This project started when I was looking for a gift for a friend's birthday. I didn't have any idea what to offer when I discovered this scale mail full arm bracer.
I immediately though it was a perfect gift! She would love it, but I was not ready to pay 75$ for it. And loosing the enjoyment of making it by myself. Plus, receiving a gift is always more enjoyable when it's handmade no?
Anyways, you can discover more wonderful items made by the same maker on her Etsy shop worldinchainsmaille.
Step 1: Materials
The first step is to find the material needed, so basically scales and rings.
I only found one site where they sold items like I wanted but it was in Canada, so quite far from me (Belgium). Fortunately it was quite cheap and even with shipping rates, it didn't cost me too much.
TheRingLord - Scales
I calculated than I needed 2 bags of scales (~100 pieces/bag) and 1 bag of rings (~1000 rings/bag). You need 2 rings by scale but they are sold in bag so you don't have the choice.
Of course, as I'm quite absent-minded, I bought the wrong size of scales! So I decided to change the main idea and to go from the full-arm brace to a half-arm bracer. And at the same time, to add a fabric under the scales to be easier to attached it with laces once completed.
But I think the design is even better like this so I do not regret it.
Small scales (14mm x 22mm) : 3.90$ x 2
Rings : 4.10$
Tissue : an old jeans
Laces : from old shoes
Since then, I also discovered some other sites :
- TheQueenRing.com (based in the Netherlands). Prices are a little higher but delivery is quicker when living in Europe. And less shipping fees.
- bluebuddhaboutique.com (based in Chicago). Prices are A LOT higher but they have also more different colors.
Step 2: Tools
To open and close the rings you'll need one plier in each hand.
The best are wide nose pliers or chain nose pliers for smaller rings. To avoid marking rings, it's better to use pliers without teeth.
But you can use what you want. As mine had teeth and I didn't want marking rings or scratching scales, I put layers of tape over them. It worked very well.
You will also need an eyelet clamp and some clamps to reinforce the holes for the laces (~10$ in a store).
Step 3: Prepare Your Scales
I found that it's easier to prepare your scales in advance and assemble them bit by bit in place of doing it one by one. So I started by preparing some group of 4 scales. Don't prepare all your scales, you'll need to keep some of them for the sides or to put between 2 groups if you don't have the exact good width.
You can see the template for these groups in the picture. If you prefer a video to learn how to start, this can be easily found on youtube.
Step 4: The Scale Mail
You will need to know the width that you wish. As I didn't have a lot of scales, I preferred not doing it too wide.
I put 8 scales on the width and went for as long as I still had scales.
At the end, I didn't put scales in the corners because they are hold by only one ring and so they are too loose.
Since then, I learned how to do some edging, reinforcing the edges with rings but that's another story.
Step 5: The Supporting Fabric
To do the supporting cloth I needed a fabric strong enough but pleasant to wear. And as I don't have a lot of fabric at home, I just took an old jeans.
I cut a piece in the leg the same length as the scales +2cm for the lining at the top and the bottom. For the width, I took 15cm (a girl's arm is usually between 15 and & 18 cm) +2cm on each side for the lining as well.
Next, I sewed the lining on every sides.
... ... ... Well, ok I asked to somebody to do it for me. I'm very bad with sewing and I don't have any sewing machine.
Following step was to fix the scales on the jeans. It can be done be by sewing the scales or the rings to the fabric. I choose to sew the scales. I was afraid to see the thread slip through the rings if there was a small gap in the closing.
It's better to sew the scales on every side, even the bottom. If you don't sew the bottom, the scales will take a weird shape when you'll hold your arm down.
Step 6: The Fastening System
Put the clamps on each side of the fabric in middle of the lining. I put 4 clamps on each side (3cm between each).
I found that the chain linked to the finger was quite helpful too. If you don't put it, you'll have a big gap when bending your wrist.
I didn't wanted to buy a small chain so I made one with the same rings as before. But the chain was too big so finally I used a small chain from an old necklace.
Step 7: Finished
She was very please with the gift and everybody liked it. It was a full success.
There is only one problem : she was so fond of it that she asked me to build the rest of the armor.
So be very carefull if you do it for some other people than you. Be ready to be stuck with scale mail building for a long time!