Pull-Tab Chain Mail


One of the delights of my home surroundings are the creative things I get to see being dreamed up. Like manufacturing of chain mail. With shiny yarn, a crochet hook and pull-tabs from beer cans. Yup. Pull-tabs from cans. My wife was inspired by a small purse she had bought in Brazil, made in part in a similar way.

I was forced to help with this project – the kids were too young, and my wife does not drink. My chore was to drink beer and collect pull-tabs. That means I had to choose beer by the colour of their pull-tabs which, until then, I had never noticed came in anything but raw aluminum colour. Coloured pull-tabs usually come from more expensive beer, though not always. It is an interesting exercise – to abandon taste as a criterion for buying beer, and to go solely by some anonymous designer’s choice of pull-tab. I did discover some OK brews that way though.

This particular industry has stopped in this cottage – it flourished during the Lord of the Rings craze when one of my boys grew Boromir hair and wore chain mail and linen shirts. So, these pictures are old ones, taken seven years ago now with a pretty unsophisticated camera. But still they are a useful index of the place that I call home. The outfits are still cherished and sometimes worn.


Assembly in action – about 4 balls of yarn would go into a vest


Crochet details – the yarn is “Katia Sevilla”, nylon, from Spain


Sleeve pattern for a chain mail shirt, laid out ready for assembly




8 thoughts on “Pull-Tab Chain Mail

  1. Hello! I would like to tell you how much I love this! It is so great! I really would like to make myself some chain mail for an upcoming ren faire. I am a pretty good crocheter and have tried several different joining techniques but have been unable to replicate the result. Is it at all possible to share the stitch with us? I can’t tell you how much I would appreciate it! Thanks!


  2. Hi, I really love this chain mail and would like to make some for myself. I am an advanced crocheter and I am unable to identify the stitch that was used. I have tried several other techniques to join the tabs, but they do not give the same look. I really hope you would be willing to share such and excellent technique with us. Thanks again for posting!!!


    • Hi Crystal. I think if you know how to crochet you can figure it out – its just a matter of looping the pull tabs into the string, and going in rows. The flat part of the pull tab that comes off the top of the can has to be broken off before you do anything else. There are no instructions that I know of, my wife just worked out how to do it from looking at a small purse she had bought in Brazil and at some photos. Sorry I can’t be of more help than that.


    • 38″? You must be a big guy Mario. Maybe you play rugby? I can imagine rugby players wanting chain mail shorts, especially those made from beer can pull-tabs. Too bad this line of business is over around here, so we can’t have you around for a fitting. Besides that, the amount of time it would take, you probably would not be able to afford them.


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