Introduction: The Lazy-Man's Chainmail-Shirt

Picture of The Lazy-Man's Chainmail-Shirt

This is an Instructable on making Faux Chainmail like they do in movies!

This shirt really resembles chainmail and it's what some films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the Lord of the Rings did when the costumers didn't feel like making actual chainmail.

So without further a-do, I bring you: Lazy-Man's Chainmail.

Step 1: Materials List

Picture of Materials List

For this Chainmail shirt, you're going to need the following:

A knitted sweater: I Got this at the thrift store for about 2 bucks. Not just any Wool Knit Sweater would work, though. Try to look for sweaters made with big yarn and knitted to look very "Chainmail-like"

Silver Metallic Spraypaint: By now I'm sure you know where I'm going with this.

Step 2: Set Up and Spray

Picture of Set Up and Spray

This part is extremely self explanatory.

Spray-paint the hell out of the sweater using the Spray-paint. Leave no thread non-silver!

An easy way to do this is to hang it up in a tree or something and just spray-paint it.

If you have no way to do that just lay it on the floor or whatever and spray paint it like that. Spray-paint one side of the sweater, wait for it to dry, then flip it over and do the same. Again, leave no thread non-silver!

Easy enough.

Step 3: Wait a Bit and Wear!

Picture of Wait a Bit and Wear!

This is pretty much the last step. Just hang it outside or wherever and wait a bit for the thing to dry. Then wait even longer because if you don't you will just have a chainmail shirt that gives off heavy fumes and we don't want that. When it's done just put it on and head off into battle! You now have a chainmail shirt, made with minimal time, effort and money!

In total this cost about, 5 dollars and took about 12 minutes of actual "work" to make (It took about 3 hours before I could actually wear it, though)

It looks better if you were to wear it underneath some cardboard armour or maybe a surcoat/tabard or something.

That's it for this Instructable! Bye!


TeejayB2 (author)2016-08-28

Btw though... it's not Chainmail, it's Mail ;)

ZacharyR16 (author)TeejayB22016-10-24

It actually IS chainmail. Back then, they just called it mail because that meant "armor" and chainmail was the only type of armor anyone really wore, so it didn't make sense to differentiate. Now, there's several types of armor, so specifying that this is chain armor makes more sense. :) :) :)
Just saying Mail doesn't make any sense when plate mail also exists.

ScottB349 (author)ZacharyR162017-01-26

No one called it "mail back then" because modern English didn't exist. Mail doesn't specify armor, plate mail is mail armor with plate worn over it. Here you go:

No need to spread misinformation.

ScottB349 (author)ScottB3492017-01-26

But for all purposes of the original comment, both chainmail and mail are both valid things to call it.

TeejayB2 (author)2016-08-28

Thank you soooooo much for this!!! If you only knew how many years we've been searching for string mail, or someone to make us some, for our joust shows!! We have accosted many a little old lady in the hopes that she might harbor hidden desires to knit in silver, but to no avail!! And here you now are with the perfect (and really really obvious, duh!!) solution! Thank you xxx

BrennenI1 (author)2016-06-07

I tried to do this and the paint soaked in, then stunk really badly.

NolanSaito_Builder (author)2016-01-27

Thanks so much! It helped me with a Pippin costume...You're a genius!

HaleyL (author)2015-06-08

Thank you!! Helped me with my Link cosplay!

Shadoinslomo (author)2014-10-22

You're a goddamn genius.

dorotea (author)2012-12-11

Actually, in the Lord of the Rings movies, they spent two years making miles of real chain mail by hand. They also made all of the armour by hand, and each suit of orc armour was different. Just a little fun nerd fact!

orionx13. (author)dorotea2014-10-15

Partially true. It was not "real chain mail" but PVC rings chain mail. Only the "hero" costumes intended to be filmed on medium shots and close ups were the "real metal thing". And for the armor, yes it was "handmade" but with a little help of electric power tools LOL

dgperryman (author)2014-09-19

This is awesome! How well does it hold up to repeated wear?

msovijärvi (author)2011-08-31

Simple and brilliant, this just might be what I'll do. It could be pretty warm though, that's a bit of a shame. But the only parts showing would be the sleeves and the hem, so I don't really even need a full shirt... Yees, this could work.

08motooley (author)msovijärvi2012-08-06

i don't know how feasible this would be but if you knitted it your self or got a friend to knit it you could use a less insulative material

Juklop (author)2008-08-08

For an added effect, you can carry some change around in your pocket to make a realistic clang sound to go with your fake chainmail. Heh.

polerix (author)Juklop2012-01-11

sew some pierced coins inside.

Brazat (author)2011-12-22

Very great job!
I'm looking for somebody who could realize some knitting chainmail costume (pants + vest), like this one:
Are you interested?

thepelton (author)2011-11-30

If you can knit, you could make the sweater from scratch using grey yarn.

rcampbell4 (author)2011-10-15

This is freaking brilliant! I'm doing it right now!

