Introduction: How to Make Paper Chain Mail

In this project, I will be teaching you how to make a full body suit of paper chain mail. Please note that this is not supposed to provide protection and that it is mainly for appearance.

Step 1: Gather Materials Needed

For this project, you will need:

  • clear scotch tape
  • a good pair of scissors
  • lots of paper
  • 1 can of colored spray paint

I would recommend using cheap paper. The end product will still look good, and it will be a lot cheaper. It does not matter if the paper has a design on it, because we will be spray painting it at the end.

Step 2: Make the Individual Links

to make the individual links, you will need to cut the each paper into 12 parts. An easy way to do this is to fold the paper twice in half length wise and then in thirds width wise. Unfold the paper completely, and cut along the lines. You should end up with a little stack of paper rectangles that are roughly 3 inches by 2 inches. Once you have done this, you can begin to form the links. To do this, make a 1/4 inch fold length wise at the bottom of the rectangle. Continue to fold in this fashion until the whole thing is folded. Then use the edge of a countertop or table to round it slightly.

Step 3: Form the Base

To start the actual chain mail shirt, you need to make a base. This is achieved by connecting 46 links in a circular chain formation. To connect two links, start by making a circle with one of the arcs and tape it together with some scotch tape. then, slip one end of the second link through the middle of the first one and do the same thing. Repeat this process until you have made a chain of 45 links. Then, bring the two ends together and connect them with one last link. The number of links may vary depending on your size. I am a size 10/12 and the chain that I made was roughly 3'2". Adjust the number of rings until you feel that it is big enough.

Step 4: Begin the Pattern

The pattern that connects the rows is easier than it seems. The pictures above show the whole process step by step. By performing this pattern around the whole circle, a new set of rings is formed. You then can use those rings to build upon for the next row. continue to do this until the whole thing spans from a little below the waist to the chest.

Step 5: Connect the Shoulder Straps

Now you will form the shoulder straps. Pick up the end of the chain mail that you started with and examine it. For a 46 link circle, the area that goes in front of the neck is roughly 9 links. You may need to adjust this number depending on the size of the initial circle. On the first and 9th link, start a little chain that is roughly 4 or 5 links long. Connect the 5th link to the link that corresponds with it on the other side of the circle. By doing this on the 1st and 9th link, you will have formed a hole for the head and two holes for the arms. The whole thing should now look something like a tank top. The top picture is a top view of one of the connector straps. The bottom picture is what the product should look like.

Step 6: Form the Arms

Now you can start making the arms. If you look carefully, you will notice that by connecting the shoulder straps you formed two circular chains, one for each arm. You can now use the previous method that was used to build the main body. The arms may be a bit trickier, but the pattern still works.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Now that you have finished the suit, you can try it on. You may notice that the arms or the main body are not long enough, and that is OK. You can easily add to them to make them longer. With the arms, you can choose to make them short sleeves or long sleeves. Once you have the right lengths, you can add a few more links to keep it sturdy and strong. On the ends of the arms and body, rather than adding another row by making another triangle shape, you can connect each ring to the one next to it. This will form another chain circle, and will keep the ends from falling apart. This is also the time to replace any links that are falling apart or breaking.

Step 8: Paint the Suit

Now you can begin to spray paint the suit. You can use any color that you like, and I chose gloss black. A good way to go about this is to lay the whole thing out on some newspaper and paint one side at a time. Be sure to spray from all angles to ensure that the whole thing gets painted. To widen the shoulders a little bit, you may want to put a hanger inside the suit.

When one side is dry, you can flip it over and do the same thing on the back. When you finish that, you need to paint the sides. Have a friend hold the suit by the hanger for you while you paint the spots that you missed previously. If done correctly, you should have used about 1 whole can of spray paint. Now, find a good place to hang the suit and let it dry completely. Check your spray paint can for drying times.

Congratulations! you have now completed the entire suit!

Papercraft Contest 2015

Runner Up in the
Papercraft Contest 2015