Chain Maille Cheats
Up | LOTR Maille Patterns | Making PVC Maille | Chain Maille Cheats | Link Materials | Tools | Making Metal Rings | Pattern Making | Aging Maille | Tips
LOTR Home | All About Chain Maille | Armor Terms | Scale Armor | Armor Cheats | Armor Tips | Gambeson | Armor and LOTR

The Hobbit
News 'n'  Exhibits
Quick Costumes
Making 'Em
Buy It
Search Us
Contact Us

v ----- Advertisement -----v

^ -----Advertisement ----- ^


Chain Maille Cheats & Shortcuts

Not everyone is going to wind and cut 10,00 links by hand  So, for the rest, here's some tips from cardboard on up. 

Please feel free to contribute tips, longer write-ups and pictures!

PVC Pipe - The Weta Way

Cut up PVC (called something different in NZ) plastic pipe into rings and make your own:)  Dye it different colors.


Knitted Maille

Maille as armor has many restrictions as to what the materials and design may be, for it must protect it's wearer. Maille made in costuming, however, is free from these restraints. The most common way to fake maille is to take a very thick woolen shirt and spray paint it silver. This, while being the cheapest way to 'cheat' at maille, is also the ugliest unless done with proper care. This method is good for those who have little time, money, or effort to donate to the maille itself, wishing instead to spend those resources on the rest of their costume.

== Steamboat

Note: the knitted chain was used with some of the LOTR background fighters.

A QND (Quick and dirty) way of making chain mail that Theater companies use is to find someone who knits and have them knit the chain mail out of heavy twine or cord. NOT yarn but twine like the brown stuff that's used to tie up packages. (Try to use a natural twine not something plastic - something moderately smooth, not too stretchy, and not too hairy.) Once you have the pieces knitted then spray them silver. Voila, you've got cheap, light chain mail.

==Fran E.

The standard fake is using knit fabric in sweater weight. Either knit all your pieces to shape, in garter stitch, or get a rusted-iron-coloured sweater from a thrift store, turn it inside out, and cut it up into whatever shapes you need, and sew along the edges so it doesn't ravel (binding the edges is better). Then spray paint just the top surface with aluminum paint (get it at a car parts store). This looks like silver chain mail that rusted underneath.


Knitted Chain mail patterns

You knit out of rust colored stuff, then paint the outside surface of it in silver. That way it looks like rusted metal with a shiny surface - just like real chain mail. Knit out of something the same gage as the links in whatever you're copying, and make sure it's smooth like string, not fuzzy like yarn. Use large needles, of the same size as the inside diameter of those links. And it's only one stitch, nothing fancy. Increasing the length of a row is done by adding stitches, and for every stitch the row is to be shortened by, knit two stitches together as one. Do this increase or decrease operation right where the change is to happen and you can add or remove stitch width wherever you need to.


Best bet it to use large knitting needles and cotton cord.  Hammer it flat and then spray paint.

It may seem faster to use a knitting machine, but you can't use them to get the same look.  You can't use the heavy cord to get the same large loops.

Just a Dickey

Maille is often hidden under armor or a surcoat, so actors do not need a full shirt.

A dickey is just a little  fake shirt.  It covers just the collar area, the front open placard and maybe a couple of inches around the collar.

In LOTR, Frodo's does not wear the complete Mithriel shirt during filming.  Only the front piece was the real maille.

Related to that, Boromir just has maille sleeves.

== Cat

Funky Fabric

When a girl I went to design school wanted "chain mail" but.. honestly had NO chance of being able to make it.. or buy it.. or buy anything similar, she did two things to get the look she wanted. She was happy with it... but its for 'that scribbly grey mass' - not gonna fool anyone within 10 feet... she used the silver tulle stuff you can get. It comes in silver and gold. You could line it with a similar grey-tone, or sandwich it between the shirt fabric, and maybe a really sheer grey to tone down the silver? She also got some silver yarn (from a very specialty yarn place) and with a fairly loose erm. knit? she made some fabric that looked kind of like small silver loops. I am not a knitter, so I can't give any advice on that, but the yarn was dark grey with silver threads in it.

More expensively, silver-grey raw silk with a very loose even weave  might also give that illusion....


While looking for a cheap, easy and fairly effective substitute for true chain maille for my son's Halloween costume, I noticed a roll of bubble wrap (used to wrap breakable items for shipping) on the shelf in the garage.  Spray paint it silver, glue it to a cloth backing for extra substance and it looks pretty good - from a distance.  Cheaper and easier than knitting.


v ----- Advertisement -----v

^ -----Advertisement ----- ^

All About Chain Maille | Armor Terms | Scale Armor | Armor Cheats | Armor Tips | Gambeson | Armor and LOTR

LOTR Home | Up | LOTR Maille Patterns | Making PVC Maille | Chain Maille Cheats | Link Materials | Tools | Making Metal Rings | Pattern Making | Aging Maille | Tips

This page was last updated 04/22/08