ShadowViking (author)2011-05-01

That is brilliant. Thanks very much.

lilnorm123 (author)2011-03-19

cool great easy thumbs up

Nia_Naberrie (author)2011-01-24

ok... this is the answer to my costuming problems !! XD

really helpful, easy and realistic ^^ thumps up !!!

(this going to work perfecto for my Susan Pevensie Battle Dress costume, thanks a lot)

raith2006 (author)2010-09-21

i guess this would be the just for looks version, hopefully you don't need it to stop an arrow. :P

jdezwaan (author)2010-09-21

BTW, Lord of the rings used chopped pieces of plastic piping for their chainmail. (except for the heros obviously, they got the real thing). I am currently making a shirt using this technique. 1/2" inside diameter pvc piping is what i'm using and it works like a charm.

LilithAvalon (author)2010-08-10

If you have a little time (but obviously not enough to do chainmaille; or simply can't afford all the links), you can also loosely knit a fakemaille shirt with garter stitch. I got the idea when my friend said my neckwarmer looked like chainmaille. I later learned from someone in a small-time LARP on campus (that has no standards for armor) that they do it all the time.

Gryphon4848 (author)2010-07-19

Sweet! Any good Ideas on how to use that concept for a chainmail hood? (making an epic LARP outfit and it has to have all the bells and whistles...)

Juklop (author)Gryphon48482010-08-02

I've seen some women's sweaters like this that have hoods. You might even want to knit your own sweater.

Cardinal Fang (author)2010-03-20

If you're feeling a bit more creative but still don't want a heavy metal mail shirt, knit one using string and the biggest needles you can get your hands on, then spray paint as above. It give a large open weave that looks even more like chain mail. 

This is what they actually did on the MP and the Holy Grail movie.

animan1 (author)2009-09-03

when i saw the sweater i DID know were ur going

Brother_D (author)2009-04-10

Do they make men's sweaters with that texture?

Rock Soldier (author)Brother_D2009-07-22

Does it matter? In the end, it would look just the same?

Brother_D (author)Rock Soldier2009-07-22

Well I don't wanna buy a women's sweater.

Rock Soldier (author)Brother_D2009-07-22

I see...

Brother_D (author)Rock Soldier2009-07-22

Glad we're on the same page.

Riann13 (author)2009-06-07


duckman1970 (author)2009-05-30

i've seen this instructable like 10 times thinking like oh this would be a good istructable but then i look closly and im like dang but any way awesome i have a sweat shirt that already looks like this just not as big stictchs

HalloweenJuNkY (author)2009-03-22

I'm so going to use this in the future for extras costumes in film lol *nice thinking.

paperman5 (author)2009-03-17

holy crap, it does look like chainmail.

KentsOkay (author)2008-12-04

Hey not bad! I'd sooner larp in that than plastic...

killerAP (author)KentsOkay2009-02-19

me too, but in most of the LARPs I go to, you need the real thing for the 2 armor bonus......

KentsOkay (author)killerAP2009-02-19


killerAP (author)KentsOkay2009-02-19

yeah. The tell-tale clinking of moving chainmail is missing here, giving you away. Leather armor is a +1 bonus. and the bonus applies only to the parts that are actually covered by the armor itself. if you are just playing with ur friends and want to do a scenario where one of the skeletons (or anything else you have in mind ;) has a chainmail suit, this would do nicely b/c it looks like it, and it isnt as heavy/tiring as a regular suit of mail.

WurdBendur (author)2008-08-03

It almost looks like the real thing from a distance. By the way, the chain mail used in LotR was made of slices of ABS pipe, not painted wool.

matt9736 (author)WurdBendur2008-09-06

I'm sorry to say but they actual made the chain mail in lotr so pleas try to get the facts strate

mg0930mg (author)matt97362009-02-08

PLEASE STRAIGHT, please learn how to spell.

WurdBendur (author)matt97362008-09-10

Yes, they used real mail for closeups because the plastic stuff LOOKS plastic up close. But most of the mail you see is plastic pipe. Watch the freaking special features. You can watch them make it and hear them explain the process so YOU can get YOUR facts straight.

Juklop (author)WurdBendur2008-08-08

Dang Wikipedia! Lied to me again!

miols (author)2008-10-05

awesome, i did this and i found that long underewear works GREAT!

Juklop (author)miols2008-11-04

Nice- I bet it as a lot more shiny and stuff. To be honest- I think almost any kind of sweater works well.

PKM (author)2008-07-08

For a "deeper" effect you can dye or heavily spray the sweater black or dark reddish-brown, then lightly spray silver over the top for highlights. This might be difficult to just get on the raised areas- perhaps spraying from the side at an angle?

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