Chainmaille Tab Cape




Introduction: Chainmaille Tab Cape

This Instructable was inspired by the Chainmaille from Pop Tabs Instructable. The technique for weaving the tabs together came directly from it. When I started this project my intention was to make a full shirt out of tabs. However as Halloween came near I figured I could use what I had for a costume (SNES Mario with the feather).

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Step 1: What You'll Need

The main body of the cape measures 30 inches top to bottom, 24 inches side to side at the bottom (35 tabs), and 13 inches side to side at the top (19 tabs).

- 1,500 tabs
- Metal shears or scissors (if you use scissors cut the tabs before bending them)
- Staple Remover
- Hot Glue
- Bright Light Source (eyes start to glaze over during long stretches)
- Wire (for support)
- Sandpaper
- Metallic Spray paint
- Safety Pins
- Grade Sacrifice
- Dumpster Diving Willingness/Experience

From the time I started collecting tabs to completion took two months and roughly 40 work hours.

Step 2: Begin Construction

As described in the Chainmaille Pop Tab Instructable - snip the tabs at the top and bend them into position using the staple remover. I found that working from the bottom of the cape towards the top, one row at a time, made it a lot easier to connect the tabs. An easy trick for placing the tabs in the correct position is to think of the bend as an arrow - if you slip in the tab with the bend pointing left, the tab will end up on the left side.

As I worked my way up, I would indent the cape a few tabs on each side until I finally got it to the correct width on my shoulders.

Step 3: GLUE!

Now everytime I put the cape away (ball it up) and brought it back out as I was working on it, several of the tabs would come out of position and I would have to snap them back in place. This got annoying and I knew at a party I would need the cape as strong as possible if it were to survive the night. Therefore I turned it on its back and hot glued all the snips together to insure no tabs would come loose. This is where the bright lamp really came in handy because it was hard to see which tabs I had glued and which I hadn't as I was working on it. This took a few hours. Note: the glue made the tab structure more stable BUT dulled the metal clinking noise that it used to make when it hit something :(.

Step 4: Sand, Spray Paint, and Support

After gluing, flip it back over and run a coarse sandpaper across it. I'm not sure if the sanding is even necessary, I should have tested to see if the spray paint would stick to a smooth tab, but I wasn't taking any chances with the paint coming off.
Afterwards, I took it outside and gave it four coats of a goldish spray paint designed for metal.

The biggest problem I ran into was keeping the cape spread out as it was held up. The cape would curl in on itself and look like a long tube. Therefore I took some flexible metal wire I found (don't know the gauge), cut it into the proper lengths (I placed a supporting rod on the back at every indentation) and straightened it out, then hot glued it on the back.

HOWEVER, as I later found out hot glue bonding two metals together is not that strong. The wire will stay in place while walking but anything more strenuous than that will not hold. I would probably try rubber cement or epoxy in the future to make the support permanent.

Step 5: Try It On

This was the second biggest problem I ran into. Definitely need a friend to help you put this on. I originally had the two flaps on my shoulders go around and connect together, but it ended up choking me before breaking off. Therefore I just kept them separate and had my friend use lots of safety pins on the flaps and in the back a little to hold it up. Though it still pulls the back of the shirt down a lot.
At the end of Halloween the cape suffered only minor damages - lost a few tabs, most of the hot glue fell off from the wire and snips - but overall held up quite well.

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    3 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 1

    Oh man, I went through some nasty trash to get all my pop tabs also. Wal-mart recycling was the worst we had to abandon it, but I enlisted the help of my friends and we raided the central recycling dumpsters and got over 2000 in one day. I have the best friends. lol Also, where do you get your metal wire? I want to make a tie out of pop tabs (I've finished except for the wire support) and it definitely needs wire support but I don't know where to get it. ps. the tie is matte black with metalic green stripes from monster tabs :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    very nice!
    couldn't you have used a soldering iron instead of a glue gun though? that way you would keep the clinking


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You cannot solder pop tabs because they are aluminum. I too wondered if you could solder it, and I found out that when you try to it forms a coating layer of some kind on the aluminum that basically prevents it from sticking. You need to solder within a box of argon or something similar, I for one do not have that at my disposal. I also tried soldering it on my own just to test it and the solder didn't stick one bit. It seemed like mixing oil and water how it would just pay no attention to the aluminum and fall right off. But it would be a lot cooler to solder. I'm having trouble myself trying to keep my tabs from coming apart. I made an entire maille shirt and the shoulders need fixing often.