A chainmaille wallet chain (and/or a key chain) is a quick and easy gift to make – particularly for a male. It is perfect for someone who is a keen traveller and would appreciate a bit more security for a wallet they keep in their trousers pocket.
Wallet chains first came into fashion in the 1950s in the biker subculture as a pragmatic way of keeping their wallets safe as they rode at speed. In the 1970s wallet chains were incorporated into punk dress both as a way of preventing pickpocketing when they were in the mosh pits and as a fashion accessory. In the 1980s various music subcultures, such as heavy metal enthusiasts and goths, started to sport the metal chains hanging from their tattered jeans or leather trousers. Throughout the various music and fashion trends in the 1990s and 2000s to today the wallet chain has survived as a statement fashion accessory with a long loop of chain at the side or simply a key chain hanging from a belt loop in front.
You need some 16 gauge 5mm internal diameter jumprings (these are bigger and heavier than jumprings you would use for making jewellery). These can be all one colour or a range of colour combinations. I made the ones above in 3 different colourways:
- antique copper and silver
- black and silver
- burgundy, light grey and dark grey
You can purchase the rings from Weave Got Maille separately or buy them as a kit. I bought swivel lobster clasps and split rings through Trade Me. You will also need 2 chain nose pliers (pictured below) – these can be bought through Weave Got Maille or any jewellery supplies store such as The Bead Hold.
The chains use a simple 3-in-3 design that really couldn’t be any easier to make. If you are using a colour combination, the hardest thing is to keep your different coloured rings lined up and that really isn’t much of an issue.
For gifts for my nephews I bought a couple of inexpensive wallets and used an eyelet punch to fit an eyelet to attach the split ring to, and made a matching key chain.
So far they haven’t used them. They may still be too young to have anything to carry around in a wallet? Or it may be that with the digital generation wallets are destined to become a thing of the past as smart phones are used for payment? Perhaps smart phones will be the next item to need to be secured by a chain??