“Save the pop-top tabs, please. I have a friend who is making chainmail out of them.”
The mundane woman across from me rolled her eyes before grudgingly agreeing. The reaction irritated me. This same acquaintance has no problem happily donating old t-shirts to my granny-style rag rug projects. She might even use a wood pallet for herb gardening in her backyard. So what made the pop tabs so different that the project merited her distain? The fandom “nerd” factor, of course.
Renaissance cosplay on a budget
“Knitting” chainmail, whether you use O rings or pop tabs, is a time-consuming effort lasting months while you collect the raw materials and put the nearly endless metal bits together. However, cosplayers and the Faire-oriented are rewarded with something that looks pretty cool and often fits them better than off-the-rack armor. The effort takes a year of construction but is preferable to the $100+ price tag of buying one.
Recycle and Upcycle
In addition, I really like the idea of upscaling the pop tops into clothes. Something about it strikes me as an idea that a true Renaissance man would be proud of. After all, they didn’t have that much in terms of materials back then (as compared to now), so they didn’t waste things. Use and reuse was simply part of the lifestyle back then.Either way, recycling and upcycling most of our possessions is what the world needs today, no matter what the project or the nerd factor.
Don’t get me wrong. If you can afford to do so, buy the chainmail shirts, jewelry pieces, leather corsets, or silky shirts, whatever you want to accent your costume, from the professionals. The community needs to support all the artisans and craftsmen who help us celebrate our fun and crazy world, particularly since their market is usually limited to fandom folks. Their beautiful things often look better, making them well worth the price tag.
So dear mundane folk, climb off of your modern day high horse and grab some pliers. It’s time to knit some clothes.
If you are interested in any of the upcycling projects mentioned above, here are some how-to websites to get you started.
“Genuine chainmaille from pop tabs” from the instructables website: http://www.instructables.com/id/Genuine-chainmaille-from-pop-tabs/
“How to Create Chainmail from Pop Taps” from the wikiHow website: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-Chainmail-from-Pop-Tabs
Rag Rug Projects
There are many options. These are just two that I found offering different methods. A third method is to get a large crochet hook and simply crochet the rug using the pulled t-shirt strips. You can also search the Internet for making the same type of rugs out of old bedsheets. However, if the sheet is a solid color that is not barfy, consider making a Renfest style shirt out of the light cotton, particularly if the fabric is queen or king size.
“Make a braided t-shirt rug” from instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-braided-t-shirt-rug/
“Make Rag Rug from Old T-shirts” from A Piece of Rainbow: http://www.apieceofrainbow.com/make-rag-rug-from-old-t-shirts/
“Creating a Pallet Garden” by Growing a Greener World: