I ordered my rings and scales from Queen Ring that's situated in the Netherlands. All packages (I ordered more supplies many times, because I underestimated the amounts needed!) arrived fast and well packed.
My best tips for working with scale mail
1. Go for the large scales. Unless your project absolutely requires it or you are doing a very small piece, always choose the larger size of scales. You will progress faster and require less material. I used stainless steel small scales and stainless steel 1,2 x 5,2 mm rings and it took a little over 800 scales and 1600 rings. The materials cost about 50 euros plus shipping.
2. Aluminium is nice. Steel is classic, but aluminium is much lighter and softer. Softer rings mean less calluses on your hands, and the lighter weight not only makes your scale mail garment more comfortable to wear, but also is cheaper to ship if you order materials.
3. Decent pliers help a lot! I used two small needle nose pliers that I usually use for putting together jewellery. Mine are not specific jewellery pliers, just regular ones. Pliers with thick handles are easier for your hands, don't go for thin, elegant handles. You want the ones that look heavy duty!
4. If you sew your scale mail piece to fabric, tie each stitch to place so you can remove one easily if there's pulling. I did my sewing in one continuous thread and had to remove it all when one stitch was wonky and pulling the scales. It was quite tricky to sew the scale mail to a corset because the garment has a shape the scales should follow. Also, attach your stitches to the scales, not the rings! Rings have the opening which can be big enough to allow the thread to slip out, or the opening can chafe at the thread.
5. Have plenty of time. My corset's 800+ scales took somewhere around 15 hours to put together. If you take too long breaks (weeks I'd say), you have to learn the technique again. It takes some time until your eyes adjust to the pattern so you can see how many scales each spot requires.
6. Make four-scale units. I first made four scale and three ring strings, then added one more ring to close the string into a circle. My process was to make a pile of these units, then attach them to my scale mail piece, then again make units. I felt it to be faster than attaching single scales, because with single scales you sometimes have to lift the whole armor piece or try to get your pliers into weird angles to close the rings. With units you can do some of the work separately, moving only the little pieces that your can turn in any position.
7. Use the large scales for the love of god! ;D I regretted choosing small scales so, so many times. I also noticed the Bibian Blue corset seems to use large scales, unlike I originally thought.
The base corset I used was a second hand piece. I took out the busk and put in plastic boning to keep the front stiff to take on the weight of the scales. Thanks to the heavy scales the corset really molds to my body. The corset itself is plastic boned and very comfy to wear, but doesn't have very dramatic curves either. I think it works well with the scales. I might add some trim to the top edge to hide the scales' holes on the first row, but they don't look too bad to me.
All in all scale mail is a very fascinating material and it just takes some time to make. It's not very complicated (even when it sure does look complicated when you take a look at tutorial videos!) and not too expensive. All you need are decent pliers x2 and lots of time!
And then some pictures! These were taken with my new Ikea roller blind background. There's two blinds, one functional and the other is just the fabric, glued to the end of the functional one. They work super well for a neutral, easy background.
Sleeve - Lip Service
Corset - DIY (the base corset is by Old Raven but customized)
Skirt - H&M
Tights - Queen of Darkness (sponsored)
Boots - New Rock (second hand)
Leather cuff - Loaned from my other half ;P