Personalize a Chain Maille Bracelet

Mar 6, 2008



It's All About Family

One of the joys of giving handmade jewelry is the ability to create something unique for one particular person--something that you can't just go buy in a cookie-cutter mall. The Dear to My Heart bracelet by Jean Yates is made for personalizing--just change out the birthstone colors and letter charms. This would make a great gift for a mother or grandmother, using the birthstone colors and initials of the children or grandchildren. (Mother's Day is about two months away!)

The designer, Jean Yates, is all about family--she's the mother of five sons and has what she described as a "seriously complex home life." Her family, including her own childhood memories, inspire much of her work. Recently, I had a chance to talk to Jean and learn more about her design inspiration, plus her secrets on finding the best beads in the universe and what every blogger needs to know. Find out why I think this designer is "all that and a bag of chips"--read the interview.

 A Note about Chain Maille

Never attempted chain maille before? It might look intimidating, but some people find this technique easier than creating wrapped loops or other "simple" wireworking techniques. If you can open and close jump rings, you can do chain maille! This bracelet uses the flower pattern, one of the easier patterns to learn. (If you already know chain maille, I'd love to hear what you think! Do you agree it's easy? Can a beginner do it?)

Free Project: Dear to My Heart by Jean Yates


Chain maille does take patience, but you might find the repetitive aspect quite relaxing and be surprised at how time will sprint along once you get started. One bonus if you're making this bracelet as a gift: it's easy to adjust the size of the bracelet by adding or removing flower links at the last minute. 

Jean's Design Tips & Ideas for the "Dear to My Heart" Bracelet

  • Pick a sturdy clasp. Try to choose one where the holes on the sides are large enough to accommodate two sets of jump rings through each hole. You don't want your bracelet to pull apart at the clasp.
  • Make the flowers for the bracelet on a little tray or plate in your lap. It's a good idea to place a cloth on top so that the flowers don't slide around.
  • For baby boy and baby girl colors, if the mother doesn't like the birthstone, I suggest light aqua or rose Venetian lampwork beads as a great alternative. You can get them anywhere: I use a small size like 8mm. As rose quartz is the stone of love, I have made many boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife double stranded bracelets with rose quartz and clear Swarovski crystals. Those are stunning and so feminine. I use the cube type letter beads for these bracelets, and you must use saucer shape or round beads between the cubes. Check the size of your letters --then order the proper size saucer or round beads--they can be a tiny bit larger.
  • For long names: Center the name if possible and include at least one birthstone on each end.
  • For two names on one strand: Put a Swarovski crystal in the middle, and use an even number of crystals on either sides of the two names, even if the names you are working with are not the same length.
  • Instead of two names, use initials instead. Most people have three initials. If this is not the case, try persuading them to change their names! It's worth a shot! 

 Michelle Mach shares free beading projects and tips every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle (including suggestions for future free projects), please share them on the website. Thanks!


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SusanC@193 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 1:11 PM
I first tried Chain Maille in August when I purchased a kit at Joanne's. I made a pair of earrings. Using the pattern (very easy) I made my own earrings/bracelets and necklace with jump rings I had. On the internet there are lots of free instructions and very helpful people willing to give aid and tips. The only problem is finding good quality jump rings in all kinds of sizes to make chain maille jewelry. It can be expensive; using regular jump rings doesn't make nice pieces that will sell. So, although pieces are easy to create, the cost may cause a price hike, because one piece may take hours to make using different sizes.
Susan Chun
LornaC@2 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 1:15 PM
Hi Michelle
YES YOU CAN! I have always been intrigued by chain maille. A few months ago I happened upon a really neat kit...very easy for a novice..relatively inexpensive...and a chance to dip my toe into so to speak .... I was hooked! It's called "Stress Balls" ( and dont't we all need to relieve that?) I thought you might like to pass it along to your readers. 25.00 plus s&h 5.00 Trysch@TryschTeachesJewelry,com

God Bless
Lorna Dwyer-Carfano
on Mar 7, 2008 1:21 PM
This is such an awesome website! I looked back in the free project section and learned how to make my own jump rings!! How much money will that save me??

