working with these rings and I enjoy that I can get them pretty quickly. I have another bag or two coming in the mail today, so just in time.

This is a labor of love. This is somehow self-care for me, which is hard to believe considering how bruised my hands are already.

I wish I was keeping track of the amount of time I’d spent on my on my shirt. There has of course, been a lot of trial and error. This is basically the same shirt I’ve been working on for over a year and a half. I wore it a few times as sort of a crop top and really enjoyed that shape, but decided to keep adding on to it rather than starting a new piece to hopefully save me some time. But once I got the shape to where I wanted it to be, it’s mostly just been about adding to the bottom to lengthen the shirt because I have the plate armor to cover up certain pieces of it. It’s not been a huge deal that it hasn’t been full length. But I, I am ready to have a full a full maille shirt. So and a full chain shirt is is what we are at least pursuing in this video. Whether or not we get to it remains to be seen, because this does take so long, but we will at least be taking a huge step towards it. And I am excited about that. Well, because of how long this takes and because there’s not a lot else to say about it, let’s just get back to this time lapses.

Alright. It’s day two. Nope. It’s day three. Here is our progress update. Front. Well on its way. Feeling pretty good about that Back? Not so much. I’m really excited with the progress I made last night. We’re really starting to see it come together. I did decide to go with the extension on the hip with a split up the front so that it can get over these hips.

Serendipitously, one of my favorite creators, especially in the armor space, Lauren Does Cosplay, just put out a video to day about the construction of chain shirts or she calls them, Hauberks. Which brings me to an interesting point. This channel is not about historical accuracy. Obviously there’s some inspiration there, but I just want to get that out of the way. Should’ve said that way up front. We’re not pursuing historical accuracy here. We’re just chasing some fantasy.

But anyway, Lauren’s video on the Hauberk construction is so good. Definitely recommend it. Right off the bat, She talks about the importance of the orientation of the four in one, which is of course, the opposite of my orientation. So I will not be going back to change anything. We’re too deep now, Additionally, Lauren uses a technique that involves a lot of rectangles, which is very straightforward, simple to understand. I, however, came at this construction with more of a sewing pattern tactic technique. So I essentially created a front panel shaped with a little extra on the sides to wrap around and then duplicated that for the back. Now that I am adding additional length to this shirt, I’m kind of also in the realm of just operating in rectangles.

So for future projects, that might be the way I go. But I think especially if I attempt to add sleeves, probably not in this video, but in a future video, maybe adding sleeves. I probably will tackle that again from the sewist perspective. And, you know, give us a little bell curve and a generic sleeve shape as I try to add that on. We’ll see. So what we will be working on from here on out will be extending the back to match up with the front. And then probably just going into the last minute to see how how long we can get the sides to be. We have two days until the Ren Faire. So let’s see how far we get.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it yet, but after using these pliers for hours on end, my hands were killing me. So let me share my endurance activity hack with you. Padded bike gloves. Yeah. So you’ll see these on and off for the rest of the project? Very ascetic, if I do say so myself.

My hands. Here’s a little progress update. Almost completely done with this side. This is the mark where we’re going to have the split in the back so that we can get the piece over our hips. So really, just one more giant square here to wrap up this part of the project. I have some more jump rings coming in tomorrow, so that will probably help me get through to the finish line. And then I think we’ll be ready for the fair.

We had so much fun. That was such a good first day of the ren faire for the season. My friend Laura joined me for the day and was such a good partner in crime and we hit all of the main attractions. We ate turkey legs, we watched a witch trial. We drank mead. It was it was a beautiful day. I got to say hi to a lot of people that came up to specifically compliment the chainmail and the pauldrons just kind of the whole get up. So I was very pleased.

As you can tell, I added a little extra detail to the bottom to not only lengthen it because I did want it a little bit longer and was not going to have enough time to finish all of the four and one patterning. But it also just added an interesting detail. I got a lot of compliments on that and was very pleased with how how this whole project turned out. I’m pretty sure this is just going to forever be an ongoing project. Like I mentioned, I want to get it a little bit longer. but I think this is probably about as far as I’m going to go for this season. For now, we’ll see.

I think the next part of this project that I will prioritize is adding sleeves to it. And I mentioned this before, but I am interested in trying to use a sort of a sewing pattern for the sleeves and essentially just make a piece of chainmail that that aligns with a sewing pattern and try adding it that way. And then, Yeah, once I’m done with the sleeves, maybe I’ll revisit the bottom and see about making it any longer. for now. I do really like the kind of draping detail here at the bottom. So probably keep it like that for now.

This is a very time consuming hobby of mine. I spent probably a solid 20 hours on just the extensions that I did for this project altogether. And I can’t even tell you how long I spent on it before just trying to get the fit and the shape of the piece straight. So if you are interested in diving into the world of DIY chain mail, be prepared with some good podcasts or good audiobooks or a solid TV show to marathon through because you’re going to need it. I did remember the weigh the shirt when we got home. It surprising. I would have guessed it would be at least 8 to 10 lbs. It was only about five and a half, 6 lbs. of extra weight. So think the aluminum jump things really are kind of a key feature in making this a more wearable more accessible accessory for the ren faire to wear all day while you’re bopping around. And of course, wearing it around the fair. I just I had so much fun. And if you had as much fun as I did, it would mean the world to me. If you would like and subscribe. And if you do, I’ll see you in two weeks for my next video. Take care.

-Making Hannah