How to Make Chainmail Sleeves

cote de maille médiévale image by olivier lhommais from

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Large paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • 14 gauge steel wire rings
  • Pliers
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Chainmail, a series of metal rings looped together into a pattern, is used to create armor and other clothing items for reenactment, fantasy wear and protective gear. The looped style, referred to as "weaving," gives the chainmail its strength and durability. You can weave chainmail into many different patterns, the simplest of which is the European four-in-one. You can weave a four-in-one pattern into basic chainmail sleeves, which attach at the shoulder of a garment or chainmail tunic.

Create the Units

Create a pattern for the chainmail sleeves. Measure the length of your arm and the width you would like the sleeve to have. Transfer these measurements to a sheet of paper by drawing a rectangle. Cut the rectangle from the paper and set it aside.

Hold a wire ring with the regular pliers. Grasp the open edge of the ring with the needle-nosed pliers. Bend the ring closed. Do the same to three more rings.

Bend open a wire ring using the pliers. Slide the open edge of the ring through the four rings from step 2.

Bend the open ring closed. Lay the cluster of rings out flat, spreading the rings so that they are evenly spaced around the center ring. This is a "unit" in chainmail weaving.

Make enough units to fill the length of the sleeve pattern.

Lay two units out flat. Line up the units vertically, so that the top two rings of one unit touch the bottom two rings of another unit. This will become the beginning of a "row."

Open a new ring. Link the new ring through the four top and bottom rings you lined up in step 1. Make sure that the ring alignment matches the way the rings are aligned within the units, so that the pattern is identical.

Close the ring. Link another unit to the bottom of the row. Keep linking units until the row is finished.

Make enough rows to fill the width of the sleeve pattern.

Complete the Sleeve

Line two rows up side by side on a flat surface. Open a new ring.

Identify the side rings on the two bottom units of each row. Focus on the four rings that meet between the rows. Link the new ring through these four rings.

Close the ring. Link the rest of the row together in the same way, and then link all of the rows together.

Line up the sheet of chainmail with your sleeve pattern to make sure it matches. Add units as needed.

Fold the chainmail in half along the length so that the side seams of the sleeve match. Link the rows on these edges together. Make a second sleeve.


  • Wire chainmail rings are sized by the internal diameter. The most common size for this pattern is 1/4 inch, although you can also have rings with an internal diameter of 3/8 or 5/16 inch, depending on the look you want. Remember that you will need more rings with a smaller size. When making your units, pay attention to the direction of the rings. Make sure that the middle ring sits on top of the others identically in every unit.


About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.

Photo Credits

  • cote de maille médiévale image by olivier lhommais from