One link at a time!
Q. No, seriously dude, how do you make a chainmail shirt?
A. I've always wanted to do a sequel for the Art of Chainmail that explains practical applications for the European patterns. In the meantime, here's a quick explanation of the process I use. For me, a lot of what I create is a process as opposed to a strict set of rules. Shaping garments for specifically for my clients is why as a couturier I love haute couture fashion.
Anyhow (assuming we're talking about the European 4-1 weave) I measure evenly around the chest (C on the illustration below) and then up from this point over the shoulders. Then from the top of the shoulder to total length; waist for a shirt, knees for a hauberk.
G is also an important measurement for sizes sleeves if desired.
For construction I start with three rows running around the chest at a length that is equal to the chest measurement. Because of row stretch (AOC - Page 9) I measure this distance with the European pattern "at rest." That is neither stretched nor collapsed, but just resting naturally on a flat surface.
I also make sure that the total number of links is divisible by four so that I can divide the whole pieces into four working quadrants with stitch markers.
From there knit columns up over the shoulders, joining the offset row ends in the middle (top of the shoulder) with a shoulder attachment (AOC - Page 21.) From there I generally fill in the neck, making sure it's left large enough for my head to pass through both ways. (Don't get this wrong, it can hurt!)
I also like to make my shirts with a V-Neck, as I have large collar bones (AOC - Page 11.)
I then build out over the shoulders. For a vest this isn't even really necessary, for a shirt the sleeves can come out square or angle forward a bit. For long sleeves I recommend an angled shoulder attachment (AOC - Page 19.)
Depending on body shape I generally build straight down and allow row stretch to wrap the pattern around the body inside. For a more tailored look links can either be added or removed in order to create subtle expansion and contraction.
For sleeves a hand width measurement (M) is nice, as a reduction along the inside of the sleeve saves a lot of sloppy chain flopping around at the wrist.
I constructed a XX size hauberk for myself last summer and covered the process on my social media network. If you do a search on my YellowSMG Tumblr for "Hauberk" sans quotation marks and scroll through the results you will see a neat reverse chronology of the process emerge.
The "Danny Steel" poster explains the motivation for creating this piece from split links as the unofficial greeter for the second floor of the Gore Bay Harbour Centre where our shop, Whytes, is located.
Any questions? Please feel free to post your best chain vest, byrnie, shirt, haurbergeon, hauberk, etc... techniques below.
Also, in the age of crowd-sourcing solutions, a simple Google Search also turns up lots of juicy chain making instructions.