Karen Augustsson
Frederick, MD.
KathrynS@27 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 1:40 PM
Chain maille is easy to do; you just need to understand WHAT it is that you are trying to do. It's far easier than making wrapped loops!
KathyS@120 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 1:41 PM
Great project! I love chain maille and have often toyed with the idea of hanging charms or beads off of it.
JillL@19 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 1:56 PM
I just found chain maille through Urban Maille's kits - they make it super easy to learn.

The only thing I'd mention is that chain mail rings are usually cut so there's a smaller gap than most jump rings. That way when you close them they're a little smoother and rounder.

I made a really intricate looking Byzantine bracelet in an hour or so. And I still can't do a wrapped loop that's not atrocious looking!
Noreen@9 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 2:15 PM
I taught myself Chain Maille using the internet and a wire working magazine. I made earrings and bracelets. I found these work up very quickly. Just beware those with carpal tunnel syndrome (I have this), take it easy as I found the process of opening and closing the rings cause my CTS to flare up. Do it a little at a time if you can stop yourself as I found it addicting. Here's a good website to try...they have some free patterns and good instructions.

By the way, Jean's bracelet looks awesome and is inspiring.
KarenB@181 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 2:51 PM
I tried a very easy chain maille pattern and found it very difficult to hold the jump rings correctly to place the next ring in the proper place. I could not understand the instructions or the pictures of the pattern I tried. I fought with it for about 15 minutes and it stressed me out so much I just put it away. Jewelery making is my stress relief time, so I sure won't be wasting it with chain maille! PS - I think Chain Maille is beautiful, it is just not for me.
JudyB@92 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 3:25 PM
Chain maille is easy, once you have some basic tools and techniques in hand. I work only in solid brass, copper, and nickel-silver jump-rings because I find sterling (and gold!) to cost more than I want to spend. The frustrating part is finding the right size and gauge of jump ring. Also,even though I now teach chain maille, I still find some directions to be hopeless to understand.Just put such instructions aside and try another pattern. See if any adult ed. courses are taught anywhere near you, so as to get a basic start. It is fun, once you get into it. --Judy B.
PatriciaD@40 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 3:26 PM
I found a chain maille kit for a bracelet at Hobby Lobby and thought I would give it a whirl. My daughter's birthday was coming up and thought she would like it. Once I got the "hang of it", it went very smoothly and ended up making a necklace and pair of earrings to match.
ElisaE wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 3:31 PM
I want to echo the recommendation for Blue Buddha Boutique; I've gotten some very nice kits and supplies there. Some types of maille are very easy for beginners; others take a great deal of dexterity, especially with tiny rings. The type of wire being used makes a difference, too--sterling silver, copper, aluminum, and base metal are all easy to bend; stainless steel is tough.

A good site for instructions is:

A coating of Tool Magic is useful both for preventing scratches and for improving your grip on the rings.
MonicaP@11 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 4:51 PM
I've been doing chainmaille for a while, but when I first started, it took five or six tries to do it properly. Then it just clicked and now I just love it. I am graduating onto round chainmaille.

Monica Phillips
RoxanneC wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 5:11 PM
Some chainmaille is easy and some is frustratingly difficult.

I tried it a few years ago and could not "figger" it out from instructions in a magazine. Then, about 6 months ago, I found a project in another magazine which I was able to do. Since then, I have made quite a few different kinds and am definitely hooked!

