Flower Maille: A Tutorial in Chains

When most people think of chainmaille, they probably imagine a knight in shining armor. That’s definitely a great use of rings, and weaving a sheet of maille is a very rewarding task. But did you know there’s more than one way to make it? Hundreds, in fact. And it’s not just for knights. Those simple rings can be used to make beautiful, intricate jewelry. It’s one of my favorite things to make. (And when I re-open my Etsy shop, expect to see lots of it!)

The pattern I’m going to share with you is a variation on Japanese 12-in-2 maille. What that basically means is that each pair of 2 large rings is surrounded by 12 smaller ones. I use a slight variation, mainly to hold the pattern tighter. Please forgive me if the photos are blurry, it’s quite difficult to get a clear picture of such small components.

A Note about Rings

In making maille, the size of your rings is very important. In a pattern with mixed sizes, like this one, the ratio between the inner diameter (ID) and the gauge (thickness) of the wire is crucial. I can, and frequently do, make my own rings, so I can carefully select these properties.
However, for this tutorial, I am using some prepackaged rings that I bought at Walmart. This is partly because it’s the rings I learned with, and partly because it’ll be easy for you readers to match! The packet of rings is in the craft section near the beads, and contains 3 sizes of rings – these two, and a medium size.
If you’d like to make your own rings, or buy different ones, here’s the specs on these rings. The smaller rings have an ID of 3mm, and are 20 gauge. The larger rings are 18 gauge, with an ID of 6mm.

When opening rings, grip it with two pliers, facing you,  and twist – moving one side toward you and one side away. Do not pull the gap apart – TWIST it.
To close, reverse the process, obviously.

Gather Your Materials

For each flower you make, you will need:
14 large rings, opened – 7 pairs
12 small rings, closed
18 small rings, opened – 6 sets of 3

You also need two pair of needle-nose pliers, preferably with smooth gripping surfaces so you do not damage the wire. You will also need extra rings and other findings to finish your piece. You may want a soft surface like a cloth covering your work surface.


Begin by selecting one of the large rings, and load all 12 of your small closed rings onto it. Close the large ring.

Select another large ring and carefully thread it through the twelve small rings, being careful not to loop through the first large ring. (That will produce a Mobius ring, which you can use, but that’s not what we’re working on today.)

You now have 2 large rings, back to back, with 12 small rings encircling them.

Select another large ring, and carefully thread it through 2 of the small rings. Repeat with 5 more large rings. You now have a central pair, connected to each single “petal” by a pair of small rings.

Now it’s time to connect the petals to each other. Choose two petals and hold the flower in such a way that you can access them.

Pick up one of your small open rings, and connect the large rings. Add two more small rings to that junction, so you have 3 small rings connecting the two petals.

Repeat the joining process all the way around.

Your final step is doubling the large rings in the petals. Hold your flower steady in your hand, and very carefully thread a large ring through the 8 small rings that surround a petal. Like before, be careful not to loop through the other large ring (unless you’re deliberately making a Mobius). Repeat for all 6 petals.

You have a completed flower!

Using other findings, you can easily make this into an earring. By making several flowers and joining them together in a strip, you can create a bracelet. Add a watch face, and you’ve got a watch! It’s also possible to join many flowers together to make sheets of maille.

It takes approximately 11 minutes for me to construct a flower, not including the time to select, open or close, and lay out the rings (another 5 minutes or so).

That’s all there is to it! Was it easier than you thought it would be? Would you like to see more maille tutorials?


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. vincentfarrellartist
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 12:41:03

    i would never have the ability to create this but i certianly would enjoy wearing one of these beautiful creations!


  2. vincentfarrellartist
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 12:42:07

    ummmm. majoy typ-o “certainly would enjoy wearing…” 😉 oops!!


  3. kinetikat
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 10:53:38

    Fantastic stuff! More please.


  4. studiokako
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 20:30:30

    I remember talking to you about this ages ago when we were lobstering together. I never did get around to looking up a tutorial, but this definitely looks easier than the pattern suggests it would be. I’m definitely going to have to try it for one for myself. (I’m still in love with the first bracelet you made)


    • Jamie B
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 22:25:31

      I tried to figure out this pattern on my own before I found a tutorial on it. It’s pretty hard that way, haha. This way is so easy that it’s practically mindless. 🙂


  5. Trackback: It’s Giveaway Week! « merricontrari
  6. Sissy
    May 24, 2012 @ 11:46:19

    Thank you for this tut. that bracelet looks awesome.


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