This is my recommendation, although it's not a jewelry-making site and sometimes the instructions are pretty obscure, since they are all written by members of the site: But there are all you wanted to know about maille and weaves.
Noreen@9 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 6:09 PM
Thanks everyone for the additional websites. I am going to check them out. I bought a pair of pliers with the tool magic coating, but within a short time it came off. Does anyone have a fix for this?
Lkonrad wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 6:37 PM
I struggled with wrapped loops for TWO YEARS before mastering them, yet I was able to make the three chain maille bracelets in the beginner kit from Urban Maille in about one hour. Yes, making chain maille is easy!
BuddyS wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 6:39 PM
have just been bitten by the bug...can't wait to try something new. some patterns come easy and others I am still trying to learn. Really excited about any and all new patterns. I have ADD and this I can do and be proud of what results.
Doug Shook
BuddyS wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 6:39 PM
have just been bitten by the bug...can't wait to try something new. some patterns come easy and others I am still trying to learn. Really excited about any and all new patterns. I have ADD and this I can do and be proud of what results.
Doug Shook
CarolL@72 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 8:23 PM
I made several chain maille bracelets and earrings with jump rings and found it quite daunting. Holding on to the rings without their jumping to the floor or across the room took pliers and hemostats. Not at all fun for me, and the people for whom I made the jewelry know that they are the only ones who will ever receive them from me.
Carol Lindsey
jcbeadsinfo wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 10:37 PM
Noreen N: You can buy Tool Magic at several online and local bead stores. Just peel off any the damaged coat that remains on your pliers, redip, and you'll be back to work in a few hours! How often I have to strip and redip depends on what sort of work I'm doing. Sometimes it makes sense to have a couple of sets of coated pliers to switch between so you don't have to stop in the middle of a project for several hours while another coat cures.
N Bryan wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 8:02 AM
I learned to make chain maille last year at a bead show. It is versatile - I'm particularly in love with the Byzantine weave. What I like is that you can make a full chain, or small sections to use as links between beads. Of course, there's the added benefit of impressing friends and customers when they learn you crafted the chain yourself.
JoAnnA@42 wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 8:05 AM
in answer to Gloria who was looking for large synthetic Nuggetts, "The Bead Goes On" on Martha's
JoAnn Allard, The Bead Tree
Arachne54 wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 8:37 AM
I love chain maille because it's so scientific. I've never been able to "do" freeform anything so maille gives me a way to create without stress. As for beginners, definitely! Every mailler was a beginner at some point. I always recommend Euro 4-in-1 for beginners.

Yvraine wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 9:06 AM
I love chainmaille, I've been doing it for a while now. I particularly love to try out new patterns - I scrounge the Maille Artisans website all the time for new things to try. In fact, as I type this, I have the four bracelets I made this week laid out in front of my keyboard. :)
DawnR@2 wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 5:57 PM
I started doing chain maille during the summer. I tried the earring in the fall 2007 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry. It looked hard to do at first, but I decided to try it anyways. What a surprise!! It was much easier than I thought. I started trying to figure out other shapes and patterns that would look nice.
on Mar 9, 2008 12:02 AM
All I can do is add my recommendation - go ahead and try it. I love doing chain maille. It's quick and therefore satisfying, compared to some other jewellery making. I've done about five or six things now and reckon anyone can do it. ;-)
KarenR@92 wrote
on Mar 9, 2008 12:29 AM
I took a class on chain maille. I really enjoy making the beautiful designs from my books and magazines. I even make my own jump rings now. I had one pattern that I could not follow so I just copied what I had been doing instead of following the pattern. It turned out to be my favorite bracelet. What are some good websites for new patterns and help?
Karen R.
KarenR@92 wrote
on Mar 9, 2008 12:29 AM
I took a class on chain maille. I really enjoy making the beautiful designs from my books and magazines. I even make my own jump rings now. I had one pattern that I could not follow so I just copied what I had been doing instead of following the pattern. It turned out to be my favorite bracelet. What are some good websites for new patterns and help?
Karen R.
JuliaG@13 wrote
on Mar 9, 2008 11:57 PM
I also got bitten by the bug a few years ago and also make my own rings. Use only Syerling Silver as when I make something I really want it more valuable as the cost of time is the same. I love so many of the patterns it would be hard to choose. The Koil Kutter was the best thing I have bought for chain maille. Love to read your posts and don't give up on a pattern be like the little train and say I think I can I think I can I know I can. That is my help so many times. Spider has some good cd's. Julia G
Trish@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 7:28 PM
I learned to make chain maille before learning to use needle and thread for beading. I find it very relaxing and fun. I just wish I had more room so I could make my own jump rings and even solder my work.

Do not be intimidated by the intricate look of chain maille. Remember, it was armor and needed to be made in LARGE projects, so it had to be quick & easy!! =)
JeanW@40 wrote
on Apr 30, 2011 11:33 AM

I really enjoy chain maille but with the price of silver, I'm trying copper and bronze wire and maybe stainless steel. Give chain maille another try because I surprised myself when I learned the peyote stitch and enjoyed it. (I have yet to make a complete project) but I think the patience required for beadweaving can easily translate to chain maille in that once you learn and understand the pattern, it just goes and flows.